15 Corydoras Tank Mates for Beginners

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If you’re getting ready to start your first freshwater Corydoras tank, you have a lot of aspects to manage before getting started.

After setting up the tank, cycling it, and finding the best area to place it, you now have to find the ideal tankmates for your cory catfish.

Corydoras are peaceful and docile fish, so they are perfect for community tanks. It would be a shame to keep them in a catfish-only environment.

But which are the best tankmates for them that are also easy to care for and with similar temperaments?

Here are 15 answers to this question:

1. Guppies

Guppies are the number one beginner fish thanks to their resilience, astounding color and pattern variety, ease of care, and ease of reproduction.

They have been subjected to extensive selective breeding, which means they come with a lot of variety. Depending on the breed, these fish can reach 2.5 inches and display numerous colors and patterns.

They also reproduce extremely easily, as females can produce offspring every month. This means you can easily mix different breeds to obtain unique specimens if that is something that interests you.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Guppies only need approximately 2 gallons of water per fish, making them perfect for aquariums of all sizes
  • Female guppies can store the males’ sperm in a special abdominal pouch and use it to self-impregnate and produce young without any males around for up to a year
  • Guppies are some of the friendliest and most docile fish species you can get for your freshwater tank

Guppies and corydoras are the perfect tankmates, given that they have different dwelling areas and will stay out of each other’s way. They are also equally friendly and easy-going and won’t get into scuffles.

Corydoras will also collect all of the food leftovers that guppies miss, so they make for great companions.

Just make sure your cory catfish have sufficient space, food, and ideal tank parameters.

Stressed corydoras are known to become more territorial and irritable, and they may nip at your guppies’ fins in such conditions.

2. Platies

Platies are also docile and peaceful livebearers who display at least as much diversity as guppies. These fish are slightly larger than guppies as they can reach up to 3 inches but have smaller and more compact fins.

These fish can live up to 3 years in captivity and rank as top breeders in the aquarium trade.

They, too, have been subjected to extensive selective breeding thanks to their impressive genetic flexibility.

Platies are omnivorous and will eat anything. The perfect temperature range sits between 70 and 77 F.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Platies showcase amazing pattern variety based on color, body shape, and fin shape and size
  • You need to keep platies in groups of at least 6 for top comfort and a peaceful and happy community
  • Provide each fish with at least 2 gallons of water and decorate your Corydoras/platy tank with a lot of plants and hiding areas

Whatever applies to guppies applies to platies as well. These fish are great tankmates for catfish, so long as they get good food, have sufficient swimming space, and can hide around plants and rocks when stressed.

3. Mollies

Mollies are the 3rd type of livebearer that should interest you. These fish are a staple in the aquarium trade thanks to their ease of reproduction, hardiness, availability, and amazing variety.

We currently have over 40 different molly breeds available, many of which are the direct result of selective breeding.

Mollies are easily recognizable by their torpedo-shaped bodies with a pointy and narrow heads and the wide dorsal fin.

Mollies come in numerous colors and patterns, including orange, black, white (albino), spotted patterns, multi-colored patterns, etc.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Mollies can grow up to 5.5 inches and need approximately 10 gallons per group of 4
  • Mollies are omnivorous, but they consume a lot more plant-based foods than animal-sourced ones; a lot of spirulina, spinach, cucumber, zucchini, and even algae is necessary for a nutritious diet
  • Mollies and guppies are so genetically similar that they can actually interbreed and produce offspring; although these are genetically inferior to those produced by each species on its own

I rank mollies as great tankmates for Corydoras. They are peaceful, prefer the middle area as a dwelling zone, and like to keep to themselves.

Keep them in groups of 5-6 or more for a plus of comfort and security. Group mollies are also more colorful, grow larger, and are overall calmer and more peaceful than solo ones.

4. Swordtails

Think of swordtails like mollies with a long tail fin lobe. This species ranks as beginner-friendly thanks to its adaptability, ease of care, and considerable lifespan.

Swordtails can live up to 5 years which is great for such a small fish species.

Swordtails are amazingly diverse fish that like to patrol and explore their habitat relentlessly during their active hours.

Their environment shouldn’t have too many decorative elements, not to bother the fish during its many swimming journeys.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Male swordtails are generally more aggressive and territorial than females, so only keep one per tank
  • These fish have a healthy appetite and may require between 2 and 3 meals per day; fortunately, they’re omnivorous and consume pretty much anything, including a variety of commercial fish foods
  • Swordtails rank as some of the most effective breeders in captivity; they mature sexually by the time they’re 3 months old and produce an average of 50 fry per spawn, which is every month

Swordtails are perfect tankmates for your Corydoras catfish, provided they have sufficient space available.

These active fish will patrol the entire tank, top to bottom, which can take them on a collision course with swordtails. This isn’t necessarily a problem, except swordtail males are more territorial overall.

If you see them bothering the catfish, consider tweaking the environment a bit.

Add more plants and decorative elements to break the line of sight between the fish or increase the tank size if necessary.

5. Neon Tetras

These shoaling species are everyone’s top choice for nano tanks. They are small, only reaching 1.5 inches, very active, and extremely hardy for a fish their size.

These fish are known to exhibit more intense colors when kept in ideal water conditions and given a fulfilling and nutritious diet.

Neon tetras require a heavily planted setup with low lights to thrive. Such an ecosystem will mimic the fish’s natural habitat, providing a plus of safety and comfort.

Stats and Availability

  • Neon tetras are shoaling fish and require to live in groups of at least 6 individuals, preferably more than 10
  • These are curious and active fish, so you’ll see them patrol the entire environment, including the substrate area
  • Neon tetras are a bit trickier to breed in captivity due to their increased sensitivity to water changes; you need specific water conditions to breed them successfully

Neon tetras are great tankmates for catfish, so long as you keep them in larger groups. This will make them feel safer and more comfortable.

Make sure that there’s no drastic difference in size between your tetras and corydoras. Catfish are known to eat very small fish if given the opportunity.

6. Angelfish

The angelfish ranks as the most recognizable cichlid in the aquarium trade. These triangle-shaped fish, with their long and pointy fins, are great for any freshwater setup.

They are mostly peaceful but will fight with each other at times, especially during the breeding season.

Angelfish can reach 6 inches in captivity, but some can even go as far as 10 inches in the ideal conditions.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Angelfish require a lush ecosystem with lots of plants, rocks, and open swimming areas
  • Angelfish need approximately 50 gallons of water per group (4-5 individuals) due to their territorial tendencies
  • These fish can get territorial and aggressive when overcrowded or kept in suboptimal conditions

Angelfish qualify as great tankmates for corydoras, especially given that they don’t share the same dwelling space. Your angelfish will mostly patrol the tank vertically, between the middle and top areas.

They require more vertical space due to this, so make sure you accommodate both species, as corydoras prefer horizontal space instead.

7. Zebra Danios

Zebra danios are small freshwater fish that rank as the most community-friendly species you can get.

These schooling little swimmers will bring life and color to your tank if you include the numerous hierarchical-based tensions between the members. Nothing serious, though, given that danios are peaceful and calm fish overall.

You can’t house zebra danios with long-finned fish, as they are known as fin nippers, capable of stressing out even the chilliest species.

This isn’t a problem with corydoras, given that the catfish doesn’t have long or colored fins that would impress the tiny danios.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Zebra danios can reach 3 inches in captivity, but they typically get to 2 inches
  • The ideal temperature for zebra danios is 64-74 F, although you can get warmer if necessary
  • These are active fish that prefer the upper areas of the tank, although they will patrol their entire habitat
  • Go for a darker substrate to boost the fish’s coloring and comfort level

Zebra danios are a perfect match for corydoras, so long as you keep them in larger groups. These small and larger catfish can eat them, especially if hungry.

Keeping your danios in groups will provide the fish with security and a more confident attitude.

8. Amano Shrimp

Amano shrimps are quite pretentious in terms of tankmates, given that they are small, have no meaningful defensive capabilities, and qualify as food for most fish. Fortunately, this isn’t the case with corydoras.

Amano shrimps are great additions to any freshwater setup thanks to their low profile, hardiness, and algae-eating behavior.

They represent the tank’s cleaning crew, contributing to a healthier and more stable environment.

Amano shrimps are also easy to breed, which is great given that many offspring will die along the way.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Amano shrimps only grow up to 2 inches and can live approximately 3 years in good conditions
  • These invertebrates prefer heavily planted aquariums with a lot of algae present
  • Amano shrimps are avid eaters and will often battle for food in a constant display of hierarchical dominance

Corydoras are among the safest choices for a shrimp tank. These catfish aren’t interested in adult shrimps but can consume the fry.

Always consider investing in a breeding tank if you plan on breeding your shrimps intensively.

9. Gouramis

Gouramis are peaceful, omnivorous, and reasonably easy to breed for an egg layer.

They are also easy to manage, even for a beginner, with a bit of preparation and know-how. Gouramis are perfect fits for peaceful tankmates as they avoid confrontations.

These colorful fish showcase an impressive variety of morphs that vary drastically based on color, patterns, body shape, and size.

There’s a gourami for every setup, depending on your needs.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Gourami males are notoriously aggressive and territorial towards each other; never have more than one male per tank
  • The tank size for gouramis differs based on the breed. Dwarf gouramis require at least 10 gallons, medium-sized breeds like pearl and moonlight gourami need 30 gallons, and larger specimens like kissing gourami need 55+ gallons
  • Gouramis are egg layers which means they require a breeding tank to prevent catfish from eating their eggs

Gouramis won’t bother catfish, but catfish may bother your gourami. We’re specifically talking about the breeding season, as catfish are known to eat fish eggs if they happen to come across them.

Male gouramis are also notoriously protective of the eggs, so they might get into conflicts with catfish because of it.

To prevent such incidents, go for bubble nesting species, as these fish lay their eggs at the water surface, far from the Corydoras’ dwelling area.

10. Betta Fish

Bettas are highly popular for their amazing variety, hardiness, and beauty. Betta fish rank among the most beautiful and resilient freshwater fish thanks to their immense pattern variety.

You have dozens of betta breeds, many of which are obtained from human-guided selective breeding.

These fish possess a labyrinth organ which gives them the freedom to breathe air at the water’s surface.

This is a great evolutionary feature, given that bettas inhabit rather filthy aquatic habitats in the wild.

Even so, they need clean and clear waters to thrive and achieve their full potential over the years.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Bettas can grow up to 3 inches and live up to 3 years in optimal conditions
  • Betta males are extremely violent towards each other; never have more than one per tank
  • Bettas are omnivorous but prefer live foods over anything else

Bettas can coexist with corydoras, as they share different dwelling areas. Bettas are also notoriously adaptable and resilient, so they can withstand a variety of environmental conditions.

Have at least 2 gallons of water per betta fish and aim for environmental temperatures of 74-85 F.

11. Oto Catfish

It’s always tricky to pair one catfish species with another, but this one is an exception.

Oto catfish are small and active schooling catfish that have become experts at avoiding conflicts and predators.

They don’t mind sharing space with other catfish and don’t care too much if other catfish do mind.

They rely on their group strength to either intimidate or confuse aggressors so that they can flee before things heat up too much.

These small and jiggly catfish are great at cleaning algae and detritus and require clean waters to thrive.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Keep the oto catfish in groups of at least 6 individuals
  • There are 20 species of Otocinclus catfish to choose from, although they are all pretty similar in all aspects
  • Otos like to stick to discus and angelfish, with some suggesting that the fish does so to feed on the larger fish’s slime coating

Oto catfish and corydoras aren’t the best tankmates on paper, but they actually work quite well in reality.

So long as you organize your Oto catfish in larger groups, they shouldn’t have any problems coexisting with corydoras in peace.

12. Bristlenose Pleco

Plecos rank as the number one bottom dwellers thanks to their adaptability, cleaning role, and overall temperament.

These are hardy and peaceful catfish that don’t mind some company, so long as they have sufficient room.

As dedicated vegetarians, plecos spend most of their day grazing for algae, detritus, and any type of eatable organic matter.

They aren’t too territorial in general but require a fair amount of space to remain peaceful and tolerant of other bottom dwellers.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Plecos can grow up to 5 inches, but some breeds can reach 2 feet in size
  • You require at least 40 gallons of space for one 5-inch pleco
  • Plecos can reach 10 years in captivity with good care and a balanced diet

Plecos and corydoras can sometimes run into a conflict of interest due to territorial clashes, but neither species is too keen to go to war.

To prevent territorial conflicts, increase the tank’s size, add more decorations, and ensure all your catfish have sufficient food.

13. Harlequin Rasboras

These metallic and small fish are a staple in the aquarium trade. They are colorful, unique-looking, adaptable, and with strong social tendencies.

Rasboras must live in a group due to their small size and lack of defense mechanisms other than group strength.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Harlequin Rasboras require to live in groups of at least 8-10 individuals
  • These are energetic swimmers capable of growing up to 1.75 inches, so you should only pair them with small fish
  • Rasboras are difficult to breed in captivity due to their strict water requirements

Rasboras and corydoras don’t qualify as compatible tankmates on paper due to their difference in size. But the fish can overcome this downside by having different swimming areas.

Rasboras prefer to swim near the water’s surface, while corydoras will rarely leave the substrate.

Even if they do, your Rasboras will be safe when kept in larger groups. Especially since corydoras aren’t known to hunt other fish actively.

14. Tiger Barbs

Tiger barbs aren’t your typical community fish due to their more aggressive behavior. This 3-inch fish is notorious for its fin-nipping behavior, making it a poor choice for most community setups.

The fish is very colorful, displaying a pink body with black vertical bands.

Tiger barbs are easy to keep, making them ideal for beginners with little-to-no experience in the aquarium trade.

They also live in groups, so have sufficient space for at least 5-6 of them.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Tiger barbs can tolerate temperatures between 68 and 80 F, making this one of the most adaptable species you can get
  • A least 20 gallons are necessary for a group of 6 specimens
  • Tiger barbs can reach 7 years in captivity with optimal care in a stress-free habitat

Tiger barbs are a poor choice for community tanks with plenty of middle and top-dwelling fish.

These are notorious fin nippers with a lot of bubbling territorial aggression. However, they make for decent tankmates for corydoras.

That’s because tiger barbs have no interest in going near the substrate and corydoras don’t match the profile of the barb’s ideal victims.

They don’t have long fins or flashy colors and prefer to live in the shadows for the most part. Even so, always monitor your fish to detect any sign of aggression in time.

15. Aquarium Snails

Aquarium snails are great for algae control, but you need to choose your favorite species carefully.

Some snails will overbreed and may take over the entire tank fast. Others will eat your live plants, which you most likely try to avoid.

Stats and Compatibility

  • Most aquarium snails remain between 0.75 and 2 inches, depending on the species
  • These aquatic animals are great for algae control and tank cleaning, as they prioritize dead plant matter and detritus for sustenance
  • Don’t pair assassin snails with other snail species. As the name suggests, assassin snails are notorious snail killers

While there are many fish species that will consume aquarium snails (pufferfish, kuhli loaches, zebra loaches), corydoras are not among them.

These catfish won’t eat anything that gets close to or above 1 inch, so it’s safe to say that they don’t care about snails.

They will actually make for a great team in controlling algae and cleaning the tank.

This being said, corydoras do eat snail eggs and snail larvae if they come across them. Do with this piece of information what you wish.

Worst Tankmates for Corydoras

In essence, avoid excessively large or aggressive tankmates that showcase predatorial or territorial behaviors.

This includes kissing gouramis, redtail sharks, African cichlids, and the list goes on.

Goldfish aren’t ideal either for the same reasons, plus due to their extremely messy behavior. Goldfish poop a lot which isn’t ideal for any bottom dweller.

Stick to this article’s suggestions and expand the list yourself, so long as you keep the essentials in mind.

The ideal tankmates should be peaceful, prefer different dwelling zones than your catfish, and avoid territorial conflicts at all times. They should also be close in size to your corydoras.

If they’re too large, they could attack your corydoras. If they’re too small, the reverse may happen.

Conclusion

Corydoras are the archetype of the perfect tankmate. They lay low, are peaceful, and clean the tank for their tankmates.

House them with equally peaceful and easy-going fish species, and they won’t ask for much in return. Maybe a handful of flakes and pellets.

avatar 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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