Nearly everyone knows that betta fish are aggressive— after all, they’re nicknamed the Siamese Fighting Fish.
And typically, betta fish don’t do well with tank mates.
However, is this true for every species of tank mate? Could there be any fish that can peacefully coexist with bettas?
You might be surprised to discover that while betta fish don’t tolerate many other fish in their tanks, a few suitable tank mates that can co-exist with bettas!
One of those fish? The cory catfish.
Here’s everything you need to know about adding a cory catfish into your betta’s tank.
Cory catfish: an introduction to their origin, water conditions, and temperament
Origin and appearance
Cory catfish, also known as cory cats, cory fish, and corydoras, are native to South America.
This tropical fish is used to living in slow-moving waters with very dense vegetation. They feed on the food substrates found in the rivers or streams.
Cory catfish have brownish, black, or grey bodies with different patterns. But, because there are over 161 species of cory catfish, you can find them in a wide range of colors, like bronze, green, albino (white), and black.
Cory fish grow up to 1.5 to 2 inches. In comparison, bettas grow to a maximum of 3 inches. But keep in mind that the cory catfish size may vary depending on the type you get.
Water conditions for a cory catfish
Cory catfish are hardy fish and generally easy to take care of. They prefer water temperatures between 70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit and need a pH level between 7 to 7.8.
Try keeping the water conditions stable most times because frequent changes in water conditions aren’t ideal for a cory fish. Additionally, try to keep the nitrate levels as low as possible. High nitrate levels make the fish stressed, which isn’t good for its health.
Vacuum the fish tank frequently to eliminate fish waste, bacteria, fish food, and other toxins from the aquarium.
A dirty fish tank can cause a lot of diseases to both a cory catfish and a betta fish.
Unlike betta fish, cory catfishes are peaceful fish who also happen to be bottom dwellers.
The fish is sociable but mainly with its own kind, so try keeping a group of at least six corydoras together, which will keep them happy and content!
Betta fish and cory catfish as tank mates
Betta fish and cory fish can become great tank mates if you keep them within the right conditions.
Maintaining the right water parameters is crucial for the well-being of your fish.
Luckily, when it comes to betta and cory fish, there isn’t a huge difference in the temperature and pH levels they need to thrive.
A temperature of around 78 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for both fish.
However, it’s important to note that bettas can’t tolerate alkaline water with a pH level higher than seven.
Make sure you monitor the pH levels and keep them in check to ensure that your betta and cory fish are healthy and happy in their tank.
Both bettas and corys need room to roam, and a tiny fishbowl is not enough.
Many first-time fish owners are shocked to hear how much room betta needs, and if you plan to add more fish to the mix, they need an even bigger tank.
My recommendation? A ten-gallon tank is the ideal size to keep the two fish together. But because cory catfish are schooling fish who swim together, you may also consider sizing up.
Tank set up
The betta fish and corydoras catfish prefer a similar tank environment with many live plants.
The use of lots of live plants will recreate their natural habitat, keeping both the fish comfortable in the tank.
Adding substrates like driftwood, rocks, sand, and gravel to the betta tank, along with plants is another way you can spruce up your tank while giving both fish an environment they’ll love.
Betta fish need hiding places when they feel threatened or want to be alone, and the cory catfish can also benefit from having hiding spots when it feels the betta is chasing it. With all that extra substrate, they’ll have endless places to hide and explore all day long.
However, it’s important to avoid adding tank decors with rough or jagged edges.
Since cory fish spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, any sharp substrate can injure their fins, stomach, and barbels.
And it’s not just cory fish you need to worry about—betta fish also have delicate fins that can be easily ripped or damaged from sharp, pointy objects. So, it’s best to steer clear of sharp objects when decorating your betta tank.
Bettas are natural jumpers, thanks to their habit of leaping out of ponds or streams in search of food during dry seasons.
This means that if you don’t keep the tank lid closed, there’s a high chance that your betta might jump out of the aquarium.
While cory catfish typically spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, they do swim to the surface to catch floating food and get air.
However, if they swim too quickly, they might accidentally jump out of the tank—not a risk you want to take.
It’s always best to keep the tank lid closed to ensure the safety of both your betta and cory fish.
The maximum lifespan of corydoras catfish is five years, which is similar to a betta’s lifespan of two to five years. However, with proper care, you can keep betta fish and cory catfish living together for much longer.
Both the betta and corydoras catfish are omnivorous and you can feed them similar foods.
Corydoras eat a whole range of food they can find lying at the tank bottom, which includes betta food, insects, and any plant matter.
But the tank doesn’t always have enough substrate to meet their dietary needs.
Additionally, eating rotting food may make the fish sick; therefore, it’s better to feed them from time to time.
Both betta and cory catfish can be fed a variety of food, including live food, frozen food, fish pellets, or fish flakes. Sinking wafers are an excellent option for corydoras catfish, as they are made specifically for bottom feeders. However, it’s essential to avoid overfeeding both fish, so it’s best to feed them twice daily for a few seconds each time.
Overfeeding can be risky, so it’s crucial to stick to the recommended amount.
Bettas are enthusiastic eaters and may get distracted by other food in the tank, so using sinking pellets during feeding time can prevent them from snatching the corydoras catfish’s food (and eating too much).
How to introduce the corydoras catfish to the betta
Ok, so you’re ready to introduce your betta fish to your corydora.
There’s a certain way to go about this, and most people get it wrong, which can be deadly for your cory.
First, don’t just add your cory catfish into the betta’s tank and walk away. Doing this almost guarantees there will be issues.
When you do this, you’re betta will likely feel threatened and want to defend its territory. Being as the cory catfish is so docile, it probably won’t fight back and could end up severely hurt, or worse…
Here’s how to introduce a cory catfish and betta the right way:
To keep the tank environment peaceful, temporarily remove the betta from the tank. Think of it as a little vacation for your betta fish. You can put them in a small bowl with their tank water. Don’t worry—your betta fish won’t be here for long and adding them to a small container is fine for short periods of time.
After removing your betta fish, make little changes in the aquarium substrate and add the cory catfish into the tank. At this point, the cory catfish will be along in the tank and can adjust and explore independently. Let it adjust for at least an hour.
Once the cory fish gets familiar with the tank surrounding, you can go ahead and put the betta fish back in the tank.
This way, the betta won’t see the corydoras as invaders and is less likely to attack it.
How to pick corydoras to add to your tank
When it comes to adding a new fish to your aquarium, it’s crucial to take precautions to ensure the health and safety of your current fish.
This is especially important when adding a corydoras catfish to a tank that already has a betta fish, as bettas are highly susceptible to infections and diseases.
Before purchasing a corydoras catfish, it’s essential to examine the cory fish carefully. Look at the fins, barbels, and eyes of the corydoras and make sure they appear healthy. The cory fish should be swimming actively and should not appear lethargic. It’s also a good idea to observe the other fish in the corydoras tank to ensure that they are healthy. If you notice any sick fish in the tank, it’s best to purchase your corydoras from another tank.
When introducing a new corydoras catfish to your aquarium, it’s essential to quarantine the fish for a few days in a separate tank to monitor for any signs of illness. This is especially important if you’re not certain about the health status of the fish you purchased.
By taking these precautions, you can help ensure that your cory catfish and betta fish live happily and healthily together in your aquarium.
Remember to always be vigilant about the health of your fish and to take action at the first sign of any problems!
Corydoras catfish and betta fish make excellent tank mates. The calm temperament of the cory fish complements the aggressive betta well.
Besides, both have similar tank requirements and eat the same food.
With the right preparation and care, your cory catfish and betta fish can live a long and happy life together.
Bettas do get aggressive at times, and when they see the other species as an invader or threatening its own space, they may attack it.
You can keep a few shrimp species like ghost shrimp, cherry shrimp, Amano shrimps, fish like neon tetras, etc., with your betta.
Female corydoras have a thicker body, and they are flashy fish compared to males. Males have a more streamlined and thin body.
Corydoras catfish are bottom feeders, and they have the habit of digging in the sand, due to which people assume corys would eat betta discharge. But that’s not true; they don’t consider betta poop food and don’t eat it too.
Yes, pygmy corys make a suitable betta tank mate due to their small size and shy nature.
Pygmy corydoras are also good to keep in small tanks because they grow just up to one inch, so there are no chances of them invading the betta’s space. Since male betta fish are more aggressive, pygmy corydoras might make a better companion for them.
Yes, corydoras can eat betta food.