Salt and pepper catfish

Aquarium fish: Salt and pepper catfish (Corydoras habrosus)
Size: 3 – 3.5 cm
Origin: South America
Water temperature: 22-26 ° C
Aquarium volume: 54 l

Salt and pepper catfish (Corydoras habrosus ) – one of the smallest aquarium fish from the cuirassid family.


South America. It occurs in the upper Rio Orinoco Basin in eastern Colombia and western Venezuela, where its range appears to be limited to left-bank tributaries. Most of the records are from Rio Apure in southwestern Venezuela, where it was recorded in the states of Portuguesa, Cojede, Barinas, Guarico, and Apure. The distribution in Colombia is not so clear, it was certainly fished from the Rio Arauca and Rio Casanare, the latter of which is a tributary of the lower Rio Meta, therefore the occurrence in the left-bank tributaries of the Orinoco between the Meta and the Apure, which include the rios Cinaruco and Capanaparo.

The species prefers lagoons, tributary streams, flooded forests and meadows, and marginal zones where water movement is not too strong. It lives, for example, in the lowlands of Llanos Orentales, which are flooded during the annual rainy season, thus creating huge wetlands that are a haven for wildlife. Most often, these fish clusters close to submerged structures such as branches or tree roots.

Characteristics and disposition

They grow up to 3.5 cm in length. The shape of the body is club-shaped, the abdomen is light, the upper part is darker, and there is also most of the spotted pattern on it.

The two, sometimes three largest, spots are arranged along the side line, sometimes forming a wide intermittent strip. In another very similar, but slightly larger species – Corydoras cochui, there are 4 or 5 spots . The dark speckled pattern may vary depending on the place of origin. Gender of young fish is difficult to distinguish. Adult females are slightly larger, fuller and wider, especially when looking at the fish from above.

Males are smaller and more slender. Like other cuiras, they do not have scales, and their body is protected by two rows of bone plates. The first rays of the pectoral and dorsal fins are hard and sharp – be careful when catching them, as they can easily become entangled in the net or prick painfully. They also have an additional respiratory organ – a modified intestine, thanks to which they can take atmospheric air from the water surface. In an aquarium, they often swim rapidly to the surface to draw air, which is perfectly normal and natural behavior.

They are very gentle and shy fish. Contrary to other similar-sized cuiras (Pygmy Cuiras , Dwarf Cuiras ), they spend most of their time near the bottom , rather than in the water column. They also usually swim loosely in a large group. It is recommended to keep min. 6 pieces, preferably 10 or more, mostly males.

More of them are less stressed, become bold and exhibit more interesting behaviors.

Nutrition and feeding

Omnivorous and unrefined, they will eat whatever food they serve, sinking to the bottom that can fit into their mouths. The basis of the diet can be good-quality crushed dry food in flakes or granules, which should be regularly supplemented with live and frozen, e.g. artemia larvae, hydration, tubifex, copepods. A varied diet will keep them in optimal condition.

Under no circumstances should they be left alone with half-eaten leftovers left behind by the rest of the cast.


For a larger group, an aquarium with a length of min. 60 cm, preferably with a dark sandy base, it is important that it is soft and has no sharp edges. Pieces of wood, dry branches and roots can be used for decoration. Vegetation, including floating, is recommended to limit the incoming light.

This species prefers soft lighting. Miniature cuiras like moderately acidic and soft water, but also easily adapt to other parameters, but are very sensitive to any water contamination, drugs and chemicals as well as rapid changes in parameters. The water should be of excellent quality and changed at least once a week. The medium should be sterile and desludged frequently. Symptoms of stress usually begin with rapid breathing, followed by lethargy (frequent and long sitting on plant leaves or the ground), and sometimes they turn sideways.

Any sudden change in water chemistry or temperature will often cause a shock, causing the fish to “swoon” and roll over to its side. Introduced into an unstable or poorly maintained aquarium, they die within a few weeks. They can be kept in a social aquarium with other similarly sized, gentle fish. Razbors, trout, microbes, blue-eyed rainbows, and tiny tetras from the same area will be good company. They should not be combined with fish that can fit into their mouths.


Reproduction similar to that of other cuiras, with difficulty similar to that of C. pygmaeus . For their controlled reproduction, a separate spawning tank is necessary, min. 20 l, with mature sponge filtration and vegetation. Live plants are the best choice – a large clump of Mikrozorium and Java moss clumps attached to the root.

Alternatively, artificial aquarium mops can be used. The bottom should be covered with a little layer of fine, soft sand and you can also throw in a few dry leaves. Fish for spawning are stimulated by a large change of soft and acidic water , a few degrees cooler than that of the main aquarium (water is changed gradually). Filtering the water through peat or using RO water will help. The use of additional air stones will increase the movement of the water and the amount of dissolved oxygen in it.

This is how the rainy season is simulated. Experienced growers also talk about the beneficial effects of the storm and the associated sharp change in barometric pressure . Specimens at the age of 10-12 months start spawning. Before spawning is planned, the amount and frequency of feeding live and frozen foods should be increased. Spawning begins with chases of males after females all over the aquarium.

The winner is wiped with the female in a typical “T” position for Kirysk. The male, at an angle of 90 ° to the female, covers her head with his pectoral fins and lets the dandelion into her mouth. The female releases one or more grains of already fertilized eggs into a basket made of her pelvic fins. Then it flows off and puts them in a selected place – it can be, for example, an aquarium glass, substrate or a plant leaf. The situation repeats itself several times.

Parents who are well fed will not pay attention to the eggs, but it is better to separate them to maximize the amount of fry obtained. Hatching takes about 3-4 days. After another 4-5 days, the fry begin to swim freely. In the first days, the young can take up the micro nematodes, and after a few more, freshly hatched brine shrimp larvae. After approx.

6-8 weeks, the fish reach 13 mm. They require excellent water quality to thrive and appear to be less prone to disease when buried in a thin layer of sand.


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