Pygmy Cory Care Guide: Everything You Need to Know

You shouldn’t refrain from Pygmy Cory fish if you are looking to set up a peaceful community aquarium. These little fishes belong to the Catfish family and make an excellent pet for a beginner.

Pygmy fish is one of the smallest fishes of the aquarium community, and thus they can quickly adapt to a small aquarium. They will display some freakish behaviors that many find adorable.

These qualities make Pygmy Cory Catfish the most sought-after species of Corydoras group. If you think they might be perfect for your aquarium, keep reading the article to find out more about them.

First, take a brief look at the table given below –

Category Rating
Family Callichthyidae
Scientific Name Corydoras pygmaeus
Care Level Easy
Temperament Peaceful
Diet Omnivore
Lifespan Up to 3 years
Color Form Silver with black horizontal lines
Size Up to 1 inch
Compatible Small peaceful community

Pygmy Cory Overview

Pygmy Cory, from the sub-family Corydoradinae, is native to freshwater bodies of the Madeira River basin in Brazil. But you will find most of their population dwelling in the South American continent. It is also known as Pygmy Corydoras.

The term ‘Cory’ in their name is short for their genus’ Corydoras,’ and you may also hear people calling them Pygmy Catfish.

People initially believed that Corydoras hastatus is the only small species of this genus. But in the early 1900s, experts found many misidentified species and grouped them into a single species, called Pygmy Cory.

Pygmy Cory freshwater fish

These small fishes are customary of tropical water conditions and have a shorter lifespan of 3 years. This lifespan depends strictly on the quality of care they are getting.

Their hardiness and ease of care make Pygmy Cory a perfect fish for both experienced and beginner. They are readily available in all pet stores, given their popularity, and you can expect to spend $2 per fish.

Pygmy Cory Typical Behavior

The Pygmy Cory fishes are incredibly peaceful and polite species that make a perfect companion for any freshwater tank set up.

They are bottom dwellers, but you will see them swimming to the above levels when in school. So, make sure not to stuff the mid-water level while keeping these fishes in the community tank.

These fishes sometimes use their intestine to take up oxygen from the air when the water quality is low. They do this by going up to the surface, but you won’t see this behavior much as their air-breathing organ is less efficient.

Pygmy Cory Size and Appearance

The term ‘Pygmy’ means ‘dwarf’ and ‘Cory’ is short for their genus’ Corydoras,’ which collectively means ‘dwarf Corydoras.’

So, you won’t notice much difference in appearance between these fishes and other Corydoras Catfish species, except for their size.

A male Pygmy Cory is smaller than their female counterpart, given the sexual dimorphism. They can grow up to an inch while the male cannot get bigger than 0.75 inches.

The females may look a little broader, too, especially during the spawning period.

When Pygmy Cory fish is juvenile, you will notice a few vertical black stripes on the side of their body. These stripes start to fade away as they mature and form a thick horizontal line.

The base coloration on this fish’s body has silver coloration, which gets enhanced by the black stripes present over their body. They have a thick black line running horizontally from their snout to the tail fin.

Below this line, they have another thin black stripe running along the body.

You can quickly identify Corydoras hastatus from these markings present over their body. You will notice black spots over their tail, which is absent in Pygmy Cory Catfishes.

You won’t find them in other colors or patterns, but aquarists worldwide appreciate them for their small size and unique behavior.

Pygmy Cory Take Requirements and Natural Habitat

Pygmy Cory care

You will find Pygmy Cory dwelling in different water bodies ranging from small tributaries to large South American rivers.

The Nanay River in Peru, Madeira River in Brazil, and the Aguarico River in Ecuador are familiar places to find these Corydoras species.

The tropical climate, slow water movement, and plenty of lighting are common traits of these places. But the pH and water temperature can vary among them.

Catfishes prefer living near the sandy riverbed where they have access to debris (fallen branches) and can also take shelter among the plants.

Required Water Conditions

Water Conditions Parameter
Minimum Tank Size 10 Gallons
Tank Set-Up Freshwater, sandy with hiding spots
Temperature 72 to 79°F
pH 6 to 8
Hardness 2 to 25 dGh

Add sand-based substrate to the aquarium’s bottom.

It is essential to avoid damaging your fish’s barbels, which help your fish find food at the bottom. These are sensitive organs that will get scratched quickly in the gravel-based substrate.

Pygmy Cory fishes are bottom dwellers, and they will appreciate the presence of hiding places at the tank’s bottom. You can add plants and decorations along with plenty of rocks and bogwood to shelter them.

You can add a carpet of Dwarf Hairgrass* where your fish can enjoy swimming or other tall plants like Java Fern and Amazon Swords. A high-quality filter and a standard aquarium light system are the only equipment you’ll need for your aquarium.

Follow these steps to set up your aquarium correctly and make a healthy environment for your fish. It will also take care of your fish and give them the strength to swim actively around in the aquarium.

What is the suitable Aquarium size for your fish?

A 10-gallon aquarium will give ample swimming space to four to eight Pygmy Cory fishes, given their small size. If you want a larger group, you can increase your aquarium’s size by adding 2 gallons per fish you add.

Pygmy Cory Tank Mates

Pygmy Cory Catfish are saint-like fishes that won’t indulge in any fight with others. This quality makes them an excellent companion fish for a community aquarium.

But this is only for other smaller and peaceful fish species. The larger fishes will see your Pygmy Catfish as a meal. So, avoid adding any fish that has a mouth large enough to swallow them up.

Pygmy Cory tank mates

However, if these fishes have a mouth smaller than an inch, you won’t find your Catfish disappearing overnight into their bellies.

Zebra Danios, Neon TetrasGuppiesMollies, Dwarf Gourami, Cherry Barbs, and Marbled Hatchetfish are some fishes that dwell in mid to upper water levels. So, they will make a compatible mate to your Catfish.

The bottom dwellers, such as Chinese Algae Eaters, Otocinclus, and Kuhli Loaches, will live peaceful with your Cory fish.

The best thing about keeping small fishes is that you get plenty of options to add variety to your aquarium. You can try mixing invertebrates, such as Cherry shrimps and Mystery snails, to increase activity and appeal in your aquarium.

Is it safe to Keep Pygmy Cory Together?

You can safely keep Pygmy Cory in a group. Despite being a bottom-dweller, these fishes will show shoaling behavior. You might also see their group swimming in the middle water level of your home aquarium.

You can keep a minimum of four individuals in a group, but we will recommend you to go with eight of them. They will show more appealing behaviors when in a large group.

What to Feed your Pygmy Cory?

Pygmy Cory is omnivorous fish species that are easiest to feed as they can eat anything from plants to meat-based foods. So, you have lots of food options to add to your fish’s diet.

The easiest, most accessible, and affordable food option for your Catfish is dry food. Pellets and wafers are the best options as they are water sinkable and available in most pet stores.

But the dried foods alone can’t give all the nutrition to your fish. You have to supplement their diet with other foods such as insect larvae, bloodworms, and brine shrimp.

You can even take some vegetables from your kitchen to feed your fish. Add vegetables to your fish’s diet by either chopping them into smaller pieces or making fish food at home. It is an affordable way to add variety to their diet.

Many mistake Pygmy Cory Catfish for algae eaters. But it is not accurate, and you have to add more variety to their diet than just plant-based food.

In the presence of other fishes, make sure each of your little Catfish is getting fed efficiently. Other fish species might take the food before they even reach the bottom for your Cory fish.

Your little fish will need feeding only one or two times per day. Add only the amount that these fishes can finish in 2 minutes. You will notice them scavenging for food afterward that they might have missed initially.

How to take Care of Pygmy Cory?

Pygmy Cory will quickly pick diseases and infections in an unclean environment. So, please keep them in a well-maintained aquarium with the right water conditions.

You can easily maintain your aquarium’s health by following the simple steps given below –

  • Change the aquarium water every two weeks.
  • Perform weekly water tests to spot if there is a change in water conditions.
  • Wipeout algae while cleaning so they don’t overtake your aquarium.

Apart from healthy water conditions, you need to add wholesome food to your fish’s diet as well. Due to a lack of nutrients in their intake, your fishes will have weak immunity and, thus, won’t fight off diseases.

Pygmy Cory is most susceptible to Red Blotch Disease. The fish infected from this disease will have bloody red sores over their body, especially the belly.

Low oxygen levels in the aquarium and stress caused by environmental conditions play the main factor in causing this disease. Ich or White Spot Disease is another common disease that can affect your fish.

This ectoparasitic disease infects most freshwater fish species. You can quickly recognize an infected fish from the white spots present all over their body and fins.

The addition of unclean equipment and infected fish can introduce this disease to your aquarium. So, quarantine your new fish for a few days and thoroughly wash the second-hand equipment before attaching them to your aquarium.

Pygmy Cory Breeding

Pygmy Cory catfishes are easy to breed species as they mate regularly. But it’s challenging to care for their fries. You’ll be in awe to see the size of the offspring of these small catfishes.

You don’t have to make any changes in the aquarium to trigger spawning for these fishes. The pair only needs healthy water conditions and plenty of nutritious food to reproduce naturally.

The female Cory fish can lay around 100 eggs at once during spawning. They will carry a few of these eggs (at once) in a pouch present near their pelvic fin until the time the males fertilize them.

Once fertilized, they will attach these eggs to a secures surface until they hatch. Remove the parents from the tank as they can eat their eggs.

At this stage, keep an eye on the eggs as they can catch fungus, and if you notice something, remove the infected ones. Otherwise, they will get spread and damage other eggs.

The fries will need feeding as soon as they are out of eggs. It is the most challenging task as you have to find foods that should be small enough to fit in their tiny mouth.

Infusoria or crushed flakes are the best food options for these fries. Feed them these foods until they get big enough to take an adult diet.


Pygmy Cory is adorable little fishes found in freshwater bodies and can settle in any small aquarium. Their peaceful temperament and hardy nature make them a perfect companion for any community aquarium.

Aquarists around the world appreciate these species for their unique behavior and active swimming movements. They are quite popular among beginners and experienced aquarists.

These fishes are easy to feed and breed in the home aquarium. Do you have Pygmy Cory in your aquarium? Did you face any difficulty in keeping them? Let us know through your comments.