July 20

Sarah Robertson

Leopard Catfish: the Little Fish With a Big Personality

The leopard catfish is a popular fish among aquarium enthusiasts. The body is whitish-grey with black dots. These markings or spots extend across the nose, and they form three lateral lines along the body. The top half of the dorsal fin has black spots, as is the tail fin. There are a series of nearly symmetrical spots on both the tail and dorsal fins. Fully developed specimens are relatively tiny, measuring about 2.5 inches long.

They're also called julii cory, and they're a nocturnal bottom-dwelling creature that uses its sensitive barbels to find food. It has the ability to turn its eyes, making it appear to wink. Although these little catfish, also known as leopard catfish, are adorable, their "armored" scutes and spikes make them difficult for bigger fish to swallow.

Caring for leopard cory catfish is easy, as they're a hardy species. They're adaptable to a wide range of water conditions and temperatures. So, if they are placed in ideal water circumstances, they will flourish and live longer.

While many people believe that catfish are scavengers and rely on leftovers, the aquarist should really consider their diet if he or she wants to try to breed them. They are, however, seldom bred.

Quick Facts About Leopard Catfish

  • Scientific Name : Corydoras Julii
  • Family : Pimelodidae
  • Origin / Habitat : South America: Central Amazon River basin
  • Color Form : Brown, Tan
  • Size : Up to 2.5 inches (6.1 cm)
  • Care Level : Moderate
  • Temperament / Behavior : Peaceful small schooling catfish
  • Aquarium Hardiness : Hardy
  • Breeding : Egg layer
  • Water Conditions : 70-79°F , 5 - 19ºdGH, pH 6.0-8.0
  • Aquarium Size : 20 gallons (75 liters), keep them in schools
  • Lifespan : 2-5 Years
  • Diet : Carnivore
  • Tank Mates : Similar sized fish, peaceful species.
  • Diet / Foods : They feed on small crustaceans, worms and plant matter in the wild. They will eat smaller flakes, micro pellets.
  • Tank Region : bottom region, among the aquarium plants and in caves
  • Gender : When looking at them top-down, females will be thicker or wider.
  • Aquarist Experience Level : Advanced

Leopard Catfish Size

The leopard catfish is a tiny fish that grows to be only 2.5 inches long when fully grown. They are schooling fish that thrive best when kept in groups of six or more. Because they are tiny, Leopard catfish are best suited for smaller aquariums, such as 20 gallons or less.

Leopard Catfish Lifespan

The lifespan of a leopard catfish is 2-5 years, which is typical for freshwater fish. They can live long, healthy lives in ideal circumstances. It's not unusual for them to perish shortly after being acquired from the shop, so be cautious and keep an eye on them for the first few days. Add a few hiding spots, such as caves or plants, to make them more at ease in their new surroundings and increase the likelihood of them surviving.


Leopard Catfish Appearance

The body of the julii cory is silvery gray, like that of other cory species. The lateral line is dark zigzag in color and runs from the gills to the tail. This dark line is immediately followed by a region that is not spotted, beyond which there are many little black spots of various sizes.

On the body, some of these lines join to form short chains, but on the head, the spots are clearly separate and unique, a characteristic that distinguishes this species.

The dorsal fin is transparent and has a sizable black spot on the top fin that does not extend into the body. The caudal fin has vertical rows of dark brown marks that give it the appearance of striping. The anal, adipose, pectoral, and ventral fins all have similar markings on the caudal fin as well as much paler variants on the tail.

This fish is named for its scutes, which are hard plates that cover its entire body and that give it an armored appearance. Hence they are also called Armored Catfish. These scutes are arranged in a diamond pattern and are brown in color with dark spots.

Sex: Sexual differences

The males are typically smaller and thinner than the females. When resting, the sexually mature female's belly is generally rounder than that of the males, allowing her mouth to sit up off of the substrate. However, these are just indications and not foolproof. Sexing is difficult, and natural pair breeding is the most effective way to do it.

Leopard Catfish Behavior 

Leopards are sociable, peaceful fish that do best in groups of six or more. They're a fairly active species that like swimming and exploring their tanks. They are non-aggressive to other fish and can even be housed with smaller fish, such as neon tetras. Because they are bottom-dwellers, if they aren't kept in groups, they may uproot plants. It's ideal to keep them with other peaceful, bottom-dwelling fish like loaches or plecos.

Leopard Catfish Tank Mates

Osydoras niger, Oscars, large characins, Pseudodoras niger, Pterdodoras granulosus, or Megalodoras uranoscopus are all possible tankmates.

Compatibility of Leopard Catfish with Other Fish

  • Same species: Yes - This sociable fish thrives on the presence of its own kind, and should be kept in a group of at least 4 individuals.
  • Peaceful fish : Safe - These fish are very peaceful and can be kept with a variety of other calm species. Bristlenose plecos, Clown loaches, Corydoras catfish, Dwarf gouramis, Guppies, Hatchetfish, Kuhli loaches ,Lemons/yellows ,Neon tetras, Platies ,Rasboras ,Swordtails are all good examples.
  • Semi-Aggressive : While keeping them with semi-aggressive fish is technically possible, it's not recommended. These fish are timid and may become stressed in the presence of more assertive tankmates. So you need to monitor the situation carefully if you decide to take this route.
  • Aggressive : Avoid - These fish are very peaceful and will likely be bullied or eaten by more aggressive tankmates.
  • Large Aggressive, Predatory : Leopard Catfish will be eaten by any fish that can fit them in its mouth.
  • Slow Swimmers & Eaters : Safe - Corydoras eat at the bottom of the aquarium, so they aren't in competition with other feeders.
  • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: May be aggressive - Worms, crustaceans, and insects are the natural diet of Corydoras.
  • high-quality flakes: These varieties usually contain essential oils and do not have high levels of fillers which can cause swim bladder problems.

Leopard Catfish Feeding

The freshwater Leopard Catfish is a carnivorous fish that feeds primarily on smaller fish, river crabs, crayfish, worms, and other creatures in its native environment. They can be fed bits of fresh dead fish, crayfish, mussels, prawns, earthworms, and even commercial sinking catfish pellets in an aquarium. Here are some suitable foods for your leopard catfish:

  • Sinking catfish pellets/granules/tablets
  • Flake
  • Frozen foods such as bloodworm, white mosquito larvae
  • Vitamin-enriched brine shrimp

They like to eat everything from live, fresh, and flake foods. To maintain a healthy equilibrium, give them a high-quality sinking pellet or flake daily. Offer algae wafers as a special treat once in a while. As a special treat, offer frozen or live food such as brine shrimp, blood worms, or daphnia.

Feeding Frequency: Daily - Feed them as much as they will eat in about 5 minutes. They can be fed twice a day, and they'll eat as much as they want in about three minutes each feeding.

Leopard Catfish Care

Leopard Catfish Care

Aquarium Care

It is important to perform regular water changes and siphon the gravel to remove waste and keep the tank clean. A 10% to 20% weekly or bi-weekly water change is advised. A vacuum hose can be used to siphon the substrate, which keeps it free of decaying animal and plant waste. These catfish spend the majority of their lives on the bottom, thus a vacuum siphon is essential. Their barbels are vulnerable to infection in an unclean aquarium.

  • Water Changes: Weekly - Water changes of 10% to 20% are advised at least once a week or bi-weekly.

Leopard Catfish Tank Setup

The Julii Cory is a lively little fish that thrives in a school of at least four. A tank with a capacity of 10 gallons is suggested as a minimum. The aquarium should be adorned with natural elements and set up to mimic their natural environment. These little fish enjoy tanks with twisted roots where they may hide. Caves and drift wood are also ideal hiding places.

Provide your goldfish with a filtration system that keeps the water well oxygenated, such as aeration or a lot of surface water motion. These fish are excellent cleaners, removing food and debris from the bottom of the tank. As a result, they function as little living vacuums. Higher light levels are okay if there is enough of shade. However, low light levels work well too.

It is critical to use sand or tiny gravel to keep the barbels of these fish in excellent shape, since their barbels are delicate. Larger gravel with sharp edges may cause the barbels to be cut down to the point of being entirely eliminated.

The barbels are also vulnerable to infection from an unclean habitat. This fish requires a filter that is vacuumed on a regular basis to keep the substrate clean and the entire tank oxygenated.

Substrate Type : To safeguard their barbs from harm, prefer to use sand or tiny gravel.

Temperature : 73.0 to 79.0° F (22.8 to 26.1° C) is ideal for Leopard Catfish.

pH: 6.0-7.8 (acidic) is the ideal pH for Leopard Catfish; however, they are pretty adaptable to a range of pH levels.

Hardness : Moderately hard to very hard water is okay for Leopard Catfish. 2 - 25 dGH being ideal.

Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting

Brackish: No

Water Movement: Moderate - a filter that produces surface movement is sufficient.

Water Region: Bottom - They will mostly swim at the bottom of the aquarium.

Leopard Catfish Breeding/ Reproduction Leopard Catfish

There are no reports of this species being bred in home aquariums. However, it will most likely adhere to the typical Corydoras spawning method, in which following a major, somewhat cold water change, a pair will adopt the classic "T posture," with the male fertilizing eggs between the females' pelvic fins.

The female holds 2-4 eggs in her pelvic fins, where the male fertilizes them for approximately 30 seconds. The female will then swim to a good location, where she will deposit the exceptionally sticky eggs. The pair repeats this procedure until they have fertilized and attached around 100 eggs.

It's essential to have a breeding tank because the parents will consume their eggs and fry once they are laid, so it's best to separate them afterward. If the adults are moved back to the main tank and the eggs remain in the breeder tank, they will hatch and develop.

Breeding Tank Care

For the substrate, use very fine smooth gravel or sand. A bare bottom can also be used. Water should be soft, have a slightly acidic to neutral pH (about 6.5 to 7.0), and be at a temperature of 75 degrees F (24 degrees C). Filtration is crucial, but it must be gentle enough to avoid sucking tiny fry into the filter.

A sponge filter works well for this sort of grow-out set up. Provide a spawning mop or fine-leafed plants like java moss for the parents to deposit their eggs onto. Floating plants like duckweed or water sprite can also be used and will help reduce the risk of egg predation.


This species can breed with Corydoras trilineatus, which may or may not be desirable. Some people feel that crossing species is degrading the bloodlines, while others regard the cross-species as an intriguing choice. If you're trying to breed this species, use groups with more males than females. A ratio of 2 or more males for each female is advised.

Breeder Conditioning

Live foods such as bloodworms or daphnia should be used to condition the breeder groups. If live foods are not accessible, use frozen or freeze-dried replacements.

When the belly of the female is visibly bloated with eggs, perform a 50 percent water change with very soft water that is several degrees lower than the current temperature of the tank. This is the best way to trigger spawning.

If no spawning takes place, continue the above procedures for daily large water changes. Increased aeration may also help to trigger spawning.


The spawning process begins with a rise in activity, after which the males begin to actively pursue the females. After a male and a female have become acquainted, the pair will assume the "T-position," in which the female has her head against the mid-portion of the male. The male grasps the barbels of the female with his pectoral fins, while she makes a basket with her pelvic fins. She will put up to four eggs in this basket.

It is thought that sperm from the male are carried via the female's gills and directed to the eggs that are being fertilized. The female will choose a best location and attach the sticky egg once the eggs have been fertilized. This process will continue until roughly 100 to 150 eggs have been deposited.

Once spawning is complete, remove the parents to another tank because they will likely consume their own eggs. The eggs should hatch within 24 hours and the fry should be free-swimming within 5 days.

Egg Care

The eggs of the immature julii cories are not guarded or cared for after they have been laid. Parents will gobble up the eggs if they are left in the spawning tank. To hatch the eggs and raise the fry, you must first remove any adult fish from the breeding tank. The water should be clean and well-oxygenated. You can use an air stone to help keep the water oxygenated.

Another hazard is fungal infection. To minimize the likelihood of Leopard Catfish Eggs being destroyed by fungus, add a drop of methylene blue to the hatching tank water. Remove any eggs that develop fungus, or the fungus will spread and destroy all of the eggs. Cherry shrimp can be kept in the tank since they will consume rotten eggs while leaving good ones alone.

Leopard Catfish

Leopard Catfish Fry

In three to five days, eggs should hatch, and newly hatched brine shrimp, micro-worms, or rotifers should be fed. You can also feed them with tiny, finely chopped food. However, as with all foods, it is essential to remove any uneaten quantities promptly. Young fry are extremely vulnerable to water chemistry changes.

Leopard Catfish Diseases 

Julii Cories are an exceptionally robust species that seldom encounters disease in a properly maintained aquarium. While there is no assurance that you will not suffer from sickness or disease, cory catfish are very tenacious.

High nitrate levels can irritate Julii Cory catfish's barbels, making it difficult for them to swim properly and eat. Maintain nitrate levels at or below 20 ppm through constant water changes.

Because catfish are scaleless, pimafix and melafix may be used to treat them; however, potassium permanganate or copper-based medications should not be used on them. Malachite green or formalin can be used at a half to one fourth the recommended concentration. The use of medications should be done carefully.

The greatest way to prevent disease is to provide your fish with the proper living conditions and a nutritious diet. The fish will be healthier and happier if they are in their natural environment. If a fish is stressed, it's more likely to get sick.

Anything you put in your tank might spread disease. Bacteria can be found in a wide range of locations, including other fish, gravel, plants, and decorations. Take great care and make sure to clean or quarantine any new things you put into an established tank so as not to introduce new diseases.


The Cory or Leopard Catfish is readily available and comes in a wide range of costs. You can find them in most pet stores that sell fish. They are also readily available online. Prices start as low as $5 and can go up to around $20, depending on the size and color of the fish. Leopard Headed Catfish are a great addition to any freshwater aquarium.

Caring for your Corydoras or Leopard Catfish is not difficult, and they are an excellent addition to any freshwater aquarium.


Is There Such Thing As A Leopard Catfish? 

Yes, there is such a thing as Leopard Catfish! They are a freshwater fish that is native to South America.

How Big Do Leopard Catfish Get?

The average size of a Leopard Catfish is between 2 and 3 inches. Some have been known to grow more than that, but this is relatively rare. Giant Leopard Catfish can grow up to 4 feet long!

How Long Do Leopard Catfish Live?

The average lifespan of a Leopard Catfish is approximately 2 to 5 years. With proper care, however, some have been known to live up to 8 years. Though it is rare, it is not unheard of.

What Do Leopard Catfish Eat?

Leopard Catfish are omnivores and will eat just about anything. In the wild, their diet consists of insects, small mammals, and plant matter. In captivity, they can be fed pellets, flakes, live food, and frozen food.

What is Leopard Shovelnose Catfish? 

The Leopard Shovelnose Catfish is a freshwater fish that is native to South America. It gets its name from the leopard-like spots on its body and the shovel-shaped nose.

They can reach a length of 65 inches (166 cm) and weigh more than 220 pounds (100 kg). They are territorial and aggressive toward smaller fish. They lurk in murky areas for food all the time.

What is False Julii Cory?

The julii cory (Corydoras julii) is difficult to distinguish from its relative, which is known as the false or Colombian julii cory (Corydoras trilineatus). False julii are frequently sold in pet stores as C. julii because these fish are more readily available in the wild. Knowing the subtle differences in appearance between species will assist you in selecting the correct one.

The False Julii Cory Catfish is an extremely amusing little catfish with a unique pattern of stripes and spots on its body and fins. The False Julii Cory Catfish is a docile bottom-dwelling scavenger. They like company, just as all Cory Catfish do. They will flourish in groups of five or more.

How to Spot a False Julii Cory?

False julii cories (Corydoras Trilineatus) are frequently misidentified as Corydoras julii. The differences between julii cories and other species are only slight, so you can use a few features to tell the two apart. True Julii Cories have the following characteristics:

  • Smaller bodies with a stouter build
  • Shorter heads and rounded snouts
  • Small isolated spots (false julii cories have spots that tend to join up into a reticulated pattern; this is particularly obvious on the head)

The False Julii catfish and Corydoras julii has few differences, The first has thicker stripes and dots, while the latter has thinner stripes and dots. To keep this fish in captivity, maintain water pH between 5.9 and 7.0 and temperatures ranging from 70°F to 79°F.

Final Thoughts:

Leopard Catfish are a great addition to any freshwater tank. They are relatively easy to care for and make a great addition to any community tank. They are peaceful fish that get along well with other tank mates. Leopard Catfish are omnivores and will eat just about anything.

In the wild, they eat insects, small mammals, and plant matter. In captivity, they may be fed pellets, flakes, live food, and frozen food. The average lifespan of a Leopard Catfish is approximately 2 to 5 years. False Julii Cory Catfish are frequently misidentified as Corydoras julii. So while purchasing your Leopard Catfish, be sure to ask your retailer to ensure you are getting the correct species.

Always make sure that you provide your Leopard Catfish with a well-balanced diet and clean water. By doing so, you will help to ensure a long and healthy life for your fish.

Sarah Robertson

I am a passionate blogger who also happens to be a fish keeping enthusiast. Writing about my hobby is something that I absolutely love to do, and it's no secret that my chosen topic is always centered around fish keeping.

Sarah Robertson

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