Pygmy Cory: Care, Breeding, Everything On The Fish

Pygmy Cory is a perfect peaceful community fish for your aquarium. The best way to get the peaceful species going is the Pygmy Cory. It is beginner-friendly fish that also looks best for the tank setting.

The Pygmy Cory is simple, easy to care for pets. They are small fish that require small aquariums. You can just keep them in freshwater with appropriate equipment and light to make them healthy and happy throughout their lifetime. These fish are tiny due to which they attract a lot of adoration.

5 Fish That Are Easy to Keep
5 Fish That Are Easy to Keep

Pygmy Cory comes from the Corydoras family which is quite the famous name in the fishkeeping world. They are one-of-a-kind pets that catch your attention with their behaviors in the tank.

Pygmy Cory Overview

Category Rating
Care Level: Beginner
Lifespan: Up to 3 years
Family: Callichthyidae
Other Names Pygmy Catfish, Pygmy Cory Catfish
Size of the fish Up to 1 inch
Food and Diet: Omnivore
Temperament: Peaceful
Color Form: Silver with black horizontal lines
Compatibility: Small peaceful community
Reproduction Egg layer
Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
Tank Set-Up: Freshwater, sandy with hiding spots
Aquarium Level Bottom level
Difficulty Level Beginner to Intermediate
Shoaling Fish Yes
How many in a group Group of three

Pygmy Cory catfish are also known as Pygmy Catfish and Pygmy Cory are tropical freshwater fish that is pretty common among aquarists. These fish are wonderful small beginner fish that are hardy in nature.

Since they are small, they require very little space. Thus, you can decorate your tank as much as you want to make it more visually attractive. Similarly, the Pygmy Cory does better in shoals of three to go for a healthier lifestyle.

You might however want to maintain the perfect balance when it comes to the quality of the water. Even though they are easy to take care of, you might be wanting to take proper care of the small fish so that Pygmy Cory comes in the best visual prowess.

Likewise, the Pygmy Cory is quite easy to find and you will never have difficulty getting them in the pet stores. They usually live for 3 years which is a short period of time. However, you can lengthen this time if you care for it better.

Pygmy Cory Natural Habitat and Origin

Pygmy Cory is the inhabitants of the rivers of South America. These fish are tropical freshwater fish. Thus, they can be found in freshwater tributaries like in the Madeira River, the Aguarico River, and the Nanay River. These rivers are in Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador.

The Corydoras were first found in the 1900s. This was a time when Pygmy Cory was said to be of the Corydora family. However, later the species was named Pygmy Cory Catfish.

Since they are tropical species, they require lots of light. Although you will see them hidden in fallen leaves and branches in the wild, you might find Pygmy Cory hiding in the decorations and debris in the aquarium. You will most likely find the riverbed sandy.

The natural habitat from where the Pygmy Cory come from share a tropical climate. The water quality and temperature may vary but they are somewhat in the same range. The origins have a slow water movement with better lighting for the small fish to survive.

The Appearance of Pygmy Cory

If we talk about the appearance of the pygmy cory, they appear to be small fish with silver bodies. You can clearly see the black line that goes from the center to the sizes of the fish. It is horizontal. Similarly, the black line also goes from the caudal peduncle to the tip of its nose. The cory catfish has black lines over its body.

You can envision black lines on the bottom side of the body as well near the ventral fins to its tail. Likewise, you can say that its lower body is lighter than its upper body. Since they look almost like most Corydoras, they can be easily confused. However, size is the key aspect of differentiation.

Body Shape

These fish are unique because of their teardrop body shape. Along with it, they have larger heads for a small fish with an underturned mouth. The mouth consists of barbels so that they can find food being a bottom dweller.


You might not find the Pygmy cory colorful but it is quite irresistible in its beauty. It is an interesting fact that the Pygmy cory fries have vertical black lines which turn into horizontal black lines as they get older. They have black lines over their silvery body with a whitish belly to top off their finished look.

Sex Differences

Here females are longer by about a quarter of an inch. Similarly, males are of the size 0.75-inch females can be an inch long. Females are broader than the males like many fish as they carry the eggs in the species.

If you try to notice the pygmy cory from above, you will see that the females have a distinct bulbous shape. These are the slight differences that can help you in sexing the pygmy cory catfish.

Behavior & Temperament

Pygmy Cory is the most well-behaved fish. You can find the following behaviors to be common in the tropical community fish.

Temperament or Aggression Levels

Pygmy Cory catfish are famous for their peaceful behavior. They are community-friendly fish and do not show any aggressive behavior towards other tank mates. If you see them fighting in a playful manner, it is completely normal. On the contrary, it is not serious. Thus, you do not need to worry.


Among the Corydoras, Pygmy Cory is the most sociable. However, if it feels dangerous, it will spend its time hiding. You might also find it playing with the plants in the aquarium.

Dwelling Positions

Since the fish are bottom feeders and dwellers, they will spend most of their time on the bottom of the aquarium. Occasionally, they can come to the middle portion of the aquarium as well. An amazing fact here is that they can use their intestines as a source of oxygen.

Signs Of Stress

You will be lucky if you are able to view them breathing. But make sure it is not regular or else it may be a sign of stress due to bad water quality. Check the water parameters if they frequently come to the top.

Shoaling Fish

The next best thing about the Pygmy cory is that they are shoaling fish. The swim in shoals. You can keep them in a group of three. Make sure that you do not overcrowd the tank even if they are shoaling fish.

Average Pygmy Cory Size

The pygmy cory catfish is quite a small fish that can range up to an inch only. The length may vary according to the species’ gender. The ones that have the highest lengths reach up to 1.3 inches. However, it is a rare case as they are of an average height of 0.75 inches.


A pygmy copy is short-lived. It has a lifespan of around 3 years on average. But as mentioned before, you can definitely add up to its life expectancy if you take care of it better.

However, I must say that the luck factor also plays a great role in the lifespan of a pygmy cory. If you are able to maintain the perfect balance of the quality of water and maintain a bio topic environment for a pygmy cory, you shall be able to elongate its life.

If you are unable to do so due to poor skills, bad diet, and living conditions, then you will lose the fish. Stress and diseases can cause the premature death of poor small fish.

Pygmy Cory Care

Typically a pygmy cory is easy to care for. However, it does not mean that you do not have to show in any efforts to create a better place for it to live in. If you are able to maintain the appropriate tank size, water parameters, and decorations, you will be able to keep them happy.

There are other diseases that you might need to take care of but I will be explaining them in another heading. So, keep on reading not to miss out on the details.

Tank Size

Pygmy cory does not require much space in their tank as they are quite the small ones. They live in a shoal of three to six. Hence, they will be fit for a 10-gallon tank without much difficulty. You might have to consider the tank size if you put in other tank mates with the pygmy cory catfish though.

The fish is about an inch long so consider adding up a gallon per fish. The key point here is to select the one with a tall background. These fish are bottom feeders and quite active. Hence, it will give them more space to explore rather than a long tank.

Water Parameters

Water Type Freshwater
The Temperature of the tank water 72 F to 79 ℉ (22.2 C to 26.1 ℃)
The PH of the tank water 6.0 to 8.0
The hardness of the tank water 2 GH to 25 GH

Talking about the water, it is the most important thing in the life of a fish as it is where it lives. Hence, you have to maintain a proper tank water parameter to keep it healthy and happy. The water parameters consist of three main things. They are temperature, ph, and the hardness of the water.

The pygmy cory lives in freshwater. So, you can learn how to set up a freshwater tank first.

Next, the temperature of the water for a pygmy cory is from 72 F to 79 ℉ (22.2 C to 26.1 ℃). To maintain such temperatures, you can use a heater and a thermometer.

Similarly, for the ph, you can maintain a range of 6 to 8 in the tank water. You might want to read out my other article about how to increase the ph of the tank water for freshwater species.

Last but not the least, the hardness of the water should be around 2 to 25 GH. You can learn how to maintain the proper hardness of water from our article about it.

Since pygmy cory is algae eaters, you may decrease the water changes. However, I still recommend changing 20 percent to 25 percent of the tank water every two weeks.

Water Flow

The flow of the water is quite different from that of its parameters. It means that you ought to keep a moderate flow of water. Put in tannin-rich water in an acidic environment. I have already mentioned the hardness of the water above.

A neutral base is also a good way to go. Additionally, check for any signs of stress and keep a water test kit to run if you see such signs. The signs of stress include coming up in the top level for some air.


For decorations, you have to add up many hideouts for the small fish as they love to hide when they feel like they are in danger. It helps them to decrease the amount of stress that they might be facing.

Hence, you may add some PVC pipes or driftwood for proper hideouts. You may even add some plants which I will discuss below.


Like much freshwater fish, the Pygmy cory also happens to like the sandy substrate. It is a bottom feeder. Thus, a soft substrate will do good for the Pygmy cory catfish.

Keep in mind to avoid the gravels or rocks which are a hard base substrate. It may harm the pygmy cory when they are going for the food hunt in the bottom of the tank. A sand substrate is a safer option at any time to avoid such injuries which can cause them infections or even death.

These fish are keen to check the new possibilities in the tank. Due to which you can find them digging in the tank substrate. Take it normally.


The next best thing to add to the Pygmy cory tank is plants. These are a source of oxygen as well as food for the pygmy cory. They provide a sense of safety as well.

Thus, you can always put in fallen trees that sink into the riverbed to imitate their natural environment. Dried leaves provide a unique aesthetic to the tank.

Similarly, there are various tall plants, foreground plants, and floating plants that you can choose from. Choose the soft plants always. You can even go for grasses and shrimp flats. If you choose a larger aquarium to add some other tank mates along with pygmy cory, that would be the best option for you!

Equipment For Pygmy Cory Tank

There are several pieces of equipment in the tank that can help you to care for the pygmy cory catfish better. These types of equipment assist in creating the best natural environment for the pet and to make them feel at home.


Since the pygmy cory catfish is small, you have to check for the best filtration. The filter must not have big inlet tubes. If there are, you shall add sponges to them. Make sure you choose the ones with slow output. The water flow must not swirl them out.

Some of the best brands out there in the market are:


The next piece of equipment is lighting. The lights generally come in the tank itself. However, the lighting depends on the plants you specify for the pygmy cory. However, these fish love lights. Hence, you can add the following lighting systems if you like:


The heater helps to maintain the temperature of the water as per the requirement of the fish. Although the temperature of your 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 have to bear the extra cost. I suggest hygger 50W Mini Submersible Digital Display Aquarium for small aquariums.

Water Test Kit

A water test kit is the last thing to consider in a water tank. It is the most essential as it helps to know the problem that seems to be bothering your pet fish. You must be able to maintain proper water parameters in order to create a good environment for the fish to live in.

A water test kit will assist you to do the same. API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-Test is easy to work with and popular among most beginner as well as experienced aquarists.

Food & Diet

You can feed Pygmy Corydoras absolutely anything since they are omnivorous. Feeding them vegetables along with some live food is the best way to get them healthy. You must give them the variety they need in their diet for nutrition.

What To Feed The Pygmy Cory Catfish?

There are algae wafers. You can also put in some plants in the aquarium to create the algae and debris which is a good food source for the Pygmy cory.

The frozen food recommendations for the pygmy cory catfish are:

Since they are bottom feeders, you can also use sinking foods in their diet.

How To Feed Pygmy Cory Catfish?

You shall only feed them twice a day. The trick here is to feed them only the amount that they can devour in the time of around 2 minutes. Using the sinking pellets would be a great way to make sure they are eating properly.

This way other species in the tank will not steal the food that they are eating. Make sure you break down the food they are eating too since they are small fish that have smaller mouths. Similarly, you should not overfeed your fish. Be careful about it. Also, make sure you balance out the diets and maintain the nutrition levels for the small fish.

Tank Mates

Pygmy Cory catfish are nonaggressive creatures that will do well with any other freshwater species. As long as the water parameter matches and the temperament is not aggressive, the pygmy cory gel well. That is why they are called the community tank fish.

Worst Tank Mates For Pygmy Cory

The worst tank mates can not only cause harm to the fishes but also create difficulty to care for and check on. Aggression will lead to diseases and the tank will be full of sick fish faster than you know it. So, you shall avoid pairing the following species with the pygmy cory:

Basically, any bigger fish which can either eat or be involved in fin nipping activities should be avoided. Thus, the tank mates should be peaceful or smaller than an inch to fit in the good tank mate category for the fish.

Good Tank Mates For Pygmy Cory

The good tank mates assure better health and long life for all the members in your tank. It helps the aquarium to be nice and clean while being easy to look after.

Since Pygmy cory is a peace-loving fish, go for freshwater tropical fishes that are peaceful. Also, make sure that the tank mates are as small as them. Some of the best ones are:

You can find a way to mix them with the invertebrates as well. You can go for shrimps and snails too as long as they are smaller than an inch and fit in the freshwater tank. Examples can be Cherry shrimp, mystery snails, ghost shrimp, etc.

You will mostly see that they will stay alone and hide when they are not in groups. This is a sign of stress. So, you shall always group them in three to eight as they are shoaling fish. They will be healthy, confident, and playful if you are able to keep them in larger groups.

Pygmy Cory Diseases

If you are an experienced aquarist, you might already know you shall be careful with the freshwater fish diseases with the pygmy cory. There are various infections and diseases that it can catch. In such a case, you have to isolate or quarantine the fish as soon as possible.

Here are some of the diseases you must be aware of:

Red Blotch Disease

Here, the Pygmy cory has red bloody sores all over the body which is usually around the belly. It is quite a painful sight to see. It can be caused due to poor water parameters and stress caused by the same. A low amount of oxygen can also be a cause of the disease flourishing in the tank.


Ich is another communicable and lethal disease that the fish kingdom suffers from. Pygmy Cory is also one of them. You will see white spots across its fins and body if the disease is caught.

How To Avoid Diseases In Pygmy Cory Catfish?

To make sure your fish is not suffering from these, make sure you do the following:

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


The Pygmy cory is not that difficult to breed. The breeding process is quite easy as they tend to mate constantly. The tough part is however after the fry comes into play. Since the Pygmy cory is already small fish, their offspring are bound to be smaller.

Thus, it makes caring for them harder than it seems. You should take care of the water conditions pretty well to make sure they are healthy. The next thing to see through is a nutritious diet for the fries.

First of all the Pygmy Cory mates with each other and after the mating, the female will spawn the eggs. There are around 100 eggs laid in a single time. As the eggs are spawned, the female carries the eggs little by little on her pouch for the male to fertilize them.

The pouch is next to the pelvic fin as discussed in the appearance. Those eggs are then attached to the plants or decorations that you fill in your tank. Later, the eggs hatch from the place that they have attached themselves to.

You must be careful and separate the parents from the eggs as they do not exhibit any parental behavior. As in many fish, Pygmy Cory also eats up its young ones. So it is a good option to create a fry tank so that you can care for them better.

After the eggs hatch, you will see the fries floating in the water. You have to be very attentive to look for the small fries that are not quite visible. For feeding, you can always go for crushed flakes and infusoria for the fries. After they grow a little bigger, then you can start feeding them with micro worms and other live food.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Big of a Tank Does a Pygmy Cory Need?

You can keep a Pygmy cory catfish in a tank size of a minimum of 10 gallons. Similarly, if you add up more tank mates, you can add on the extra gallons of water. Make sure to count on the decorations and plants as well when you go for a smaller tank.

How Do You Keep Pygmy Cory Together?

A pygmy cory is a shoaling fish. If you put in a group of three to eight of them together, they will surely be roaming around your aquarium in groups. In addition, you might find some of them hilding at some point but it is completely normal.

However, do think about keeping a fry tank whenever they start to spawn or breed. You can even add some plants and decorations to make them feel safe.

What Kind of Disease Does a Pygmy Cory Have?

As discussed earlier, the pygmy cory can have freshwater species diseases like the ich and red blotch disease. To get rid of such disease, you must keep them in a clean tank and provide them the nutritious diet they need.

Last Words

Pygmy Cory is a wonderful, peaceful community fish with an adorable size. It is the most common and most chosen tropical freshwater species as it is easy to care for and is hardy in nature.

You can easily take care of the pygmy cory by just checking on the water parameters and changing the tank water every two weeks. If you are able to provide them with a nutritious balanced diet, they will live happily for about three years.

You shall definitely try out this species for the fun of it. After all, they are unique fish that add visual beauty to your tank!

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