Panda Corydoras

Panda Corydoras are captivating freshwater fish with endearing black and white patterns, earning them their name. These friendly fish require moderate maintenance, making them an excellent choice for community aquariums

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Care DIfficulty


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South America

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2 inches (5 cm)

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5 years

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Table of contents

Origin, Appearance, Size, and Lifespan

The Panda Corydoras, or Corydoras panda, is a popular freshwater fish native to the upper Amazon River basin in South America, specifically the Peruvian and Ecuadorian regions.

In the wild, Panda Corydoras are often found in slow-moving, shallow waters with an abundance of plant life. These plants not only serve as hiding spots but also as a food source, while the substrate provides an ideal environment for foraging. These social fish thrive in groups of at least six, but it's not uncommon to see them in larger numbers.

Their natural environment features warm, slightly soft, and neutral to slightly acidic water. The temperature typically varies between 72 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 26 degrees Celsius), with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.5, and water hardness between 2 to 12 dGH. To create a similar environment in your aquarium, make sure to maintain a consistent water temperature, use a high-quality filtration system, and incorporate live plants and smooth substrate.

By closely mirroring the Panda Corydoras' natural habitat and ensuring the right water conditions, you'll be setting your fish up for a healthy and happy life in your aquarium.

Panda Corydoras are known for their distinctive black and white markings, with black patches around their eyes, dorsal fin, and at the base of the caudal fin. These attractive colors make them an appealing and eye-catching feature in aquariums. Reaching up to approximately 2 inches (5 cm) in size, their charming appearance and active nature make them an ideal choice for those seeking a lively and engaging aquatic display. These delightful fish bring joy to observers as they scuttle along the tank bottom, making them a beloved favorite among hobbyists of all experience levels.

With proper care, Panda Corydoras can enjoy a lifespan of up to 5 years. As sociable beings, they flourish in groups and are best kept in schools of a minimum of six individuals. To promote their well-being and ensure a long life in captivity, it's essential to provide a finely-grained substrate, abundant hiding spots, and a diverse diet consisting of premium sinking pellets, live, and frozen foods.

Fun Facts

Now that we've learned more about the appearance and lifespan of Panda Corydoras. In this section, we'll highlight some fascinating facts about these charming fish that make them stand out in the aquarium hobby. From their unique markings to their social behavior, Panda Corydoras are full of surprises and are sure to captivate any aquarist.

  • Camouflage for protection: In the wild, Panda Corydoras' distinctive black and white markings serve as a form of camouflage, helping them blend into the riverbeds and avoid predators.
  • Sensitive barbels: Panda Corydoras have a pair of sensitive barbels on their lower jaw, which they use to search for food in the substrate. These barbels are delicate, so it's important to provide a soft, fine-grained substrate in the aquarium to prevent injury.
  • Breathing through skin: Panda Corydoras have a unique ability to breathe through their skin, which enables them to absorb oxygen directly from the water when necessary. This adaptation allows them to survive in oxygen-poor environments, but it's still important to maintain good water quality and aeration in the aquarium.
  • Energetic scavengers: Panda Corydoras are active bottom-dwelling scavengers, constantly searching for food in the substrate. Their foraging behavior helps keep the aquarium clean by consuming leftover food particles and breaking down organic matter.
  • Social behavior: Panda Corydoras are social fish that thrive in groups. They prefer to interact with their own kind and are often seen resting or swimming together. Keeping them in groups of at least six individuals will promote their natural behavior and help them feel more secure in the aquarium.

Now that you've discovered some interesting tidbits about Panda Corydoras, you'll be better equipped to appreciate their beauty and intricacies in your aquarium. In the following section, we'll provide recommendations on tank setups, ensuring your Panda Corydoras have an ideal environment to thrive and showcase their endearing features.

Recommended Tank Setups

Each setup includes the core components—tank, filter, heater, lighting, substrate, and more—ensuring that you can create an appropriate environment for Panda Corydoras and other compatible freshwater fish species in your aquarium. As you move from budget-friendly to high-end setups, you will also have more options for customization, aesthetics, and advanced features. Panda Corydoras are social fish and need to be kept in groups of at least six individuals to reduce stress and ensure their well-being. Typically, Panda Corydoras are priced between $3 and $6 per fish, although prices can vary based on factors such as size, quality, and availability.

Budget-friendly setup (around $200):

  • Tank: 20-gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($40 - $70)
  • Filter: Hang-on-back (HOB) or sponge filter rated for 20 gallons ($20 - $40)
  • Heater: 50-100 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($15 - $30)
  • Lighting: Basic LED aquarium light ($20 - $50)
  • Substrate: Fine-grained aquarium sand or small, smooth gravel ($10 - $20)
  • Decor: A few pieces of driftwood, rocks, and low-cost live plants like Java Fern and Anubias ($20 - $40)
  • Fish: Minimum 6 Panda Corydoras ($18 - $36)
  • Thermometer: $3 - $10
  • Substrate Vacuum: $10 - $25
  • Fish Net: $2 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $5 - $20
  • Siphon and Bucket: $15 - $30
  • Test Kit: $15 - $50
  • Fish Food: $5 - $20
  • Water Conditioner: $5 - $15

Mid-range setup (around $400 - $650):

  • Tank: 20-30 gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($60 - $120)
  • Filter: Canister filter or high-quality HOB filter rated for the tank size ($60 - $150)
  • Heater: 100-150 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($25 - $50)
  • Lighting: LED aquarium light with adjustable settings for plant growth and color enhancement ($50 - $150)
  • Substrate: Nutrient-rich aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks ($20 - $40)
  • Decor: A mix of driftwood, rocks, and live plants such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne species ($40 - $80)
  • Fish: Minimum 6 Panda Corydoras ($18 - $36)
  • Thermometer: $3 - $10
  • Substrate Vacuum: $10 - $25
  • Fish Net: $2 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $5 - $20
  • Siphon and Bucket: $15 - $30
  • Test Kit: $15 - $50
  • Fish Food: $5 - $20
  • Water Conditioner: $5 - $15

High-end setup (above $800):

  • Tank: 30-40 gallon rimless aquarium with a glass canopy ($120 - $250)
  • Filter: High-quality canister filter rated for the tank size ($100 - $250)
  • Heater: 150-200 watt adjustable aquarium heater with an external temperature controller ($40 - $80)
  • Lighting: Advanced LED lighting system with customizable settings for plant growth, color enhancement, and day/night cycles ($150 - $300)
  • Substrate: Premium aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks, with added root tabs for extra plant nutrition ($30 - $60)
  • Decor: A combination of driftwood, rocks, and live plants to create a natural aquascape, featuring plant species such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, Cryptocoryne species, and carpeting plants like Dwarf Hairgrass or Monte Carlo ($60 - $150)
  • Fish: Minimum 6 Panda Corydoras ($18 - $36)
  • Thermometer: $3 - $10
  • Substrate Vacuum: $10 - $25
  • Fish Net: $2 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $5 - $20
  • Siphon and Bucket: $15 - $30
  • Test Kit: $15 - $50
  • Fish Food: $5 - $20
  • Water Conditioner: $5 - $15

Please note that these numbers are just recommendations, and you should consider other factors such as tank mates and individual fish personalities when deciding how many Panda Corydoras to keep in your aquarium. Prices may vary depending on location, brand, and availability.

Set Up Your Tank

In the previous section, we discussed the recommended tank setups for your Panda Corydoras and other fish. Now that you have a better understanding of what's required, let's dive into the step-by-step process of setting up your aquarium. These steps will guide you through selecting the ideal location for your tank, cleaning and preparing the tank, installing essential equipment, and cycling the water to create a healthy environment for your fish. We'll also cover the proper acclimation process to ensure a smooth transition for your Panda Corydoras and other fish into their new home. By following these guidelines, you'll be well on your way to creating a thriving aquatic ecosystem for your fish to flourish in.

  • Step #1: Choose the perfect spot for your aquarium, making sure it's away from direct sunlight, heat sources, and drafts. Ensure the surface is level and sturdy enough to support your filled tank. If your aquarium requires a stand, assemble it according to the manufacturer's instructions and place the empty tank on it.
  • Step #2: Next, clean the tank by rinsing it with clean water (avoid using soap or chemicals) to remove dust or debris. Wipe the inside with a clean cloth or paper towel. Rinse the substrate (sand or gravel) thoroughly in a bucket until the water runs clear, then spread it evenly across the bottom of the tank, creating a slight slope towards the back for visual depth.
  • Step #3: Before filling the tank with water, plan the layout of your aquarium, including the position of equipment like heaters and filters. This will make it easier to set up and maintain the tank in the long run. Install the heater and filter according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you're using a sponge or under-gravel filter, place it beneath the substrate before adding water.
  • Step #4: Decorate the tank with driftwood, rocks, and plants to create hiding spots and a visually appealing environment, ensuring there are open swimming areas for your fish. When decorating the tank, be careful to arrange driftwood, rocks, and plants in a way that won't damage or obstruct the equipment. You can also anchor plants to driftwood or rocks to help them stay in place.
  • Step #5: Fill the tank with water treated with a water conditioner if your tap water contains chlorine or chloramines. Place a clean plate or plastic bag on the substrate to prevent disturbance while filling. Fill the tank until it's about 2/3 full. Attach the aquarium light to the hood or canopy, following the manufacturer's instructions. Consider using a timer for your aquarium light to maintain a consistent day and night cycle, which is essential for fish and plants. Connect the heater, filter, and any additional equipment (air pump, CO2 system) to power sources, and install the thermometer in an easily visible location.
  • Step #6: Top off the water, leaving space between the water surface and the top of the tank for oxygen exchange. Turn on the filter, heater, and other equipment. Monitor the water temperature and adjust the heater as needed. Allow the tank to cycle for 4-6 weeks to establish beneficial bacteria and stabilize water parameters. During the cycling process, you can add a bacterial starter culture to speed up the establishment of beneficial bacteria in the tank. Use an aquarium test kit to monitor ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
  • Step #7: After the tank has cycled and water parameters are stable, slowly acclimate your Panda Corydoras and other fish to the tank's conditions before introducing them. Begin by floating the unopened fish bag in the tank for 15-20 minutes to equalize the temperature. Afterward, open the bag and add a small amount of tank water to it. Continue adding small amounts of tank water to the bag every 5-10 minutes for at least 30-60 minutes, allowing the fish to adjust to the new water chemistry gradually. Use a net to gently transfer the fish from the bag to the tank, avoiding any unnecessary stress or exposure to the water from the bag.
  • Step #8: Once all the fish are introduced, establish a consistent daily feeding schedule, providing high-quality food in appropriate amounts for your fish species. Perform regular water changes (20-30% every 1-2 weeks) and monitor water parameters using a test kit to maintain a healthy environment for your fish. Observe your fish closely for any signs of stress or illness, especially during the first few weeks after introduction. Be prepared to take action if necessary, such as adjusting water parameters or seeking advice from an experienced aquarist.

By following this step-by-step guide and incorporating the additional setup tips, you can create a thriving aquatic environment that will help your Panda Corydoras and other fish flourish in their new home.

Recommended Water Parameters

To maintain a healthy environment for your Panda Corydoras, it's essential to adhere to specific water parameters in your aquarium. Here's a breakdown of the ideal conditions:

  • Temperature: Keep the water between 72°F and 78°F (22°C and 25°C) for optimal comfort.
  • pH: Aim for a slightly acidic to neutral pH of 6.0 to 7.0.
  • Hardness: Soft to moderately hard water (2-12 dGH) is ideal.
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate: Keep ammonia and nitrite at 0 ppm, and maintain nitrate levels below 20 ppm.
  • Lighting: Provide low to moderate lighting with shaded areas and plants to prevent stress.
  • Water movement: Moderate water flow is best, mimicking their natural slow-moving habitat.

Regularly test your aquarium water and perform necessary water changes to keep the environment stable.

Routine Water Maintenance

Water changes are crucial for a healthy Panda Corydoras tank. They help remove excess nutrients, waste, and toxins. Here's a suggested routine:

  • Weekly water changes: Replace 20-25% of the tank water every week.
  • Test water parameters: Check pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and hardness regularly.
  • Use a gravel vacuum: Clean the substrate during water changes.
  • Dechlorinate the water: Treat tap water with a water conditioner before adding it to the aquarium.
  • Match temperature and pH: Ensure new water is similar to the tank water.
  • Acclimate the fish: Give your fish time to adjust to new conditions after water changes.

In addition to routine water maintenance, consider the following to ensure the health of your fish and the overall appearance of your aquarium:

  • Monitor lighting duration: Keep track of how long your aquarium lights are on each day, aiming for a consistent 8-10 hour photoperiod. Too much light can lead to excessive algae growth.
  • Plant maintenance: Regularly trim live plants to maintain their health and appearance. Remove any dead leaves or plant matter to prevent water quality issues.
  • Filter maintenance: Clean or replace the filter media as recommended by the manufacturer, usually every 4-6 weeks. Avoid replacing all filter media at once, as this can disrupt the beneficial bacteria and lead to water quality issues.

Diet and Feeding Schedule

Panda Corydoras are omnivores and require a diverse diet. Here are some feeding guidelines:

  • Sinking pellets: Use high-quality sinking pellet food designed for bottom-dwelling fish.
  • Frozen and live foods: Offer bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, or tubifex worms as occasional treats.
  • Vegetable matter: Provide blanched spinach, zucchini, or cucumber for added nutrients.
  • Feeding frequency: Feed modest portions once or twice a day, and avoid overfeeding.

Stress and Diseases

Panda Corydoras may experience stress from various sources, such as poor water quality, aggression, or unsuitable tank conditions. Identifying and addressing these stressors is vital for your fish's health and well-being:

  • Watch for stress signs: Keep an eye on your Panda Corydoras for unusual behavior like hiding, lethargy, or rapid breathing, which may indicate stress.
  • Check water quality: Test your aquarium water to ensure it meets the ideal parameters and conduct regular water changes to maintain a healthy environment.
  • Monitor tank mates: Make sure your Panda Corydoras aren't being harassed or attacked by other fish and remove any aggressive tank mates if needed.
  • Create a suitable habitat: Provide plenty of hiding spots, appropriate lighting, and a properly sized tank for your fish.

While Panda Corydoras are generally hardy, they can be susceptible to some common fish diseases, such as:

  • Ich (white spot disease): A prevalent parasitic infection causing white spots on the body and fins, lethargy, and appetite loss. Treat Ich with aquarium salt or anti-parasitic medication and raise the water temperature to around 82°F (28°C).
  • Fin rot: A bacterial infection that leads to frayed or discolored fins and tail. Treat fin rot with a partial water change, aquarium salt, and antibacterial medication containing erythromycin or tetracycline.
  • Velvet disease: A parasitic infection causing a yellow or brownish velvet-like coating on the fish's body. Treat velvet disease with anti-parasitic medication containing copper sulfate or formalin.

Prevent diseases in Panda Corydoras by maintaining excellent water quality, avoiding overfeeding, and providing a balanced diet. Quarantine new fish before adding them to the main tank and promptly address any signs of illness.


Breeding Panda Corydoras can be a rewarding experience, with the right setup and conditions. Follow these steps to breed Panda Corydoras:

  • Step #1: Create a suitable breeding environment with a separate 10-gallon or larger breeding tank, a pH level of around 6.0 to 7.0, and a temperature of about 76°F (24°C). Maintain soft water (2-12 dGH) and include hiding spots like plants and caves for the fish's comfort.
  • Step #2: Select healthy, mature male and female Panda Corydoras for breeding. Males are typically smaller and slimmer than females. You can introduce a group of pandas to increase the chances of pairing.
  • Step #3: Prepare the breeding pair with a high-protein diet of live or frozen foods for several days to help them build strength and energy.
  • Step #4: Perform a 50% water change with slightly cooler water to simulate rainfall, which encourages spawning behavior.
  • Step #5: Observe the fish for breeding behavior, such as males chasing females and the "T-position," where the male places his head against the female's vent. Females will lay adhesive eggs on the tank's surfaces, such as plants, glass, or decor.
  • Step #6: Care for the eggs and fry by removing the adult fish after spawning. Eggs will hatch within 3-5 days, and the fry will become free-swimming after several more days. Feed them infusoria or liquid fry food initially, then gradually introduce crushed flake food.

Breeding Panda Corydoras can be a fulfilling experience for dedicated hobbyists. Patience and the right conditions are key to success.

Recommended Tank Mates

Here are the top 10 recommended tank mates for Panda Corydoras:

  1. Dwarf Gouramis
  2. Harlequin Rasboras
  3. Neon Tetras
  4. Platies
  5. Bolivian Rams
  6. Cherry Barbs
  7. Amano Shrimp
  8. Mystery Snails
  9. Guppies
  10. Zebra Danios

Remember to avoid large, aggressive fish like cichlids, angelfish, and predatory species, as they may harm or eat the Panda Corydoras. Always observe the behavior of new fish and ensure they don't cause stress or aggression towards the Panda Corydoras.


In summary, Panda Corydoras are an attractive species of freshwater fish known for their unique markings and ease of care. These fish require specific water parameters, a balanced diet, and a suitable environment to thrive in captivity. However, with the right conditions, they can live up to 5 years and be a great addition to any aquarium. When selecting tank mates, it's crucial to choose peaceful and non-aggressive species to ensure a harmonious community. Breeding Panda Corydoras can be an engaging but rewarding experience for dedicated hobbyists, and patience and ideal conditions are key to success. Overall, Panda Corydoras are a charming and lively species that can enhance any aquatic display with their distinctive appearance and active behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for Panda Corydoras?

When setting up a home for Panda Corydoras, a 20-gallon tank is the minimum recommended size for a small group. Opting for a larger tank is even better, as it helps keep water conditions stable while offering plenty of room for your fish to swim.

How many Panda Corydoras should be kept together?

Keep in mind that Panda Corydoras are schooling fish, which means they thrive in groups of at least 6-8 individuals. By maintaining a larger group, you'll not only help your fish feel safer but also encourage them to display their fascinating natural behaviors.

What water parameters do Panda Corydoras require?

Panda Corydoras thrive in water temperatures between 72°F and 78°F (22°C and 25°C), a pH between 6.0 and 7.0, and soft to moderately hard water with a hardness between 2 and 12 dGH.

What do Panda Corydoras eat?

Panda Corydoras are omnivorous and require a varied diet. Feed them a mix of high-quality sinking pellet or tablet food, along with live or frozen foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms.

Are Panda Corydoras compatible with other fish?

Yes, Panda Corydoras are generally peaceful and can coexist with other similarly sized, non-aggressive fish species. Ideal tank mates include other small tetras, rasboras, and small plecos.

How long do Panda Corydoras live?

With proper care and optimal tank conditions, Panda Corydoras can live for 4 to 5 years.

How do I breed Panda Corydoras?

Breeding Panda Corydoras can be a rewarding experience, as they require specific water conditions, such as soft, slightly acidic water, and a dimly lit environment. Use a separate breeding tank, and introduce a group of pandas to increase the chances of pairing.

Do Panda Corydoras require a planted tank?

While not strictly necessary, a planted tank is highly recommended for Panda Corydoras. Live plants provide hiding spots, improve water quality, and create a more natural environment that closely resembles their native

Can Panda Corydoras change color?

Indeed, Panda Corydoras can undergo color changes as a result of several factors, such as stress, illness, or alterations in water conditions. If you observe your Panda Corydoras experiencing a loss of color, it's important to examine the water parameters and keep a close watch on their health.