I already mentioned these adorable little guys in a recent post on the three commonly found species of dwarf Corydora (C. pygmaeus, C. hastatus and C. habrosus). Here’s my chance to show off my own little shoal of C. habrosus, also known as the salt and pepper catfish/corydora.
These guys are ridiculously small fish, maxing out around 3/4 an inch (~2.0 cm) when fully grown. They like soft, mildly acidic water around 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
Salt and pepper corydora are from areas with plenty of cover from plants, roots, and rocks. I went with the C. habrosus instead of the C. pygmaeus because habrosus are typically more adventurous (read: more visible) than their other diminutive counterparts.
Corydora need shoals with many members to remain healthy and happy. Ten or more is suggested, and the more you have, the better they typically fare (assuming the tank is appropriate and has enough filtration). Furthermore, they need lots of swimming room! Anything with a footprint smaller than a typical ten gallon tank will probably be too small to keep any shoal happy.
Despite their small size, handling these little guys can be dangerous. As with all corydora, they have sharp pectoral spines that can easily pierce human skin or get caught in netting. Handle with care. Larger or more aggressive tank mates will usually try to make a meal of these guys. This almost never ends well for the corydora, and occasionally doesn’t end well for the attacker either.
They need a well rounded diet, and love munching down on bloodworms, algae pellets, sinking food, etc. Don’t expect them to complete scavengers or a tank cleaning crew. Corydora are great fish with personality, but still can make a decent mess. Keep them in a well established tank that has stable parameters, and they’re do just fine.
Basic Requirements of Tiny Corydora
- Must be kept in groups – Keep at least six, ideally nine or far more.
- Need soft substrate – Their barbels (small whisker-like bits by their mouths) get worn down on large rocks. Stick to fine gravel or sand.
- Need hiding spots – These fish all come from waters with lots of tree roots, rocks, etc. This needs to be recreated for them to fair well in a tank. ->Think Amazon River Biotope
- Need stable water– Only add these corydora to established tanks. They will not tolerate salt, medications, or chemical spikes well.
- Prefer subdued lighting – Having floating plants or many obstructions of the light will reduce their stress and encourage them to come out more frequently.
- Need sinking food source – Switching their diet between bottomfeeder/agae pellets with the occasional addition of frozen brine shrimp, daphnia, or minced blood worms should keep them happy enough. Avoid letting uneaten food accumulate.
- Need peaceful, small tankmates – Larger fish will try to eat these little Corydora. Keep them alone or with other similarly sized species.
Signs of Stress
All these species of cory will show signs of stress when they need your help to alter their environment, food source, etc. If you see any, and especially if you see multiple, of your corydora displaying signs of stress, test your water to see if you can identify a cause (such as a mild ammonia spike or temperature out of range) and perform a partial water change.
- breathing heavily/rapidly – watch their gills on the sides of their face
- inactivity/just sitting around – healthy corydora are quite active!
- rolling or flicking their bodies
- staying on their sides
Pygmy Corydora, (C. pygmaeus)
The Pygmy Corydora: reaches ~1.2″, dark stripe along either side, occasionally swims mid-level in the tank but mostly are bottom-dwelling
Water: Soft to medium-hard, acidic to slightly basic (6.5-7.5) , 71 – 79 degrees Fahrenheit
Here is a phenomenal video of a huge group of Pygmy Corydora: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Bizjkn8bGw
Dwarf Corydora, (C. hastatus)
From: Wikipedia Entry “Dwarf Corydora”
Other names for it include Tail Spot Pygmy Cory and Panzerwels Corydora/Catfish
Dwarf Corydora: distinguished by the diamond shaped marking neartheir tail with otherwise few markings, females reach ~1.3″ while males stay a bit smaller, will spend a great deal of time mid-level an swimming about
Water: 72 – 79 degrees Fahrenheit, pH of 6.0 to 7.2,
Salt and Pepper Corydora, (C. habrosus)
Salt and Pepper Corydora: reach 1.4″ max, enjoy limited water movement, extremely active and outgoing compared to the other tiny corydora listed
Water: Temperature 72 – 79 degrees Fahrenheit, pH 6.2 to 7.2, Hardness 2 – 12 degrees
A young female BN pleco
A poor Albino Bristlenose Plecostomos, aka my albino BN pleco, was one of my first fish. These guys are quite hardy, as seen first-hand in how my eldest managed to survive many of my early mistakes when first starting fish keeping. I now have three in my 150 gallon, two of which are still quite small compared to my full-grown male.
My adult male BN pleco – quite talented at hide-and-seek, hence we named him “Waldo”
Plecos are not “waste” eaters. They eat some types of algae and leftover food that makes its way to the bottom of the tank. While not picky eaters, if your BN’s tank doesn’t have much algae and you feed your fish quite sparingly, then a BN might run into nutrition problems. Adding sinking algae wafers, blanched or raw veggies (cucumber, lettuce, etc), or sinking pellets can ensure good nutrition for a BN pleco.
BN plecos can be sexed once they have aged enough to either have noticeable bristles or to be permanently clean shaven. Males will develop the bristles connected to their common name (bristlenose pleco), while females will not. Mating is fairly easy, and, after laying eggs in a secure location, the male will guard the young. Both males and females have armored looking skin, with beautifully aligned scales along their bodies, like with the pleco below.
BN plecos do not have especially renowned eyesight, but I still like to pretend that the male below was staring longingly at the female on the rock in the distance. Hopefully one day I’ll have some little BN plecos swimming around!