7 Cory Catfish Species for Your Aquarium Tank

A green laser cory

Mirko_Rosenau/Getty Images 

Cory catfish are small, peaceful, bottom-dwelling scavengers that are beloved by all who have owned them. Virtually all Cory species should be kept in schools; stories of single Corys pining away from loneliness are not uncommon. Corys should be kept only with small to medium sized peaceful fish.

Illustration of cory catfish species
Illustration: The Spruce / Catherine Song

Corys, like all catfish, are bottom feeders and scavengers (though they also appreciate a meal of brine shrimp). On the one hand, that means they can help to keep your tank clean by finding and eating bits of uneaten food and other debris. On the other hand, Corys tend to make a bit of a mess as they poke through the substrate and send algae and other muck into the water. Bottom line, while they can be considered part of your tank's "clean-up crew," they'll need a little help from snails, shrimp, and other scavengers.

  • 01 of 07

    Bandit Cory

    Corydoras metae
    Acuario
    • Scientific Name: Corydoras metae
    • Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
    • Lifespan: 5 years
    • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon
    • pH: 6.5–7.0
    • Hardness: 5–10 degrees dGH
    • Temperature: 72–79 degrees F (22–26 degrees C)
    • Tankmates: Peaceful schooling species

    Bandit Corys have been in the aquarium trade for a long time and are one of the more popular members of this family. They are easily identifiable by the black mask over the eyes. Bandits are more sensitive to variations in water temperature than some other species.

  • 02 of 07

    Bronze Cory

    Corydoras aeneus
    Hung-Jou Chen
    • Scientific Name: Corydoras aeneus
    • Also Known As: Green Corydoras
    • Adult Size: 2.5 inches (6 cm)
    • Lifespan: 5 years​
    • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon
    • pH: 5.8–7.0
    • Hardness: 2–30 degrees dGH
    • Temperature: 72–79 degrees F (22–26 degrees C)
    • Tankmates: Peaceful schooling fish

    Like Pepper Corys, Bronze Corys are very popular and readily available everywhere. These two species of Corys are hands down the most commonly kept members of this family. Bronze Corys are available in several color morphs, including green, bronze, albino, and black. They do well in a range of conditions but should be kept in schools. 

  • 03 of 07

    Julii Cory

    Corydoras julii
    h080
    • Scientific Name: Corydoras julii
    • Adult Size: 2.5 inches (6 cm)
    • Lifespan: 5+ years
    • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon
    • pH: 6.5–7.8
    • Hardness: to 20 degrees dGH
    • Temperature: 73–79 degrees F (23–26 degrees C)
    • Tankmates: Peaceful bottom dwelling schooling fish

    Although this species may be seen for sale in pet shops, it rarely is the real McCoy. Instead what is labeled as a Julii is its kissing cousin the Three Stripe Cory. True Julis have spots that are generally not connected into long chains, as they are in the Three Stripe Cory. 

  • 04 of 07

    Panda Cory

    Panda Corys up-close
    Haplochromis
    • Scientific Name: Corydoras panda
    • Also Known As: Panda Catfish, Panda Corydoras
    • Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
    • Lifespan: 10+ years
    • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon
    • pH: 6.0–7.0
    • Hardness: 2–12 degrees dGH
    • Temperature: 68–77 degrees F (20–25 degrees C)
    • Tankmates: Peaceful, compatible with all species, keep in schools

    Panda Corys are highly social and should always be kept in schools of its own kind. They get along with virtually all other peaceful species and have been known to school along with other bottom-dwelling species. Pandas prefer cooler temps and are suitable for unheated aquariums. 

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  • 05 of 07

    Pepper Cory

    A pepper cory
    Hiyotada
    • Scientific Name: Corydoras paleatus
    • Also Known As: Blue Leopard Corydoras, Peppered Catfish, Peppered Cory
    • Adult Size: Males–2.5 inches (6.5 cm), Females–3 inches (7.5 cm)
    • Lifespan: 5 years
    • Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallon
    • pH: 6.0–7.0
    • Hardness: to 12 degrees dGH
    • Temperature: 72–78 degrees F (22–26 degrees C)
    • Tankmates: Peaceful, best kept in schools with other smaller fish

    Pepper Corys are perhaps the most commonly kept member of this family and are widely available at pet shops everywhere. They are peaceful and get along with virtually all fish, but should not be kept with large aggressive species.

  • 06 of 07

    Skunk Cory

    A skunk cory
    Shirlie L Sharpe
    • Scientific Name: Corydoras arcuatus
    • Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
    • Lifespan: 5 years
    • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon
    • pH: 6.8–7.5
    • Hardness: 2–25 degrees dGH
    • Temperature: 72–79°F (22–26 degrees C)
    • Tankmates: Peaceful, enjoys a large school

    Skunk Corys are more sensitive to elevated ammonia and nitrates than other species. For this reason, they are not recommended for a brand new aquarium. Instead, wait until the tank is matured before adding this species. 

  • 07 of 07

    Three Stripe Cory

    Corydoras trilineatus
    Gerald Schneider
    • Scientific Name: Corydoras trilineatus
    • Adult Size: 2.5 inches (6 cm)
    • Lifespan: 10 years
    • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon
    • pH: 5.8–7.2
    • Hardness: to 18 degrees dGH
    • Temperature: 72–78 degrees F (22–26 degrees C)
    • Tankmates: Peaceful, keep in small schools

    The Three Stripe Cory is readily available in most pet shops, but it may be a Julii Cory. Three Stripe Corys can be distinguished by the spots on the head that are connected in a long string, giving them a maze-like appearance.