How to Take Care of Peppered Corydoras (Beginner’s Guide and Infograph)

Peppered Corydoras (Corydoras paleatus) are one of the most widely distributed Corydoras in the aquarium trade. Peppered Corydoras are characterized by the black spots on its body. However, Peppered Corydoras do come in a wide variety of appearance- some have exceptionally long dorsal fins while other varieties may have larger body spots. There are some also cultivated Peppered Corydoras varieties such Albino and Golden Paleatus. 

Originating from the rivers and streams of South America and Central America, there are over 150 different species of Corydora catfish. Peppered Corydoras are bottom dwelling fish that will scavenge and clean your aquarium. They are easy and hardy fish to care for because they can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. Peppered Corydoras are also peaceful and social, making them excellent fish for beginners looking to add bottom-dweller fish in their community tank. 


Corydoras paleatus infograph
NamePeppered Corydoras
Scientific NameCorydoras paleatus
OriginSouth America
Size2.75 inches (7cm)
Minimum Tank Size10 Gallons
Ease of CareEasy
PHPH 6.0-7.0
Water Temperature66-79F (19-26C)
Water Hardness LevelSoft to Hard (50-150mg/l)

What are Other Names for Peppered Corydoras

Peppered Corydoras are also called Peppered Cory Cats.

How Big Do Peppered Corydoras Get?

Peppered Corydoras can grow to 2.75 inches (7cm).

What to Feed Peppered Corydoras?

Peppered Corydoras are omnivores. Peppered Corydoras are bottom dweller fish that will feed on uneaten food. Even though they are scavengers, you still need to feed Peppered Corydoras their own food. It’s not enough to rely on food collected from scavenging as their only food source. You should supplement their diet with sinking pellets that are formulated for bottom-dwelling fish. 

How to Set Up an Aquarium for Peppered Corydoras?

Peppered Corydoras will thrive in a well planted aquarium with open swim areas. Peppered Corydoras spend their day digging and will use their mouth to dig the substrate. Use fine substrate like sand instead of gravel in your aquarium to make it easier for Peppered Corydoras to dig and to prevent damaging their whisker-like barbels.

What are the Best Water Parameters for Peppered Corydoras?

Peppered Corydoras are tolerant of a wide range of water parameters but should not be in excessively acidic water conditions.

What is the Ideal Water Temperature for Peppered Corydoras?

Peppered Corydoras should be kept in a tank with a water temperature of 66-79F (19-26C).

How to Set-Up Your Tank for Breeding Peppered Corydoras?

Set up a breeding tank with 1 male and 2 female Cory catfish. Make sure the breeding tank is well-planted so Peppered Corydoras can lay their eggs on the plant leaves (Java Moss). You can also use spawning mops. Set up the breeding tank with fine substrate like sand or keep the tank bare without any substrate. Add one or two pots or big shells, so your Peppered Corydoras can hide and feel safe during spawning. For optimal breeding conditions, it’s important to keep your Peppered Corydoras well fed with high protein food. 

How to Breed Peppered Corydoras?

Peppered Corydoras are egg layers. Breeding occurs with the female Peppered Corydoras swallowing male sperm and then releasing the sperm from her gut to her cupped pelvic fins along with some eggs. She will lay these eggs in small batches on plant leaves or on the aquarium surface.

The eggs will hatch 5-6 days later. After hatching, the young Corydoras will stay on the substrate and consume their yolk sac until they become free swimming. Once they are free swimming, feed the young Corydoras with fish food specifically for fry or freshly hatched brine shrimp.

How to Breed Corydoras

How to Get Peppered Corydoras to Start Spawning?

Here are 3 things you can do to trigger spawning 1.) Do a partial cold water change. Add colder water into the tank. This will bring aquarium water temperature down a few degrees which will simulate the water temperature after a heavy rainstorm. 2.) Feed your Peppered Corydoras high protein, high nutrient food. Keeping them well-fed will condition your Peppered Corydoras for spawning. 3.) Increase airflow in your aquarium. Face the filter towards the plants. The increased airflow will simulate the strong river currents after a rain storm. This will trigger spawning. Under the right conditions, your Peppered Corydoras will start spawning.

Will Adult Peppered Corydoras Eat Their Eggs?

Peppered Corydoras will eat their own eggs. You will need to separate the adults from the eggs. The best way to do this is to move the eggs to a fry tank. You can also move the eggs to a breeding box.

If the eggs are on plant leaves, remove the entire plant and transfer it to the fry tank. If you are using a breeding box, you can gently remove the eggs one by one with your fingers and transfer them to the breeding box. If the eggs are on the aquarium glass, gently scrape off the eggs with your finger and transfer them to the fry tank. You can also use a credit card to scrape eggs off the aquarium glass.

Peppered Corydoras will lay eggs in many different places in the aquarium so you should check the entire aquarium for eggs- behind filters, on plant leaves, aquarium glass, shells, etc. Make sure the water parameters and water temperature of the fry tank are similar to the breeding tank. Use a sponge filter in the fry tank. Sponge filters are gentler and will not suck up the Peppered Corydoras fry. 

How to Prevent Egg Fungus on Corydoras Eggs?

To prevent egg fungus, add a few drops of methylene blue to the fry tank. Once the eggs hatch, remove the methylene blue because it will be harmful to the fry. You also need to aerate the water to prevent egg fungus, use an airstone to aerate the water.

Are Peppered Corydoras Peaceful or Aggressive Fish?

Peppered Corydoras are social and peaceful fish. They are active at night and can be shy during the day. Provide plenty of plants and rocks/shells for cover so they will feel protected and safe.

How Many Peppered Corydoras in a Tank?

Peppered Corydoras are not solitary fish. They are social fish that should be kept in groups of the same species. If space permits and without overstocking your tank, keep at least 5 Peppered Corydoras in your tank. A group of Peppered Corydoras will look striking in your aquarium.

Use Our Tank Calculator

Use our How Many Fish in a 10 Gallon Tank Calculator to find out how many Peppered Corydoras you can keep in a 10 gallon tank. For 20 gallon tanks, use our How Many Fish in a 20 Gallon Tank Calculator to find out how many Peppered Corydoras you can keep in a 20 gallon tank.

What Fish are Compatible with Peppered Corydoras?

Peppered Corydoras are compatible with most peaceful topwater and midwater fish that share similar water parameter requirements. There are a lot of fish that are compatible with Peppered Corydoras such as livebearers like guppies, swordtails and platies. Topwater fish like hatchetfish. Midwater fish like Zebra danios and tetras are also compatible with Cory catfish. 

Do I Still Need to Clean the Aquarium Since Peppered Corydoras are Tank Cleaners?

Even though your Peppered Corydoras are tank cleaners, you still need to clean the aquarium. Perform partial water changes at least once every 3 weeks. This will keep nitrate levels low and help maintain optimal water quality. Use a gravel cleaner to remove dirt buildup on the substrate during partial water changes. Dirt buildup on the aquarium substrate can damage your Peppered Corydoras whisker-like barbels.

Check out our article on How to Clean Your Aquarium in 15 Minutes

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