Cory catfish (also known as corydoras) may be small, but they are active swimmers that need plenty of space. For this reason, many fish keepers disagree on how many cory catfish are appropriate for a 10-gallon tank.
Nevertheless, most hobbyists agree that you can keep anywhere from 2 to 6 cory catfish in a 10-gallon tank, especially if you choose pygmy or dwarf varieties.
As a general rule, the bigger your fish, the more space they need. The more space your fish need, the less they will fit in a 10-gallon tank.
Is a 10-Gallon Tank Big Enough for Cory Catfish?
Yes — but when it comes to cory catfish (and most species of fish, actually), bigger is always better. Thirty gallons is an ideal tank size for a sizable school of cory catfish and some low-maintenance tank mates, like red cherry shrimp.
Whatever you do, never keep cory catfish in a tank under 10 gallons. This minimum tank size is not ideal for these active species.
How Many Gallons Do You Need for Cory Catfish?
Ensure every tank fish has one gallon of water per inch. For example, a one-inch cory catfish needs at least one gallon of water to live happily. Always maintain maximum aquarium care, such as checking the water temperature and suitable plants to maintain ideal tank conditions.
Cory catfish can grow 2 to 4 inches long, so you should also give them space to grow. This means you should have 2 to 4 gallons for each cory catfish you keep.
Because cory catfish prefer to be kept in groups, you must have at least 10 gallons of space to care for them correctly.
Can I Keep Just One Cory Catfish?
No. Cory catfish are social, schooling fish, so they should never be kept alone. A cory catfish will get lonely by itself. It will constantly be scared of predators and may stop eating or die.
These types of fish are peaceful and like living in water conditions that are more like the natural environment. Air pump and tank cleaner help clean the fish tanks to ensure they meet the tank requirements.
Please keep at least one other cory catfish in the tank so they may form a bonded pair. They are social fish and have a schooling behaviour which enhances their safety by confusing a predator.
The size of your aquarium will determine how many cory fish you can keep. The larger the tank size and the better the terms of tank size, the higher the number of fish you can keep!
Is 2 Cory Catfish Enough?
Two cory catfish can keep each other company, but with this variety of fish, the “the more the merrier” mantra is certainly true.
Cory catfish prefer to live in even-numbered schools; an ideal school would be 4 or 6 fish. Coincidentally, 6 cory catfish is the maximum you should keep in a 10-gallon tank.
In the wild, cory catfish school together to protect themselves from predators, so without schools, cory catfish may feel shy or threatened — even in captivity.
Is 3 Cory Catfish Enough?
Three cory catfish is better than 2, but 4 cory catfish make a suitable school. One additional fish should not cause overcrowding and can improve the quality of life for all your cory catfish.
If you are going to put 3 cory catfish in a 10-gallon tank, you might as well add 1 more and make it 4!
While you’re at it, consider adding an extra 5 gallons to your tank because cory catfish like to swim around, and they will absolutely prefer a 15-gallon tank to a 10-gallon tank.
Can Panda Corys Live in a 10-Gallon Tank?
Yes, but you may be better off with a different breed.
Smaller varieties of corydoras will do better in a 10-gallon tank, and Panda corys are on the larger side. A small school of Panda corydoras can survive in a 10-gallon tank, but pygmaeus corys can thrive in a smaller tank.
Instead of 2 to 4 Panda corys, consider adopting 4 to 6:
- Pygmaeus corys,
- Habrosus corys, or
- Hastatus corys.
These dwarf or pygmy cory catfish will do best in a 10-gallon tank. Because they only reach about 1 or 2 inches in length, you can keep a reasonable school of dwarf or pygmy corys in a 10-gallon tank.
What Should I Put in the Tank With My Cory Catfish?
Corydoras are shy and love to hide, so be sure to put some live aquarium plants in their tank. (As an added bonus, this will help keep your tank clean). Aquarium owners should also maintain favourable water column to ensure maximum activity levels for this fish type.
Because cory catfish are bottom dwellers, you should add a soft substrate, like sand or rounded gravel, to the bottom of the tank and feed your fish using sinking food.
To mirror the rivers of your pets’ natural habitat, use an air filter to add a soft current to the water. This will create a peaceful nature with an ideal temperature favourable for this catfish species.
Tank Mates for Cory Catfish
In a 10-gallon tank, you may not have room for tank mates, especially other fish.
Instead, you should consider snails or shrimp, such as:
- Bamboo shrimp
- Vampire shrimp
- Amano shrimp
- Red cherry shrimp
- Ghost shrimp
- Gold Inca snails
- Ivory snails
- Mystery snails
- Ramshorn snails
- Pond snails
- Rabbit snails
- Malaysian trumpet snails
- Japanese trapdoor snails
- Nerite snails
If you have a bigger tank and want to add other fish, stick to other breeds of cory catfish and tetras — and avoid aggressive fish like cichlids and bettas.
How Do I Know if My Cory Catfish Are Happy?
Happy cory catfish will school together, swim around actively, and have hearty appetites.
If one of your fish strays from the group, swims erratically or upside-down or refuses to eat, it could be a sign of sickness or stress.
Double-check your water parameters and make sure your tank is not overcrowded.
Remember, you should not keep more than 6 cory catfish in a 10-gallon tank, and if you want to add tank mates, you may need to reduce the school to only 4 fish.
So, What Should My 10-Gallon Tank Look Like?
If I were to set up a 10-gallon cory catfish tank today, I would introduce 6 pygmaeus corys to a well-filtered tank with live plants and soft sand at the bottom.
I would keep an eye on them to ensure they were not stressed or overcrowded, and I would not add any tank mates.
I would also keep in mind that this tank setup is the bare minimum for these fish and consider upgrading them to a bigger tank.
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