Pygmy Corydoras

How to Take Care of Pygmy Corydoras (Beginner’s Guide)

Pygmy Corydoras (Corydoras pygmaeus) are the smallest Corydoras, growing to 1 inch. They are more active than your typical Corydora and will swim midwater rather than stay at the bottom near the substrate. They are great fish for nano tanks.

Originating from the rivers and streams of South America and Central America, there are over 150 different species of Corydora catfish. Pygmy 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. Pygmy Corydoras are also peaceful and social, making them excellent fish for beginners. 


Pygmy Corydoras Infograph
NamePygmy Corydoras
Scientific NameCorydoras pygmaeus
OriginSouth America
Size1 inch (2.5 cm)
Minimum Tank Size10 Gallons
Ease of CareEasy
PHPH 6.0-7.0
Water Temperature72-79F (22-26C)
Water Hardness LevelSoft to Hard (50-150mg/l)

What are Other Names for Pygmy Corydoras

Pygmy Corydoras are also called Pygmy Corys and Pygmy Catfish.

How Big Do Pygmy Corydoras Get?

Pygmy Corydoras are the smallesst Corydoras. They grow to 1 inch (2.5 cm).

What to Feed Pygmy Corydoras?

Pygmy Corydoras are omnivores. Pygmy Corydoras are bottom dweller fish that will feed on uneaten food. Even though they are scavengers, you still need to feed Pygmy 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 Pygmy Corydoras?

Pygmy Corydoras will thrive in a well planted aquarium with open swim areas. Pygmy 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 Pygmy Corydoras to dig and to prevent damaging their whisker-like barbels. Provide plenty of plants and rocks/shells for cover so your Pygmy Corydoras will feel protected and safe. 

What are the Best Water Parameters for Pygmy Corydoras?

Pygmy 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 Pygmy Corydoras?

Pygmy Corydoras should be kept in a tank with a water temperature of 72-79F (22-26C).

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

Set up a breeding tank with 1 male and 2 female Cory catfish. Make sure the breeding tank is well-planted so Pygmy 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 Pygmy Corydoras can hide and feel safe during spawning. For optimal breeding conditions, it’s important to keep your Pygmy Corydoras well fed. Use a sponge filter in the fry tank. Sponge filters are gentler and will not suck up the Pygmy Corydoras fry. 

How to Breed Pygmy Corydoras?

Pygmy Corydoras are egg layers. Breeding occurs with the female Pygmy 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 Get Pygmy 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 Pygmy Corydoras high protein, high nutrient food. Keeping them well-fed will condition your Pygmy Corydoras for spawning. 3.) Increase airflow in your aquarium. The increased airflow will simulate the strong river currents after a rain storm. This will trigger spawning. Under the right conditions, your Pygmy Corydoras will start spawning.

How to Breed Corydoras

Will Adult Pygmy Corydoras Eat Their Eggs?

Yes, Pygmy Corydoras will eat their own eggs and fry. You will need to separate the adults from the eggs. You can do this by moving the eggs out of the tank or moving the adult Corys out of the tank.

How to Move Pygmy Corydoras Eggs out of Tank?

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.

Pygmy 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.

Add a few drops of methylene blue to the fry tank to prevent egg fungus. Once the eggs hatch, remove the methylene blue because it will be harmful to the fry.

Are Pygmy Corydoras Peaceful or Aggressive Fish?

Pygmy Corydoras are peaceful and social fish. They are compatible with many popular community fish. 

How Many Pygmy Corydoras in a Tank?

Pygmy 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 Pygmy Corydoras in your tank. The more the better!

How Many Pygmy Corys in Tank Calculators

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

What Fish are Compatible with Pygmy Corydoras?

Pygmy Corydoras are compatible with small peaceful fish that share similar water parameter requirements. Small tetras like Cardinal tetras and Neon tetras are good tankmates for your Pygmy Corydoras. 

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

Even though your Pygmy 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 Pygmy Corydoras whisker-like barbels.

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

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