Breeding Pygmy Corydoras: A Comprehensive Guide for Hobbyists

As a seasoned aquarium hobbyist and professional copywriting journalist, I understand the importance of proper fish breeding practices. Breeding pygmy corydoras, in particular, is a fascinating and rewarding experience that requires meticulous attention to detail.

In this comprehensive guide, I will provide hobbyists with essential information on breeding pygmy corydoras, including the basics of their behavior, setting up a suitable breeding tank, selecting breeding stock, and conditioning the fish for breeding. I will also discuss ways to trigger the breeding process, caring for the eggs, and raising the fry.

Whether you are a seasoned hobbyist or new to aquarium breeding, this guide has everything you need to know to successfully breed pygmy corydoras and enjoy the beautiful fish in your aquarium.

Key Takeaways:

  • Breeding pygmy corydoras requires proper attention to detail and meticulous care.
  • This comprehensive guide will provide hobbyists with essential information on breeding pygmy corydoras.
  • The guide covers everything from setting up a suitable breeding tank to raising the fry.
  • Whether you are a seasoned hobbyist or new to aquarium breeding, this guide has everything you need to know to successfully breed pygmy corydoras.

The Basics of Pygmy Corydoras

Pygmy corydoras, also known as micro corydoras, are small freshwater fish native to South America. They are a highly popular species in the aquarium hobby due to their charming appearance and social nature.

These fish are recognizable for their compact size, typically growing just over an inch in length, and their distinctively shaped body. They are a shoaling species, meaning they prefer to live in groups of at least six individuals, and they are known to be active and playful swimmers.

Pygmy corydoras are naturally found in slow-moving rivers and streams with soft, acidic water. In the wild, they feed on small invertebrates and crustaceans, and they will accept a varied diet in captivity.


Pygmy corydoras are peaceful and social fish that thrive in community aquariums. They are active during the day and will spend much of their time exploring their surroundings and interacting with other fish. They are also known to engage in playful behaviors, such as chasing each other or hiding behind plants.

These fish are bottom-dwellers and will spend much of their time foraging for food in the substrate. They have a unique ability to breathe oxygen through their intestines, allowing them to thrive in oxygen-poor environments. This adaptation is one reason why they are highly sought-after by hobbyists.

Overall, pygmy corydoras are a hardy, social, and fascinating species that make an excellent addition to a planted community aquarium. Understanding their natural behaviors and habitat is essential for providing them with the best possible care, including breeding.

Setting Up the Breeding Tank

Setting up a suitable breeding tank is key to successfully breeding pygmy corydoras. Here are the factors to consider when creating the ideal environment:

Tank Size A breeding tank for pygmy corydoras should be at least 10 gallons in size. This will provide enough space for the fish to breed and grow.
Water Conditions Pygmy corydoras prefer slightly acidic water with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. The water should also be soft to moderately hard with a temperature between 74°F and 78°F.
Decorations Providing hiding spots and decorations is crucial for breeding success. Use live or artificial plants, driftwood, and caves to create a natural environment for the fish. Ensure the decorations are smooth and have no sharp edges that could harm the fish.

It is also important to keep the tank clean and well-maintained. Perform regular water changes and monitor the water parameters to ensure a healthy environment for your breeding pygmy corydoras.

Selecting Breeding Stock

When it comes to breeding pygmy corydoras, selecting healthy breeding stock is crucial. By choosing the right individuals, you can increase the chances of producing healthy offspring and prevent potential genetic issues.

The first step in selecting breeding stock is to ensure that the fish are healthy. Look for pygmy corydoras that are active, alert, and free from any signs of disease or parasites. It’s also important to avoid fish that are too small or too young, as they may not be mature enough for breeding.

Another important factor to consider is the male to female ratio. Ideally, you should have one male for every two females in your breeding tank. This will help prevent aggressive behavior and ensure that the females are not overburdened with breeding activity.

Finally, it’s worth considering the genetic background of your breeding stock. If possible, try to select fish that are not closely related to each other in order to avoid potential genetic issues. This can be challenging if you have limited access to different sources of pygmy corydoras, but it’s worth keeping in mind as you select your breeding stock.

By taking the time to carefully select your breeding stock, you can set yourself up for success when it comes to breeding pygmy corydoras.

Conditioning the Fish for Breeding

Before attempting to breed Pygmy Corydoras, it’s important to ensure that they are in optimal health and condition. This process, known as conditioning, requires a few essential steps to set the stage for a successful breeding outcome.

First and foremost, it’s necessary to provide your Pygmy Corydoras with a nutritious and balanced diet to support their reproductive health. This should include a variety of high-quality foods, such as live or frozen brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms, as well as a high-quality pellet or flake food formulated for bottom-feeders.

It’s also important to provide your fish with a suitable environment that mimics their natural habitat. This includes maintaining a stable water temperature between 75-80°F (24-27°C), and ensuring that the water is clean and oxygenated. You may also want to include some live plants or other decorations in the tank to provide hiding spots for the fish and help reduce stress levels.

When conditioning your Pygmy Corydoras for breeding, it’s also crucial to establish a suitable day-night cycle. This can be achieved by providing a consistent light source for 12 hours a day, followed by 12 hours of darkness. This will help to simulate the natural light cycle of their natural habitat and encourage the fish to be more active and receptive to breeding.

During the conditioning process, it’s important to monitor your fish carefully for any signs of illness or stress. If you notice any unusual behavior or symptoms, it’s vital to take corrective action quickly, such as adjusting water parameters, treating with medication, or seeking advice from a knowledgeable fishkeeper.

Triggering the Breeding Process

Pygmy corydoras breeding can be triggered by simulating the rainy season, which typically occurs between November and March in their natural habitat. To encourage spawning, hobbyists must make a few adjustments to water temperature and conditions in the breeding tank. Here are the steps I recommend:

  1. Lower the water level: Reduce the water level by a few inches to simulate the shallower waters of the rainy season.
  2. Adjust the temperature: Increase the water temperature to 75-78°F (24-26°C), which mimics the warmer rainy season water temperatures.
  3. Change the water: Perform a partial water change of around 25% to simulate an increase in water flow caused by rainfall.
  4. Reduce light exposure: Dim the aquarium lights or use a lower wattage bulb to simulate the cloudy skies during the rainy season.
  5. Provide a spawning site: Ensure that there are suitable surfaces for the fish to lay eggs on, such as broad-leaved plants or spawning mops.

It is important to monitor the water parameters closely during this process to avoid any sudden fluctuations that could stress the fish. If successful, pygmy corydoras will lay their eggs and begin the breeding process.

Spawning and Egg Care

Pygmy corydoras typically spawn in the early morning hours, and you can usually tell when spawning is about to occur by observing the behavior of the fish. Males will begin chasing and nudging females, while females will become more plump as they prepare to lay eggs. Once spawning begins, the males will fertilize the eggs as the females release them.

It’s important to note that pygmy corydoras are egg scatterers, which means that the eggs will be distributed throughout the tank. To increase the chances of survival, it’s recommended to provide a breeding mop or spawning mops for the eggs to attach to. Alternatively, you can provide a mesh screen or other fine substrate for the eggs to stick to.

After spawning, it’s important to remove any adult fish from the breeding tank to prevent them from eating the eggs or fry. Keep the tank conditions stable and maintain a consistent temperature and water quality. The eggs will typically hatch within 3-5 days, and the fry will emerge shortly after.

As the fry begin to swim and explore their surroundings, it’s important to provide them with a suitable diet. Baby brine shrimp, microworms, and finely crushed flakes are all good options for feeding pygmy corydoras fry. Make sure to feed small amounts multiple times a day to ensure that the fry are getting enough food.

Caring for the fry involves frequent water changes and ensuring that the water quality remains stable. Gradually increasing the water flow and providing filtration can help to promote healthy growth and development. With proper care, pygmy corydoras fry can reach maturity within several months and may even begin breeding themselves.

Raising the Fry

Once the eggs have hatched, the real work begins. Fry require specific care and attention to ensure their healthy development.

The first step is to ensure that the fry have enough food. In the early stages, the fry will feed on their yolk sac for a few days. After that, you should start providing them with food. Fry food should be high in protein and small enough for them to eat. There are many different commercial fry foods available, or you can make your own by grinding up food into a fine powder.

You should feed the fry small amounts of food several times a day. It is important not to overfeed them, as excess food can quickly foul the water and harm the fry. Be sure to remove any uneaten food from the tank.

Fry are also more sensitive to water conditions than adults. You should perform small water changes frequently to keep the water clean and healthy. Keep a close eye on water parameters and adjust them as needed.

In addition to a nutritious diet and clean water, fry also require suitable shelter and hiding spots. Provide them with plenty of plants and other decorations that can help them feel safe and secure.

Finally, it is important to separate the fry from the adult fish. Adult fish may view the fry as food, so you should move them to a separate tank or breeding net as soon as possible.

Troubleshooting Breeding Challenges

Breeding pygmy corydoras can be a rewarding experience, but it’s not always a smooth process. Here are some common challenges you may encounter and how to troubleshoot them:

Inadequate Spawning Behavior

If your pygmy corydoras are not showing any signs of spawning behavior, it could be due to incorrect water parameters or inadequate tank conditions. Ensure that the water temperature and pH levels are suitable for breeding and provide enough hiding spots and decorations for the fish to feel comfortable. If the fish are stressed or uncomfortable, they may not breed.

Egg Fungus

If you notice a white film covering the eggs, it’s likely fungus that can potentially harm or kill the developing fry. Remove the affected eggs and treat the remaining ones with an antifungal agent to prevent further spread.

Poor Egg Development

If your pygmy corydoras’ eggs are not developing properly, it could be due to poor water quality or insufficient oxygen levels. Check the water parameters and ensure there is adequate aeration in the tank. You may also need to adjust the water flow to ensure proper circulation around the eggs.

Disease Outbreaks

Sick fish can negatively impact the breeding process and potentially harm the developing fry. Regularly monitor your breeding tank for signs of disease and maintain proper tank hygiene to minimize the risk of disease outbreaks. If you notice any sick fish, quarantine them immediately and seek treatment.

By identifying and addressing these common challenges, you can help ensure a successful breeding process for your pygmy corydoras.

Breeding Pygmy Corydoras for Beginners

If you are new to breeding pygmy corydoras, it can seem intimidating at first. However, with the right knowledge and preparation, it can be a rewarding experience. Here are some beginner-friendly steps to get started with breeding pygmy corydoras:

  1. Set up a suitable breeding tank: Before you begin breeding, you need to provide a suitable environment for your fish. A 10-gallon tank is a good starting point, with a heater to maintain a steady temperature between 76-82°F, and a filter to keep the water clean.
  2. Choose healthy breeding stock: It’s important to select healthy and mature pygmy corydoras for breeding. Choose fish that are at least eight months old and show no signs of illness or disease.
  3. Condition the fish: Pygmy corydoras need to be well-fed and in good health before they begin breeding. Offer them a variety of high-quality foods, such as live or frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia.
  4. Trigger the breeding process: To encourage breeding behavior, simulate the rainy season by gradually increasing the water temperature and changing a portion of the water every other day. You can also add a spawning mop or mesh to provide a suitable surface for the fish to lay their eggs.
  5. Care for the eggs: Once the fish have laid their eggs, it’s important to provide suitable care to ensure their successful development. Keep the eggs in a separate container with gentle aeration, and avoid bright light or disturbance that could stress the eggs.
  6. Raise the fry: Once the eggs hatch, you need to feed them small and frequent meals, such as newly hatched brine shrimp or crushed flakes. It’s important to keep the tank clean and maintain good water quality to ensure the fry’s optimal growth.

Overall, breeding pygmy corydoras takes patience and dedication, but with the right preparation and knowledge, it can be a fulfilling experience. Remember to always provide a suitable environment for your fish and follow best practices for successful breeding.

Best Practices for Successful Breeding

Successfully breeding pygmy corydoras requires careful planning and attention to their unique requirements. Here are some best practices to help you achieve successful breeding outcomes:

  1. Provide suitable tank conditions: Make sure the breeding tank is set up with the appropriate water parameters, including a pH of around 7.0 and a temperature of 75-80°F. Provide ample hiding spots and decorations for the fish to simulate their natural habitat.
  2. Select healthy breeding stock: Choose healthy, active, and disease-free pygmy corydoras for breeding. Ensure a balanced male to female ratio and allow the fish to acclimate to the breeding tank for several days before initiating the breeding process.
  3. Condition the fish for breeding: Feed the pygmy corydoras a nutritious and varied diet that includes live or frozen foods. Gradually increase feeding to twice a day and maintain clean water conditions to prepare the fish for breeding.
  4. Trigger the breeding process: Simulate the rainy season by increasing the temperature and changing the water to induce spawning behavior. Provide a spawning substrate, such as a breeding mop or a clump of java moss, for the fish to lay their eggs on.
  5. Care for the eggs and fry: Remove the eggs and transfer them to a separate container for proper care and development. Feed the fry a diet of baby brine shrimp and gradually introduce crushed flakes or pellets as they grow. Keep the water clean and monitor their health and growth regularly.
  6. Troubleshoot breeding difficulties: Keep a close eye on the fish and be aware of any signs of disease or stress. Be prepared to address any issues that may arise, such as low spawning rates or cannibalism. Seek advice from experienced breeders or a veterinarian if needed.

By following these best practices, you can increase your chances of successfully breeding pygmy corydoras and contributing to their conservation in the hobby. Remember to always prioritize the health and wellbeing of the fish and enjoy the rewarding experience of breeding these fascinating creatures.


Breeding pygmy corydoras can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for hobbyists. By understanding their natural habitat and breeding requirements, as well as following the best practices and effective techniques discussed in this guide, hobbyists can achieve successful breeding outcomes.

It is important to select healthy breeding stock, properly condition them, and trigger the breeding process in a suitable tank environment. Caring for the eggs and raising the fry requires attention to detail and careful monitoring of water parameters, feeding, and growth stages.

If any challenges or difficulties arise during the breeding process, troubleshooting tips and solutions are available to help overcome them. For those who are new to breeding pygmy corydoras, this guide provides a beginner-friendly introduction to the essential steps and considerations.

Trust the Process

Remember to take your time and trust the natural breeding process of pygmy corydoras. With patience, dedication, and the right knowledge, hobbyists can successfully breed and raise these fascinating fish in their own tanks.


Q: What are pygmy corydoras?

A: Pygmy corydoras (Corydoras pygmaeus) are small freshwater fish native to the Amazon River basin in South America. They are known for their vibrant colors and peaceful nature.

Q: How big do pygmy corydoras grow?

A: Pygmy corydoras reach an adult size of approximately 1 inch (2.5 centimeters). They are one of the smallest species of corydoras.

Q: Can pygmy corydoras be kept in a community aquarium?

A: Yes, pygmy corydoras are peaceful fish that can be kept in a community aquarium with other small, non-aggressive species. It is important to provide suitable hiding spots and plenty of swimming space.

Q: How many pygmy corydoras should I keep together?

A: Pygmy corydoras are shoaling fish and should be kept in groups of at least six individuals. They feel more secure and exhibit natural behaviors when kept in larger numbers.

Q: What do pygmy corydoras eat?

A: Pygmy corydoras are omnivorous and will accept a variety of foods. Their diet should include high-quality sinking pellets or flakes, as well as live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp or bloodworms.

Q: How do I set up a breeding tank for pygmy corydoras?

A: To set up a breeding tank for pygmy corydoras, you will need a tank with a capacity of at least 10 gallons (38 liters), a sponge filter, and a heater to maintain a stable temperature around 78°F (25°C).

Q: How do I determine the gender of pygmy corydoras?

A: Male pygmy corydoras are usually smaller and slimmer than females. During breeding, males may also develop small bristle-like structures called odontodes on their pectoral fins.

Q: How can I encourage pygmy corydoras to breed?

A: To encourage breeding, you can simulate the rainy season by performing partial water changes with slightly cooler water, increasing the water flow, and providing caves or other suitable spawning sites.

Q: How do pygmy corydoras care for their eggs?

A: After spawning, pygmy corydoras will typically lay their eggs on the underside of leaves or other surfaces. The male may guard the eggs while the female continues to lay more eggs.

Q: What should I feed pygmy corydoras fry?

A: Pygmy corydoras fry can be fed with commercially available liquid or powdered fry food, baby brine shrimp, or crushed flakes. It is important to provide small, frequent feedings to support their growth.

Q: What are some common challenges in breeding pygmy corydoras?

A: Some common challenges in breeding pygmy corydoras include egg fungus, poor water quality, and difficulty in raising the fry. Proper maintenance, water parameter monitoring, and attentive care can help overcome these challenges.

Q: How long does it take for pygmy corydoras fry to grow into adults?

A: Pygmy corydoras fry can take several months to reach maturity, typically around 4-6 months. Their growth rate can vary depending on factors such as temperature, diet, and tank conditions.

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