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Leopard Cory Catfish

(Corydoras leopardus)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Easy   • Temperament: Peaceful   • Maximum Size: 3"
• Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons   • Water Conditions: 72-79° F, KH 3-12, pH 6.0-7.2
• Diet: Omnivore   • Origin: Amazon basin in Brazil, Peru and Ecuador   • Family: Callichthyidae
• Species: Cory Catfish   • Aquarium Type: Community

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Species Information

Leopard Cory Catfish native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

Leopard Cory (Corydoras leopardus) are native to the rivers, streams and tributaries of the western Amazon basin ranging from Brazil over to Peru and Ecuador. They are a very peaceful species who live in large groups of dozens of individuals, both for safety and social interactions. They spend their days foraging amongst the leaf litter, vegetation and wood root covered areas of the river near the shoreline for a variety of meaty items like small worms, crustaceans and insect larvae.

The Leopard Cory can be difficult to distinguish from a few other Cory Cats who all share some very similar visual traits. The four Cory Cat species who share very similar patterns include: Corydoras julii, C. leopardus, C. punctatus and C. trilineatus, all who share a large black mark on the dorsal fin, a barred caudal fin, horizontal striping along the body at the juncture of the dorsal and ventral lateral plates and a spotted body.

In addition to similar markings, all of these species can also exhibit many variations in their pattern, which makes positive identification even more difficult. Beyond the pattern and markings, the easiest way to tell the Leopard Cory from the others is that it has a longer snout profile than the others. However, Leopard Cory's are generally more rare than the other similar species, so look closely and make sure you can positively identify the species before making a purchase.

As is the case with all species in the genus, Cory Cats will regularly swim quickly to the surface for a gulp of air. The fish swallows the air, which blood vessels in the hind gut extract oxygen from; it is then expelled through the vent the next time the fish breaks the surface for another gulp of air. This adaptation is believed to have evolved so that the fish can survive in poorly-oxygenated water such as stagnant pools during the dry season. It is however essential to the fish's well-being that it regularly swallows air.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Leopard Cory Catfish in the home aquarium.

The native habitat of the Leopard Cory contains lots of tree roots, vegetation, a sandy substrate with a cover of fallen leaves. The jungle canopy that presides over their natural habitat creates many areas of diffused lighting and cooler mid 70s water temperatures. It is important to provide plenty areas within the aquarium that are shaded from the bright aquarium lights. They will absolutely appreciate the presence of driftwood, rocky caves and plenty of vegetation, which will provide them a tank that resembles their native home.

Some important aquarium design elements when keeping Leopard Cory's is a sand or fine grain gravel substrate, plenty of internal water flow, areas of plants and wood root along with open swimming areas and locations in the aquarium where the fish can escape the bright aquarium lights.

Like all cory cat species, Leopard Cory Cats will do much better when kept in social groups of at least 4 individuals of their own species or mixed with other cory cat species. While the Leopard Cory will gladly scavenge the aquarium substrate for leftover foodstuffs and decaying plant material, they should also be provided sinking foods designed for bottom dwelling fish species. While conditions that closely resemble their native habitat is also desirable, they are tolerant of a fairly wide range of aquarium conditions.

Cory Cats are easily affected by poor water conditions, as they live right on the substrate where there is often less water flow and more decaying material and fish waste. As their native river and stream habitats have a constant flow of freshwater passing through, the home aquarium by contrast is much more of a closed ecosystem, which makes it more susceptible to adverse changes in water quality and chemistry if decaying matter is present within the aquarium.

As with other Corydoras species, Corydoras leopardus is a communal species who will want to live in a group of Cory cats and not a single specimen. They would love nothing more than to live in a group of Corydoras leopardus, but will also happily coexist with other Corydoras species as well. They will do well with a wide variety of peaceful community fish tank mates ranging from the smallest Tetras, Rasboras and Barbs, all the way to larger peaceful Cichlid species like Geophagus, Blue Acara and Severum.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Leopard Cory Catfish and provide a healthy diet.

Their diet should contain primarily meaty foods, with some plant based material in the form of pellets or flakes designed for omnivores. A diet that provides a variety of food items will help ensure that all the necessary vitamins and minerals the fish needs for a nutritionally complete diet and strong immune system are available.

They are very easy to feed as they will readily take to a wide variety of commercial fish foods, algae and even decaying plant material. Some good food choices are freeze-dried bloodworms, black worms, sinking pellets, shrimp pellets, flake food, brine shrimp and frozen and live foods designed for freshwater tropical fish.

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