Here comes a wonderful addition to the list of elegant, peaceful community fishes- Salt and Pepper Corydoras.

Belonging to the catfish family, this fish has been recently added to the nearly threatened species by The IUCN Red List. All it does is swim peacefully, eat regular food, grace up your tank, and have fun in its school, provided that you are keeping water parameters intact.

Known as a perfect scavenger in the fish world, this creature loves to spend its time near the bottom. Do not worry; it comes to mid-waters as well, where it looks all shiny and glittery amidst live plants.

If you are planning to introduce Salt and Pepper Corys in your fish tank, we recommend you go through the sections below.

Salt and Pepper Corydoras Care
Image Credit: Corydoras-habrosus-Männchen (CC License)

Outlining Salt and Pepper Corydoras

A Look Inside
Scientific Name Corydoras Habrosus
Other Common Names Salt & Pepper Fish, Salt & Pepper Catfish, Checker Cory, Venezuelan Pygmy Cory, Dainty Cory, Rio Salinas Cory, Dwarf Cory
Family Callichthyidae
Origin South America
Lifespan Up to 4 -5 Years
Colors Black, White, Tan, Brown, Grey
Size Topping 2 to 3.5 cm
Offspring Eggs
Schooling Mandatory
Price $5 – $7
Type Catfish

Origin & Habitat- Where do these Come from?

Found in Rio Orinoco Basin Columbia and Venezuela, this fish tends to swim around substrate where a large part of the vegetation is found. Most of these are collected from small streams and flooded forests where they tend to stick below fallen branches and roots.

The medieval Greek words ‘Korus’ and ‘Dora’ inspired the name of this fish (meaning helmet and skin, respectively). The second part of the name ‘Habrosus’ is also a word from the Greek literature that means Elegant/Graceful.

In the wild, they do not wait for the sun to set to come out of their hiding. The same behavior will be reflected in your aquarium as well. Unlike most catfish, these won’t be sticking to mid-upper waters and would like to explore the bottom of your tank.


Being nano/dwarf cory, this fish is usually seen swimming in schools in front of lush green live plants wallpaper gleaming in their tan color.

The tan-colored skin has black silverfish spots flowing throughout. Starting from the head, you see a beak-type mouth with small whiskers, having large black eyes above it.

Though it is all tiny and peaceful, it still carries its armor. Its pectoral fins have pointed stiffened rays that can pierce thick surfaces, even human skin. Once it feels intimidated or threatened by any fish around, it gears up its piercing rays that can damage the throat of any fish with its venom. It is known to create a sting feeling that can be very painful to us humans.

Seeing it from a naked eye, you will see shades of brown, grey, and white combined. Its tiny size doesn’t stop it from standing out in the aquarium. Their scale-less skin allows the chemicals to enter the body through plates. Taking care of it is recommended.

See also  Golden Wonder Killifish: Care Guide of a Hunter Fish

What is the Maximum Size?

Ranked in the top 10 among the most beautiful nano fish, the dwarf Corydoras will top the size of 1.4 inches.

An adult creature in this species will have an average growth of 0.8 inches. Yes, its small size is suitable for your small fish tank, but make sure you have enough space (read below) for the group to swim together as it is a shoaling fish.

Lifespan- Are they a Long-term Commitment?

These won’t be sticking around for more than half a dozen years. The hardy of the hardy habrosus corydoras has made it to the five-year mark.

With the right nutrition, proper care, and no stress from any predatory creature, this fish won’t be going anywhere within a 3-year period, which concludes the answer to the question- No, they are not a long-term commitment.

Author’s Note: Most of these die within a few days of being introduced in the new tank. Hence, water parameters become one thing that you should be monitoring regularly.

Gender Identification

You cannot tell the gender of this fish up until it hits maturity. By the looks, the female is usually rounder, fatter with a bigger belly than males. Males look more aligned and straightened.

Quick Look to Care

CorydoraHabrosus Care Sheet
Hardiness Quite Hardy
Issues Difficult to Remove from Tank
Care Level Easy
Friendliness With Family Mates
Breeding Level Moderate-to-Advanced
Diet Omnivore
Favorite Piece In The Tank Substrate 
Temperament Peaceful

Diet/Feeding: What’s on the Platter?

When it comes to finding their food, corydoras habrosus run behind insect larvae in the wild, you should probably try to replicate that platter. 

With an omnivore diet, you get tons of options with this fish. It can be as minimal as commercial fish foods like pellets & flakes, and it can range to live food like brine shrimp. Overall, the platter looks all yummy. To list a few items:

  • Dried Food
  • Flakes
  • Live Food
  • Rotifers
  • Brine Shrimp (babies)
  • Bloodworms
  • Black Worms
  • Cyclops
  • Chopped Veggies
  • Small Insects & Larvae

Unlike most catfish, these won’t be troubling you with waking up in your sleep and feeding them during the dark hours (night time). These come out lively during the day and get their nutrient-rich food in their bellies ASAP.

Find out more on Tiger Shovelnose Catfish, and what do they eat.

Pro Tip: There is one critical thing you should take care of. Pour in the food that goes down to the bottom. Even if they come to the top, they will ignore what’s floating there. Being bottom dwellers, these will love if they are served on their table.

Breeding – How Do you Get Salt and Pepper Pygmy Cory to Mate?

The chances of breeding one male to a female in the whole tank are improbable. There are already a few issues that keep you from doing it.

To begin with, you must have a shoal of this fish. Habrosus Pygmy Corydorasget into breeding upon receiving active spawning signals. You can note these signs, too; one major of them is the body growth of the female. They become fatter than they were, and a belly bump with eggs is a prominent sight to see by then. 

However, it doesn’t work with one on one ratio. The ideal ratio suggested for mating is 3 to 1, which can be easily achieved when you bring in a group of 8 to 10 fish.

Changing water regularly (daily basis – 50% – 70%) with pristine cool and oxygenated water is your first and foremost duty. Water changes are a must to trigger spawning, and the next thing would be maintaining CONSISTENCY. Once it is done, you have to remove the parents upon the sight of eggs as they will be preying down their own offspring.

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Where can you see eggs?

This fish usually lays its eggs on aquarium bottom (on glass), sometimes under the plant leaves, and even on the filter.

How do you know of successful breeding?

You can witness their mating when they form a T-shaped position. It can be more than one pairing with these fish.

When do fries come out?

It takes 72 to 96 hours before the fry comes out. Make sure you are now maintaining water parameters as they die with fluctuations.

What do you feed fries?

At first, they will be feeding on their egg yolk. Upon full consumption, you’d notice them roaming on the tank surface. Clean live food is your prime feeding choice at this point.

Temperament: Is the Shoal Peaceful?

The temperament of salt and pepper pygmy cory catfish makes it an ideal choice for peaceful aquariums. Yes, we have given a hint here.

As stated, these won’t be troubling any of their mates, including their own family members. They are fine with exploring corners, wiggling down the bottom, and enjoying their snack time.

Even during the mating period, you won’t be seeing any signs of aggression.

Behavior Info: The only time these fish harm anybody is when it feels threatened. At that point, its sharp rays do the job of poisoning the opposition. Other than that, they elegantly wiggle and swim together.

Diseases Penetrating Their Bodies

Yes, these are prone to fungal infections. Ich is one thing that can trouble your fish more than once. Hence, you have to be very specific with water parameters.

Other than that, these may fall in the clutches of gill flukes and nitrite poisoning.

Nitrite poisoning is one thing that can engulf the life of salt and pepper copy in a short period. The primary symptoms are sluggish swimming and swimming more towards the top. At that point, water change and removal of a few species from inside become mandatory.

Pro Tip: Fries usually fall prey to fungal infections in the beginning. Hence, it is advised you add a few drops of methylene blue.

Read more on Common Diseases in Aquarium Fish here.

How to Set Up the Right Tank

The Ideal Home
Available for Community Tank Only with Small Peaceful Fish
Place in Tank Bottom Dwelling
Actual & Suitable Environment Freshwater
Minimum Tank Size 14 – 20 Gallons
Water Temperature 75˚F – 80˚F
pH Level 5.5 – 7.5
Water Hardness 2–10 dGH
Tank Mates Nano Aquarium Creatures

What Is the Ideal Tank Size?

All the time, we have been quoting this as a nano fish; it gives you a brief idea of the ideal size of the tank. We recommend you do not go below the 14-gallon mark.

Since they are purchased in groups and require a large company to prosper, you need adequate space for everyone to swim. 2-gallon per fish is the real ask.

With that, you must have live plants, toys, tunnels, filters, and a bunch of tank mates that go well with it.

How Do You Decorate the Tank?

You have a lot to do with decorations. There is nothing that does not complement the look of this salt and pepper catfish. Here are all the things you can try in your tank.


Live lush green plants that grow around the tank and shedding leaves are a great addition. Java Moss is common and favorable for this fish.

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Explore more on Java Moss and other best Carpet Plants here.


You have to be very careful of the substrate—no sharp objects around the bottom dwellers. Plain sand and even crystal-clear glass bottom are lovely.


Make sure you are not keeping any hard-vacuuming toys. Driftwoods, caves, mermaid structures, and tunnels are all allowed inside.


Significant lighting on top is always welcomed. It brings out the best shade in plants and makes this fish stands out with its dark colors. Make sure your plants do not outgrow the tank.

Filtration & Oxygenation:

Pristine quality is always a top priority, with fishes inside captivity. Oxygenated water is significantly demanded during mating.


Being small in size, these won’t tolerate extremely strong currents. Hence, a filter with such abilities must be avoided.

Ensure you keep chemicals away and nitrate levels restricted to the bare minimum. Your tank can get all graced up with a school flowing amidst it.

Water Parameters

When setting the parameters, you have to be very precise about the environment’s quality you are putting habrosus pig my corys in. As mentioned above, they do not tolerate anything over the limits set and die very early.

Talking of the numbers, a pH on the acidic side (7.0) is ideal for bringing out the colors of this fish, keeping hardness to 7.5 dKh, and temperature around 25˚C. Yes, this fish carries hardiness but not enough to tolerate non-surviving conditions.

Pro Tip: Besides suitable water conditions, these also like to have a few hiding spots, which is why caves and tunnels are recommended for decoration.

Tank Mates: Their Ideal Buddies

Being a small peaceful fish instantly nullifies the possibility of adding large, vigorous, and predatory tank mates. A handful of only:

Other than these, their own school is enough for them to enjoy and have a gala time.

Again, there are no significant aggression signs even during the mating period, and these may still swim behind a mate who is sick. Their venomous spines already keep other mates away from getting harmed.

Any fish that has an aggressive temperament is a big NO.

Explore here about Aggressive Cichlid Species – Jack Dempsey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I keep my salt and pepper corydoras with a cichlid?

Well, it depends largely on the kind and size of cichlids you are petting in the tank. Only dwarf cichlids that do not go beyond the size of this fish are allowed to enter the tank. Otherwise, be ready to see signs of stress and aggression.

Is it easy to transfer my fish from one tank to the other?

As a fish owner, you should be aware that habrosus cory carries spines/rays at the point of their fins. Any signs of threat, and they are ready to pierce that ray in the skin. It can happen to humans, giving a stingy pain that can harm you. Hence, be careful.

What should I do if my fish is sick?

Pepper Coryscan gets sick. Being unable to swim properly (sluggish), not having the same old thirst for food, having a slightly red belly are all signs of sickness. The best you can do is get the water parameters straight. If there are deviations, their rectification can make things right.

How many times should I change my water for Salt and Pepper Corydoras?

These fish are highly susceptible to high nitrate levels. Hence, frequent water changes are a must. Other than that, you can reduce other tank mates to prevent excess nitrate excretion.

Do these come to the top?

Yes. Besides running behind the food at the bottom, corydoras have the urge to go on top and get a fresh gulp of air in. Hence, you can see them coming towards the surface, not that they need to, but they want to.

Final Verdict: Are They Good Pet?

Swimming in schools, they fill your fish tank with life and grace. While setting a community tank, you can ideally add these, provided that you are keeping peaceful nano fish as their tank mates.

Such tiny creatures flowing together in the aquarium look lovely until they demand frequent water changes. If you are up for the task, you can go right ahead, and it can be your BEST PET in the tank.

Related fish profile:

Upside Down Catfish

About the Author

Victoria Lamb

Victoria is a freshwater aquatics specialist, fish keeper, and amphibian enthusiast. She has had more than 6 years of experience caring for aquariums and keeping several fish species, and her home boasts of 3 aquariums and a garden pond. Her goal is to educate fish owners on raising healthy and happy aquatic pets.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior and Welfare

  • University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK (2014-2018)

Writing Experience

Victoria has done ghostwriting for many aquarium and pet websites in the past. She has also worked for Canada's largest natural health magazine- ALIVE, with 300,000 monthly circulations as a freelancer. She had six published articles on animal behavior and welfare during her graduation for her thesis.

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