Sterba's Corydoras

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

Sterba’s Corydoras (Corydoras sterbai) are characterized by its beautifully patterned body against golden yellow hues.  Originating from the rivers and streams of South America and Central America, there are over 150 different species of Corydora catfish. Sterba’s 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. Sterba’s Corydoras are also peaceful and social, making them excellent fish for beginners looking to add bottom-dweller fish in their community tank. 


Sterba's Corydoras Infograph
NameSterba’s Corydoras
Scientific NameCorydoras sterbai
OriginSouth America
Size3 inches (7.5cm) but are usually smaller
Minimum Tank Size20 Gallons
Ease of CareEasy
PHPH 6.0-7.0
Water Temperature70-79F (21-26C)
Water Hardness LevelSoft to Hard (50-150mg/l)

What are Other Names for Sterba’s Corydoras

Sterba’s Corydoras are also called 

How Big Do Sterba’s Corydoras Get?

Sterba’s Corydoras can grow to 3 inches (7.5cm) but are usually smaller..

What to Feed Sterba’s Corydoras?

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

Sterba’s Corydoras will thrive in a well planted aquarium with open swim areas. Sterba’s 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 Sterba’s Corydoras to dig and to prevent damaging their whisker-like barbels.

What are the Best Water Parameters for Sterba’s Corydoras?

Sterba’s 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 Sterba’s Corydoras?

Sterba’s Corydoras should be kept in a tank with a water temperature of 70-79F (21-26C).

How to Set-Up Your Tank for Breeding Sterba’s Corydoras?

Set up a breeding tank with 1 male and 2 female Cory catfish. Make sure the breeding tank is well-planted so Sterba’s 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 Sterba’s Corydoras can hide and feel safe during spawning. Use a sponge filter in the tank. Sponge filters are gentler and will not suck up the Sterba’s Corydoras fry. 

For optimal breeding conditions, it’s important to keep your Sterba’s Corydoras well fed with high protein food. 

How to Breed Sterba’s Corydoras?

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

How to Breed Corydoras

Will Adult Sterba’s Corydoras Eat Their Eggs?

Sterba’s Corydoras will eat their own eggs. You will need to separate the adults from the eggs. You can do this by transfering the adult Corydoras to another tank or moving the eggs to a fry tank.

You can move the eggs to a breeding box or fry tank. 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.

Sterba’s 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 and aerate the tank with an airstone to prevent egg fungus. Once the eggs hatch, remove the methylene blue because it will be harmful to the fry.

Are Sterba’s Corydoras Peaceful or Aggressive Fish?

Sterba’s 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 Sterba’s Corydoras in a Tank?

Sterba’s 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 Sterba’s Corydoras in your tank. A group of Sterba’s Corydoras will look striking in your aquarium.

Tank Calculators for Your Corydoras

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

What Fish are Compatible with Sterba’s Corydoras?

Sterba’s 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 Sterba’s 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 Sterba’s Corydoras are Tank Cleaners?

Even though your Sterba’s 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 Sterba’s Corydoras whisker-like barbels.

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

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