Life Expectancy of Cory Fish

The slow-moving streams of South America make corydoras prey for animals including the leopard.
The slow-moving streams of South America make corydoras prey for animals including the leopard. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Corydoras catfish are small, armored catfish who are typically peaceful, although some are considered semi-aggressive. The members of this genus tend to be schooling fish, happiest when they're kept in small groups. Their small size makes it possible to keep a small school in a moderate-size aquarium. These guys have a fairly long life expectancy, although a few aspects of care can add to or subtract from their years.

Cory Information

These small, armored catfish are among the most commonly kept fish in the aquarium trade. Unlike other bottom feeders, who often grow too large for the small hobbyist aquarium, corys typically grow to between 1 and 4 inches. The 150 or so species are native to slow-moving, shallow streams of South America.

General Life Expectancy

According to Aquatic Community, these small cats can live for 15 -- or more -- years if given proper care. The general life expectancy of these catfish is around 5 years. Proper care includes feeding, water quality, tank setup and other factors that enhance the quality of life for your tiny cleanup crew.

Tank Conditions

In general, corydoras species are highly adaptable to a wide range of conditions, although they have preferences. Corys prefer soft, slightly acidic water, so aim for a pH just below 7.0 and for five to 10 degrees of hardness. Test the water regularly. Room temperature is acceptable for most cory species, so research your species to ensure what's proper. Because these small fish are bottom feeders, they need a soft substrate that can't scratch or penetrate their bellies. They sometimes bury themselves in substrate as well. Add fake or living plants to create a habitat that mimics their native densely planted streams.


A common mistake with corys is leaving them to fend only on their tank mates' leftovers. While they do feed along the bottom and will graciously accept the sinking portions of food other fish in the aquarium leave behind, they still need their own food. Sinking pellets are ideal, as are sinking flakes and live or freeze-dried meaty foods. In the wild, corys feed on invertebrates, plant material, and dead fish and other creatures that sink to the bottom of the habitat.


Keeping water temperature and quality within correct ranges, and feeding a varied diet, helps keep your cory catfish happy and healthy, increasing life span. Keep them in schools of six or more. In the wild, they will occasionally form schools of thousands of individuals. If you're simply looking for a bottom feeder to police a smaller community aquarium, keep at least two corys.

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