Pygmy corydoras

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Pygmy corydoras
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Family: Callichthyidae
Genus: Corydoras
C. pygmaeus
Binomial name
Corydoras pygmaeus
Knaack, 1966

Corydoras pygmaeus, or the pygmy corydoras or pygmy catfish[1] is a tropical and freshwater fish belonging to the subfamily Corydoradinae of the family Callichthyidae. It originates in tropical inland waters in South America, and is found in the Madeira River basin in Brazil.


The first scientific description of the pygmy corydoras was published in 1966 by German biologist and physician Joachim Knaack, in Aquarien und Terrarien-Zeitschrift.[2][3] One specimen was designated the holotype and one additional specimen was collected as a paratype.[2] The scientific name uses the Latin word pygmaeus, meaning dwarf or pygmy.[4]

A species of Corydoras with a similar appearance, Corydoras hastatus was described in the 1880s, and many specimens that were described as Corydoras hastatus between the 1920s and 1950s were subsequently found to be misidentified specimens of the pygmy corydoras.[1] In older literature, the pygmy corydoras is frequently mislabeled due to Corydoras hastatus being the only miniature Corydoras species known at the time.[1]


The pygmy corydoras is a silver-colored fish, with an unbroken black line that runs horizontally along the center of the sides of the fish from the tip of its snout to its caudal peduncle.[5] It has a second thin black line along the lower part of the side of the body, from behind the ventral fins and continuing into the tail.[5] The top part of the body has a light black or dark gray shading that starts on the top of its snout and ends at the tail.[5] Newly hatched fry have vertical stripes along the sides of their bodies that fade by the end of their first month, when the horizontal stripes of the adult fish begin to appear.[5]

The maximum length of the species is about 3.2 centimeters (1.3 in),[6] but typical adult sizes are 1.9 centimeters (0.75 in) for males and 2.5 centimeters (1.0 in) for females.[1] In addition to their larger length, females are also rounder and broader than males, especially when they have eggs.[7] Young fry grow rapidly after hatching, reaching 13 millimeters (0.51 in) in six to eight weeks.[1]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The pygmy corydoras is widely distributed in inland waters in Peru in tributaries of the Nanay River, in Ecuador in tributaries of the Aguarico River, and in western Brazil in tributaries of the Madeira River.[8] The holotype was obtained from Calama, Brazil, along the Madeira River near the mouth of the Ji-Paraná River.[6]

The pygmy corydoras lives in a tropical climate in water with a 6.0 - 8.0 pH,[9] a water hardness of 2 – 25 dGH,[9] and a temperature range of 22–26 °C (72–79 °F).[9] It feeds on worms, benthic crustaceans, insects, and plant matter.


The pygmy corydoras lays approximately 100 eggs at a time.[9] The female holds 2–4 eggs at a time in a pouch formed by her pelvic fins while they are fertilized by the male, which takes about 30 seconds.[9] The female swims to a safe location with the fertilized eggs, where she attaches the sticky eggs to a surface, where they will remain for about three days before hatching.[9]

In captivity[edit]

It is a peaceful fish, shoaling fish and can be kept in a community aquarium of smaller fish species such as ember tetras. It can be fed most sinking foods, flakes, frozen food and sinking wafers. It can be kept with small shrimp and snails. In aquariums, they are often kept on fine grained substrate, such as sand. This enables them to dig through the substrate without injury to their barbels, which can often be lost in sharp substrates. They are often kept at a pH of between 6.5 and 7.0.

They are schooling fish that are usually kept in groups of at least four and will also behave much more naturally in larger groups (10 or more). Unlike the larger more common Corydoras, they often swim in shoals around the mid water and lower regions of the tank.

C. pygmaeus are peaceful fish which will not thrive with aggressive tankmates. They are perhaps best kept in a planted species tank, or with shrimp such as Neocaridina spp. They seem to do best when offered live foods in addition to prepared food items. Appropriate foods include microworms or similar nematodes, as well as Artemia nauplii (newly hatched brine shrimp).


  1. ^ a b c d e Hellweg, Mike (December 2014). "Corydoras in Miniature". Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Corydoras pygmaeus". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability. 4 January 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  3. ^ Nijssen, Han & I. J. H. Isbrücker. "Chronological enumeration of nominal species and subspecies of Corydoras (Pisces, Siluriformes, Callichthyidae)". Bulletin Zoologisch Museum. 6 (17): 129–135. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Student Dictionary: Pygmy". Merriam-Webster. 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d Ruffer, Kaycy (January 1, 2002). "Breeding Corydoras pygmaeus". Planet Catfish. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Corydoras pygmaeus". Planet Catfish. July 19, 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Species Profile: Corydoras pygmaeus". Seriously Fish. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  8. ^ Hellweg, Mike. "Breeding the Pygmy Cory". Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Froese, Ranier; Pauly, Daniel, eds. (October 2015). "Corydoras pygmaeus Knaack, 1966". Fishbase. Retrieved 30 January 2016.