November 8

Sarah Robertson

The Banded Corydoras: Everything You Need to Know About These Beautiful Fish

The Banded Corydoras or bearded catfish (Scleromystax barbatus) is a subtropical freshwater fish that belongs to the Callichthyidae family and is part of the Corydoradinae subfamily. It comes from Rio de Janeiro to Santa Catarina, Brazil's coastal drainages.

Its distinctive markings, elongated form, and enormous size of up to 4 inches (10 cm) distinguish it from other relatives. It's a lively, distinctively marked schooling fish that will work well in a community tank with a plantation. It's a subtropical species, so make sure it gets the right temperature and tankmates.

The Banded Cory Catfish is a very calm schooling fish that may be kept with most nano aquarium animals that prefer similar temperature ranges. It will presumably eat tiny shrimp, but it is harmless to large shrimp and other non-aggressive ornamental invertebrates.

It's a typical scavenger that will skulk around the bottom of the aquarium, which should be made of sand or smooth gravel. Its delicate tiny barbs and underbelly may be damaged by a coarse substrate. It is a very easy fish to maintain since it will consume most dry, frozen, and live foods. It may be used in a variety of freshwater settings, as long as proper maintenance is accomplished and abrupt changes are avoided.

To know more about this fish, keep reading this ultimate care guide!

Quick Facts about Banded Corydoras

  • Scientific Name : Scleromystax barbatus
  • Other Names: Corydoras Barbatus, Bearded Catfish, Bearded Corydoras, Checkerboard Cory, Filigree Cory
  • Species : Corydoras barbatus
  • Origin: Tank-Bred, but indigenous to Southeastern Brazil
  • Diet: Omnivore, High-quality dry foods as well as live and frozen meaty foods. Variety is essential.
  • Temperature : 16.0-25.5°C or 60.8-77.9°F
  • PH: 5.5 - 7.0, Softer water is preferred, but this fish is somewhat flexible as long as sudden
  • KH : 0 - 15 dKH
  • Average adult size: 3.5 - 4 inches (9 - 10 cm)
  • Average purchase size: 1 - 1.5 inches (2.5 - 3.8 cm)
  • Lifespan: up to 5 years
  • Breed Type: Egg Layer
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Level: Bottom
  • Minimum tank size: 55-75 gallons for a school of 6 or more adults
  • Shoaling: Yes
  • Best kept as Groups 6+
  • Reproduction: Egg-Layer
  • Difficulty: Beginner - Intermediate

Banded Corydoras Care

Oxygen-rich water is required to care for your Banded Corydoras, as they live in a subtropical environment. Another important factor is maintaining an appropriate water temperature, which has an impact on the number of dissolved oxygen levels.

They are robust fish that can live in a wide range of water conditions. To keep them happy and healthy, try to replicate your home aquarium's water conditions as closely as possible to their natural environment.

Maintaining an ideal temperature and pH range is critical to the health of your fish. Banded Corys, as members of Callichthyidae, have a special capacity to absorb oxygen from the water via their intestines. That's why they're frequently seen swimming up to the top of the tank for a breath of air.

To ensure adequate oxygenation levels, the tank must be well-filtered and have a sufficient current. Lastly, remember to have a cover on the tank and not overfill it.

Banded Corydoras Size

The average Banded Corydoras size is 3.5 - 4 inches (9 - 10 cm). This species differs from other members of the Corydoras family because to its exceptional size.

Banded Corys, like most Cory catfish, are relatively fast-growing in the first three months of life – they may reach up to one inch long. However, most of the time when they are sold in stores, they are about 1 - 1.5 inches long. It might take up to a year for Banded Corydoras to reach their full size.

Banded Corydoras Lifespan

The average lifespan of a Banded Corydoras in captivity is around 5 years, like most Cory Catfish. Maintain optimal tank conditions and a nutritious diet to ensure that your fish live up to the typical expectancy.

Banded Corydoras Appearance

Banded Corydoras Appearance

As previously stated, this species is dimorphic, so you may tell apart adult males and females with ease. Of course, identifying young fish may be difficult. The most obvious change is in their dorsal and pectoral fins.

The length of these fins on males is usually 2-3 times longer than that of females. Fully grown males have developed odontodes (tooth-like formations) implanted in fleshy papillae on the snout's sides. They have a slimmer gold nose stripe and cheek bristles at the bottom edge of the gill covers. Male Banded Cory catfish are also darker, with a lot of black markings on the head and front half of their bodies.

Their gorgeous translucent fins are studded with black spots, and their belly is silvery-white. Red Banded Corydoras are the most widespread color morph in the fishkeeping hobby. The red coloration on their bodies is more intense in males than females.

Young fish are difficult to tell apart from Scleromystax Kronei. Adult males are more easily distinguished than juvenile fish. Adult male Banded Corydoras have a golden nose stripe, while adult females remain gray and peppered.

In Scleromystax Kronei, both males and females mature to have higher contrast patterning, lack a nose stripe, and have pale gold/silver saddle-shaped patches on the top of their lower back.

Banded Corydoras Behavior

The Banded Corydoras is a peaceful fish that may thrive in groups. They are shoaling individuals who must be maintained in a group of six or more. The males have a propensity to be territorial towards one another, and they can't be kept together in a tiny tank, though they are otherwise as calm as the females.

The Banded Corydoras is a bottom-dwelling species. It's not advised to mix it with more aggressive bottom-dwelling cichlids. They can also try to capture your smaller crustaceans, but they perform best with bigger shrimps and other invertebrates.

Though they are small, they are very active and love to play. Their tank should have hiding spots for them to relax in when they want some privacy. Banded Corydoras are very curious and love to explore their surroundings.

They are unaggressive scavengers that will help keep your aquarium clean to an extent. This fish, like other Corydoras, must be handled with care. They have powerful pectoral spines that can penetrate human skin. Due to the spines getting tangled in the mesh, it is not advised to capture this species with a net. Because they are scale-less fish, adding salt to the aquarium will harm them.

Banded Corydoras Diet & Feeding

Banded Corydoras are omnivores that scavenge for food. These Corydoras will be in excellent health and condition if you feed them a varied diet.

Here is a list of foods that your Banded Corydoras will love:

  • High-quality dried foods such as sinking pellets or wafers.
  • Small live and frozen foods such as bloodworm, Tubifex, daphnia and suchlike.

Despite the fact that these fish are foragers, they should not be expected to subsist on leftovers from other aquarium inhabitants or be depended on to clean the tank of algae.

It is best to feed your Banded Corydoras several small meals a day rather than one large one. This will help to keep the water quality high and also ensure that your fish are getting the nutrition they need. Feeding them live or frozen foods will also help to boost their immune system and reduce the likelihood of them developing illnesses.

When choosing a pellet or wafer food for your Banded Corydoras, make sure that it is high quality and sinking. This is because these fish spend a lot of time near the bottom of the tank and will not be able to reach floating foods.

It is better to feed 2-3 times a day in small quantities. Only feed them as much as they can eat in a couple of minutes. Overfeeding should be avoided as this can lead to water quality problems.

Banded Corydoras Tank Mates

Banded Corydoras should be kept in schools of at least six fish. These catfish are non-aggressive to other fish species. They may be safely kept alongside other temperate fish in a community aquarium, but they should not be mixed with more aggressive Cichlids or Bottom-dwelling Cichlids.

Although Banded Corydoras is considered a calm breed, it's best to acquire a sizable colony with one male and several females. Remember that if you plan to keep more than one male, your aquarium should have adequate area, additional visual barriers, and territorially distinct areas.

Other species that may live in the same temperature and water conditions as them can be potential tank mates. These fish include other Corydoras and Callichthyidae species, Loricariidae, Rasboras & Danios.

Here are some suitable companions for the Banded Corydoras.

  • Tetras
  • Swordtails
  • Most types of Plecos
  • Siamese Algae Eater
  • South American Dwarf Cichlids
  • Tiger Barb
  • Zebra Danio
  • Lemon Tetra

You should not pair them with:

  • Texas cichlids, or Jack Dempsey
  • Large, aggressive fish like Oscars or Green Terrors.
  • Fish that require different water conditions, such as African cichlids.
  • Bristlenose Plecos are also not recommended since they may compete with the Corydoras for food.
Banded Corydoras Tank Setup

Banded Corydoras Tank Setup

The Banded Corydoras is a freshwater fish that lives in sluggish steams or ponds filled with fine pebbles or sand. Banded Cory care is not difficult since this is a calm freshwater fish that will appear cheerful and healthy if maintained in ideal tank conditions.

It's suited to a wide range of subtropical freshwater habitats as long as routine maintenance is carried out on a regular basis. However, they are larger than other Corydoras species and thus less suited for tiny aquariums.

Here are some tips to help you with your Banded Corydoras tank setup:

Tanks Size 

The bearded catfish is a very energetic, schooling fish that should be kept in groups. The ideal tank size for a group of 6 or more adult Banded Corydoras is 55-75 gallons. To allow them ample area to swim about and hide out, a minimum footprint of 47″ x 18′ (120cm x 45 cm) or greater is advised.

Water Parameters 

The banded corydoras prefers oxygen-rich water and dwells in a tropical region. A suitable water temperature is necessary to preserve since it influences dissolved oxygen levels.

They are adaptable fish that can thrive in a wide range of water conditions. To keep them content and healthy, try to replicate your home aquarium's water conditions as closely as possible in their natural environment.

The ideal temperature for a Banded Cory tank is 16.0-25.5°C (60.8-77.9°F) with a neutral to slightly acidic pH of 5.5 - 7.0, S. As with any other aquarium fish, water quality is paramount to the health of your banded corydoras.

Be sure to test your water regularly and take appropriate measures to keep it clean and free of harmful toxins. Ammonia and nitrite levels should be at 0 ppm, and nitrate levels should be below 20 ppm.


Banded Corydoras, like other Cory fish, prefer to hang around the banks of streams and rivers, which is why a sandy, soft substrate is preferred. They also like to have some smooth rocks and driftwood in the aquarium to create hiding places. Do not utilize sharp or harsh decorations in the tank, as this may harm their delicate sensory barbs.


Ground-rooted plants are not suggested because they will uproot them while looking for food. Instead, consider using hardy plants like Anubias sp. or Java Fern to attach to the driftwood and rocks.


A powerhead filter or a canister filter will provide the necessary water flow while also providing filtration in the Banded Cory tank. Be sure to select a filter with an appropriate flow rate for your tank size.

Banded Corydoras Breeding

When the fish reach reproductive maturity, their rivalry can increase to a dangerous point, resulting in significant harm to one another and even deadly consequences on rare occasions; as a result, it is necessary to house one male with many females.

Banded Corydoras may be bred in the same way as other Corydoras species. When a single male and female are put together to keep rival males from focusing on each other, and when the female is visibly full of eggs, perform a large 50-70 percent water change with somewhat colder water, and increase the tank's flow and oxygenation.

Continue this process every day until the fish spawn. The Banded Corydoras will lay their eggs on the aquarium glass, inside of fine-leaved plants or spawning mops, with the spawning mop being preferred by breeders because it makes egg removal easy.

It's better to remove the eggs after spawning has finished. Eggs can generally be rolled gently along the glass with a finger after they've been laid. Place the eggs in a separate grow-out tank that has the same water and oxygen as the parent tank. To prevent the eggs from growing fungus, many breeders add a few drops of methylene blue or a pair of alder cones in tank at this stage.

Banded Corydoras Fry

For Banded Corydoras, 3-4 days is generally required for incubation, and once the fry has completely absorbed their yolk sacs, tiny live foods such as artemia nauplii, microworm, and other small creatures may be offered.

Raising the fry is not as simple as it may appear, since excellent water quality is required. The addition of Indian almond leaves or other tannin-rich materials to the water is often helpful in this regard.

As the fry grows, so does their appetite; at first they will only consume microscopic foods, but after a few weeks, they can be offered larger fare such as brine shrimp nauplii and daphnia. Once they reach 1/2-3/4 inch or larger (at which point they are no longer considered fry), they can be offered a wider variety of foods including pellets.

Banded Corydoras Diseases 

Though banded corydoras are quite hardy and disease-resistant, they are not immune to every illness out there. The most common diseases plaguing these fish include:

Wheelworm Disease

If your fish are infected with wheel worms, you'll need to treat the entire tank. Wheelworks are internal parasites that can cause serious health problems for your fish. It attacks the gills and surface of bearded catfish.

The sick fish is black in color and have a poor appetite, their bodies are thin, their mucus production is up, and some of the fishtails handles whiten "white." In severe situations, the ill fish may be seen quietly on the bottom of the tank or hanging motionless on top of the water with their heads facing upwards. Rainfall is a common cause of bearded catfish wheel worm infections, so keep an eye on their activity and do frequent sampling testing.

Insect Disease

If your bearded catfish are infected with insects, you will need to treat the entire tank. Insects are parasites that can cause serious health problems for your fish. They attach themselves to the gills and surface of the fish and feed on their blood.

The sick fish is thin and has a coating of gray-white mucus on its body, with red spots of inflammation on some surfaces. In severe cases, the gills are gray-white at the edges and there are blood stains around them. Because Banded Corydoras has no scales, it is susceptible to some insecticides; therefore, a test on a small scale should be conducted to ensure that the entire pool is safe.

Water Mold Disease

Water mold disease is one of the most common problems that banded corydoras face. This disease is caused by a variety of different fungi, and it can quickly kill your fish if it's not treated promptly. Symptoms of water mold disease include cloudy eyes, lethargy, loss of appetite, and white patches on the skin.

At the surface of the Banded Cory, a layer of white or off-white cotton-flocculent hyphae may be observed, usually combined with suspended material in water to give it a yellow-brown appearance.

The sick fish moves about slowly on the surface of the water, loses its appetite, and ultimately dies of exhaustion. Excess silt in ponds is eliminated and disinfected with quicklime before rearing, and netting is reduced during the winter to avoid harm to fish bodies.

Anker Disease 

One thing to be aware of is Anker Disease, which is a bacteria that can infect fish and cause them to develop lesions or ulcers. This disease is more common in wild-caught fish, but it can affect captive-bred fish as well. If you notice any of your fish developing these symptoms, then you should take them to a vet for treatment.

Sick fish swim about unresponsively, the snout is weak or decaying, the body side exhibits irregular rot, the bones become exposed when the muscles are severely ulcerated, the tail fin and tail stalk fade or even ulcerate, there is no bleeding from the ulcer, and some diseased fish can be dissected to reveal a reddish liquid in their abdominal cavities. To avoid this illness, you must keep water quality constant, refill groundwater in the high-temperature season, and regularly mix and feed "vitamin C (for aquatic products)" to promote physical fitness.


Symptoms of enteritis include: some belly up, does not feed, body color is black, the abdomen is expanded, and the anus is frequently red and puffy with a purple-red tinge. Do "routine and quantitative" feeding to prevent the illness, and keep an eye on oxygenation following meals.

Most of the above-mentioned diseases can be avoided by maintaining clean water conditions and providing a balanced diet. If you think your fish is sick, the best course of action is to take them to a vet who can properly diagnose and treat the illness.

How Big Do Banded Corys Get


How Big Do Banded Corys Get?

Banded Corys typically grow to be about 3.5-4inches (9-10cm) in length. However, they can sometimes grow to be up to 5inches (12.5cm) in length. The main factors that affect their size are the quality of water they live in and the food they eat.

How Many Banded Cory Catfish Need to Be Kept Together?

While Banded Corys can live happily on their own, they do much better when kept in groups of 6 or more. This is because they are social fish that love to shoal together. Not only does this make them happier, but it also helps reduce their stress levels.

What Does Banded Corys Eat? 

Banded Corys are not fussy eaters and will accept a variety of different foods. They are mostly bottom feeders that enjoy eating small insects, worms, and crustaceans. In the wild, they also eat a lot of plant matter. You can provide them with this by giving them blanched vegetables or pellets that contain plant matter.

How Often Should I Feed My Banded Corys?

Banded Corys should be fed 2-3 times per day. They are not big eaters, so you don't need to worry about overfeeding them. It's best to give them small amounts of food that they can eat in a minute or two. This will help reduce the amount of uneaten food that sinks to the bottom of the tank and causes water quality issues.

Is Banded Cory Aggressive?

No, Banded Corys are not aggressive. They are actually quite peaceful fish that get along well with other tank mates. The only time they may become aggressive is if they feel threatened or if they are breeding.

Do Banded Corys Eat Algae?

Yes, Banded Corys love to eat algae! If you have a problem with algae in your tank, then these fish are a great addition. They will help keep the algae population under control.

Does Banded Corys Need a Filter?

Yes, Banded Corys need a filter in their tank. This is because they are very messy eaters and produce a lot of waste. A filter will help to keep the water clean and free of ammonia and other toxins.

Does Banded Corys Need a Heater? 

No, Banded Corys do not need a heater in their tank. They are very tolerant of different water temperatures and can even survive in cold water for short periods of time. However, if you want to keep them healthy and happy, it's best to maintain a temperature between 60-77 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can Banded Corydoras Live With Goldfish?

No, Banded Cory catfish can't live with goldfish. Even the biggest Cory catfish species is tiny enough to be eaten by goldfish. Cory catfish have sharp pectoral spines that can harm and even kill any goldfish that dines on them.

How to Identify Male and Female Banded Corys?

The male and female Banded Corydoras are easy to distinguish. Males have a silvery-white stomach, as well as black to yellowish-brown markings on the flanks. The upper side of the caudal peduncle is golden brown with big, gleaming brassy markings on the top surface of the head and cheeks, as well as translucent fins with black spots. Males have significantly wider pectoral fins than females and have a line of bristles across their cheeks.

Females are dark brown with random lighter markings, have a creamy-white stomach, and have a dark brown head with irregular light spots. Females are light brown in color, with faint markings on all of their fins.

Final Thoughts 

Banded Corydoras are a great addition to any freshwater tank. They are peaceful, hardy, and easy to care for. These fish are also great algae eaters and will help keep your tank clean. If you're looking for a fun and easy to care for fish, then the Banded Cory is the perfect choice!

If you want to keep more than one Banded Corydoras in your tank, then you should consider getting 6 or more. This is because they are social fish that love to shoal together. Not only will this make your fish happier, but it will also make them less likely to become stressed or sick.

When choosing a tank mates for your Banded Corydoras, you should avoid any fish that are too big or aggressive. These fish do best with other peaceful community fish that are the same size or smaller. They are easy to feed and do not require any special care. Just be sure to provide them with a good quality diet and a clean tank and they will thrive! Thanks for reading!

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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