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Temporal range: 58.5–0 Ma Late Paleocene - Recent
Corydoras melanotaenia.JPG
Corydoras melanotaenia
Corydoras Sterbai.jpg
Corydoras sterbai
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Callichthyidae
Tribe: Corydoradini
Hoedeman, 1952
Genus: Corydoras
Lacépède, 1803
Type species
Corydoras geoffroy
Lacépède, 1803
  • Brochis Cope, 1871
  • Chaenothorax Cope, 1878
  • Cordorinus Rafinesque, 1815
  • Gastrodermus Cope, 1878
  • Hoplisoma Swainson, 1838
  • Microcorydoras Myers, 1953
  • Osteogaster Cope, 1894

Corydoras is a genus of freshwater catfish in the family Callichthyidae and subfamily Corydoradinae. The species usually have more restricted areas of endemism than other callichthyids, but the area of distribution of the entire genus almost equals the area of distribution of the family, except for Panama where Corydoras is not present.[1] Corydoras species are distributed in South America where they can be found from the east of the Andes to the Atlantic coast, from Trinidad to the Río de la Plata drainage in northern Argentina.[2] Species assigned to Corydoras display a broad diversity of body shapes and coloration.[3] Corydoras are small fish, ranging from 2.5 to 12 cm (1.0 to 4.7 in) in SL.,[2] and are protected from predators by their body armor and by their sharp, typically venomous spines.[4]


The name Corydoras is derived from the Greek kory (helmet) and doras (skin).[5] Corydoras is by far the largest genus of Neotropical fishes with more than 160 species.[5] It is the sole genus in the tribe Corydoradini.[6] C. difluviatilis is recognized as the basalmost species of Corydoradini, exhibiting several plesiomorphic features compared to the other species of Corydoras.[6][3] The type species for this genus is Corydoras geoffroy.[5] Several hundred species are not yet classified, but kept by aquarists. These species are given 'C-numbers', originally devised by Hans-Georg Evers for the German fishkeeping magazine DATZ in 1993. In 2006, 153 C-numbers had been assigned, of which 32 had been assigned appropriate scientific names.[7]

The species C. barbatus, C. macropterus and C. prionotos have been reclassified into the genus Scleromystax.[6] Brochis had been differentiated from Corydoras due to the higher number of dorsal fin rays; however, Brochis has recently been suggested to be a synonym of Corydoras.[6] This is contested and has not been universally accepted. The sixray corydoras belongs in Aspidoras.[8]


Corydoras are generally found in smaller-sized streams, along the margins of larger rivers, in marshes, and in ponds.[2] They are native to slow-moving and almost still (but seldom stagnant) streams and small rivers of South America, where the water is shallow and very murky. Most species are bottom-dwellers, foraging in sand, gravel or detritus.[2] The banks and sides of the streams are covered with a dense growth of plants and this is where the corys are found. They inhabit a wide variety of water types but tend toward soft, neutral to slightly acidic or slightly alkaline pH and 5-10 degrees of hardness. They can tolerate only a small amount of salt (some species tolerate none at all) and do not inhabit environments with tidal influences. They are often seen in shoals.[2] Most species prefer being in groups and many species are found in schools or aggregations of hundreds or even thousands of individuals, usually of a single species, but occasionally with other species mixed in. Unlike most catfishes, which are nocturnal, these species are active during the daytime.[2] Corydoras are capable of breathing both water and air, often swimming to the surface to quickly ingest air before re-submerging. The frequency of this air breathing behavior increases when corys are exposed to water with low oxygen availability, allowing them to tolerate periods of aquatic hypoxia.[9]

Their main food is bottom-dwelling insects and insect larvae and various worms, as well as some vegetable matter. Although no corys are piscivorous, they will eat flesh from dead fishes. Their feeding method is to search the bottom with their sensory barbels and suck up food items with their mouth, often burying their snout up to their eyes.[10]

In several species of Corydoras, it has been observed that the fishes, after initial evasive reaction to threat, lie still; this is suggested to be a form of cryptic behavior. However, it is also argued that most species do not have cryptic coloration nor freezing behavior and continue to exist,[2] likely due to their armor and venom. A few species of Otocinclus: (O. affinis, O. flexilis, O. mimulus and O. xakriaba) are considered to be Batesian mimics of certain Corydoras species (C. diphyes, C. garbei, C. nattereri and C. paleatus, respectively). These species have bony plates of armor and strong, frequently venomous[11] spines as defenses, making them less palatable; by mimicking these species in size and coloration, Otocinclus avoid predation.[2]

A unique form of insemination has been described in Corydoras aeneus. When these fish reproduce, the male will present his abdomen to the female. The female will attach her mouth to the male's genital opening, creating the well-known "T-position" many Corydoras exhibit during courtship. The female will then drink the sperm. The sperm rapidly moves through her intestines and is discharged together with her eggs into a pouch formed by her pelvic fins. The female can then swim away and deposit the pouch somewhere else alone. Because the T-position is exhibited in other species than just C. aeneus, it is likely that this behavior is common in the genus.[12]

In the aquarium[edit]

The genus is well known among aquarists for its many ornamental species.[13] They are well suited to tropical freshwater community aquariums, as they get along well with other species and are not aggressive. Corydoras are quite timid and are recommended to be kept in shoals of six or more. Corys are mostly bottom feeders, so they should be offered sinking pellets as well as supplements of live and frozen foods. If flake foods are used, care should be taken to prevent all food from being eaten by faster moving fish at the higher levels of the tank.

Most corys prefer soft, acidic water. They can, however, tolerate a wide range of water conditions, including temperatures that are cooler than tropical. They do not do well in fish tanks with high nitrate levels. This ion leads to the infection of the barbels, which will shorten and become useless. The barbels may also be affected by constant contact with a sharp substrate. Contrary to popular belief, these fish can be kept in a tank with gravel, as long as there are no sharp edges on the gravel without affecting their barbels, although they do prefer sand substrate. They are more likely to thrive if there is an open area of substrate on the bottom of the tank where they can obtain submerged food. It is a myth that salt cannot be used on this species of fish as a means of parasite medication. Salt can be added to the water of the Corydoras catfish in order to rid the fish of ich. These fish are fairly easy to keep, being peaceful, hardy, active and entertaining. Occasionally they will dart to the surface, sticking their snout above the water for an instant to take a breath of air. This behavior is perfectly normal and is not an indication that anything is wrong with the fish. However, if this is done in excess, it can indicate poor water conditions.

Where investigated, Corydoras sp. have been shown to be diurnal and crepuscular rather than nocturnal and activity can even peak at twilight.[14] Corydoras are a very popular choice for a community aquarium and are widely kept throughout the world. Their longevity in the aquarium is noteworthy; C. aeneus is said to have lived 27 years in captivity and 20 years is not too uncommon.


There are currently 161 recognized extant species in this genus, as well as one known extinct species:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reis, R.E. (1996). "Corydoras". Tree of Life Web Project.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Axenrot, T.E. & Kullander, S.O. (2003): Corydoras diphyes (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae) and Otocinclus mimulus (Siluriformes: Loricariidae), two new species of catfishes from Paraguay, a case of mimetic association. Archived 2009-02-05 at the Wayback Machine Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, 14 (3): 249–272.
  3. ^ a b Britto M.R., Castro R.M.C. (2002). "New Corydoradine Catfish (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae) from the Upper Paraná and São Francisco: The Sister Group of Brochis and Most of Corydoras Species". Copeia. 2002 (4): 1006–1015. doi:10.1643/0045-8511(2002)002[1006:nccscf];2.
  4. ^ Wright JJ (2009). "Diversity, phylogenetic distribution, and origins of venomous catfishes". BMC Evol Biol. 9: 282. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-9-282. PMC 2791775. PMID 19961571.
  5. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2016). Species of Corydoras in FishBase. January 2016 version.
  6. ^ a b c d Britto, M.R. (2003): Phylogeny of the subfamily Corydoradinae Hoedeman, 1952 (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae), with a definition of its genera. Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 153 (1): 119-154.
  7. ^ Evers, H.-G. (2006). "A system called "C-Numbers"". Archived from the original on 2006-06-19.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  8. ^ Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel (eds.) (2016). "Aspidoras pauciradiatus" in FishBase. January 2016 version.
  9. ^ Pineda, Mar; Aragao, Isabel; McKenzie, David; Killen, Shaun (2020). "Social dynamics obscure the effect of temperature on air breathing in Corydoras catfish". Journal of Experimental Biology. 223 (Pt 21). doi:10.1242/jeb.222133. PMC 7673363. PMID 33097572.
  10. ^ "Corydoras aeneus (Bronze Corydoras)" (PDF). The Online Guide to the Animals of Trinidad and Tobago. The University of the West Indies St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.
  11. ^ "Handle those catfish with care! - Practical Fishkeeping".
  12. ^ Kohda M., Tanimura M., Kikue-Nakamura M., Yamagishi S. (1995). "Sperm drinking by female catfishes: a novel mode of insemination" (PDF). Environmental Biology of Fishes. 42 (1): 1–6. doi:10.1007/bf00002344. S2CID 45023164. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-08. Retrieved 2016-08-03.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Huysentruyt F., Adriaens D. (2005). "Descriptive osteology of Corydoras aeneus (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae)" (PDF). Cybium. 29 (3): 261–273.
  14. ^ Paxton C.G.M. (1997). "Shoaling and activity levels in Corydoras". Journal of Fish Biology. 51 (3): 496–502. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8649.1997.tb01507.x.
  15. ^ Espíndola, V.C., Spencer, M.R.S., Rocha, L.R. & Britto, M.R. (2014): A new species of Corydoras Lacépède (Siluriformes: Callichtyidae) from the rio Tapajós basin and its phylogenetic implications. Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia, 54 (3): 25-32.
  16. ^ a b c Tencatt, L.F.C. & Britto, M.R. (2016): A new Corydoras Lacépède, 1803 (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae) from the rio Araguaia basin, Brazil, with comments about Corydoras araguaiaensis Sands, 1990. Neotropical Ichthyology, 14 (1): e150062.
  17. ^ a b Tencatt, L.F.C. & Ohara, W.M. (2016): Two new species of Corydoras Lacépède, 1803 (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae) from the rio Madeira basin, Brazil. Neotropical Ichthyology, 14 (1): e150063.
  18. ^ a b Tencatt L.F.C., Ohara W.M. (2016). "A new long-snouted species of Corydoras Lacépède, 1803 (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae) from the rio Madeira basin". Zootaxa. 4144 (3): 430–442. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4144.3.9. PMID 27470866.
  19. ^ Ottoni F.P., Barbosa M.A., Katz A.M. (2016). "A new Corydoras from floodplain swamps of the São Francisco river basin, northeastern Brazil" (PDF). Spixiana. 39 (1): 131–140.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ a b Tencatt, L.F.C., Britto, M.R.d. & Pavanelli, C.S. (2016): Revisionary study of the armored catfish Corydoras paleatus (Jenyns, 1842) (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae) over 180 years after its discovery by Darwin, with description of a new species. Neotropical Ichthyology, 14 (1): e150089.
  21. ^ Tencatt, Luiz Fernando Caserta; Santos, Sérgio Alexandre dos; Evers, Hans-Georg; Britto, Marcelo R. (2021). "Corydoras fulleri (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae), a new catfish species from the rio Madeira basin, Peru". Journal of Fish Biology. 99 (2): 614–628. doi:10.1111/jfb.14750. ISSN 1095-8649. PMID 33837549. S2CID 233200704.
  22. ^ Tencatt L.F.C., Britto M.R., Pavanelli C.S. (2014). "A new long-finned Corydoras Lacépède, 1803 (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae) from the lower rio Paraná basin, Brazil" (PDF). Neotropical Ichthyology. 12 (1): 71–79. doi:10.1590/s1679-62252014000100007.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ Tencatt L.F.C., Pavanelli C.S. (2015). "Redescription of Corydoras guapore Knaack, 1961 (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae), a midwater Corydoradinae species from the rio Guaporé basin" (PDF). Neotropical Ichthyology. 13 (2): 287–296. doi:10.1590/1982-0224-20150018.
  24. ^ Ohara W.M., Tencatt L.F.C., Britto M.R. (2016). "Wrapped in flames: Corydoras hephaestus, a new remarkably colored species from the Rio Madeira basin (Teleostei: Callichthyidae)". Zootaxa. 4170 (3): 539–552. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4170.3.7. PMID 27701241.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ Tencatt, L.F.C. & Evers, H.-G. (2016): A new species of Corydoras Lacépède, 1803 (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae) from the río Madre de Dios basin, Peru. Neotropical Ichthyology, 14 (1): e150019.
  26. ^ Tencatt L.F.C., Britto M.R., Pavanelli C.S. (2014). "A new species of Corydoras Lacépède, 1803 (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae) from the upper rio Paraná basin, Brazil" (PDF). Neotropical Ichthyology. 12 (1): 89–96. doi:10.1590/s1679-62252014000100009.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  27. ^ Tencatt L.F.C., Vera-Alcaraz H.S., Britto M.R., Pavanelli C.S. (2013). "A new Corydoras Lacépède, 1803 (Siluriformes: Callichthyidae) from the rio São Francisco basin, Brazil" (PDF). Neotropical Ichthyology. 11 (2): 257–264. doi:10.1590/s1679-62252013000200003.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)