The Right Tank Size for Cory Catfish - "Corydoras haraldschultzi aquarium" by Mummymonkey at English Wikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.
The Right Tank Size for Cory Catfish - "Corydoras haraldschultzi aquarium" by Mummymonkey at English Wikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.


When venturing into the captivating world of aquarium keeping, one often encounters a myriad of species, each with their own unique requirements for a thriving existence. Among these captivating aquatic companions, corydoras catfish, affectionately known as “cory catfish” or “cories,” stand out for their charming demeanor and distinctive bottom-dwelling behavior. To ensure the well-being and vibrancy of these beloved fish, selecting the appropriate tank size becomes a pivotal decision. Beyond just accommodating their physical dimensions, the chosen tank size significantly impacts their behavior, social dynamics, and overall health. Join us as we delve into the realm of tank sizing for cory catfish, exploring the considerations that guide this decision-making process and uncovering the secrets to creating a harmonious aquatic haven that caters to the unique needs of these endearing creatures. Whether you’re an aquarium novice or a seasoned enthusiast, understanding the significance of the right tank size for cory catfish care is a fundamental step toward fostering a thriving aquatic community.

About Cory Catfish

Corydoras catfish, commonly referred to as “cory catfish” or simply “cories,” are a popular group of freshwater aquarium fish known for their unique appearance, playful behavior, and valuable role in maintaining the aquarium ecosystem. These small, bottom-dwelling fish are native to South America and are a favorite among hobbyists due to their charming characteristics.

Here are some key features and information about cory catfish:

Physical Characteristics

Cory catfish exhibit a range of physical characteristics that make them easily recognizable:

  • Body Shape: Cory catfish have a flattened, armored body that is covered in bony plates called scutes. These plates provide protection against potential predators.
  • Whisker-Like Barbels: They possess distinctive, whisker-like structures called barbels around their mouths, which they use to search for food on the substrate. These barbels are highly sensitive and help them navigate their surroundings.
  • Variety of Colors: Cory catfish come in various colors and patterns, including albino, peppered, panda, bronze, and more. Their striking patterns and coloration add to their aesthetic appeal.

Behavior and Care

Cory catfish are renowned for their engaging behavior and are often seen swimming and scavenging near the bottom of the aquarium. Some important care considerations include:

  • Schooling Nature: Cory catfish are social fish that thrive when kept in groups of their own kind. A minimum of 4-6 individuals is recommended to prevent stress and promote their natural behavior.
  • Peaceful Disposition: Cories are peaceful and non-aggressive fish that can be housed with other peaceful community fish. They are unlikely to bother tank mates, making them suitable for a variety of setups.


Cory catfish are omnivores with a varied diet. In the wild, they feed on a mix of small aquatic organisms, plant matter, and detritus. In captivity, their diet can include:

  • Sinking Pellets: High-quality sinking pellets specifically designed for bottom-dwelling fish should form the core of their diet.
  • Frozen and Live Foods: Occasional offerings of frozen or live foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia provide variety and essential nutrients.
  • Vegetables: Some cory catfish species might also nibble on blanched vegetables like zucchini or cucumber.

Aquarium Compatibility

When selecting tank mates for cory catfish, consider their peaceful nature and substrate-dwelling habits:

  • Peaceful Fish: Choose fish species that are non-aggressive and won’t compete with cory catfish for food or space.
  • Mid to Upper Levels: Opt for fish that prefer the mid to upper levels of the aquarium, as cory catfish primarily occupy the bottom region.
  • Avoid Fin-Nippers: Avoid species that are known to nip fins, as this can stress the corydoras.

Cory catfish are excellent additions to community aquariums, providing both aesthetic appeal and practical benefits. Their constant scavenging helps keep the substrate clean by consuming leftover food and debris, contributing to overall aquarium hygiene. Proper care, a suitable environment, and appropriate tank mates will ensure that your cory catfish thrive and bring life to your aquatic setup.

Tank Size for Cory Catfish

So, what’s the right tank size for cory catfish? Providing your cory catfish with a suitable tank size is important to ensure their well-being and minimize stress. The tank size you choose will depend on the number of cory catfish you plan to keep and whether you have other fish in the tank.

Here’s a general guideline when considering tank size for cory catfish and the number of cory catfish you can keep in them:

10 Gallon Tank (40 liters)

A 10-gallon (40 liter) tank is relatively small, and while it can house a small group of cory catfish, it’s important to keep the numbers limited due to the limited space and potential water quality concerns.

Recommended: 4-6 cory catfish

In a 10-gallon (40 liter) tank, it’s best to keep a small group of cory catfish along with a limited number of other small and peaceful fish. Overstocking can lead to stress, aggression, and poor water conditions.

20 Gallon Tank (80 liters)

A 20-gallon (80 liter) tank provides more space and is a better option for keeping a slightly larger group of cory catfish along with some tank mates.

Recommended: 6-8 cory catfish

With a 20-gallon (80 liter) tank, you can have a slightly larger group of cory catfish and also consider adding a small school of peaceful fish like tetras or rasboras. Just ensure that the overall stocking level is balanced to maintain good water quality.

30 Gallon Tank (120 liters)

A 30-gallon (120 liter) tank offers even more space and flexibility for creating a diverse and harmonious community tank.

Recommended: 8-12 cory catfish

In a 30-gallon (120 liter) tank, you can keep a larger group of cory catfish and include more tank mates. This tank size allows for a variety of small to medium-sized peaceful fish species like gouramis, barbs, or small cichlids, in addition to the cory catfish.

Remember that these are general guidelines, and individual preferences and tank setups may vary. Always research the specific needs of the fish you plan to keep and adjust stocking levels accordingly.

The Right Tank Size for Cory Catfish - "Corydoras haraldschultzi aquarium" by Mummymonkey at English Wikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.
The Right Tank Size for Cory Catfish – “Corydoras haraldschultzi aquarium” by Mummymonkey at English Wikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Aquarium Setup

Creating the right environment for cory catfish involves careful consideration of their natural behaviors and needs. Here’s a guide on setting up an ideal aquarium for these charming bottom-dwellers:

  • Tank Size: Choose an appropriate tank size for cory catfish that you plan to keep, along with any potential tank mates. As discussed earlier, larger tanks provide more space and stability. A 20 to 30-gallon (80-120 liter) tank is recommended for a small group of cory catfish.
  • Substrate: Cory catfish have sensitive barbels that they use to explore the substrate in search of food. Therefore, it’s crucial to provide a substrate that won’t harm their delicate barbels. Fine sand or smooth, rounded gravel is the best choice. Avoid sharp or abrasive substrates that could cause injuries.
  • Filtration: A good filtration system is essential to maintain water quality, as cory catfish are particularly sensitive to poor water conditions. Consider using a combination of mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. A gentle flow is preferable, as strong currents can stress cory catfish. Be sure to regularly clean or replace filter media as needed.
  • Plants: Live plants offer various benefits to your aquarium setup, including providing shelter, improving water quality, and mimicking the cory catfish’s natural habitat. Opt for plants with soft leaves that won’t damage the catfish’s barbels. Some suitable plant choices include Java fern, Anubias, Amazon sword, and Vallisneria. Create clusters of plants to create hiding spots and break up lines of sight.
  • Decorations: Incorporate decorations that mimic the cory catfish’s natural habitat, which typically includes slow-moving rivers, streams, and flooded areas. Use driftwood, smooth rocks, and natural-looking ornaments to create hiding places and territories for the catfish. Avoid sharp edges that could cause injuries.
  • Hiding Places: Cory catfish are shy and enjoy having hiding spots to retreat to. Provide caves, crevices, and other hiding places using decorations and plants. These hiding spots help alleviate stress and encourage natural behaviors.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting is generally sufficient for cory catfish. Avoid intense, bright lights that can cause stress. If you have live plants, choose lighting that supports their growth while not overwhelming the catfish.
  • Water Parameters: Cory catfish prefer stable water parameters that replicate their native habitats. Aim for the following ranges:
  • Temperature: 72-78°F (22-26°C)
  • pH: 6.5-7.5
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance is essential to ensure the health of your cory catfish and the overall ecosystem of the aquarium. Perform regular water changes (about 20-30% weekly) to maintain optimal water quality. Vacuum the substrate gently to remove excess debris.

By creating an environment that takes into account the cory catfish’s natural behaviors and needs, you’ll be providing a comfortable and stimulating home for these delightful bottom-dwellers.


In the intricate tapestry of aquarium care, selecting the appropriate tank size emerges as a cornerstone of responsible fish keeping, especially when it comes to the charming cory catfish. These bottom-dwelling wonders, with their social nature and unique behaviors, deserve a habitat that not only accommodates their physical presence but also encourages their natural instincts to flourish.

As we’ve explored, the right tank size for cory catfish is more than a mere dimension; it’s a commitment to providing an environment that nurtures their health and happiness. From the soft substrate that cradles their sensitive barbels to the thoughtful inclusion of hiding places that alleviate stress, every facet of the aquarium setup plays a role in their quality of life.

Remember that while guidelines exist, each tank and its inhabitants are unique. Tailoring the environment to suit the specific needs of your cory catfish—whether they’re the centerpiece or part of a vibrant aquatic community—is a testament to your dedication as a conscientious aquarist.