Cory Catfish And Betta: Cozy Partners Or Tickly Companions?

cory catfish and betta
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Bettas stand out as colorful fish with a not-so-good temperament. Male betta, in particular, is violent and will attack any tank mate they consider a threat.

More on that, later.

A majority of fish keepers opt to keep bettas on their own due to their aggressive behavior, which they do not mind. However, if you do not want your pet living alone, you must be browsing for potential tank mates.

Can cory fish live with a betta? Yes, depending on the temperament of your betta. In addition to this, you have to meet a few conditions to achieve peaceful coexistence.

Read on.

What Are Cory Catfish?

cory catfish in aquarium

Corydoras catfish are small, hardy fish native to South America. Their average length is 2.5 inches and they love living in slow currents.

You will find cory cats in slow-moving rivers and streams with dense vegetation. So, if you plan to add these fish to your community tank, ensure the current is not too strong and provide adequate live plants.

These fish are hardy and easy to care for. They can live for 5 to 7 years in the perfect water conditions and environment. 

What Is the Temperament of The Corydoras Catfish?

corydoras catfish at bottom aquarium

Corys are peaceful fish that will not bother your betta. They are particularly happy when kept with their own kind.

These fish forage together at the bottom of the tank, and even when one takes a break, they will be inches away from the group.

Types of Cory Catfish

There are over 160 species of corydoras, and they are all ideal tank mates for your betta. Here are seven types of corydoras you can expect from the pet store:

Pygmy Corys

pygmy cory catfish

These are the great tank mates for bettas in small tanks. Their small stature does not provoke an attack even from an aggressive betta.

Bronze Cory

bronze cory catfish

These are easy to maintain and come in bronze, black, green, and albino variations. They love the company of their species and prefer living in small schools.

Bandit Cory

bandit cory catfish

You can identify one from the black-looking mask over the eyes, hence the name ‘bandit.’ These thrive in waters with stable pH and temperatures.

Julii Cory

julii cory catfish

These corys are often mistaken for leopard corydoras. The Julii cory has a pattern of spots that are not connected.

Leopard Cory

leopard cory catfish

They are also called the three stripe corydoras and have a line of connected dots on their head.

Peppered Cory

peppered cory catfish

These small, friendly fish get along with most small fish. But, they are vulnerable when kept with large, aggressive fish.

Panda Corydoras Catfish

panda cory

The species is highly social and can thrive in unheated tanks. Here is a video showcasing more types of cory catfish.

What Are the Best Tank Conditions for Cory Catfish?

Cory catfish are indeed hardy. But they do not thrive in tanks with fluctuating water conditions.

These great companions appreciate a pH of 7.0 to 7.8, and their ideal water temperature should be between 70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. If you expose a corydoras to high alkaline or acidic water, it can distress it over time.

To keep a healthy corydoras catfish, you must ensure the water is pristine. These catfish do well in water conditions with 0ppm levels of nitrates. Exposing them to high nitrate levels makes them vulnerable to diseases.

Also, corydoras catfish thrive in an environment that feels natural. So, add plenty of real plants as part of the decoration. These plants will provide good hiding spots, while the leaves offer surfaces for breeding. Include driftwood, rocks, and caves for your corydoras as additional hiding places.

Corydoras are adapted to rummaging. They use their barbels to forage for food through the substrate. For this, only use soft sand and gravel to avoid damaging the cory’s barbels, fins, or stomach.

Moreover, avoid disturbing the tank substrate when vacuuming to avoid stressing the cory.

If there is a lot of disturbance to the sand or gravel, it will release fish waste and rotting food, increasing bacteria and pathogens in the water. This, in turn, will lead to a breakout of infections and diseases in the aquarium.

Can Cory Catfish Live with Betta Fish?

Yes. You can put betta with cory catfish. Corys are peaceful fish, which balances the intense aggression from bettas. Their docile nature prevents them from aggravating a betta’s intense prey drive.

Corys have muted colors and small, flowing fins that do not irritate a betta. In most cases, betta fish do not perceive corydoras as threats, as they would other flashy fish like gourami or fancy guppies. Some strains like albino catfish are not eye-catching, making them suitable tank mates.

When it comes to tank conditions, the two fish species thrive in similar conditions. Bettas need a pH of 7, while corydoras require one between 7 and 7.8. Since these water parameters overlap, it is easy to strike a balance between the two fishes.

Their ideal temperature is also similar. Corydoras are comfortable in temperatures of 70-78 degrees, with Bettas requiring 75 to 82 degrees. Setting the temperatures at 78 degrees will be suitable for the betta and cory catfish.

The corydoras and betta fish inhabit different water columns. This reduces the chances of their paths crossing.

Bettas are adapted to live in the top and middle water columns. Their slightly upturned mouths help them hunt their food from the water’s surface. Plus, the betta has to occasionally rise to the surface to breathe air with their labyrinth organ.

The Corys, on the other hand, are bottom dwellers. Their downturned mouths and barbels help them scavenge for food through the substrate. These fish rarely swim to the top column, which reduces contact with the betta.

How To House A Cory Catfish And Betta

cory catfish and betta in aquarium

As previously stated, bettas are okay living solo. But cory catfish are happiest when in groups. Therefore, find at least a 10-gallon tank to accommodate a group of corys and betta fish.

Also, place a cover at the top of the tank to prevent accidental jumps. Bettas jump between puddles to find food, mates, or new territory in their natural habitat. This instinct can kick in, and if the tank top is open, your betta may fly right out.

The Cory catfish is not an accomplished jumper. But they tend to swim too fast to catch a floating morsel or an air bubble. This action can lead them to jump out of the open aquarium.

Include a filtration system to maintain a healthy tank.

Cory catfish are particularly vulnerable to fluctuations in the tank’s conditions and may suffer a decreased lifespan from exposure to toxins. Bettas, too, will appreciate low levels of nitrates in the aquarium.

Bettas and cory catfish have different diets. Therefore, ensure that youprovide a nutritious diet for both species to stay healthy and active.

The Siamese fighting fish are carnivores who thrive on animal protein. The diet can include freeze-dried bloodworms, earthworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, live mosquito larvae, and nutrient-dense flakes and pellets.

However, the cory catfish are omnivores and will eat different foods, including any leftovers from the betta. You will also find them eating insects and invertebrates present in the substrate and plant matter. Even though these fish are scavengers, you must add sinking wafers to supplement their diet.

We recommend that you feed the fish twice a day for two minutes. If your fish consume their food for more than two minutes, you are overfeeding them.

Also, feed your betta and cory catfish high-quality food. Your goal should be to keep them healthy for longer.

Fun Fact: There is another potential tank mate for your betta pal — the African dwarf frog. Know if they are friends or enemies by reading our post, African Dwarf Frog And Betta: Will They Fight Or Interact?

How To Successfully Introduce Cory Catfish Into A Betta Tank

Your betta already feels dominant in the aquarium. If you introduce corys in this environment, the betta may regard them as threats and attacks.

To ease the introduction phase, remove the Siamese fighting fish from their established tank and make slight decorative changes. Doing so will disrupt the betta’s dominant stature, making it less aggressive in the ‘new environment’.

Introduce the cory catfish first into the redecorated tank and let them get accustomed for an hour or two before adding the betta. The cory will have enough time to find their hiding spots and keep away from the betta.

You can also feature some Indian almond leaves in the new setup. Bettas feel more comfortable around them because they mimic their natural habitat.

In addition, these Indian almond leaves have antifungal and antibacterial properties and can help combat infections and illnesses. 

Tips To Achieve A Peaceful Coexistence Between Betta Fish And Corydoras Catfish

Analyze Your Betta’s Temperament

If your betta is super aggressive, it will constantly chase, circle, and nip on the corydoras. However, if the betta is peaceful, it may not mind the extra company.

Use A Big Tank

Bettas do well in at least a 10-gallon tank by themselves. With the addition of five or more bettas, it would be wise to get a bigger tank. For instance, a 20-gallon tank will have adequate room for the betta and cory to swim around without making contact.

Get Pygmy Corydoras

We recommend getting pygmy cory when starting. Since they are not as physically attractive as spotted cory or albino cory, they are less likely to irk the betta.

Besides, the pygmy corydoras only grow to 1 inch. At this length, they often go unnoticed, increasing their survival chances.

Feature Lots of Hiding Spots

Decorate the aquarium with plants, driftwood, caves, and ornaments. Bettas love swimming in open waters but may occasionally want some privacy. The same applies to corys. They need hiding spots if they feel threatened by the betta.

How To Select The Right Cory Catfish For Your Betta

Now that you know you can keep a cory catfish with a betta, it is time to get these new tank mates. When choosing corys, go for those active swimmers who look lively in their tank. Additionally, pick those busy foraging through the substrate.

Steer clear from thin fish or those with swollen bellies. Also, avoid those with damaged fins, tails, and scales. These may be signs that the fish is ill and could bring these infections to your new tank.

After choosing the healthy, active, and busy corys, quarantine them in a separate tank for a week before adding them to the main tank. This will allow you to check whether they are ill and prevent creating disaster in the betta tank.

I recommend having silk plants over live ones in your quarantine tank. Why? Because live plants are more likely to introduce parasites and diseases into the other tank. And you do not want to transfer this to the main aquarium.

Also, ensure your quarantine tank has a working filter system, hideout places, plants, heater, and a lighting system to keep the cory fish comfortable.

A Quick Comparison Between Cory Catfish and Betta

Conditions  Cory Catfish  Betta
Size 1 to 1.25 inches 2 to 3 inches
Water Temperature 70 to 80 degrees 75 to 80 degrees
pH Levels 7 to 7.8 7.0
Current Strength Slow Slow
Care Level Easy Easy
Tank Accessories Driftwood, caves, plants Plants, Driftwood
Lifespan 5 years 5 years

Related Questions

Do corys eat betta poop?

No. Although cory catfish sift through the substrate eating leftover foods and algae, betta poop is not part of their diet. But they can bury the poop while foraging to give the impression that they eat waste.

Can bettas attack cory?

Yes. Ill-tempered bettas will hunt down corys regardless of their peaceful nature. So pay attention to how your betta reacts in the presence of a corydoras catfish. If the fighting fish is aggressive towards these bottom-feeders, separate the two.

Can cory catfish have a ‘fast’ day?

Sure. The fast day helps a betta digest any residual food in the digestive system to prevent the risk of swim bladder issues and bloat. And corys can share the fast day, too, to forage any foods available in the substrate.

Can Corydoras eat betta food?

Sure. These bottom feeders will pick up any tasty morsels from betta food. But do include some sinking wafers because leftover food will not provide all the nutrients these algae eaters need.

How much food do corydoras eat?

Although these bottom feeders can eat a whole range of foods, they do not feed on much. They only need feeding once a day which should last two to five minutes.

Final Thoughts

It’s now safe to say that this guide has answered the question, can betta fish live with corydoras catfishin the same tank.

Corys are peaceful by nature and steer clear of the tank’s surface where betta fish lurk making them great tank mates. The corydoras spend most of their day hanging around at the bottom of the tank, rummaging and foraging for food.

Remember, Corys and Betta can live together. But betta fish thrive alone, while corydoras catfish enjoy living with their species.

Last Updated: July 12, 2022

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