Pygmy Cory Catfish: The Best Catfish For Beginner Level Tank Keepers

pygmy cory catfish

If you are looking for a peaceful fish for your aquarium tank, consider the Pygmy Cory Catfish. Known for its small size, rare personality, and gentle temperament, the Pygmy Catfish, is a popular choice amongst both beginner as well as experienced tank keepers. 

Their small size and “minding my own business” nature makes them an ideal choice for community tanks. You will never find them instigating or becoming a cause for any hassle or chaos inside the tank.

They are easy to care for and make the perfect match for people who are just starting out with tank keeping and are intimidated by the thought of caring for large-sized, aggressive fish. 

If you are interested in adding this beauty to your tank and want to know everything about how to care for it, continue reading. 


The Pygmy Cory fish belongs to the corydoras fish family. It is a freshwater fish that was discovered around the 1900s and is often confused with the Corydoras Catfish due to the similarities in their appearance. 

Originally hailing from the Madiera River in Brazil, this fish can also be found in the South American region. It is amongst the smallest freshwater fish, which makes it an ideal candidate for community aquariums. 

Due to their popularity, they are a hot favorite amongst experienced tank keepers as well as newbies. You will easily find them at almost all pet and fish stores. The Pygmy Cory fish price is generally around $2. 

On average, the Pygmy Cory Catfish lifespan is three years. But the fish may live for long if it is cared for very well. 


The Pygmy Cory Catfish resembles the Cory Catfish very closely. Therefore, people often mix them up. However, you can always use the size of the fish as a measure to distinguish between the two species. The pygmy cory catfish is extremely small. 

The female fish is a bit longer as compared to the male; it can reach a maximum size of around one inch in length. At the same time, the male pygmy catfish can grow up to three-quarters of an inch in length.

The female fish is also broader as compared to the male one, especially when it is about to lay eggs. 

The Pygmy Cory Catfish is known for its silver-grey color. There is a thick black stripe that goes horizontally all the way from the snout of the fish to its tail. There is a thinner black line at the bottom of the fish’s body. 

It is interesting to know that the pygmy cory fry is born with vertical instead of horizontal stripes. As they grow older, the vertical lines fade away and convert into horizontal stripes.

Although the Pygmy Cory Catfish is colorful and bright like other small-sized fish, it can easily be noticed inside any tank thanks to its personality. 


The Pygmy Cory Catfish is a very peaceful fish. You will never see it getting into a scuffle or causing one. They like to spend most of their time close to the base of the aquarium tank. You might see them swimming in the middle tier of the aquarium tank in shoals. 

If you notice them spending a considerable amount of time closer to the upper surface of the water, immediately check the aquarium water quality and the oxygen concentration inside the tank.

They come closer to the body of the water to use their intestines for oxygen absorption when there is not enough oxygen in the tank. 

Habitat And Tank Conditions

The goal for any tank keeper is to replicate and reproduce the natural habitat of the fish inside the tank. The Pygmy Cory Catfish comes from a region that enjoys a tropical climate with slow-flowing water.

By nature, most of the catfish like to spend their time closer to the bed of the rivers where they can easily hide away in debris and plants. 

When setting up a tank for pygmy cory catfish, choosing the right substrate is extremely important. You need to opt for a substrate that is soft and gentle. Pygmy catfish do dig around in the substrate looking for food. A harsh substrate will scratch their bodies and cause injuries. 

As already mentioned, the pygmy cory fish loves to hide. Ensure that their tank has ample plants and decorations that can serve as a hiding spot for these fish. Some plant recommendations for a pygmy cory fish tank include plants like Dwarf Hairgrass, Java fern, and Amazon Swords. 

The temperature of the water inside the tank should be maintained between seventy-two to seventy-nine degrees Fahrenheit, and the ideal pH level is between six to eight. Standard aquarium lighting should suffice but remember to add a filter to the tank to ensure hygiene and cleanliness. 

Due to their small size, a ten-gallon sized tank should suffice for a group of four to eight fish. A general rule of thumb is to consider two gallons per fish. 

Tank Mates

Pygmy cory fish is a peaceful temperament fish. As long as it is kept with similar mild fish, fish compatibility will be the least of your concerns. They will never threaten any fish inside the tank, but they can easily fall prey to aggression and bullying. 

Moreover, large-sized fish can quickly gobble up the pygmy cory catfish due to their large-sized mouths. Therefore, it is ideal for them to be grouped with fishes that are less than an inch in length.

Adding invertebrates to the tank is also a great idea since both the pygmy cory fish and the invertebrates do not pose a threat to one another. 

Some tank mate recommendations include:

The pygmy cory catfish is a shoaling fish. Therefore, you can keep them in a group. Actually, they really enjoy the company of their own kind and do very well when kept with one another.

The general group size is around four pygmy cory fish. But you can opt to have eight fishes in the group. The more, the merrier!


Another reason why Pygmy Cory Catfish are highly recommended for beginner level tank keepers is that they are omnivorous in nature. You can feed them store-bought pellet based food. Some people also love feeding wafers to their catfish. 

If you want, you can also add chopped up green vegetables to the tank. But make sure that you chop the vegetables into really small chunks that can easily be consumed by the fish. You can also use live food, brine shrimp, insect larvae as well as bloodworms. 

Make sure that you feed the fish a balanced diet that is a right blend of plant-based and protein-based foods. Since the Pygmy Cory Fish spends most of its time at the bottom of the tank, the tank owners have to be vigilant when feeding them.

Make sure that the upper-level fish do not eat away all the fish, and it reaches the pygmy fish at the bottom. 

You might see them digging in the substrate looking for food afterward. But that is a natural behavior, and there is nothing to be worried about. However, if you see that the fish looks through the substrate a lot, it might be an indication that the pygmy fish is not being fed properly. 


Other than general care and feeding, the breeding of these fish is also quite simple and hassle-free. These fish mate quite frequently; therefore, initiating mating is the least of the tank keeper’s concerns. However, the pygmy cory fish itself is so small so think about the size of the fry. 

If the tank owners provide a healthy and clean tank environment, and the fish is being fed properly, the spawning of the fish will facilitate naturally without requiring any intervention from the tank owner. 

The female fish has the tendency to lay around one hundred eggs during one spawning season. The female fish holds the eggs a few at a time in her pelvic pouch while the male pygmy fish fertilizes them. The fish attaches the fertilized eggs on to a safe surface while they wait to hatch. 

Fungus development is a common issue that you may observe in the eggs. If you find any signs of fungal development, make sure that you remove the infected egg immediately; otherwise, the infection can spread throughout all the eggs. 

The parent pygmy cory fish do pose a threat to the eggs. Either use a breeding tank or use a separate divider to divide the same tank into two sections, one for the eggs and the other one for the parents. The parents might end up eating the eggs. 

Once the fry is released into the tank, pay special attention to feeding them. They are even smaller than their parents. Therefore, they have very small mouths.

Make sure that you crush the pellets into very small pieces before feeding them to the fry. The pellets should be so fine that the fry can consume them with ease. 

When the fry grows a bit and is considerably bigger in size, this is when you can add them back to the tank with the parents or any other community tank. 

Common Diseases

Although the pygmy cory fish is very easy to care for, it does not mean that the tank owners can be careless and not keep an eye on the tank’s overall and especially hygiene condition. Ensuring that the tank conditions remain stable should be the first priority of the tank keepers. 

Sudden and extreme fluctuations in the tank’s conditions can lead to severe issues. They may have an adverse impact on the pygmy cory fish’s health and may even lead to a handful of health issues. 

Make sure that the tank water is changed every two weeks. When performing water changes, the tank’s walls should be wiped down to get rid of any sneaky signs of algae. Water testing is also important as it helps the tank owners keep an eye on the tank’s water conditions. 

Another common cause of pygmy cory fish disease is poor nutrition. Rather than inclining towards a specific dietary extreme, ensure that the pygmy cory fish is being fed a balanced diet that is rich in both plant-based as well as protein-based elements. 

Moreover, avoid overfeeding or underfeeding your fish. Overfeeding can not only lead to health issues, but the extra, unconsumed food can also decay and rot inside the tank, thus leading to poor tank hygiene. 

  • Red Blotch Disease

As indicated by the name itself, the red blotch disease is characterized by the appearance of small red-colored sores all around the fish’s body. Most of the time, these sores are near the fish’s belly, but they can eventually end up covering their entire body. 

The two main factors that can contribute to this disease are poor water conditions and the lack of oxygen in the tank. Therefore, changing the water regularly and using a filter is extremely important. 

  • White Ich

White ich appears in the form of white spots covering the fish’s body. It is not only a pygmy cory fish disease, but this illness is quite common in almost all types of freshwater fish.

This disease is mainly caused by a parasite that infects the fish; therefore, at the end of the day, the reason behind this disease is nothing but poor hygiene inside the tank. 


If you are looking for an easy to care for fish to add to your aquarium tank, consider the Pygmy cory fish for sure. It is a very beautiful fish that is known for its aesthetics as well as its personality.

It can be grouped together, or you can even add it to your community tank. Believe it or not, getting the pygmy cory fish is a decision that you will not regret. 

John Kilmerstone

I love keeping pet fish and receive a lot of joy and peace from watching these colorful creatures. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of pet fish. Discover how to care for and look after pet fish and amplify your satisfaction.

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