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Corydoras sterbai  Knaak, 1962 

his Corydoras has been around for many years and is still very popular, and when it pops up in auctions they can still fetch a reasonable price. The main talking point about sterbai is of course the pectoral fins, being the colour of orange, one of a handful of Cory's with this trait, the ventral fins are also this colour. In well marked specimens you can get an orange colouration in the abdomen area.

Coprydoras sterbai
Corydoras haraldshchultzi
Corydoras sterbai   
Corydoras haraldshultzi

Corydoras sterbai is sometimes confused with Corydoras haraldshultzi the difference being that C.sterbai on the left has for simplistic reasons a dark basic body colour with white spots on the head and snout area, while C. haraldshultzi on the right has it in reverse, a light body with dark spots/ reticulations. Another Corydoras confused with sterbai is C.araguaiensis but it has no orange colouration to the fins as you can see in the photo below.

Corydoras araguaiensis
Corydoras sterbai = albino strain
          Corydoras araguaiensis   
 Corydoras sterbai=albino strain   

To make matters even more complicated there is an albino version bred in Singapore which first made its appearance in 1998. You can even see an orange taint in the pectoral and ventral fins in this variety. Only time will tell if this will become as popular as the Corydoras aeneus 'albino' with aquarists. I have a feeling that it won't go down too well with Corydoras enthusiasts! and of time of writing (May 2002) it is still quite an expensive purchase.

The common version which we all know and love occurs in the Upper Rio Guapore which straddles the border between Brazil and Bolivia. Named In honour of Dr Günther Sterba who in my humble opinion wrote some of the best books on the hobby in the late 60's and early 70's, and which still hold up well to this day.

Corydoras sterbai is much like any other species of the genus Corydoras, easy to keep but will do better in a group as they are sociable animals and do like their own company. They will also appreciate a bit of water movement in the aquarium.


Update: In 2003 in Bolivia there was a collection made by Joachim Knaack in the Río Itenez which was very similar to our Factsheet of the Month subject. You can access the information and image here.

Dorsal 1/7; Anal 1/5; Head is short and compact. Stubby appearance.

Body colour is dark grey with 7 to 8 bands of spots leading from the front of dorsal down to the caudal peduncle. White spots to head area from snout to leading ray of dorsal. Pectoral and ventral fin spines are orange with rest of fins clear with black banding.

This is akin to most of this genus, very peaceful, and would be best housed with small to medium tankmates such as Tetras, Rasboras and Danios or in a species tank for breeding purposes.


Not too difficult, will breed as per any Corydoras species giving a good diet and water conditions, and water changes of a lower temperature to induce spawning. Two males to one female or one pair. Setup could be a 18"x12"x12" tank with sand or bare bottom with Java moss, Java fern and a sponge filter, adding if you like a power filter for extra aeration and circulation of the water all leading to a hopefully successful spawning.

Adults will take a variety of foods, good quality flake food, tablets, frozen bloodworm and the occasional feeding of whiteworm. Start of the fry, after using up their yolksac, with microworm, brineshrimp and fry flake.

Corydoras: Cory = helmeted; doras = leathery skin,(helmeted Doras) cuirass.
: In honour of Dr Günther Sterba.

Photo Credits
Top 2 pictures:            Helen Burns  

Bottom Picture/left:    Allan James @ ScotCat     

Bottom Picture/right: aquajapan
Factsheet 012

Common Name:
Sterba's Catfish
Brazil Brazil : Upper Rio Guaporé, near Pontes e Lacerda
6.5cm (2½ins)
23-28°C (73-83°F)
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                                                                                                                                            Factsheet 12= updated April 14, 2005 © ScotCat 1997-2018  Go to Top