Carnat Joel, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Pygmy Cory, whose scientific name is Corydoras pygmaeus is a small freshwater fish species that belong to the family of Corydoradinae. This fish is sometimes referred to as Pygmy Catfish. The word Cory is an abbreviation of Corydoras. The Pygmy Cory originates from Madeira River in Brazil, but it can also be found in most parts of South America. This fish is peaceful, and therefore if you are looking for a peaceful community fish for your aquarium, then this is the ideal choice. Thus fish is so friendly, and it makes a perfect choice for a beginner who finds the aggressive ones a bit daunting. They is among the smallest species out here, and they are ideal for small aquariums. Corydoras is a popular group among aquarists, but this catfish is a distinctive fish with some infrequent behaviors that can keep you staring at your tank for long.

They thrive in tropical aquariums, and they can be kept by both experienced and beginners. As a result of their popularity, they can be found readily available in most pet stores, and their average price is 2 dollars. This guide seeks to give you a piece of more detailed information regarding the description and how to take care of this fish, and therefore it is worth every second;


Scientific NameCorydoras pygmaeus
ColorSilver body with black lines on it
TemperamentPeaceful Fish
Care LevelEasy
LifespanThree years
Tank size10 gallons
Size1 Inch
Temperature72 to 79 degrees F
Freshwater or SaltwaterFreshwater
CompatibilitySmall peaceful community


Pygmy Cory is a peaceful small fish that will live well with other species. As long as the water parameters and the environment is within the prescribed standards, the creature will thrive. This is what makes them community tank fish. When you keep your fish with other good tank mates, it assures you of a long life of all the members within your tank. It also helps in ensuring the tank is clean while being easy to look after. Since this is a peaceful freshwater fish, you should go for tank mates that are tropical and peaceful. Also, ensure the tank mates are also small in size, just like the Pygmy Cory, so that they do not feel intimidated.

Some of the most compatible species include;

  • Mollies
  • Cherry barbs
  • Neon Tetras
  • Guppies
  • Otociclus
  • Zebra Danios
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Marbled Hatcher fish
  • Chinese algae eaters
  • Kuhli loaches


There are some of the tank mates that do not only cause harm to the fish but also create difficulty to take care of and check on. Aggression will lead to stress and diseases, and eventually, the tank will be full of sick fish fast than you know it. Therefore, you need to avoid pairing your Pygmy Cory with the following species;

  • Oscars
  • Bettas
  • Angelfish

Basically, large fish that can either rat or be involved in fin nipping activities should be avoided. Therefore, the tank mates should be smaller and peaceful for them to be compatible with this species.


Carnat Joel, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This species appears to be a small fish with silver bodies. You can clearly see the black that runs from the center of the body to the size of the fish. It is horizontal. Similarly, the black line goes from the caudal peduncle to the tip of its nose. This fish has black lines all over its body. You can be able to see the black lines on the bottom side of the body as well as near the ventral fins to its tail. Likewise, you can say that its lower body is lighter than its upper body. This fish looks similar to most of the Corydoras, and therefore they can easily be confused. However, the only differentiating factor is the size.

These fish are unique as a result o their teardrop shape. Along with it, they have a larger head for a small fish with an under-turned mouth. The mouth consists of barbes so that they can find food being bottom dwellers.

You might not find this fish so colorful, but it is irresistible due to its beauty. It is an interesting fact that these fish have vertical black lines, which eventually turn into black lines as they grow older. These black lines are over its silver body with a whitish belly to top off its finishes look.


The female Pygmy Cory are longer than the males by a quarter an inch. The female is broader than the males, just like in other fish because they carry the egg. If you try to observe these fish from above, you will notice that the females have a distinct bulbous shape. These are some of the slight differences that might help you in distinguishing the male from the female Pygmy Cory catfish.


A pigmy Cory has a short lifespan. The average lifespan of this fish is three years. However, you can add up to this life expectancy if you properly take care of them under optimal conditions. If you consistently provide the ideal environment and the water parameters throughout, then you will be able to elongate the life of your fish. If you are not able to do so due to poor skills, bad diet, and poor living conditions, you expect to lose your fish at an early age. Stress and diseases are the main cause of premature death among this species.


The Pygmy Corydoras originates from Madeira River Basin in Brazil. Other inland water bodies where these creatures can be found are the Nanay Rivers tributaries in Peru and the tributaries of the Aguarico River in Ecuador. It is important to note that the tropical conditions in this region are highly unpredictable, and the water temperature, flow, and turbidity vary from time to time. This means that these fish are highly adapted to living in a wide array of tank conditions. In their natural habitat, these fish will be found comfortably co-existing with other Cory in the bottom section near the river banks. These fish love the water bodies with sandy substrates, lots of hiding trees, fallen branches, vegetation, and creeks.

If you are interested in keeping the Pygmy Cory as a pet in your tank, you should try as much as possible try to replicate these conditions. With regards to distribution, the fish was first distributed throughout South America, after which it was later introduced to other parts of the world. This fish can readily be found in most pet stores, and it retails are approximately 2 dollars.


Pygmy is among the most well-behaved fish. They are famous for their peaceful nature. They are community-friendly, and they do not display any aggressive behavior towards the other tankmates. If you find them fighting in a friendly manner, it is normal, and there is nothing to get worried about.

They are also the most sociable species among the Corydoras. However, if they feel threatened, they will spend most of the time hiding. You might also find them playing with the plants in the aquarium. These fish are bottom dwellers and feeders, and therefore they spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank. Occasionally you will also find them at the middle level of the tank. One interesting fact is that they can use their intestines as a source of oxygen.

You might be lucky to obese them breathing. However, you should ensure that this is not regular since it might be a sign of stress as a result of poor water parameters. Check the water parameters you observe if you observe them frequently coming on top. The next best thing about these fish is the fact that they are shoaling fish. They swim in shoals. You can keep them in a group of three, and you should make sure that you do not overcrowd them in the tank.


It is easy to take care of this fish. However, it does not mean you do not need to show any effort to create a better place for it to live. If you are able to create the appropriate tank size water parameters and decorations, you will be able to keep them happy. There are other diseases that you need to take care of, and they will be explained in this guide.


The Pygmy Cory is a small fish, and therefore they do not need a large tank. They live in a shoal of three to is. Therefore the ideal tank size should be approximately 10 gallons, and they should live there with no difficulty. However, if you put other tank mates with this species, you might need to consider the size of the tank so as to avoid overcrowding them. The fish is around an inch in length, and therefore you should consider adding a gallon per fish you add. These fish are bottom dwellers and are very active, and therefore, a big enough tank will give an opportunity to explore.


For decorations, you need to add up many hiding spots for the small fish since they love hiding whenever they feel threatened. It helps them reduce the amount of stress they might be having. Therefore, you may add some PVC pipes or driftwoods so as to provide proper hideouts. Also, the pants act as hideouts for these fish, and therefore it is important to include them in your tank.


Just like most freshwater fish, the Pygmy Cory prefers a sandy substrate. It is a bottom feeder, and therefore a soft substrate will do well for this fish. Always keep in mind to avoid the gravels or rocks, which are hard base substrates. Thye might harm these fish as they go for food at the bottom of the tank. The ideal and safe choice for the substrate is the sand so as to avoid injuries that might cause infections or even death. These tanks are keen to check the new possibilities in the tank, and therefore you might observe them digging in the tank substrate, and you should not be worried.


Water is the most important thing in the life of any fish since that is where they live. This means that you need to maintain proper water parameters for your fish to thrive and remain happy. The water parameters contain three main aspects, which include the Temperatures, ph. and hardness. This species lives in freshwater, and therefore, you need to learn how to set up the tank first then proceed to the parameters of water. The ideal water temperatures should be between 72 to 79 degrees F. You need to always ensure the temperatures are within the range, and to do that, you can use a thermometer and heater to increase the temperatures when need be.

The ph. levels should range between 6.0 to 80  in that tank. The water hardness should be maintained at between 2 to 25 dGH. These fish are algae eaters, and therefore you might decrease the water changes. The water should be changed at a percent of 20 to 25 percent after every two weeks.


The water flow is very crucial and different from the parameters. You need to maintain a moderate flow of water in the tank. Put in tannin-rich water in an acidic environment. A neutral base is also a good way too. You should always keep checking for any signs of stress in the fish and also keep a water test kit to run whenever you observe these signs. One of the signs of a stressed fish is coming to the top level for some air.


As mentioned earlier, the plants also act as a hiding place for the Pygmy Cory, and therefore they are very crucial. Thye is also a source of oxygen in the tank as well as a source of food. You can always put a fallen tree that sinks into the riverbed to imitate their natural environment. Also, the dried leaves provide a unique aesthetic to the tank. There are various tall plants, foreground plants, and floating plants that you can choose from. Always go for the soft plants. You can even choose to go for grasses and shrimp flats. If you choose a larger tank so as to add other tank mates alongside the Pygmy Cory, then that is a good idea.


There are a few equipments that you need in your tank since they are helpful in your efforts to take good care of your fish. These equipment are for helping you create the best environment for the pet and make them feel at home.


Since the Pygmy Cory is a small fish, you might need to be careful of the filtration method you will use. The filter must not have big inlet tubes, and if they are big, you need to put a sponge on them. Ensure you choose those with a low output. The water flow must not swirl them out. Some of the recommended filters include the Hikari sponge filters and Zeiss bubble filters.


 The other thing that is necessary for the tank is the lighting. The light usually comes to the tan by itself. The lighting intensity depends on the plants that you put in the tank. These fish also love light, and therefore you can add some other sources.


The heaters help to maintain the water temperatures as per the fish requirements. Although the temperatures of the room might seem normal, the sudden changes can cause the fish to get sick. So having a heater is good for the aquarium. You may also choose a heater with a thermometer so that you do not need to bear the cost of buying the thermometer.


 The last thing that you should put into consideration for the water tank is the water test kit. It is the most important equipment since it helps identify the problem that seems to be bothering your fish. You should always ensure that you maintain the water parameters in order to create a conducive environment for the fish to live in. The best water testing kit is the API freshwater master test kit 800. It is easy to operate with and more popular among beginners and experienced aquarists.


I order to keep your pigmy Cory healthy with a strong immune system, and you need to give them a varied diet. They are omnivores, and therefore they will eat both plant-based and meat-based foods. In their natural environment of out America, they feed on micro foods they find as they explore the river bottom. In the aquarium, there are a few things that you can feed them on.

  • Grindal worms
  • Tubifex
  • Bloodworms (fresh or frozen)
  • Mosquito larvae
  • Brine shrimp
  • Freeze-dried black worms

The following plant-based foods can also be fed to the Pygmy Cory;

  • Sinking catfish pellets
  • Algae wafers
  • Finely chopped green veggies

These fish should be fed one to two times a day, and you should remember that they are not good at competing with the tank mates for the food. Therefore you should always ensure they are getting enough food if they are living in a community tank. The best diet of these fish is that of mixed plant-based and meat-based foods. Also, ensure that the food is of small sizes so that they can be able to eat will less difficulty.


The process of breeding the Pygmy Cory is not so complicated. If these fish are provided with the right diet and tank conditions they will comfortably mate and breed in their normal tank, and the real struggle is taking care of the fry. in order to stimulate the breeding among this species, you need to frequently renew the water in the tank to almost 50 percent, sufficiently aerate it and raise the temperature by 2 to 3  degrees from the normal range. Raising the school from about 10 to 12 Pygmies will also help to stimulate breeding. It will also be important to include more plantations in the tank so as to give the females a sufficient place to lay eggs.

You should note that these modifications only happen in a tank with no other members from a different fish family. So if you have kept your Pygmy Cory in a community tank, you will need to put them in a separate spawning tank. The spawning tank is so suitable when you have a small group of these fish as it increases their mating and spawning possibilities.

During the spawning, the male will jump around the female, and once he grabs her attention, he will caress her with the barbells and come into a T position for the spawning to occur. On average, the females lay about 30 to 50 eggs in one round and hold several of them 2 to 5 in a pouch under the abdominal fins until the female fertilizes them. It takes 3 to 4 days for the eggs to hatch.

 When the fry is hatched, they first feed on their York bags for at least three days. Considering their small size, the offspring can only feed on fine food after that. You can also use crushed fakes or infusoria for the offspring until they mature to feed on adults’ food.


This fish enjoys the company of its own kind. They often shoal and may even swim in groups in the mid-level of the tank. It is advisable to keep them in groups of 4 or more but eight is more recommended. The larger the group, the more impressive the sight.


As you take care of your Pygmy Cory, you should not rule out the [possibility of running into a number of diseases or other health conditions. This can be prevented by maintaining routine tank practices and providing proper feeding, which will also boost the immune system of the fish to fend the diseases off. Some of these diseases include;

Skin and Gill Flukes; are worm-like parasites that attack your fish. It might be a bit difficult to notice these parasites physically since they are small and almost invisible using the human eye. This disease is mainly caused by overcrowding, high-stress levels, and poor water parameters. Some of the common symptoms that you can use to detect this disease include; Excess mucus in the skin, itchiness, and redness in the gills and skin.

Costia; is a parasite that thrives in cold water and it is often difficult to detect during the early stages. Some of the symptom=s include; red, grey, or white patches on the skin, clamped fins, itchiness, and loss of appetite. This disease can be treated using an affordable method such as mixing 3 to 4 grams of salt per liter of water and dipping the affected fish.

Bacterial Infection; Bacteria infection is caused by the presence of bacteria in the tank. It can be verity difficult to tell the actual bacteria that is causing the problem. A good example is the red blotch disease. Some of the symptoms include; bloating, red streaks, and red ulcers. This infection can b treated using a broad spectrum antibacterial medication.


  • Avoid stress because of hostile environment
  • change water regularly
  • Isolate the diseased as soon as possible
  • Put in proper tank mates and keep pygmies in shoals.
  • Make sure the immune system of the fish is great.
  • Present your pet with a healthy and nutritious diet.
  • perform a water test and make sure the water parameters are correct for the fish
  • Do not ignore the signs of stress
  • If you add any new equipment or fish, make sure they are clean.
  • You may also like to remove algae from your tank before it takes over.


Are pygmy Cory Fresh or saltwater fish?

The Pygmy Cory is a tropical freshwater fish that originates from South America.

Can Pygmy Cory live with Bettas together?

This depends on the individual character of the beta in your tank. If they are calm and peaceful, then there will be no problem keeping them with your pet. However, if they are aggressive, they can easily end up hurting the pygmies, and therefore they should not be kept together. As an aquarist, you need to first learn the behavior of individual species before adding them into your tank, and this will always be your guide in making decisions on whether they can live together or not.

Are pygmy Cory hardy fish?

They are fairly hardy, and they will stay healthy as long as they are fed high-quality foods and kept in a stable condition. . Any extreme water and tank condition would still affect the health and general wellbeing of the fish.

Are Pygmy Corydoras Fin Nippers?

No, this is because their mouth structure and small size do not support this behavior. The fish is also laid back in its entirety, and therefore, it will barely fight back even when stressed out by other fish in the tank. For this reason, it is important to put this fish with other small and peaceful fish that are non-aggressive.

 What size of Tank Does a Pygmy Cory Need?

You can keep your pygmy Cory in a tank size of a minimum of 10 gallons. However, if you add more tank mates in the tank, you can add the size of the tank so as to ensure they are not overcrowded. Make sure that you put into account the decoration and the plants as well when you go for a small tank.                                                                                                                                           


As an aquarist, if you are looking for a peaceful schooling species that will thrive in a small aquarium, the pygmy Cory is the ideal choice. As illustrated in this guide, this fish is not so demanding, and it is therefore easy to take care of. As long as everything is kept in optimum condition, this species will live happily and without any health condition. This breed also multiplies faster as a result of the high number of eggs that the female lays. Generally, this is one of the best community fish to have in your home aquarium. It is peaceful and will cause no harm to the other species in the tank. They have low maintenance costs, excellent behaviors, and stunning looks, and this makes them the ideal choice for either experienced or beginners.

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