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Corydoras Paleatus (Peppered Cory) Care Guide

Catfish have been popular bottom-dwellers to add to home aquariums. However, there are hundreds of catfish species and they’re just super gorgeous. Don’t know where to start? Corydoras Paleatus Catfish could be your answer.

Corydoras paleatus is a popular hardy catfish that comes with a classical armored body. They also vary in size and color. While Bronze Catfish is the most popular one, more types of Cory Catfish are irresistible. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to care for these regardless of the type.

Guess what? You can have multiple types of Cory Catfish in the aquarium. The easy-care makes it perfect for beginner aquarists but is still a favorite choice among experts.

Species Overview

Level of CareEasy
AppearanceArmory body with bony plate spines
Life Expectancy5 years
Size3 inches
Tank Size30-gallons
Tank EnvironmentWarm water
Tank MatesKept in group Mix with other Cory Catfish species

There are more than 100 Cory Catfish subspecies and tens of them are already popular in the aquarium trade. They belongs to the family Callichthyidae which is native to the South American region.

They’re found in pretty much all countries and areas in the region with a spectrum of subspecies. These are peaceful bottom-dwellers that are typically great for community tanks.

Natural Habitat

Cory Catfish typically inhabit smaller rivers and streams but they’re also largely found in the oxbows, backwaters, marshy environments, and simply ponds. Their natural environment typically has clear water, shallow, and slow flow. These areas also have dense vegetation where sand or detritus make up the bottom.


They are typically heavily armored and you can notice those sharp spines on their dorsal and pectoral fins. The patterns vary for each subspecies but they share similar shapes and dimensions.

Some species have mildly venomous spines so you better carefully handle them.

The bony plates of armor on body is the notoriously attractive element of this species. It’s not only appealing but also works in providing them with protection against predators.

The sharp spines of some species can produce mild venom in the stress condition.

They can grow up to three inches only which makes it perfect for medium-sized community tanks. These smaller catfish species.

Since Corydoras paleatus is found in different areas, they live in slightly different water conditions.

Some of them prefer cooler water while others thrive in warmer waters. At this point, the exact water parameters would be subject to the particular species you’re keeping in the tank.

They are found to live in groups of 30 or more fish of the same species. They’re typically active in the daylight until dawn, unlike many strictly natural catfish species. Don’t worry if you see them motionless in the same spot for a while.

Behavior & Temperament

Cory Catfish generally have a peaceful temperament even though some species could become territorial. They’re simply a popular choice for a community tank with tons of personality. They would spend most of their time venturing into the lower levels of your tank.

They generally have a happy personality and they’d love to clean up the community tank. This bottom-dweller is adorable and among catfish species, These could be a straightforward option for anyone who seeks the functionality and appearance of the catfish.

With a plantation set in your aquarium, they may hide behind them when venturing into the bottom part of the community tank.

While they can generally live with other species, don’t keep them with aggressive species or those fin nippers. Unlike other catfish, these are more sensitive to unsuitable water parameters.


Corydoras paleatus is a hardy yet durable species that can live up to five years with proper care.

However, the extreme gap between the store aquarium and your home tank can stress them out that can eventually kill them as soon as they’re relocated. That’s why you must carefully set the water parameters and control them throughout time.

Peppered cory looking at you

Care and Tank Setup

Resembling the natural habitat of Corydoras paleatus, they would typically prefer soft water and low pH.

However, the captivity-bred specimens can thrive in a wider range of water conditions. Still, the extreme gap between the store aquarium and the home aquarium can be shocking for the specimens.

Water Parameters

Despite its tolerance, Cory Catfish would be happier and healthier in proper water conditions.

This way, you need to set pH values of 7.0 to 8.0 and keep the water temperature in a range of 74 to 80 F. Maintain the alkalinity between 54 ppm to 180 ppm for the best ideal condition.

However, it’s very important to research further about the exact configuration for the particular species you want to keep.

On the other hand, you need to consider whether the specimens are tank-bred or captured from the wildlife.

You need to use the specific aquarium heater and conditioner to maintain the correct configuration before introducing the specimen.

Cory Catfish would find pristine water as the ideal environment to thrive. While it has an “easy to care” label, you must maintain the water quality with regular water changes. You can either do 10% water changes per week or 25% per two weeks with the assumption that you’ve set up a robust filtration system.

Since water quality is the most crucial element, you better invest in a water changer, gravel cleaner, and water conditioner.

Tank Size

Corydoras paleatus can grow up to three inches but you need at least a 30-gallon aquarium.

It’s because they tend to congregate in groups that require a wider area in the tank.  The actual tank size would depend on your housing including how many specimens and other tank mates you want to add to the aquarium but larger tanks are always better.

You can apply soft sand or gravel to prevent foods trapped in the substrate. Dense plants are quite recommended but choose the harder ones. While they’re armored,

Their barbels are quite fragile so avoid sharp substrates regardless of the species you keep.

Corydoras Paleatus Tank Mates

Cory Catfish is a shoal species so they’re preferably kept in groups of five or more fish that you can buy altogether.

You can mix different species in a community tank and they will shoal together.

They can get along with them with no problems as long as you provide them with adequate space.

The best tank mates are simply another Cory Catfish species.

They are well-known peaceful community fish but you don’t want to stress them out with aggressive species. If you want to keep them with other species, these are some great ideas:

  • Tetras
  • Swordtails
  • Amano Shrimp
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Red Cherry Shrimp
  • Gold Inca Snails
  • Mystery Snails
  • Ivory Snails
  • Ramshorn Snails
  • Pond Snails
  • Malaysian Trumpet Snails
  • Japanese Trapdoor Snails
  • Nerite Snails
  • Rabbit Snails

Don’t keep Cory Catfish with aquarium crayfish or cichlids. Larger, aggressive species may not only discomfort your catfish, but they may also prey on them. It’s great if you can consult with experts for the best non-catfish tank mates for Cory Catfish.

Food & Diet

Cory Catfish isn’t picky on foods but a varied diet is very important to keep their nutrition intake. You can feed them live and frozen foods as well as community foods. They would love eating all types of worms like bloodworms or blackworms whether it’s live or frozen.

They also scavenged any food sinking in the bottom.  You can certainly add the sinking wafers to balance their diet. These are slower eaters and easily outcompeted by aggressive eaters in the community tank.

You can include basic foods like flakes, pellets, or bottom feeder tablets. As long as you provide them with proportional portions, Corydoras paleatus can ensure no uneaten foods are left in the tank and they may spend most of their time scavenging this food.

Still, it’s very important to not overfeed. Since they’re slow eaters, you can feed them the portion they can finish within five minutes.

Two mottled corydoras looking at camera

Breeding Guidelines

Cory Catfish is considerably easy to breed and even beginner aquarists can have successful attempts.  You need to condition them for breeding by giving them high-protein sources like bloodworms and blackworms to trigger spawning. It can also be promoted by decreasing the water temperature a little bit to resemble the rainy season, the spawning season.

Unless you can add covers inside the community tank and remove other species, you better prepare a separate breeding tank. After spawning, you better remove the fertilized eggs to prevent them from being eaten. In another separate tank, the eggs would hatch into fry and that’s where they would grow before being added to the community tank.

You can feed Corydoras paleatus newborns with powdered fry food or baby brine shrimp. Maintain the water condition to ensure their health and growth. Soon, you can add more populations to your community aquarium.

Buying Guide

When you buy Corydoras paleatus, you should go to reputable aquaria sellers only. Even when you’ve been presented with some specimens, you must check these out:

  1. Check the appearance and ensure they have a complete pair of years and undamaged fins and tail.
  2. Ensure they have complete barbles on both sides of their mouth
  3. Check their mouth and see whether or not it’s damaged from nipping
  4. Ensure the overall health, activeness, movement, and so forth.
  5. It’s better to buy them in a group
  6. Beware of cheap prices and always be considerate when choosing the specimens