Do Corydoras Eat Dead Fish?

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Corydoras are often touted as excellent aquarium cleaners. These tiny fish will consume pretty much anything from algae to withered plant matter and to fish food leftovers. But what about dead fish?

Would Corys help you clean up if you got a dead fish in the tank? And is it a good idea to let your Corydoras eat other fish? Keep reading to find out!

If you have a dead fish in your tank and are unsure how to go about this situation, this article should come in handy. The following paragraphs cover everything you need to know about Corys’ scavenging habits and food safety.

I’ve also included a list of popular and nutritious food alternatives for your fish.

Will Corydoras Eat Decomposing Fish?

Corydoras often eat fresh dead fish. They are bottom-feeding omnivores, so they’ll munch on anything they can find on the tank floor.

However, they aren’t true scavengers. It’s uncommon for Corys to eat rotten or decomposing food, especially fish.

If the fish has just died, Corys might consume some of it right away. But if the carcass gets too old, they will lose interest due to the sour and bitter taste.

Still, each fish is a bit different. Maybe some of your Corydoras are more adventurous.

I don’t recommend using Corydoras as a cleaner crew, though. In the majority of cases, Cory’s won’t touch decomposing fish. If you have dead fish in the tank, it’s best to remove them before they impact water quality.

Rotting food can create an ammonia spike in the tank, potentially killing your other aquarium pets.

Is it Safe for Corys to Eat Dead Fish?

It’s best to exercise caution. If you see a dead fish in the tank, you shouldn’t let your Corys get to it.

You never know why a fish died. If it had a parasite or infection, the disease could then pass to your Cory catfish.

It also depends on how long the fish has been dead. If the fish smells bad, looks swollen, or shows other signs of decay, toss it!

Once the carcass starts to decay, the other fish that eat it are at increased risk of bacterial infection and ammonia poisoning.

There’s only one case when it’s safe for Corys to eat dead fish. First, the fish must be guaranteed free of internal parasites or infections.

Secondly, the fish must be freshly-killed or must have died very recently. A fresh fish is least likely to carry harmful bacteria and will taste the best for your Corydoras.

Should You Feed Dead Fish to Corys?

Corydoras are omnivorous and need a variety of plants and protein sources. You must alternate between meaty and fiber-rich foods for your pets to get all the required amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Whether that means feeding your Corys dead fish, it’s up to you. Most people don’t, and it’s too much of a hassle.

Feeding fish to Corys is an uncommon practice and not at all necessary. But if you choose to include the occasional fish in your Corys’ diet, you must be absolutely sure the feeder fish you choose are healthy and fresh.

And remember— Corys don’t attack and feed on live fish, no matter how small. You’d also have to humanely put down the feeder fish before feeding, which is a thorny issue for a whole other discussion.

Again, you don’t have to feed dead fish to your Corys. You can include many other accessible, safe, and nutrient-rich foods in your pet’s diet.

Consider some of the following:

  • Shrimp pellets
  • Tropical fish pellets or flakes
  • Algae rounds
  • Bottom feeder tablets
  • Bloodworms
  • Blackworms
  • Veggies (cucumber, lettuce, squash, zucchini, etc.)

You can find these in most pet stores for a good price. Just avoid purchasing foods with fillers such as rice, corn, wheat, or soy, as these have a lower nutritional content.

Whether you feed your Corys regular flakes, pellets, or dried worms, remember that these foods need soaking to sink to the bottom of the tank!

Will Corydoras Eat Each Other?

If one of your Corydoras dies, the other catfish in the tank might gnaw at its body for a while. Larger Corys will easily consume dead Corys if they’re small enough.

However, Corydoras remain some of the most peaceful and friendly fish in the aquarium hobby. They wouldn’t intentionally hunt each other or other fish for food.

A Cory catfish will only eat other fish in the tank once they are already dead. Corydoras also lack teeth, so they can’t bite and hurt each other.

You don’t have to worry about violent behavior within this species. If you notice more Corys gathered around a dead fish, know that the fish has died from other causes.


Corydoras are peaceful bottom-feeding fish. They don’t have teeth, so they can’t attack or hurt other tankmates and never hunt for live food.

However, it’s common for Corys to consume dead fish in the tank. If you see this happening, rest assured that the fish died from other causes, not because of your Corys.

There’s nothing wrong with Corydoras eating dead fish, per se. As long as the fish was disease-free and not rotten, it could be a good source of protein and minerals.

However, you shouldn’t let your catfish eat random carcasses in the tank because of safety concerns.

There are plenty of other nutritious and safer foods for your fish, including pellets, bottom feeder tablets, dried worms, and veggies.

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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