Emerald Catfish (Corydoras splendens): A Comprehensive Care Guide

Emerald Catfish, Corydoras splendens

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Emerald Catfish (Corydoras splendens): A Comprehensive Care Guide

Emerald Catfish, scientifically known as Corydoras splendens, are the perfect addition to any freshwater aquarium. With their vibrant green coloration and peaceful demeanor, they are a favorite among both beginners and experienced aquarists. Emerald Catfish, often referred to as “Corydoras,” offer a unique blend of characteristics that make them both intriguing and rewarding to care for. Their distinctive armored and scaleless bodies, combined with their ray-finned anatomy, position them as the perfect bottom-feeders within the aquarium community. But what truly sets these fish apart is their behavior—nocturnal scavengers with an omnivorous diet—making them indispensable algae eaters that contribute to a healthier aquatic ecosystem. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into all aspects of caring for these beautiful fish, from their origin and appearance to tank setup, feeding, breeding, and more.


Emerald Catfish, or Corydoras splendens, hail from the Amazon River basin in South America. Their natural habitat includes slow-moving streams, tributaries, and flooded areas, where they thrive in the warm, soft waters of this region. It’s important to replicate these conditions in your aquarium to ensure the well-being of these fish.


Emerald Catfish, Corydoras splendens
©By Maschinenkanone at German Wikipedia – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 2.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4886367

As the name suggests, Emerald Catfish exhibit a vibrant emerald-green coloration on their bodies, which is their most distinguishing feature. They have a sleek, graceful body shape with a slightly flattened belly. Their eyes are positioned on the upper part of their heads, allowing them to easily observe their surroundings from the substrate.

Here are some key physical characteristics of Emerald Catfish:

SizeTypically grow to 2-2.5 inches (5-6 cm)
ColorEmerald green with black markings
FinsAdorned with striking black and white patterns
Adipose FinPresent (a small fin on their back)

Care Guides

Emerald Catfish (Corydoras splendens) Tank Setup

Setting up the perfect tank for your Emerald Catfish (Corydoras splendens) is paramount to their well-being and overall happiness. In this section, we’ll delve into the key considerations for creating an aquatic haven that mimics their natural habitat while ensuring optimal conditions for their growth and vitality.

Tank Size and Requirements

Tank Size: The first and foremost consideration is the tank size. To provide ample space for a thriving community of Emerald Catfish, opt for a tank with a capacity of at least 20 gallons. These social creatures thrive in groups of six or more, so a larger tank offers more room for them to interact and exhibit their natural behavior.

Filtration: An efficient filtration system is essential to maintain pristine water quality. Consider a hang-on-back (HOB) filter like the AquaClear Power Filter or a sponge filter like the Sponge Filter by Aquarium Masters. These options provide gentle water movement, which is preferable for these fish, as they are sensitive to strong currents.

Substrate: Selecting the right substrate is crucial to cater to the Emerald Catfish’s bottom-dwelling behavior. Fine sand or smooth gravel is the ideal choice, as it allows them to sift through it in search of food without the risk of injuring their delicate barbels. Brands like CaribSea Super Naturals offer a variety of sands that are safe and visually appealing.

Plants: Incorporating live or artificial plants into your tank not only enhances its aesthetics but also provides hiding spots and shelter for your catfish. Some of the best plant options include Anubias, Java Fern, and Amazon Sword. These plants are hardy and compatible with the soft, slightly acidic water preferred by Emerald Catfish.

Heater: Maintaining a stable water temperature within the range of 72-78°F (22-26°C) is essential for the well-being of your catfish. High-quality heaters like the Eheim Jager TruTemp or the Fluval E Electronic Heater are reliable choices known for their precision and durability. Ensure you have a thermometer to monitor the water temperature regularly.

Setting up a suitable tank for Emerald Catfish involves choosing an appropriately sized aquarium, providing efficient filtration with gentle water movement, selecting the right substrate to protect their barbels, incorporating suitable plants for aesthetics and shelter, and maintaining a stable water temperature with a reliable heater. By paying careful attention to these details and considering trusted brands, you can create an aquatic haven where your Emerald Catfish will thrive and display their natural behaviors.

Aquarium Maintenance

To keep your Emerald Catfish healthy, regular aquarium maintenance is essential:

  1. Water Changes: Perform regular water changes of 10-20% weekly to maintain water quality.
  2. Substrate Cleaning: Gently vacuum the substrate during water changes to remove debris and waste.
  3. Filter Maintenance: Clean the filter regularly to prevent the buildup of detritus, which can lead to poor water quality.

Feeding Emerald Catfish (Corydoras splendens)

Feeding your Emerald Catfish is a crucial aspect of their care, as it directly impacts their health, vitality, and overall well-being. These omnivorous bottom-feeders have specific dietary requirements that, when met, ensure they remain active and vibrant in your aquarium. Below, we’ll explore their dietary needs and provide specific examples of foods available for purchase online.

Main Diet

Emerald Catfish thrive on a well-balanced diet that includes both high-quality commercial foods and live or frozen options. Here are some examples of suitable foods:

1. Sinking Pellets and Granules
  • Hikari Tropical Sinking Wafers: These sinking wafers are designed to meet the nutritional needs of bottom-dwelling fish like Emerald Catfish. They contain a blend of high-quality ingredients and are fortified with essential vitamins and minerals.
  • API Bottom Feeder Shrimp Pellets: API offers shrimp-based sinking pellets that cater to the protein requirements of your catfish. They also contain beneficial marigold and carrot for vibrant coloration.
2. Live and Frozen Foods
  • Bloodworms: Live or frozen bloodworms are a favorite among Emerald Catfish. Brands like San Francisco Bay Brand offer high-quality bloodworms that are safe and nutritious.
  • Brine Shrimp: Another excellent choice for variety in their diet is live or frozen brine shrimp. Hikari Bio-Pure Frozen Brine Shrimp is a trusted option.
  • Daphnia: Daphnia are nutrient-rich, and they provide a natural source of food. You can find frozen daphnia from brands like Omega One.

Feeding Frequency

It’s essential to feed your Emerald Catfish once or twice a day, offering only what they can consume within a few minutes. Overfeeding can lead to water quality issues, so it’s best to provide small, regular meals to ensure they get the nutrition they need.

Variety is Key

To ensure your catfish receive a well-rounded diet, it’s crucial to rotate their food regularly. Offering a variety of foods, both dry and live/frozen, helps ensure they receive a wide range of nutrients, promoting their overall health and coloration.

Observation and Adjustments

While these food options are excellent choices for Emerald Catfish, it’s essential to observe their behavior and adjust their diet as needed. If you notice any signs of overeating, underfeeding, or digestive issues, make the necessary adjustments to maintain their well-being.

Providing a balanced diet for your Emerald Catfish is vital to their health and vibrancy. Incorporating sinking pellets, granules, and a variety of live or frozen foods from reputable brands such as Hikari, API, San Francisco Bay Brand, and Omega One ensures that your catfish receive the nutrients they need for a long and healthy life in your aquarium. Remember to feed in moderation, rotate their diet, and monitor their behavior to tailor their feeding regimen to their specific needs.


Breeding Emerald Catfish can be a rewarding experience. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Separate Breeding Tank: Set up a separate tank for breeding, with similar water parameters to the main tank.
  2. Conditioning: Feed potential breeding pairs a diet rich in protein to prepare them for spawning.
  3. Spawning Behavior: Look for signs of spawning behavior, which includes the female depositing eggs on smooth surfaces and the male fertilizing them.
  4. Egg Care: After spawning, remove the adults from the breeding tank to prevent them from eating the eggs. Maintain optimal water conditions for the developing fry.


Like all aquarium fish, Emerald Catfish can be susceptible to diseases. Common issues include fungal infections, ich (white spot disease), and fin rot. To prevent diseases, maintain good water quality, provide a balanced diet, and quarantine new fish before adding them to the main tank.

Behavior and Compatibility

Emerald Catfish are known for their peaceful and sociable nature. They are compatible with a wide range of community fish, including tetras, rasboras, and peaceful cichlids. Avoid housing them with aggressive or larger species that may intimidate or harm them.

Lifespan and Tank Mates

With proper care, Emerald Catfish can live for up to 5-7 years. Compatible tank mates include:

  • Neon Tetras
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Dwarf Gouramis
  • Cherry Shrimp

Ensure that the tank mates share similar water parameter requirements and are not aggressive or territorial.


Emerald Catfish (Corydoras splendens) are a striking addition to any freshwater aquarium. By replicating their natural habitat, providing a well-maintained tank, and offering a balanced diet, you can ensure their long-term health and happiness. Remember to observe their behavior closely and act promptly if you notice any signs of distress or illness. With the right care, your Emerald Catfish will thrive and become a captivating focal point in your aquatic world.

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Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson

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I love sharing my knowledge about all things aquarium related. I have been keeping aquariums for over 20 years and cannot imagine a life without an aquarium. 

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