7 Best Plants for Cory Catfish

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Plants are an easy way to beautify the aquarium. And most fish, including Corydoras, will benefit from having plants in the tank.

Corys, in particular, use plants for many purposes, including hiding, foraging, and laying eggs. So, it’s wise to include some greenery in your setup.

Of course, not all plants are created equal. When choosing plants for your Cory aquarium, you must only select the ones compatible with your fish.

Remember that Catfish require 70–82°F temperature, 7.0-8.0 pH, and 5-19 dGH hardness. The plants you choose must withstand these temperatures, alkalinity, and hardness levels.

If you’re a new aquarist or don’t have a green thumb, you might also want to select beginner-friendly plants.

You don’t need to become a gardening connoisseur to keep a planted aquarium, as long as you make the right choices. Keep reading to discover the best easy-to-grow plants for your setup. Your Corys will thank you!

Best Easy-to-Grow Plants for Corydoras

Corydoras aren’t picky about their greens. They’ll enjoy any plant that provides coverage or acts like a good foraging site. Bushy plants, tall plants, carpet-style plants, it’s all good for them.

But if you were to stick to only a few plants, I highly suggest the following. These are compatible with Corys’ water parameters and are also beginner-friendly.

I’ve included a variety of shapes and sizes to keep things interesting.

– Java Fern

  • Light requirements: Low to medium
  • Water parameters: 68–80°F, 6.0–7.5 pH, 3–8 dGH
  • Size: 12-14 inches
  • Appearance: Long, wide leaves and bright green color

This is among the most popular aquarium plants. Java Ferns are hardy, easy to care for, and only require low to moderate light (roughly six hours per day).

You can find Java Ferns in most aquarium shops for less than $9, and there are many varieties to choose from.

It’s a perfect addition for decorating the middle or background section of the aquarium. This plant has a slow growth rate, only 1 inch per month. So, you won’t have to worry about trimming it regularly.

You don’t need a special substrate for this plant, as you can attach it directly to driftwood, rocks, or other decorations. The fish will love hiding and swimming through the leaves.

– Anubias

  • Light requirements: Low to medium
  • Water parameters: 72-82°F, 6.0-7.5 pH, 3-8 dGH
  • Size: 5-7 inches
  • Appearance: Short, with wide, rounded leaves; rich dark green color

Anubias plants are hardy and easy to keep. They’re quite short and have a slow growth rate, so they’re perfect for decorating the foreground and middle parts of the tank.

Anubias is a popular aquarium plant and is always in demand. Thus, they’re easy to find and cost just $7-$10 on average.

This small plant is highly versatile. You can use it in any aquarium size, including nano tanks. It does well in most substrates, including soil, gravel, and sand. You may plant it or attach it to driftwood and rocks.

With repeated trimming, the plant will grow outwards as a densely-packed little bush. Anubias usually draws the attention of Corys and other small fish, especially when fixed on driftwood and caves. Your fish will love hiding and exploring around these parts of the tank.

– Cryptocoryne

  • Light requirements: Low to medium
  • Water parameters: 68-84°F, 6.0-8.0 pH, 4-8 dGH
  • Size: 2-20 inches, depending on the species
  • Appearance: Species-dependent; typically has elongated narrow leaves with long individual stems. Color varies from bright green to red.

Crypts are very diverse, so it’s easy to find a plant you’ll like. They come in all sizes, shapes, and shades— short, tall, narrow leaf, wavy leaf, bright green, ashy green, red, and so on. Crypts are also affordable, as most species cost $5-$16.

You can place crypts anywhere in the aquarium. Short species work well for carpeting the foreground of the tank, while tall plants are great for decorating the background.

As for care requirements, Crypts wouldn’t be on the list if they weren’t beginner-friendly!

This plant is non-demanding and has a slow growth rate. But unlike other plants on the list, Crypts require more nutrition.

You’ll need a gravel or soil substrate to anchor the plant. Crypts also require either root tabs or liquid fertilizer for optimal growth.

– Amazon Sword

  • Light requirements: Medium to high
  • Water parameters: 62-82°F; 6.0-7.5 pH; 3-12 dGH
  • Size: Up to 16 inches
  • Appearance: Bushy and tall with short stems and elongated leaves. It has a bright, rich green hue.

Amazon Swords are special because they can grow fully or partially submerged. You can trim the leaves regularly or let the plant outgrow the tank for a wild, unique look. This plant does well with moderate light but can grow rapidly under high light exposure.

Its moderate growth might have you trimming the leaves regularly. But besides that, Amazon Swords are easy to care for and don’t require supplementation. You’ll need a quality substrate, though.

This plant grows long, powerful roots, so a 2.5’’ thick layer of soil or gravel substrate works best.

The Amazon Sword is best suited as a mid or background decoration given its rich foliage. You can find this plant in most aquarium stores for $6-$10.

– Elodea

  • Light requirements: Medium
  • Water parameters: 60-82°F, 6.5-7.5 pH, 4-10 dGH
  • Size: 6-8 inches and over
  • Appearance: Thin, tall stems with whorls of tiny leaves sprouting across the entire length

Elodea plants are bushy, flexible, and have a feather-like appearance. This makes them a perfect hiding spot for your Corys. The way the stems drift and undulate when the fish swim by makes for a calming, mesmerizing sight.

This plant is easy to care for. All it needs is a nutrient-rich substrate like soil and moderate light exposure.

Adding fertilizers will speed up the growth rate, but this means more frequent trimming for you.

Despite its deceptive size in stores, this species can grow up to 3 feet tall in the wild! It can grow up to the waterline in the aquarium. If you’re not into trimming plants that often, you should plant this one in the background where it doesn’t obstruct the view. You can purchase this plant for $4-$9 in most stores.

– Vallisneria

  • Light requirements: Medium to high
  • Water parameters: 60–86°F, 6.0–8.5 pH, 5–15 dGH
  • Size: 8-20 inches and over, depending on the species
  • Appearance: Tall, bushy, and grassy. It has a rosette of long, narrow, and bright green leaves. Leaf shape can be straight, twisty, or spiraled, depending on the species.

Vallisneria is a good low-effort plant with a moderate to fast growth rate. It just needs medium to high light exposure and a nutrient-rich sandy substrate.

You won’t have to worry about fertilizer. You can do the bare minimum and still get a green, grassy aquarium jungle.

Vallisneria works best as a background plant, but some smaller species make good midground decorations. Once the plant grows tall enough, your Corys will never get bored of exploring and playing in their new lush planted home.

If this plant fits your preferences, you can find it for $8-$20, depending on the species and size.

– Java Moss

  • Light requirements: Low to high
  • Water parameters: 60–86°F, 5.0–8.0 pH, 6–20 dGH
  • Size: 2-4 inches
  • Appearance: Short, grassy, with tiny and densely packed leaves. Ranges in color from bright to deep dark green.

Saved the best for last! Java Moss is the definition of a low-effort plant. It has a very slow growth rate of 1’’ per month.

It doesn’t need much light, heat, supplementation, or a special substrate. You don’t even have to plant it because it can anchor itself in place with its rhizoids.

Java Moss is a common choice for aquarium carpeting. It can transform the aquarium floor, although this might not be the best choice for burrowing fish like Corys. But you can still use it in tons of inventive ways.

Java Moss also looks good on driftwood, rocks, decorations, and aquarium walls. You can buy one small bundle of moss for $10 on average.

Do Cory Catfish Need Live Plants?

An unplanted tank isn’t an emergency. It doesn’t threaten your fish’s health. But live plants are always a good idea. Although your Cory Catfish can survive without them, plants help your fish thrive in multiple ways.

If you can, I highly recommend including some foliage in the aquarium. Your Corys would be better off for a few reasons:

– Plants provide unique enrichment

Keeping your fish happy is not just about providing suitable water parameters and food. Your pets also need to make themselves at home, so to speak. That’s what enrichment is all about. We strive to imitate an animal’s natural environment as closely as possible.

For Cory Catfish, this means including plants in the aquarium. These would give your aquarium a natural look, making Corys feel in their element.

If you haven’t already, try it! Watch your fish’s behavior transform as your Corys explore new play and foraging opportunities in the tank.

– A planted tank reduces stress levels

A planted aquarium does more than look dope. It also has mood and health benefits for your fish. Tall leafy plants can help your shy fish find refuge when they feel uneasy.

As you may know, Corydoras are too peaceful for their own good. These tiny fish are timid and non-confrontational. When they feel threatened, their first defense is to flee and hide.

A lack of hiding spaces, especially around the bottom and mid-level of the tank, will stress them out.

This isn’t good, especially if you have a community tank with boisterous fish that could intimidate the Corys. Prolonged stress leads to inactivity, reduced appetite, and lowered immune system.

– Live plants stabilize water chemistry

One of the best things about plants is that they improve water quality. Of course, you’ll still need a filter. But having plants will provide an additional boost. Like all living things, plants need to consume energy and nutrients to grow.

Luckily for your fish, a plant’s preferred “foods” include ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, stuff that would otherwise harm the fish.

Plants neutralize these compounds, preventing unwanted spikes in toxins. They also produce oxygen for your fish, improving the aquarium’s redox balance.

Do Cory Catfish Eat Plants?

Corydoras don’t usually eat live plants. Their teeth aren’t strong enough to rip the leaves or stems. Even soft plants like Wisterias are completely safe around Corys.

However, Corys will also consume dead or dying plant matter. They will bite into withered, rotten, or fallen leaves.

Apart from that, Cory Catfish sometimes use aquarium plants as scavenging sites. If there’s biofilm, specks of food, or algae on the plants, the Corys will eat that.

It might seem like the fish are munching on your plants, but don’t worry! They’re just sucking up the debris on it. They won’t hurt the actual plant.


Corydoras and aquarium plants are best buddies. You can’t go wrong with any plant, as long as it’s compatible with your fish’s water parameters.

Cory Catfish love all plant species, including bushy plants, carpeting plants, and tall grasses.

Some good, beginner-friendly species include Java Ferns, Anubias, Crypts, Amazon Swords, Elodeas, Vallisnerias, and Java Moss. Most of these require no supplementation and will survive with medium light exposure.

Tall and bushy plants like Ferns, Swords, and Vallisnerias make the perfect hiding and nesting spots for timid Corydoras.

Short carpeting plants like Moss, Crypts, and small Anubias are ideal for foraging and decorating the foreground and walls of the aquarium. Whichever plants you choose, they will all contribute to aquarium enrichment and water quality.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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