phone call to me announced the arrival of Corydoras barbatus
to the North East of England. Off I went to the shop to purchase
them. When I arrived at the shop there was only about a dozen
left. 1decided to take a gamble and select a trio, thinking
back they looked fairly healthy and I chose the largest which
was a 2" (50mm) fish which I considered to be a female
as it was very robust, the other fish were all around 1"
(25mm) and very slender and two of these made up the trio.
No apparent differences was seen in the pelvic fins and this
is why I selected by size and shape. To date I still cannot
see any difference in the pelvic fins but the males pattern
differs considerably, they have a gold band along the lower
part of their sides, I find that only certain Corydoras
can be sexed by the pelvic fins. Returning home the trio were
put into a 24" 10" 10" (60cm x 25cm x 25cm)
tank with some healthy Corydoras aeneus (great care
was taken with the water acclimatisation). My water is P.H.
6 - Temperature 70o - 72o F - Dh - ?. I have found that new
Corydoras settle in better if I put them in an established
After a few weeks they were
put into a 40"x 12"x 12 inch (1000mm x 300mm x
300 mm) Corydoras community tank where they grew well during
the summer months. They were fed on a mixed diet of flake,
beefheart/spinach mix, white worms, and tubifex worms. My
judgement had been good - one female 3" (75mm) and
two males 2" - 2½" (50mm - 62mm).
On the Friday afternoon of our Bank holiday weekend the
barbatus decided to spawn, the female was laying
eggs 1" (25mm) below the water level, all the eggs
were placed in a tight clutch which is unusual with Corydoras.
It was not possible to move the fish therefore the eggs
were moved to a 4"x 4"x 2"(100mm x 100mm
x 50mm) box and light aeration was used, somewhat later
than intended the family set off for Blackpool for the weekend.
Returning home on Monday night my first concern was for
the eggs, but alas all had perished, so there was nothing
for it but to try again. This time the trio were placed
in a 24" x 12" x 12" (60cm x 30cm x 30cm)
tank with ½" of gravel which was planted with
Cryptocorynes in pots and subdued lighting, (water conditions
were P.H. 7 - Temperature 70o - 72o F - Dh ?). A week passed
, then a month, Christmas came and went, and by this time
the trio did not look happy at all, so they were returned
to the 40"Corydoras community tank.
One evening the female was very active swimming up and down
the front of the glass and showing great interest in one
of the males and butting him on the side, after a time the
male began to chase the female around the tank, eventually
they settled on the gravel in the characteristic 'T' position.
The male gripped the females barbels with one of its pectoral
fins, after 5 - 10 seconds they broke away and she swam
to the top where she placed 10 - 15 eggs, she rested for
a few minutes and then went looking for the male. Sometimes
she rested on one side clasping the eggs in her pelvics
and seemed to be fanning the eggs with her pectoral fins,
70 eggs were laid 2" (50mm) from the water surface
in a small clump as previously described., the spawning
only lasted for a ½ hour, (P.H. 7 - Temperature 70o
- 72o - Dh ?). I decided to remove the eggs as the 40"
tank was unsuitable for rearing fry. The eggs were creamy
coloured and about 2mm in size, a 10" x 6" x 4"
(25cm x 15cm x 10cm) tank containing 3" (75mm) of water
taken from the community tank, a sponge filter and some
gravel was set up for the eggs. Two days later the eggs
had a slight tint as though they had a covering of algae,
only a few turned white and these subsequently fungused.
After a period of five days all the remaining eggs hatched
but the fry were not visible as they had taken refuge in
the gravel, by the second day the yolk sac was absorbed,
the first day some 'Liquifry' was added and on the third
day some Microworm, newly hatched Brine Shrimp, and some
powdered flakewas added. At this stage it is essential that
all uneaten food and mulm is removed and so I siphoned off
one pint of water topping up with mature water each day.As
soon as the fry are ready (normally in the 4th or 5th week
when they start to look like little catfish) the fry are
removed to a 24" x 10" with 6" (15cm) of
water, growth is rapid if the fry have a good diet, normally
by 10 weeks they measure 2cm and may be divided up or removed
to larger tanks, I feel a 24" is big enough with frequent
water changes as it saves the fry searching for food. As
they grow larger they can then be moved to larger quarters.
I remove the eggs because I feel it is pointless to disturb
the adults when they are settled in an environment that
For the last 9 months the barbatus have been housed
in a 36" x 15" x 12" (90cm x 37cm x 30cm)
tank with 8 Corydoras blochi and have regularly produced
eggs every 6 - 8 weeks, the fry being raised as described.
Remember these two important points which should help you
on your way to success.
Keep the fish in tip-top condition by changing the water
Keep them happy by including other Corydoras as they
do not like being alone and prefer to live in larger groups
of at least 10, they are naturally a shoaling fish, so it
is better to buy several of one species rather than pairs
This Article first appeared in the Catfish
Association of Great Britain Newsletter.
There is now a follow up by Jim Makin to this article:- Observations
of Three Species of the Genus Corydoras
Photo Credit: Allan James @
Note: Since this article was published the new genus name
for the above species is now Scleromystax