Breeding Corydoras Barbatus (Qouy & Gainard 1824)

Jim Makin


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 70-72°F - Dh - ?. I have found that new Corydoras settle in better if I put them in an established Corydoras tank.



Scleromystax barbatus

Scleromystax barbatus


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 suits them.

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.

1. Keep the fish in tip-top condition by changing the water regularly.

2. 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 or trios.

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 first published the new genus name for the above species is now Scleromystax



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