Spotted Corydoras 101: Your Comprehensive Care Guide

small group of spotted corydoras
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 19, 2024
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Spotted corydoras, from the Corydoradinae subfamily, stand out as a popular choice for freshwater aquariums with their cool spotted patterns. These small, calm, and striking fish catch the eye and are loved by fish fans. With their energetic behavior and charming appearances, they add a peaceful and lovely vibe to any tank. They attract both experienced aquarium keepers and beginners looking to enhance their tank’s beauty.

Article Summary

  • Spotted corydoras are beloved freshwater aquarium fish known for their distinctive spotted patterns, suitable for both beginners and experienced aquarists.
  • They are scientifically known as Corydoras ambiacus and belong to the Callichthyidae family, native to the upper Rio Tapajós basin in Brazil.
  • Spotted corydoras are peaceful fish and thrive in groups, so it’s recommended to keep them in groups of at least six individuals in captivity.

Species Overview

Spotted corydoras, scientifically known as Corydoras ambiacus, are a popular species of fish among aquarium enthusiasts. They belong to the family Callichthyidae and are commonly referred to as spotted corydoras.

Origin and Distribution

These fascinating peaceful species are native to South America, specifically found in the upper Rio Tapajós basin in Brazil. In their natural habitat, they inhabit slow-moving rivers and streams with sandy or muddy bottoms.

Physical Characteristics

One of the standout features of spotted corydoras is their striking appearance. They have a compact and slender body shape, with a darker base color that contrasts beautifully with a series of bright yellow or orange spots on their flanks. The base color of their body can vary but is often a mix of light to dark shades. These eye-catching markings make them an attractive addition to any aquarium.

Size, Growth Rate, and Lifespan

These spotted cory are relatively small fish, reaching an adult size of around 2 to 2.5 inches within several months to a year. However, it’s important to note that growth can be slower in colder or less optimal conditions.

When kept in appropriate conditions with proper care and nutrition, these fish can live for approximately 5 to 8 years or even longer. This makes them a long-term commitment for those looking to add them to their aquarium.

Peaceful Species That Thrive in Groups

One notable characteristic of spotted cory is their peaceful nature. They are known for being compatible with other non-aggressive fish species, making them excellent community tank inhabitants.

In their natural habitat, these corydoras species live in large groups called schools or shoals. Therefore, it is recommended that they be kept in groups of at least six individuals in captivity as well. This not only promotes their well-being but also allows for more natural behavior and social interaction amongst themselves.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

To ensure the well-being of your spotted corydoras, it’s crucial to create a suitable habitat and maintain optimal tank conditions. Let’s dive into the key factors to consider.

Tank Size and Set Up

When setting up a tank for spotted cory, it’s essential to provide them with enough space to swim and thrive. Aim for a tank with a capacity of at least 20 to 30 gallons (75-113 liters). These fish prefer gentle water flow, so avoid creating strong currents that could stress them out.

Water Parameters

Spotted corydoras thrive in soft, acidic water conditions resembling their natural habitat. Maintain a temperature range between 72°F and 79°F (22°C – 26°C) for optimal health. Regularly monitor the pH level, aiming for slightly acidic water with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0.

Substrate and Decor

Creating an environment that mimics their native habitat is vital for the well-being of spotted corydoras. Provide them with a well-planted tank, including dense planting such as Java moss or Amazon sword plants. Use soft substrate like sand or fine gravel to protect their delicate barbels while they search for food in the substrate.

White Sand

To reduce stress levels and create a more natural environment, offer plenty of hiding places within the aquarium using decorations like driftwood or caves. This allows these shy fish to retreat when they feel threatened or overwhelmed by bright lights or active tankmates.

Remember that frequent partial water changes are essential to maintain good water quality in the aquarium. Spotted corydoras are sensitive to high levels of ammonia and nitrites, so monitoring these parameters regularly is crucial.

Tankmates and Temperament

Spotted cory (Corydoras ambiacus) are peaceful community fish that can thrive in most aquariums. They have a calm temperament, making them suitable companions for various other fish species.


These little spotted corydoras are quite friendly and get along well with other non-aggressive fish. They are known to be social creatures and enjoy the company of their tank mates. You’ll often find them swimming together or exploring the bottom of the tank in search of food.

Compatible Tank Mates

There are plenty of options available. They tend to do well with small, peaceful species like tetras or guppies. These fish share similar water temperature and pH requirements, creating a harmonious environment within the tank.

Here are some compatible tank mates for your spotted corydoras:

  • Neon tetras
  • Ember tetras
  • Endler’s livebearers
  • Dwarf gouramis
  • Harlequin rasboras

Tank Mates to Avoid

While spotted cory can coexist peacefully with many species, it’s essential to avoid keeping them with larger, aggressive fish that may intimidate or harm them. Aggressive fish may stress out the corydoras or even attack them.

Here are some examples of tank mates you should avoid:

  • Cichlids (such as Oscars or Jack Dempseys)
  • Barbs (like Tiger barbs)
  • Large predatory fish (such as Arowanas)

By avoiding these types of tank mates, you can ensure a safe and stress-free environment for your spotted corydoras.

Spotted Corydoras Care

Taking care of your spotted cory is crucial to ensure their health and well-being. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Care Recommendations

Frequent partial water changes are essential for maintaining good water quality, as spotted corydoras are sensitive to changes in their environment. Aim for weekly water changes of about 25% to keep the tank clean and the fish healthy.

Provide hiding places such as caves or driftwood in the tank. These spots give the spotted corydoras a sense of security and allow them to retreat when they feel stressed or threatened.

Food and Diet

A balanced diet is important. Offer them high-quality sinking pellets or flakes specifically designed for bottom-dwelling fish. These foods will sink quickly, allowing the corydoras to easily locate and consume them.

Supplement their diet with occasional treats like frozen or live foods such as bloodworms or brine shrimp. This variety helps mimic their natural diet and provides additional nutrients.

Bloodworms in Plastic Container

Common Diseases

Like any other fish, spotted corys are susceptible to certain diseases. Here are a few common ones you should be aware of:

Ich (White Spot Disease): This parasitic infection appears as small white dots on the fish’s body.

Fin Rot: Bacterial infection that causes deterioration of the fins.

Dropsy: A condition where the fish’s abdomen becomes swollen due to fluid retention.

To prevent these diseases, maintain good water quality, provide a balanced diet, and avoid overcrowding in the tank.

Remember, observing your spotted corydoras closely on a regular basis will help you identify any signs of illness early on so you can take appropriate action.

Breeding the Spotted Corydoras

To successfully breed spotted cory (Corydoras ambiacus), it is essential to create the right tank conditions and provide proper care for the fry. Here are some key points to consider:

Recommended Tank Set Up

Simulate rainy season conditions: To encourage breeding, mimic the natural environment of the spotted cory by creating conditions similar to the rainy season in their native habitat. This can be achieved by slightly lowering the water temperature and increasing oxygenation in the tank.

Cooler water temperatures: Spotted corydoras prefer cooler water temperatures for breeding. Aim for a range between 72°F (22°C) and 75°F (24°C) to stimulate their reproductive instincts.

Increase oxygenation: Adequate oxygen levels are crucial during breeding attempts. You can achieve this by using an air stone or a sponge filter in the tank, ensuring that there is sufficient oxygen available for both adult fish and developing eggs.

big empty fish tank on white background

Breeding Process

Once spawning occurs, it is important to remove adult fish from the breeding tank promptly. Adult corydoras have been known to eat their own eggs or disturb them unintentionally. By separating them, you give the eggs a better chance of survival.

Fry Care

Spotted cory fry require hiding spots to feel secure and protected. Use dense planting or artificial decorations with small crevices where they can seek refuge from potential predators. Offer suitable food options for fry growth and development. Infusoria, baby brine shrimp, or commercially available liquid fry food are good choices to ensure proper nutrition.

Remember that successful breeding of spotted corydoras requires patience and attention to detail. By creating optimal tank conditions, removing adult fish after spawning, and providing adequate care for the fry, you increase your chances of raising healthy offspring.

Frequently Asked Questions

How big do spotted Corydoras get?

Spotted Corydoras, scientifically known as Corydoras ambiacus, typically reach a size of about 2 to 2.5 inches (5 to 6 centimeters) when fully grown. These small catfish are known for their distinctive spotted coloration with bright yellow or orange spots on their flanks.

What do spotted Corydoras eat?

Spotted Corydoras are omnivorous and have a varied diet. They primarily feed on a combination of sinking pellets, flakes, and live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms. They are also known to forage for food in the substrate, which may include small invertebrates and algae.

What are the smallest Corydoras?

Among the smallest Corydoras species is the Pygmy Corydoras (Corydoras pygmaeus). These tiny catfish typically grow to be around 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) or slightly less when fully grown, making them one of the smallest members of the Corydoras genus.

Do Corydoras need sand?

Corydoras benefit from having a soft substrate, such as sand or fine gravel, in their aquarium. A soft substrate is important because they have sensitive barbels on their mouths that they use to search for food in the substrate. Sand is a popular choice as it helps protect their barbels while allowing them to exhibit their natural foraging behavior.

Do Corydoras eat shrimp?

Corydoras are generally peaceful and not predatory towards shrimp. They are more likely to coexist peacefully with shrimp in a community aquarium. However, if the shrimp are very tiny or newborn, there is a slight chance that Corydoras might consume them unintentionally while foraging in the substrate. Nonetheless, Corydoras are not typically considered a threat to adult shrimp in a well-maintained aquarium.

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