Is your aquarium lacking some life? The cheerful panda Cory might be just what you need. This active bottom dweller is sure to brighten up any fish tank. Undemanding and peaceful, even beginners will be able to keep this species!
Keep reading for everything you need to know about Corydoras panda and keeping this armored catfish in your own aquarium.
Panda Cory, panda Corydoras, panda catfish. The genus Corydoras is also collectively referred to as armored catfish.
Corydoras panda natural habitat
Panda Cory catfish are native to South America, found primarily in Peru and Ecuador.
The species is found in both clear and blackwater environments, often with lots of leaf litter and a soft sandy bottom. The water temperature can be cool, often in the 60s (15-20 °C), due to run-off from snow-capped mountains.
Corydoras panda appearance
Corydoras panda are a small armored catfish species that get to be up to 5 centimeters (3 inches). They have an off-white to pale pink base color with black patches over the eyes, dorsal fin, and peduncle.
It’s because of the dark patches over the eyes that this species received its name, in honor of the giant panda of China.
There are a few Corydoras species out there that are visually very similar to the panda Cory. Corydoras metae (also known as the bandit Cory), for example, is very difficult to distinguish from its panda cousin at first glance. The clearest giveaway is its more elongated ‘eye patch’. Corydoras melini features a diagonal stripe across the body and lacks the typical black tail spot.
The image below shows a mix of similar looking Corydoras: quite confusing, so make sure you know which species you’re buying!
Corydoras panda requirements
Panda Cory catfish are energetic fish that thrive in large setups, softer water, and big groups. If you plan to keep a group, aim for no less than six individuals since they are more social and less shy in larger numbers. More is always better and a large swarm of panda Cories zooming across the bottom of your aquarium is quite a sight to see.
Since they are active and speedy, always on the lookout for food, it’s highly recommended to go for a minimum aquarium size of 20 gallons (76 liter, with a longer tank being preferable) if you’re interested in keeping panda Corydoras. In fact, you’d do best with 30 plus gallons (114 liter). While they do benefit from planted tanks with lots of shade and hiding places, just be sure to have enough open space along the bottom for the fish to zip along and sift for food.
Since they are commonly found blackwater conditions and love browsing around the bottom of the aquarium for food, trying to recreate a similar environment at home is highly recommended. You can use lots of leaf litter (like almond leaves and alder cones) as well as driftwood to darken the water and lower the pH. There’s also the added benefit that the fish will have infusoria to snack on as the leaves decompose.
It’s important to remember that panda Corydoras thrive in the low 70s ( < 25 °C) so they may not be ideal for a tropical tank. If they are kept in warmer temperatures on a long term basis, their lifespan may be reduced.
Corydoras panda tankmates
Corydoras panda are peaceful fish; in fact, they play so well with their neighbors that they’re actually on the list of most peaceful community fish. As such, they combine best with other peaceful species, like the other fish mentioned in that article.
Since they are so boisterous, panda Cories may intimidate smaller, slower, and shyer fish. Keep this in mind while stocking: tankmates should be peaceful but not timid. These guys have no problems with ploughing into other fish as they zip along from one side of the aquarium to the other. Other Corydoras species like the ones mentioned here actually make a great option, as their behavior is so similar.
Larger, aggressive fish or fin-nippers should be avoided in an aquarium that contains Corydoras panda. Due to their smaller size they can still easily be harassed. If you’re looking for a sturdy Corydoras that works well with more assertive species, consider going for the bronze Cory instead!
Corydoras panda diet
Panda Cory catfish are not picky eaters. They easily thrive on a variety of foods, from sinking pellets and wafers to live foods. Although they should not be purchased just as a ‘cleaning crew’, they do help by consuming leftovers your top- and middwelling fish might have missed.
While their diet tends to be primarily vegetable based, they like a good meal of various types of frozen or live bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia as well. Buying live food at the aquarium store is a risk since parasites are a real possibility, but luckily this doesn’t limit your options too much. Breeding your own live fish foods is quite easy and the section on fish foods contains guides on culturing multiple ‘yummy’ bug species. Additionally, you can also go for the easy option and hatch some brine shrimp eggs for a much-appreciated live snack.
Whatever falls to the bottom of the tank is fair game. However, if you have a large community of fish, you have to take extra care that enough food falls to the bottom for them to eat. Bottom feeder pellets should work well.
They also make a dent in algae but not all types. If you intend to have these fish primarily as algae eaters, they’re not the right fish for you.
Corydoras panda behavior
Panda Cory catfish are highly energetic fish that rarely stay in one place for too long. At times, they seem to move faster than the speed of light as they tear around the aquarium, usually in trios or a large shoal.
The species is most active at night, but you’ll still get to see them be their adorable selves during the day as well.
Corydoras panda breeding
If your goal is to breed panda Cory catfish, one of the first things you should know is that they don’t typically reach sexual majority until around five years of age. Since they are highly social creatures, it’s best to get a group of juveniles and play the long game, waiting for them to reach sexual majority before attempting to spawn. It’s also best to have a ratio of two males per female to increase the odds of successful spawning.
To condition the fish, a rich diet of live foods is recommended. Once the females are ripe with eggs, you can trigger the spawning process by doing a large water change with cooler water and increasing oxygenation.
After spawning, the sticky eggs will be placed on plants, driftwood, or glass. However, panda Cory adults are known to potentially eat their own eggs, so it’s best to initiate spawning in a smaller aquarium where you can remove the breeders after spawning. You can also opt to remove the eggs from a tank and raising them separately.
After four days, the eggs will hatch. The fry are extremely sensitive to changes in water parameters, so it’s crucial that everything remains consistent. It’s also recommended to have the temperature be no more than 72 degrees. Having plenty of leaf litter will provide infusoria for the fry to eat in the beginning stages until they are large enough to accept commercial foods.