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Corydoras elegans  Steindachner, 1877

n old favourite in the hobby and a species that has been bred numerous times. Males have more colourful markings than the females and also have three black bands in the dorsal fin. The first image shows the male of the genus and the second shows a pair with the male to the front.



Corydoras elegans = male


There are a few different forms of this species and one of them was described by Holly in 1940 as Corydoras pestai. This is now a synonym of C. elegans but there is a train of thought that this species (C. pestai) may be valid and has been treated as so in Isbrücker (2001b: 232). The list of other imported species still to be described are C041, C088, C089, C123, C126, C132, CW008, CW018, CW019, CW022 and CW029.



Corydoras elegans = pair male to front


In July 2000 I, along with other U. K. catfish enthusiasts, travelled to Peru and fished the the Amazon River tributaries including the Orosa River. Corydoras elegans was the first species that I netted in the Tunche Cano stream and so this species holds a special place in my heart as the excitement at catching wild Corydoras still lives with me to this day. You can read the articles on this expedition on ScotCat here.


    Madre Selva Forest Preserve; Tunche Cano stream, Peru
     Wild caught specimens


The above images show one of the catchment areas that we found C. elegans and also showing the species 12 years later on in 2012. I did not manage to breed this wild stock but they have proved to be very long living. I did breed this species many years before which you can read about here in this article.




Short and compact. Dorsal1/7; Anal fin; 1/6-7; 21-22 bony scutes in the upper lateral series, 20 in the lower.


Ground colour yellowish, upperside darker approaching to pale ochre. Underside paler, white apart from the lateral scutes. Upper surface of head marbled with grey- brown. A dark, vague-edged, wedge-shaped band extends from the hinder part of the head to the caudal peduncle, its anterior portion passing through several blotches. Below this band is accompanied along the flanks by a pale stripe which, in turn, has a row of dark spots along its lower edge. Gill cover is a brilliant pale blue. Fins grey. A mottled and spotted pattern exists in the head area. Males are more ornately patterned and have also reticulated bands on the dorsal fin, while the dorsal of the female is usually clear. 

Aquarium Care

This is akin to most of this genus, very peaceful, and would be best housed with small to medium sized tankmates such as Tetras, Rasboras and Danios or in a species tank for breeding purposes. Best to purchase 6 individuals or more as they will be happier in a group.

Bred many times in the hobby and they spawn in the same Corydoras pattern which you can read about here

Sexual Diferences

Males are more ornately patterned and have also reticulated bands on the dorsal fin, while the dorsal of the female is usually clear. 



Readily accepts a mixed and varied diet which includes granular foods, tablet food, frozen bloodworm and good quality flake to name but a few.


Corydoras: Cory = helmeted; doras = leathery skin,(helmeted Doras) cuirass.
elegans: Elegant, or nice.


Sterba, Gunther; 1 sterba's freshwater fishes of the world. t.f.h. 1966. 456p.
James, Allan;
Breeding Corydoras elegans Steindachner 1877, ScotCat article no. 7.

James, Allan; Peru 2000 Fish List ScotCat article no. 44.



Caudal peduncle: The area between the dorsal fin and the tail.
Adipose fin: Fleshy finlike projection without rays, behind the rayed dorsal fin.

Scutes: Bony covering.

Photo Credits

First and second images:  © Johnny Jensen @ Johnny Jensen's Photographic Library

Third and fourth images:   © Allan James @ ScotCat

Factsheet 188


Corydoras pestai  
Common Name:
Elegant Corydoras
South America: Upper Amazon River basin..Type locality: Teffé, Brazil.
5.0cm ( 2ins) Male; 5.5cm ( 2¼ins) Female.
23-25°C (73-77°F)   
6.0 - 7.2.
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                                                                                                                                           Factsheet 188 = updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top