t’s a fact that while the
descriptions of new species of birds or mammals are rare
enough events to merit time on the national news, hardly
a day goes by without a new catfish appearing on importers
lists. Such is the rate of discovery that science is unable
to keep up with the hobby, Hence the advent of L numbers
and C numbers for the Loricariidae family and Callichthyidae
family respectively. One of these undescribed Corydoras
is C121. Closely resembling Corydoras burgessi,
it is sometimes given the unwieldy label of Corydoras
cf. burgessi. Here, cf. means confer (different).
So Corydoras cf. burgessi means an undescribed
fish that is probably a form of C. burgessi.
Whether it turns out to be a form of C. burgessi
or a new species is not important. It’s an attractive
and interesting fish in its own right.
Adult female C121 with a young
C121 started to appear in the UK in reasonable quantity
in 2004. I wanted a breeding group but the cost was prohibitive.
It’s always worth scanning the tanks of fish shops
as you never know what might be there and sure enough,
that autumn my local garden centre had a group of “Panda
corys” for sale, at panda Cory prices. I bought
all seven (and a lone C. adolfoi) and the “pandas”
where safely installed in their new home, a 36”
x 12” x 12” bare-bottomed tank. I set about
conditioning the fish and fed them a varied diet of flake,
pellets, frozen bloodworm, white worm, grindal worm and
any live food I could lay my hands on. Tank parameters
where nothing out of the ordinary, although my water is
extremely soft. pH was neutral and the temperature was
set at around 76F. As they filled out it became clear
I had three females and four males.
In the spring of 2005 I put some
young Microgeophagus altispinosus in the tank
to grow them on. As part of that process I was changing
around half the water twice a week. The inevitable happened
and the C121 started to spawn, depositing eggs on the
tank walls. I moved the catfish into an 18” x 12”
x 12” tank on their own with sunken and floating
spawning mops and a small internal filter. After a day
or two they continued spawning. And wouldn’t stop!
Each spawn was around 20 – 50 eggs and took place
once or twice a week.
Adult female C121
with an egg in its claspers
The fish spawned in the late evening, before the lights
went out, this made collecting the eggs easy and I soon
had hundreds. Eggs were deposited mainly in the sunken
mops but also on the glass, filter, plants, and even the
bottom. The large eggs were hatched out in ice cream tubs
floating in another tank before being let loose when they
were free swimming. I fed them on microworm and crushed
flake for the first week then newly hatched brine shrimp
and crushed flake after that.
Newly hatched C121
It was now that I started to experience significant loses
of fry. For every ten eggs I collected I was losing around
five or six fry at around 7 – 10 days old. I tried
various things before I noticed several fry had abraded
pectoral fins. Suspecting a bacterial problem, I decided
to add a thin layer of sand to the bottom of the fry tank.
Almost overnight the fry loses stopped. Since then I have
kept all my Corys on sand and would recommend this over
bare-bottomed tanks. Certainly for bottom living fish
(including those that rest on the bottom at night) this
I now had well over 200 fry and more eggs to hatch out.
Incredibly the adults showed no inclination to cease spawning
but the eggs where smaller and I decided to separate the
sexes and move them into other tanks. I now had more than
enough fry to grow on and had to dedicate two 18”
x 12” x 12” and a 36” x 12” x
12” for that purpose.
C121 fry – 7
The young cats grew fast to begin with on the usual fare
of baby brine shrimp, grindal worm and crushed flake and
the adult pattern was fully apparent at about 12 weeks.
After this time growth slowed down considerably. The feature
for which C121 is known, the brown patch behind
the gill cover, didn’t appear until the
fish were around 4 months old and about 3cm in size.
C121 fry – 12
Shifting the young fish was easy; such attractive little
cats are always in demand both in the shops and at club
and society auctions. As so often happens with new Corydoras,
C121 have become scarce in the shops again so I may well
return to these fish in the near future and attempt to
breed them once more.
Whatever name is eventually given
to this fish it deserves a place in the hobby. Attractive,
peaceful, easy to keep and to breed, this is an ideal
choice for those just starting down the road to Cory nuttiness.