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Sands Cory

Scientific Name: Corydoras davidsandsi
Family: Callichthyidae, Sub-Family Corydoradinae

About the Sands Cory

Species Type: Freshwater Fish
Category: Catfish

Care Level: Easy. Does well in a slightly more narrow range of water parameters and shouldn't be used to cycle an aquarium. Will eat most prepared foods. May have some specific care requirements in terms of particular water parameters, social behaviors, food items etc.

Origin: Rio Unini, a whitewater river in the Rio Negro basin in Brazil. Hierronimus and Lambourne also report this species occurring in the Rio Inambu.

Compatibility/Temperament: Very peaceful bottom fish, well suited to any community aquarium of non-aggressive fish. Must be kept in a small group, minimum three but preferably five or more.


This is one of three species bearing a very similar colour pattern: a buff/beige body with a black eye mask and black dorso-lateral stripe. Corydoras metae and C. melini are the other species, and the three can be distinguished by the black dorso-lateral stripe. On C. metae this stripe is narrow and solid along the ridge of the back and curves down onto the caudal peduncle at the base of the tail; in both C. melini and C. davidsandsi it is straighter and extends into the lower lobe of the caudal fin. On C. melini this band divides just after the dorsal fin, leaving the dorsal ridge buff coloured; on C. davidsandsi the band divides at the caudal peduncle. The subject species is also slightly longer, and the snout is very slightly pointed by comparison to the previous species. The accompanying photos win the respective species profiles illustrate these differences.

The aquarium should be well-planted with pieces of bogwood, a dark substrate (small gravel or sand, provided it is smooth-edged) with some open areas, and subdued lighting which can be partly achieved by floating plants; corys do not like bright lighting, and this species occurs in a turbid, cloudy whitewater river. As with all corys, mature females are rounder when viewed from above.

The Corydoras are quite sensitive to water parameters and quality, and highly intolerant of salt, chemicals and medications. Signs of stress usually begin with rapid respiration, then lethargy (often just "sitting" on plant leaves, wood or the substrate respirating heavily, sometimes near the surface) and sometimes rolling onto one side. At such signs, a partial water change of at least 50% with a good water conditioner should immediately be made, and appropriate steps taken to remove the cause. Any sudden fluctuation in water chemistry or temperature often induces shock, causing the fish to "faint" and fall over on its side. Corydoras introduced to new aquaria will settle in better if the tank is established; Cory's do not adjust well to a new aquarium with still-unstable water conditions and fluctuations.

The dorsal, pectoral and adipose fins are each preceded by a spine which is actually a hardened and modified ray; the pectoral fin spine can be "locked" into position by the fish; care must be taken when netting Cory's not to entangle these spines, which can also give the aquarist a nasty jab. They are believed to be a defense adaptation, to lodge the fish in the throat of a predator.

All species in the genus will periodically and fairly regularly swim quickly to the surface for a gulp of air. The fish swallows the air and blood vessels in the hind gut extract oxygen from the air; it is then expelled through the vent the next time the fish breaks the surface for another gulp of air. This adaptation is believed to have evolved so that the fish can survive in poorly-oxygenated water such as drying pools during the dry season. It is however essential to the fish's well-being that it regularly swallows air.

The genus name is derived from the Greek "cory" meaning helmet, and "doras" meaning skin, incorrectly used here for "armour"; it refers to the dual row of overlapping plates (instead of scales) along the body, comparable to a suit of armour. This species was described by B. Black in 1987 and named to honour Dr. David Sands, a British ichthyologist who has specialized in this genus and himself discovered several new species.

Sands Cory Diet

Feeds on worms, small crustaceans and insect larvae in its habitat; accepts prepared foods that sink such as tablets and pellets, and frozen bloodworms and live worms for variety. A good variety is best for overall health.


Attains 2.4 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

24 inches in length

Ideal water parameters for Sands Cory

Soft to moderately hard (hardness below 10 dGH) acidic (pH up to 7.0) water, temperature 22-26C/70-79F.

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Sands Cory 1

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