Pygmy Corydoras Care: Food, Breeding, Size & More


The pygmy corydoras (corydoras pygmaeus) is a type of catfish. As the “pygmy” part of their name implies, these freshwater fish are tiny. In fact, they are some of the smallest fish in the hobby.

However, don’t let their size fool you. These little fish are fascinating fish and they are great for nano aquariums. 

Pygmy Corydoras Care

Pygmy corydoras are a relatively easy fish to take care of, and their small size means they do well in small aquariums. They have a peaceful temperament and they are not demanding. This makes them a good choice for people who are starting their first aquarium.

Pygmy corys like to live in schools, so keep a minimum of approximately 8 of them in your tank.

Since they aren’t expensive fish, it should not be difficult to purchase a good-size batch of them.

Pygmy Corydoras 

You can also put them in a tank with other fish. It’s best if the tank mates are of a similar size and temperament. Some fish you can consider as tank mates for your pygmy corys are small characins (such as neon tetra), small freshwater shrimp, cyprinids (such as cherry barbs), guppies, marbled hachetfish, molly fish, and dwarf gourami, to name a few. As long as your tank has enough capacity, you can have an amazing variety of fish housed together with your Pygmy corys.

One important factor when it comes to caring for your pygmy corydoras is maintaining good water quality. A dirty aquarium makes it more likely for your fish to catch an illness. Install a good aquarium filter, and change the water regularly as well.

The water temperature should be kept at 72-78 F (22-26C).

The pH level should be kept between 6.2 and 7.5.

Aside from maintaining proper water temperature and pH levels, add some plants and rocks to their setup. These little fish like having places to hide, especially when they feel threatened.

In regards to the substrate, a sandy substrate is preferable. Since they swim near the bottom of the tank, their tiny barbels could wear down if the gravel is sharp. This would make it difficult for them to search for food. In addition, if their fins and barbels get damaged, it could lead to infection and more health complications. A sandy substrate is ideal for pygmy corys because it allows them to forage freely. They will dig their faces into the substrate in search of food.

One thing to keep in mind is that eroding barbels is not always a result of sharp substrate. Multiple factors can cause this, including poor water quality.

Food & Diet

In order to keep pygmy corys healthy with strong immune system, a varied diet is essential.

As omnivores, they will consume both plant-based and meat-based foods. In their native habitat of South America, they feed on micro foods they find while exploring the river bottom. In an aquarium, here are a number of things you can feed them.

You can feed your pygmy corydoras a wide variety of foods. As omnivores, they’ll munch down on both plant-based and meat-based foods. In their native habitat of South America, they support themselves in the wild by eating micro foods they find while swimming around. If you wish to house them in a home aquarium, here are a number of things they will enjoy eating.

For their source of protein, you can feed them the following.

Bloodworms (fresh or frozen)

  • Grindal worms
  • Brine shrimp
  • Mosquito larvae

Freeze-dried black worms and tubifex

You can also feed them the following plant-based foods.

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

Feed them 1-2 times a day. Remember that these little fish aren’t good at competing with other fish for food. If you have them in a tank with other fish, make sure they are getting enough to eat.

The best option for your pygmy corydoras is to provide them with a varied diet with a combination of meat and plant-based foods. Make sure that the food you give them is small enough for them to eat as well.

Do Pygmy Corys Eat Algae?

While pygmy corydoras may eat some algae, they need more than that to survive. As with other members of Corydoras genus, these freshwater catfish will not thrive on algae alone. They will readily eat algae wafers, but the plant-based foods are only a part of their dietary requirements. They need a varied diet that is balanced with both protein and plant-based foods.

Pygmy Corydoras Breeding

Pygmy corydoras must be at least 8 months old before they can breed.

However, once they reach maturity, they breed quite redily.

A significant factor that contributes to successful breeding is their diet and water parameters.

Well-fed pygmy corys in healthy water conditions are more likely to breed successfully.

If you wish to breed them, make sure both male and female pygmy corydoras are actually present. The females have a rounder and curvier look. The males are generally more thin and sleeker. The females are ready to breed when they look bigger than usual due to being full of eggs. You also want more males than females in the tank (around a 2:1 ratio).

To help stimulate breeding, you can slightly increase the water temperature. Increase the water temperature by just a couple degrees. Water changes of up to 50% and providing well-oxygenated environments can help stimulate breeding behaviour as well.

If your pygmy corydoras are sharing the tank with other tank mates, then you’ll want to get them a separate tank to spawn in.

The male fish will compete for a female, following her around. Once she selects a male, they will go off to breed.

Pygmy Corydoras Size

These are tiny fish, only growing up to 1.2 inches in length. The females tend to be bigger than the males, with the males averaging 0.75 inches.

How many pygmy corydoras can you keep in a 10 gallon tank?

In a 10 gallon tank, you can keep approximately 10 pygmy corys. This is assuming that it is a species specific tank with only pygmy corys in it. This is estimation is based on the general stocking guideline of “1 inch of fish per 1 gallon of water.” Keep in mind that each aquarium setup is different. Depending on various factors, including the type of filtration system, the actual tank capacity can vary. You may be able to stock more or less fish, depending on your specific tank setup.

If you have other fish or invertebrates that are inhabiting the same 10 gallon tank, the number of pygmy corys that you can keep will most likely be reduced.

How many pygmy corydoras should be kept together?

Pygmy corydoras should be kept in groups of 8 or more. In fact, the more of them you can add to their shoal the better. In the wild, they can be found shoaling in large numbers in the hundres. Similarly, a large group in an aquarium setting would help them feel safe. They gain a sense of security in numbers, which will enable them to express more of their personalities. A large group is also visually impressive as well.

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