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Family: Callichthyidae, Subfamily Corydoradinae

Common Name: Panda Cory

Origin and Habitat: Rio Aquas and Rio Amarillas (tributary of Rio Pachitea), Rio Ucayali system, upper Amazon in Peru.

Compatibility/Temperament: Very peaceful bottom fish, suitable for a community aquarium of non-aggressive fish. Must be kept in a group of at least three, but preferably five or more; this species is highly social and single fish will literally pine away.

Panda Cory Diet

Feeds on insect larvae, small crustaceans and worms in its habit; accepts most prepared sinking food like pellets and tablets, with frozen bloodworms and live worms for variety.


Can attain 2 inches, but usually remain smaller at 1.25 to 1.75 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

24 inches in length

Water parameters for Panda Cory

Soft to moderately hard (hardness up to 12 dGH), acidic to slightly basic (pH to 7.5) water, temperature 20-26C/70-79F. Wild-caught fish require temperatures at the lower end of this range; tank-raised fish do not last long above the upper end.


A quite active member of the cory clan that should be kept in a group of its own species in a well-planted aquarium with a dark substrate and subdued lighting; a cover of floating plants will help make the fish feel more secure. This species spends more swimming time off the substrate than many others, and does not tolerate higher temperatures but will do well at normal community aquarium temperatures around 77-78F. At warmer temperatures it is believed they have a significantly shorter lifespan.

As with all cory species, females when viewed from above will appear rounder, and in this species slightly larger. This species is relatively easy to spawn. Almost all fish available in the hobby are commercially raised.

All 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; corys 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 corys 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 name of the genus, which was erected by B.G.E. Lacepede in 1803, is derived from the Greek cory [= helmet] and doras [= 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 first collected in 1969 by Foersch and Hanrieder in a mountain stream at the side of the Rio Lullapichis (Rio Ucayali system) in Peru, and subsequently described by Nijssen & Isbrucker in 1971; the name refers to its dark spot on a light background resemblance to the panda bear.

Contributing Members

The following members have contributed to this profile: Byron


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