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Sterbai Cory Care Guide, Diet, Breeding Tips & More

Does the idea of petting catfish excite you much? Well then, Sterbai Cory is an absolute charm to add to your tank. This fish is one of the most remarkable species that can be easily cared for in a tank.

Growing up to 2-2.6 inches, a Sterbai Cory can easily live for 15-20 years subject to proper care. These types of fish are peaceful and better kept in a group of 4-6 specimens. They are best cared for in a 25-gallon aquarium with soft acidic water and numerous hiding spots.

Species Overview

Level of CareVery easy
AppearanceA dark brown body is decorated with horizontal rows of various white spots.
Life Expectancy15-20 years
Size2-2.5 inches
Tank Size25-gallon
Tank EnvironmentSoft acidic water with proper hiding places
Tank MatesVery peaceful

Sterbai Cory or Corydoras Sterbai is one of the most popular species, typically tropical freshwater fish. It is a renowned member of the Corydoras catfish group and was first discovered in 1962 in South America by Dr. Gunther Sterba. Hence, they come with the name Sterba’s Cory.

This attractive little fish are very easy to care for in a home tank and one of the gorgeous ones among its other catfish cousins. Hence, it is a great choice to keep for having some colorful fun time in your aquarium.

These come with identically similar two rows of armor plating, which run along the area of their flanks. Besides, these possess less than 10 dorsal-fin rays, which makes them look quite distinctive as a freshwater fish variation.

These species are easy to spot with a dark brown-colored body decorated with horizontal rows of various white spots. Their opaque tail and fin are adorned with black spots.

Like other catfish, they also come with a pair of barbels in their snout area, which they primarily use to root through the substrate area to search for food.

Sterba’s Corydoras are easy to find in the upper level of the river Rio Guapore in Brazil. Thus, it is a native of the Rio Guaporé River area of South America, in between Brazil and Bolivia.

They usually inhabit these riverbed locations’ dark and shaded environment, making this place great for such bottom-dwelling fish.


Corydoras Sterbai is usually not going to grow much bigger. They typically extend up to 2-2.6 inches in length. Usually, the females are larger and rounder in size than the males.


Sterbai Corydoras are much hardy by nature. So, in captivity, these fish tend to live for at least 15-20 long years if they receive a proper amount of care with the right water parameters.

Sterbai corydoras watching you

Behavior & Temperament

Usually, Sterbai Corydoras is one of the very famous facultative air breathers. It means they can easily breathe air if needed, which gives them the power to thrive well in an oxygen-depleted environment.

In such cases, you can sometimes see your Cory catfish dart up on the surface of the aquarium for gulping a mouthful of air.

Besides, these fish love to stay in a densely vegetated tank with various plants. However, it is essential to ensure that you are not overdoing the decoration as then the substrate can get obstructed.

Now, talking about the behavior, they are not at all aggressive. Instead, they are peaceful enough but relatively fast-moving.

They usually spend most of their time resting on the floor of the aquarium. They love to reside in shady and sheltered places. While resting, this fish also tends to rifle around in the tank bottom for searching food matters.

Tank Requirements

Sterbai Corys require an adequate amount of care with proper tank requirements. Since you need to keep them in a school of fish, it is better to opt for a larger aquarium size so that these specimens can have enough space for swimming.

Pick a large aquarium and decorate it as per the need. While selecting the right decoration for their tank, you need to keep in mind that they love rummaging through the tank bottom area. Also, as these fish are bottom feeders, they forage on the substrate bed, searching for food. So, choose a soft and smooth sand substrate for them.

To facilitate your catfish the best care, it is better to replicate their natural living environment. So, you can try out dark and shady places for these fish. Sterbai Corydoras merely appreciates the environment if they find enough spaces to hide.

Also, it is essential to add good plants to fish tanks, as they love to have dense vegetation around them. However, you need to make sure that there are enough spaces to roam about freely, even if dense foliage and decoration exist.

Sterbai Corydoras is pretty much tolerant to a variety of water conditions. However, the most suitable aquatic environment is to provide the soft and slightly acidic water conditions, typically found in the natural riverbed of the habitable area. Thus, maintain optimum tank water hardness and pH level.

Their natural habitat of South America usually offers a fast-flowing water current. Thus, it is better to imitate the same water flow with a proper filtration rate in the aquarium. These fish also require a very stable temperature that is neither too cold nor too hot.

Tank Setup

Corydoras Sterbai needs a top-notch tank setup for thriving well. So, to meet all the requirements for their living, you need to ensure that the tank setup is apt for them.

Here is how you need to set up the fish tank to facilitate improved care:

  • These fish love adequate space in the tank for hovering around freely. So, if you are thinking of keeping them in a group, it is better to opt for a 25-gallon aquarium size.
  • For the aquarium decoration, you can add some rock caves, driftwood, and other assortments to arrange many hiding places.
  • For the substrate requirement, you can add very smooth gravel or sand as the lining in the tank’s bottom to avoid any rough edges from pricking your fish’s body.
  • Add dense vegetation, along with plenty of plants in the tank, to provide them with enough space for hiding and playing.
  • The aquarium water needs to be slightly acidic. Thus, maintain the pH range within 6-7.8. You can also add driftwood to tanks to keep the pH range stable.
  • Make sure the water hardness level is low or moderate.
  • Maintain the water temperature within 75-82 ℉.
  • To maintain fast-moving water conditions in the tank, you can add a pump to generate a high current.
  • Try to equip a filtration unit to the tank for maintaining freshwater conditions for your fish.

Tank Mates

Since this Corydoras fish species exhibit a peaceful behavior, it makes them a perfect companion for any community tank.

Do you know what is more interesting about Sterbai Corydoras? You can easily keep them with aggressive fish like bettas that usually ignore these little fish coming in their way.

Well, you can easily keep any species of fish. But make sure you are not keeping them with bottom-dwellers, which can harass or stress them.

However, the most extraordinary fact about is that they come with their built-in armor plating, which covers their head and body, giving them adequate protection against other tank mates.

So, here is a list of a few fish that you can easily keep with your Corydoras.

  • Tetras
  • Other Corys
  • Gourami
  • Guppies
  • Minnow Fish
  • Swordtail

Food & Diet

Corydoras Sterbai is usually omnivores by nature. Hence, they are going to easily accept any food type that you give to other freshwater fish.

Besides, this species is widely known to be bottom feeders. So, they are going to need a much-balanced diet for their proper health.

Make sure you are offering them a variety of mixed foods so that they can get an appropriate amount of nutrition. You can easily provide with live or dried food items.

You can even provide them with other catfish foods like sinking catfish pellets, tablets, or flake foods. You can also feed them frozen foods like artemia, daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms once or twice a week for adding a rich amount of protein to their diet.

Sterbai Corydoras is typically more active at night. Thus, it is better to feed them right before turning the lights out. Also, it is better to feed them in small servings rather than giving them one large meal.

Sterbai Corydoras Care

Caring for Corydoras Sterbai is pretty easy. Perform regular water changes to maintain proper tank requirements for your fish. However, they can contract some fish diseases, which need to be treated right away to keep your fish healthy.

These can get infected with red blotch disease. It is a bacteria-causing disease, which is responsible for resulting in sickness in them.

This red blotch condition can be described as the appearance of some small bloody sores on the belly of the fish.

At this time, to take proper care of them, you need to apply an antibacterial treatment to the tank to maintain adequate tank conditions. Nevertheless, this disease can be fatal if not detected early.

Damaged or missing barbels is another prevalent disease for them. Any unsanitary or dirty conditions in the bottom of the tank can lead to this kind of bacterial infection.

This disease primarily damages their barbels, which can be easily treated with a suitable antibacterial treatment.

Sterbai Corydoras can occasionally get affected with fin rot. This condition can easily affect the fins of the fish, which might appear to be ragged and torn. It is undoubtedly better to treat the tank water with antibacterial medications for doing away with such diseases.

ICH is another very commonly known white spot disease that can appear on them. Usually, poor water quality causes this disease. However, it is easy to treat ICH by increasing the temperature of the tank a little.

Group of sterbai cory catfish

Breeding Guidelines

As sexing Sterbai Corydoras is much easier, they can be easily tank-bred. If you have a small group of Corys, then there are higher chances that you will have a mix of both sexes. But they must be of minimum age to reach their breeding capability.

So, you need to create a suitable condition for making the fish spawn in home tanks. It is crucial to maintain the temperature at a level of 75 ℉. Keep the pH range around 6 in the breeding aquarium.

You can also consider using a box-type filtration system or an air-powered sponge filter for caring for your catfish fries so that they do not get sucked in.

As females become full of eggs, it is essential to increase the oxygen flow in the tank water. Also, make sure you are performing a 50-70% water change with cold water.

During spawning, the male catfish chase the females in the aquarium while rubbing their barbles and body to persuade them to breed.

As the females become ready to spawn, they will start searching for a suitable spawning site. Also, these fish clean the site before performing their spawning ritual. As a part of their courtship ritual, the female Corydoras catfish start chasing the male ones.

Eventually, the pair adopts their T position, where the male fish stays at a right angle to his mate. On the other hand, the female fish rests her head on the midsection of the male Cory.

The male fish then gradually turns his body so that he can clasp the barbels of the female, along with his pectoral fin. During this time, the male freshwater catfish will release his sperm, while the female will drop 1-10 eggs, which she holds with the pelvic fin.

As soon as the eggs get fertilized, the females will deposit them at the site they have prepared earlier.

The eggs of Sterbai Corydoras tend to be sticky and adhere firmly to the spawning site. Do you know what is more interesting about this fish’s breeding? The females of this species might lay at least 300 eggs. However, you must make sure that these eggs are well taken care of in the breeding tank.

So, to offer proper care to your Sterbai fries, it is better to remove the adult fish to prevent them from eating the eggs. You can also add a few drops of methylene blue to the tank to kill any fungus that might attack the eggs.

As the eggs hatch after 3-5 days of breeding, initially, this species tends to survive within the yolk sac. As the fries start growing, you can offer them baby brine shrimp and micro worms in their diet.

Interesting Facts

There are some interesting facts about Corydoras Sterbai that you must know if you are thinking of keeping in your tank.

So, check out the fun facts given below.

  • They also come with a pink-eyed albino variant, which looks cute and gives off positive vibes.
  • Do you know this fish species can blink their eyes? Yes, you heard that right! Usually, They do not have eyelids like other fish. They tends to tilt their eyes down to check out whether the food is available on the gravel or not.
  • They to stay as a shoaling fish. Thus, if you are thinking of keeping them in your home tank, you can easily keep 4-6 fish in a group.

Where to Buy?

You can easily find them in any pet store for animals and fish. With the scientific name Corydoras Sterbai, these fish are pretty popular in the aquarium trade. These tropical freshwater fish are not at all rare and are quite readily available. You can also find them in a sale at any online fish store or from a hobbyist store at very reasonable pricing.

Another fascinating fact about them is that they are too easy to breed and give birth to hundreds of offspring. So, if you have successfully produced some of the specimens in your home aquarium, then you can sell them to any local beginner hobbyist.

Wrapping Up

Sterbai Corydoras are pretty suitable to care for in any fish tank. Especially beginners can get smooth control over petting these fish as they do not require much crucial care. Instead, they are easily going to dwell in any water parameters.

Besides, they are effortless to breed in a home tank and live longer if they get the proper care. Also, these fish are much more peaceful, making them great for keeping in a community aquarium.