Panda Corydoras: Species Profile and Care Guide

panda corydoras

Panda Corydoras, scientifically known as Corydoras panda, is a small species of freshwater catfish native to Peru in South America. They are found in small streams and tributaries in the Andes Mountains, particularly in Peru. They prefer shallow, slow-moving waters with a soft, sandy bottom and are often found in areas with dense vegetation. 

They belong to the family Callichthyidae and are popular in the aquarium trade due to their distinctive appearance and peaceful temperament. Their body is primarily a light white to cream color, with three main black markings. One marking is around the eyes (resembling a panda’s eye patches), another on the dorsal fin, and a third near the base of the tail.

Common Name(s)Panda Cory, Panda Corydoras
Scientific NameCorydoras panda
OriginSouth America, specifically Peru
Temperature72°F to 79°F (22°C to 26°C)
SizeUp to 2 inches (5 cm)
Minimum Tank Size20 gallons (75 liters) for a small group
Food & DietOmnivorous; should be fed a varied diet of high-quality sinking pellets, flakes, frozen, and live foods
Lifespan5 to 7 years
Water pH6.0 to 7.0
Tank MatesPeaceful community fish such as small tetras, rasboras, and other corydoras species
BreedingEgg layer; requires clean, well-oxygenated water with a slight drop in temperature to induce spawning
Common DiseasesSusceptible to typical freshwater ailments, especially if water quality is not maintained

Panda Corydoras Care

Panda Corydoras are generally considered moderately hardy fish, suitable for well-maintained freshwater aquariums. They are adaptable to a range of water conditions but do require stable water parameters and good water quality to thrive. 

Regular maintenance, including water changes, filter maintenance, and monitoring of water quality, is essential. Panda Corydoras are sensitive to ammonia, nitrites, and high levels of nitrates, so a well-cycled tank is necessary for their health. Their requirement for clean, well-oxygenated water means they might not tolerate neglect as well as some other species.

Perform 25% water changes weekly to maintain water quality. Avoid drastic changes in water parameters as they can stress or harm the fish.

Food & Diet

Here is an overview of the dietary needs of Panda Corydoras and recommendations for feeding:

Basic Diet

  • High-Quality Dry Feed: It is crucial to provide a varied diet to ensure proper nutrition. Their diet can include high-quality sinking pellets or tablets formulated for bottom feeders, which are specifically designed to sink quickly to the bottom of the tank where Panda Corydoras feed.
  • Live and Frozen Foods: Supplementing with live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia can provide additional nutrients and help mimic their natural diet. These should be offered sparingly as treats rather than a staple of their diet.
  • Vegetables: While not a significant part of their diet, offering blanched vegetables like zucchini, cucumber, and spinach occasionally can add variety and provide some plant-based nutrients.

Feeding Schedule

  • Frequency: Feed your Panda Corydoras once or twice a day, ensuring only to provide what they can consume within a few minutes. Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and health issues.
  • Night Feeding: Since Panda Corydoras are more active during the evening and night, feeding them later in the day or at night can align better with their natural feeding habits.


  • Tank Mates: When housed with faster or more aggressive feeders, ensure Panda Corydoras receive their share by observing feedings and possibly using feeding tubes or placing food in multiple areas of the tank.
  • Water Quality: Maintain good water quality by regular monitoring and water changes, as poor conditions can affect their appetite and overall health.
  • Observation: Regularly observe your fish during and after feeding times to check for any signs of illness or feeding issues.

Providing a balanced and varied diet along with proper tank management will help ensure your Panda Corydoras thrive and display their best health and colors.

Tank Setup

Setting up a tank for Panda Corydoras involves creating an environment that closely mimics their natural habitat in the Amazon River basin. These peaceful and sociable fish thrive in well-planned aquariums that meet their specific needs. Here are some considerations when setting up a suitable tank for Panda Corydoras:

Tank Size

For Panda Corydoras, a minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended. These peaceful and sociable fish thrive in groups, so a larger tank is beneficial to accommodate a small group of them, enhancing their natural behavior and ensuring they are comfortable and healthy.

Panda Corydoras are bottom-dwellers and appreciate a tank with plenty of hiding spots and a soft substrate to protect their delicate barbels. A well-planted tank with driftwood or caves is ideal. The water should be kept clean with good filtration, but avoid strong currents as these fish prefer more gentle water flow.

Considering their social nature, keeping them in groups of at least 6 individuals is advisable to promote their natural schooling behavior, which can be both entertaining to watch and beneficial for the fish’s well-being. A larger tank not only accommodates the group size but also helps in maintaining stable water conditions, which is crucial for the health of Panda Corydoras.


  • Type: Use a soft, sandy substrate to prevent damage to their barbels. Corydoras are bottom dwellers and like to forage in the substrate.
  • Depth: A depth of about 2 inches allows them to dig and search for food comfortably.

Filtration and Water Flow

  • Filtration: A gentle filter that does not create too much current is preferable. Sponge filters or hang-on-back filters with adjustable flow are good choices.
  • Water Flow: They prefer slow to moderate water flow, mimicking their natural habitat in slow-moving streams and tributaries.

Lighting and Decor

  • Lighting: Standard aquarium lighting is sufficient. These fish do not require intense light.
  • Decor: Include plenty of hiding spots using plants, driftwood, and caves. Live plants are highly recommended as they help maintain water quality and provide additional cover.

Water Parameters

Proper water parameters are crucial for maintaining the health and well-being of Panda Corydoras. Here are the optimal water conditions for them:

  • Temperature: Panda Corydoras thrive in water temperatures between 72°F to 79°F (22°C to 26°C). Consistent temperatures within this range are important to mimic their natural habitat and keep them comfortable.
  • pH Level: The ideal pH level for Panda Corydoras is between 6.0 and 7.0. This slightly acidic to neutral range is crucial for their health and well-being.
  • Water Hardness: They prefer soft to moderately hard water, with a general hardness (GH) in the range of 2-12 dGH. Keeping the water on the softer side can be beneficial for these fish.
  • Water Quality: Like all aquarium fish, Panda Corydoras require clean, well-oxygenated water. Regular water changes (about 25% per week) are recommended to remove toxins such as ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, ensuring the water quality remains high. The use of a good filtration system is also crucial to maintain clean water and provide gentle water flow, as they come from environments with moderate currents.
  • Ammonia and Nitrite: These should always be at 0 ppm, as even low levels can be harmful to fish. Nitrate levels should be kept low, preferably below 20 ppm, through regular water changes and proper tank maintenance.
  • Tank Size and Setup: While not directly a water parameter, providing a suitable environment is essential for the well-being of Panda Corydoras. A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended for a small group of these social fish. They require a soft, sandy substrate to protect their barbels and plenty of hiding spots using plants, driftwood, or caves.

Ensuring these water parameters are met and maintained will help keep your Panda Corydoras healthy, active, and thriving in your aquarium. Always acclimate them slowly to avoid shock when introducing them to a new tank, and test your water parameters regularly to detect any changes that may require attention.


Breeding Panda Corydoras can be a rewarding experience for aquarium enthusiasts. Here’s a general guide on how to breed Panda Corydoras:

Breeding Tank Setup

  • Water Conditions: Maintain the water temperature between 72-79°F (22-26°C) and a pH level around 6.0 to 7.0. Soft to slightly hard water is preferable.
  • Tank Size: A 20-gallon tank or larger is recommended to provide enough space for the adults and the resulting fry.
  • Substrate: Use a soft, sandy substrate to protect the barbels of the Corydoras.
  • Filtration: Gentle filtration is necessary to keep the water clean without creating strong currents, as Panda Corydoras prefer calm waters.

Breeding Conditions

  • Feeding: Increase the frequency and variety of their diet with high-quality flakes, pellets, and live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia to condition them for breeding.
  • Water Change: Simulate the rainy season by doing frequent and large water changes, which can trigger spawning. A 50% water change with slightly cooler water can be effective.
  • Group Size: Corydoras are more likely to breed in groups. Keeping them in groups of at least six can encourage natural behaviors and increase the chances of breeding.

Spawning Process

  • Spawning Mops or Plants: Provide fine-leaved plants or spawning mops for the fish to lay their eggs on.
  • Observation: After a significant water change, watch for spawning behavior. Males will chase females around the tank, and then the pair will adopt a “T-position” where the male fertilizes the eggs as the female releases them.
  • Egg Care: Once eggs are laid, they should be either left in the tank with the adults (if the tank is heavily planted and provides plenty of hiding spots) or moved to a separate breeding tank to prevent them from being eaten. The breeding tank should have similar water conditions to the main tank.

Fry Care

  • Hatching: Eggs typically hatch within 3-5 days, depending on the temperature.
  • Feeding Fry: Feed the fry with infusoria or liquid fry food until they are large enough to eat micro worms or crushed flakes.

Additional Tips

  • Water Quality: Keep the water clean and well-oxygenated throughout the breeding and fry-rearing process.
  • Observation: Monitor the fish and fry for any signs of stress or disease and address issues promptly to ensure the health of the breeding stock and offspring.

Successful breeding requires patience and attention to detail, but watching the tiny fry grow can be incredibly rewarding. Be prepared for a lot of care, especially in the early stages, to ensure the survival of the young fish.


Panda Corydoras are highly social and schooling fish that thrive in groups. It’s recommended to keep them in groups of at least 6 individuals, but if space allows, a larger group of 10 or more is even better. Keeping them in sufficient numbers allows them to exhibit natural behaviors, increases their confidence, and significantly reduces stress, contributing to their overall health and well-being.

In larger groups, Panda Corydoras are more active, engaging, and display more complex social interactions, which can be fascinating to observe. Additionally, a larger group will distribute any potential aggression or stress more evenly, ensuring no single fish becomes a target for bullying. This social structure is essential for their happiness and can even impact their longevity.

When planning your aquarium, ensure it’s large enough to accommodate a group of Panda Corydoras comfortably, along with any other fish species you intend to keep. A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is advisable for a small group, but larger is better, especially for groups at the higher end of the recommended range or more. This provides ample swimming space and allows for more effective management of water quality, which is crucial for the health of these sensitive bottom dwellers.

  • Group Size: It’s recommended to keep Panda Corys in groups of at least 6 to ensure they feel secure and exhibit natural behaviors. If you plan to mix species, aim for similar group sizes for each species to ensure all individuals feel comfortable and can school with their kind.
  • Mixed Species Compatibility: Most Corydoras species have similar requirements in terms of water parameters and diet, making them compatible tank mates. However, it’s important to research each species’ specific needs and temperament to ensure compatibility.

Tank Mates

Panda Corydoras are peaceful and sociable freshwater fish that make excellent additions to community aquariums. When selecting tank mates for Panda Corydoras, it’s important to consider fish that share similar water requirements and have a peaceful temperament to ensure a harmonious environment. Here are some suitable tank mates for Panda Corydoras:

  • Tetras: Many species of tetras, such as Neon Tetras, Cardinal Tetras, and Rummy Nose Tetras, are peaceful and thrive in similar water conditions as Panda Corydoras. Their small size and peaceful nature make them ideal companions.
  • Dwarf Gouramis: Dwarf Gouramis are peaceful, colorful, and can coexist well with Panda Corydoras in a community tank. They occupy the middle to upper levels of the tank, complementing the bottom-dwelling habits of the Corydoras.
  • Danios: Species like Zebra Danios and Pearl Danios are active and hardy fish that get along well with Panda Corydoras. They prefer the upper parts of the tank, which helps create a dynamic aquarium environment.
  • Rasboras: Harlequin Rasboras, Chili Rasboras, and other small rasboras are peaceful fish that can share a tank with Panda Corydoras without issues. They have similar water parameter requirements and are not aggressive.
  • Other Corydoras Species: Different species of Corydoras can usually be kept together without problems. They enjoy being in groups and can often be seen interacting with each other.
  • Shrimp and Snails: Invertebrates like Cherry Shrimp, Amano Shrimp, and various snails are excellent choices for tanks with Panda Corydoras. They do not compete for food and add diversity to the tank without increasing aggression.

When setting up a community tank, it’s crucial to ensure that the tank is large enough to accommodate all inhabitants comfortably and that the water parameters (temperature, pH, hardness) are suitable for all species. Additionally, providing plenty of hiding spots and a varied diet can help maintain a healthy and stress-free environment for your fish.


Despite their hardiness, Panda Corydoras can be prone to several health issues, commonly resulting from poor water conditions, inadequate diet, or stress. Here are some common diseases and health issues that can affect Panda Corydoras:

  • Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (Ich or White Spot Disease): This is a highly contagious parasitic disease characterized by white spots on the skin, gills, and fins. It’s often caused by poor water quality or sudden changes in temperature.
  • Fin Rot: This bacterial infection causes the edges of the fins to appear frayed or discolored. It’s typically a sign of poor water conditions or a secondary infection following damage from fin-nipping tank mates.
  • Fungal Infections: Fungal growths appear as cotton-like tufts on the fish’s body or fins. These infections can occur if the fish is already weakened by another condition or injury.
  • Bacterial Infections: Symptoms include ulcers, bloody patches on the body, swollen eyes (pop-eye), and abnormal swimming patterns. Poor water quality and stress can lower the fish’s immunity, leading to bacterial infections.
  • Swim Bladder Disease: This condition affects the fish’s ability to control its buoyancy, causing it to swim at odd angles or have difficulty staying submerged. It can be caused by overfeeding, constipation, or infection.
  • Ammonia Poisoning: High levels of ammonia in the tank can burn the gills, leading to red or inflamed gills, lethargy, and gasping at the water’s surface. It’s a result of inadequate filtration or overfeeding.

Prevention of these diseases involves maintaining high water quality through regular water changes, ensuring the tank is not overcrowded, providing a balanced diet, and monitoring the tank for sudden changes in behavior or appearance that could indicate illness. Quarantining new fish before adding them to an established tank can also help prevent the spread of disease.


Panda Corydoras are moderately hardy and can be a good choice for aquarists with some experience who are prepared to provide the stable conditions and care these fish require. While they are more forgiving than some more delicate species, their need for stable water conditions, specific dietary requirements, and social nature should be considered when assessing their suitability for a specific aquarium setup. Proper care and attention to their needs can help ensure that Panda Corydoras remain healthy and vibrant in a home aquarium.

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