Do Corydoras Eat Plants?

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Corydoras are known opportunistic omnivorous scavengers as they get most of their food from the substrate. These fish eat pretty much anything they can find, especially food leftovers that other fish might miss. But do they eat plants?

The question is important given that Corydoras like planted habitats which can conflict with their potential predilection towards eating live plants.

Do Corydoras Eat Live Aquatic Plants?

Yes, they do. Corydoras include plant matter into their eating routine and prefer primarily live plants. That being said, the catfish isn’t a professional plant eater, unlike other aquarium species. Instead, it will consume plants occasionally as part of a more varied diet.

If you don’t want them to munch on your tank plants, provide them with a well-balanced diet based on omnivorous principles. Even so, it’s likely that your cory catfish will take some plant bites occasionally since it’s in their nature. But, at least, their feeding behavior won’t target plants specifically, which makes Corydoras plant-safe for the most part.

Do Corydoras Like Planted Tanks?

Yes, they do. Corydoras require a decently-planted habitat for several reasons:

  • A natural look – This principle stands true for all fish species. You should always emulate the fish’s natural habitat when preparing your tank. Corydoras require crafting a mixed setting with plants, a sandy substrate, an open swimming space, and rocks for hiding and resting.
  • Great hiding – Corydoras tend to feel safer and more comfortable in a planted setting. The fish hide behind plants and use them as cover against annoying tankmates or even each other. This doesn’t mean you should plant your tank excessively because Corydoras are also active and energetic and require open swimming spaces as well.
  • Environmental impact – Live plants are beneficial to any aquatic setting, providing your fish with a cleaner and more stable environment. They also improve oxygenation, which can only benefit your fish. Again, balance is key here. An overly planted tank will consume oxygen during nighttime which isn’t exactly ideal for your catfish.
  • High-value esthetics – Okay, this point isn’t for Corydoras but for you. A planted tank simply looks better and richer than a plain one. This is the undisputed truth.

What Plants do Corydoras Like?

Overall, Corydoras aren’t too pretentious about their plants. They will eat away at anything with leaves for the most part. That being said, they do prefer some species over others. Some of the ideal plants for Corydoras tanks include:

  • Pygmy chain sword – This rooted plant comes with thousands of narrow, ribbon-like leaves that create a smooth and welcoming carpet. It isn’t a genuine carpet plant, but can play the role quite well. This plant is hardy, easy to maintain, and thrives in sandy substrates with medium light. It also doesn’t care about the moderate damage related to the corydoras’ normal activity.
  • Vallisneria – This grass-like plant is perfect for creating a genuine underwater jungle thanks to the long and narrow leaves. The plant often grows all the way to the water surface and is perfect for sheltering and feeding Corydoras. It’s also a great addition to a community tank with multiple fish that could use the extra shelter provided by the Vallisneria.
  • Dwarf Asian grass – This is a lush rooted plant with myriads of narrow green leaves floating freely in the water. The plant only grows up to 4 inches but can grow into a rich bush, providing your Corydoras with ample feeding opportunities. You can keep several Asian grass plants in your aquarium for a more impactful esthetic effect.
  • Amazon swordAmazon sword is great for all fish tanks, including Corydoras setups. This tank plant can grow up to 20 inches and provides fish with shelter, food, and great exploration opportunities. This plant species is great for reducing the light reaching the tank bed, providing Corydoras with a more comfortable home.

Other notable mentions include java fern, micro sword, tall narrow-leaf, marimo moss balls, and many others.

Do Corydoras Eat Dead Plants?

Yes, Corydoras eat dead plants. In fact, they prefer their plants dead or alive. These catfish only nibble on live plants if they have no other choice, but they don’t actually enjoy it. Unlike many other species like rabbitfish, surgeonfish, parrotfish, Oscars, goldfish, bristlenose pleco, and numerous others.

Corydoras specialize in tank cleaning activities and prefer their food dead if possible. Especially when it comes to plants.

Do Corydoras Eat Algae Off Plants?

Unfortunately, Corydoras don’t like algae, no matter where they grow. They can eat some of it incidentally when nibbling on plants and searching for food around the substrate. But they won’t specifically look for algae as part of their diet.

That being said, you can feed them some algae wafers occasionally to complement their diet.

If you want to eliminate algae from your tank, consider better alternatives, such as:

  • Boost CO2 levels in the tank to suffocate algae
  • Reduce the amount of liquid plant fertilization since algae thrive on these nutrients
  • Reduce tank lights because algae prefer brightly-lit environments
  • Do not overfeed your fish to minimize the amount of food leftovers that the algae could use as sustenance
  • Add more live plants to the tank to inhibit algae development naturally
  • Adopt a strict tank maintenance routine during which you also clean any visible algae deposits
  • Rely on algae-eating aquatic animals such as: cherry and Amano shrimps, nerite snails, Siamese algae eaters, bristlenose pleco, twig catfish, etc.


Corydoras are easy-going fish that rank as plant safe. Their diet is normally omnivorous and requires more animal protein than plant matter. As catfish, Corydoras prefer dead plant matter and only consume live plants sparingly in case of necessity.

Provide them with an optimized and balanced diet and regular meals, and they won’t become a danger to your live plants.

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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