Pygmy Corydoras (Pygmy Cory or Corydoras pygmaeus): Origin, Care Guide, Tankmates, and More

Pygmy Corydoras pygmy cory, pygmy corydoras, pygmy catfish, dwarf catfish

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Pygmy Corydoras (Pygmy Cory or Corydoras pygmaeus): Origin, Care Guide, Tankmates, and More

Pygmy Corydoras (Corydoras pygmaeus), commonly known as the pygmy cory, pygmy corydoras, cory pygmaeus, pygmy catfish, dwarf catfish, dwarf corydoras, or armored catfish, is a fascinating species of tropical freshwater fish. These cory catfish are a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts for their unique appearance and manageable care requirements. In this comprehensive guide, cory pygmy we will delve into the origins, appearance, and care guidelines for Pygmy Corydoras , providing expert advice to help you create a thriving environment for these captivating fish in your aquarium.

Origin of Pygmy Corydoras (dwarf corydoras)

Pygmy Corydoras (Corydoras pygmaeus) originates from the Amazon River basin in South America. These dwarf corydoras cory pygmy fish are specifically found in Peru, Colombia, and Brazil, inhabiting slow-moving streams, tributaries, and flooded areas during the wet season. In their natural habitat, they prefer to dwell in shallow waters, often among fallen leaves, submerged branches, and soft riverbeds.

Natural Habitat Conditions

Temperature72-78°F (22-26°C)
pH Level6.0-7.0
Water HardnessSoft to moderately hard
HabitatSlow-moving streams
source: wikipedia

Understanding their native environment is crucial when replicating similar conditions in your aquarium. This ensures a stress-free and healthy life for your dwarf corydoras, pygmy catfish.

Appearance of Pygmy Corydoras

 pygmy cory, pygmy corydoras,  pygmy catfish, dwarf catfish Pygmy Corydoras (Corydoras pygmaeus)

Pygmy Corydoras, often referred to as “suckermouth catfish” due to their underslung mouths, belong to the family Callichthyidae or cory pygmaeus. These catfish are known for their charming, diminutive size, making them a delightful addition to any tropical freshwater tank of dwarf corydoras. Here are some key characteristics of their appearance:

  1. Pygmy corydoras Size: pygmy corydoras typically reach a size of 1 to 1.2 inches (2.5-3 cm) when fully grown, making them one of the smallest catfish species available in the aquarium trade.
  2. Body Shape: Their bodies are compact and elongated, with a rounded belly and a streamlined profile.
  3. Coloration: These catfish have a silver or pale gold body with a distinct black stripe running horizontally from their snout to the caudal fin. Another thin black stripe extends along the upper part of their body.
  4. Dorsal Fin: Their dorsal fin is equipped with a sharp, venomous spine that serves as a defense mechanism against potential predators.
  5. Adipose Fin: Corydoras pygmaeus possess a small adipose fin located between the dorsal and caudal fins.
  6. Caudal Fin: The caudal fin is forked, providing them with excellent maneuverability.

Pygmy Corydoras Physical Characteristics

Pygmy Corydora Size1-1.2 inches (2.5-3 cm)
Body ShapeCompact and elongated
ColorationSilver or pale gold with black stripes
Dorsal FinEquipped with a venomous spine
Adipose FinPresent between dorsal and caudal fins
Caudal FinForked for improved agility

Their striking appearance and small size make Corydoras pygmaeus a captivating choice for aquarists who appreciate the beauty of miniature aquatic life.

pygmy corydoras swimming in a tank
credit: Dan’s Fish

Lifespan of pygmy cory

The lifespan of a Pygmy cory lifespan can be 5 plus years if properly taken care of. There are many stories of the pygmy cory lifespan and how long they can live.

Care Guide for Pygmy Corydoras

Tank Setup for Pygmy Corydoras: Creating the Perfect Habitat

Creating the ideal tank setup for Pygmy Corydoras is crucial to ensure their health, well-being, and overall happiness in your aquarium. These diminutive catfish may be small in size, but they have specific requirements that must be met to thrive. In this section, we’ll dive deeper into the elements of a suitable tank setup for pygmy catfish.

Pygmy Corydoras Tank Size and Dimensions

The best tank size for Pygmy Corydoras is A 10-gallon (38 liters) aquarium. This is a good starting point for a small group of these catfish. However, it’s important to consider the dimensions of the tank as well.


Selecting the right substrate is essential, as Pygmy Corydoras are bottom-dwelling fish that spend a significant portion of their time exploring the tank’s substrate. Here are suitable substrate options:

  1. Sand: Fine-grained sand mimics their natural environment and is gentle on their sensitive barbels. Sand also allows them to sift through the substrate in search of food without the risk of injury.
  2. Smooth Gravel: If you prefer gravel, choose a type with rounded edges to avoid abrasions. Ensure the gravel is not too coarse or sharp.
  3. Aquarium Soil: Specialized aquarium soil can also be used, but it should be fine-grained and soft.

The substrate should be kept clean by regular siphoning to remove debris and uneaten food, as dirty substrate can lead to water quality issues.

pygmy corydoras

Decorations and Hiding Spots

Pygmy Corydoras thrive in a well-structured tank with plenty of hiding spots and visual barriers. Providing suitable decorations and hiding places not only makes the tank visually appealing but also reduces stress for these fish. Consider the following:

  1. Driftwood: Natural driftwood provides a rustic look and offers hiding spots. It can also help lower the pH, which mimics their soft water habitat.
  2. Rocks: Smooth rocks and caves serve as excellent hiding spots and create interesting terrain within the tank.
  3. Plants: Live or artificial plants, such as Java moss, Anubias, or Amazon swords, offer shelter and enhance the aesthetic appeal of the tank. Live plants also contribute to water quality.
  4. PVC Pipes: Clean, cut PVC pipes can be used as additional hiding spots. Ensure the edges are smooth to prevent injuries.
  5. Terracotta Pots: Inverted terracotta pots provide dark, secure hiding spots that pygmy catfish appreciate.

Ensure that the decorations and hiding spots are arranged in a way that creates a natural and aesthetically pleasing environment. Pygmy catfish will explore these spaces and use them for rest and security.

Filtration and Water Flow

Choosing the Best Filters for Cory Catfish: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best filters: Pygmy Corydoras (Pygmy Cory or Corydoras pygmaeus): Origin, Care Guide, Tankmates, and More

Maintaining proper filtration and water flow is crucial for the health of Pygmy Corydoras. While they prefer slow-moving water in their natural habitat, a gentle filtration system with minimal water flow is sufficient. Consider the following:

  1. Sponge Filter: A sponge filter is an excellent choice for pygmy catfish tanks. It provides biological and mechanical filtration without creating strong water currents.
  2. Positioning: Place the filter in a way that it creates gentle surface agitation without disturbing the substrate or causing strong currents.
  3. Regular Maintenance: Perform regular filter maintenance to ensure it functions optimally and keeps the water clean.

Water Parameters

Maintaining the correct water parameters is crucial for the health and well-being of Corydoras pygmaeus. As mentioned earlier, these fish prefer water conditions similar to their native Amazon River basin. Here’s a summary of the essential water parameters:

  • Temperature: Keep the water temperature in the range of 72-78°F (22-26°C). Use a reliable heater to maintain stability.
  • pH Level: Maintain a pH level between 6.0-7.0. Consider using natural materials like driftwood to help lower the pH if needed.
  • Water Hardness: Corydoras pygmaeus thrive in soft to moderately hard water. Aim for a water hardness level of 2-12 dGH (German degrees of hardness).

Regular water testing and adjustments are necessary to ensure that these parameters remain stable.

Pygmy Cory Food Diet and Feeding

pygmy corydoras tank guide

Corydoras pygmaeus are omnivorous, and their pygmy cory food diet should reflect this. Offer a balanced diet of pygmy cory food that includes:

  • High-quality fish flakes or pellets.
  • Live or frozen foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms.
  • Vegetable matter such as blanched spinach or cucumber slices.

pygmy cory are bottom feeders and it is best to feed them small portions several times a day to ensure they receive adequate nutrition. Ensure that any uneaten food is promptly removed from the tank to maintain water quality.

Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for Pygmy Corydoras, consider their peaceful nature and small size. Compatible tank mates may include:

  • Small tetras (e.g., neon tetras, ember tetras)
  • Rasboras
  • Dwarf gouramis
  • Small peaceful loaches

These other species of cory catfish also make great tank mates for your Pygmy Corydoras

Avoid aggressive or larger species that may intimidate or harm the pygmy catfish.

Breeding Corydoras Pygmaeus

Breeding Corydoras pygmaeus can be a rewarding experience. Here are some steps to encourage breeding in your aquarium:

  1. Separate Breeding Tank: Create a separate breeding tank with similar water parameters and plenty of hiding spots.
  2. Conditioning: Feed the breeding pair a varied diet rich in protein to prepare them for spawning.
  3. Spawning Behavior: The female will lay eggs, which the male fertilizes. The eggs are typically attached to plants or tank surfaces.
  4. Egg Care: Remove the adult catfish after spawning to prevent them from eating the eggs. Provide gentle aeration to ensure the eggs receive oxygen.
  5. Hatching and Fry Care: The eggs will hatch in about a week, and the fry should be fed infusoria or specialized fry food until they are large enough to consume regular fish food.

Pygmy Corydoras may not breed readily in a home aquarium, but providing the right conditions and patience can increase your chances of success.


In summary, Corydoras pygmaeus, the pygmy catfish or dwarf catfish, is a great addition to any tropical freshwater aquarium. Originating from the Amazon River basin, these small, armored catfish have a unique appearance with striking black stripes.

To ensure their well-being, create an appropriate tank environment, offer a varied diet, and provide them with compatible tank mates. With proper care, you can enjoy the delightful presence of these miniature catfish in your aquarium for years to come.

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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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