Freshwater Fish

Pygmy Corydora vs Dwarf Corydora – What is the difference?

Corydoras catfish are one of the most popular freshwater tropical fish in the hobby. But did you know that these adorable little guys also come in super small size varieties? Dwarf corydoras and pygmy corydoras are two miniature types of these sweet little catfish that can be a great addition to a community setup.

Read this guide on Pygmy Cory vs Dwarf Cory to find out the differences between them, their care requirements, and more!

Pygmy Corydora vs Dwarf Corydora – Quick Overview

Characteristic Dwarf Corydoras Catfish Corydoras pygmy catfish
scientific names Corydoras hastatus corydoras pygmaeus
Size 1.5 inches 1 inch
Minimum tank size 10 gallons 10 gallons
Diet Omnivore Omnivore
Food Tropical flakes, frozen brine shrimp, blood worms, etc. Tropical flakes, frozen brine shrimp, blood worms, etc.
Substratum Fine, soft sand or gravel Fine, soft sand or gravel
water conditions pH range from 6.0 to 7.2 pH range from 6.0 to 7.2
Water hardness below 15 dGH Water hardness below 15 dGH
Temperature 72°F to 79°F with 75°F to 77°F being optimal 72°F to 79°F with 75°F to 77°F being optimal

Corydoras confusion!

There are three varieties of tiny corydoras catfish, which are often confused for each other and mislabeled in fish stores.

Pygmy Cory

The pygmy cory has the scientific name corydoras pygmaeus.


Pygmy corydoras look much like any other cory, except they don’t grow more than an inch long. Therefore, they are often confused with other small varieties of corys.

The pygmy cory has an unbroken black line that runs down the entire side of its body. Above the black line, the fish’s body is usually dark gray, while the body below the line is white or cream. Females are generally rounder and slightly larger than males.

midget cory

Although they look very similar, dwarf corys are not the same as pygmies. The dwarf cory has the scientific name Corydoras hastatus and is also sometimes called the tail-spot cory.


These small fish reach about 1.5 inches in length and have a more elongated body shape than other types of corys.

Dwarf corys have a pale silvery body with olive hues, and some have a light horizontal stripe along their side. These fish also have a distinctive black spot on their tail that is bordered by a white crescent that gives the fish its common name.

Cory Verifier

To add to the confusion of corydoras, the Checker cory is also a miniature version of the species. and has the scientific name Corydoras habrosus.

These fish grow to about an inch in length, with the females generally being slightly larger than the males. Although they closely resemble their diminutive cousins ​​and are easily confused, Checker corys are a different species, although they are often incorrectly referred to as dwarf corys as they look quite similar.

Behavior of Pygmy Corydora vs Dwarf Corydora

When it comes to behavior, dwarf and pygmy corys are quite similar.

Both are active schooling fish, spending all day cruising through the middle of the water column in a loose school. In contrast, Checker corys prefer to spend their time in small groups of two or three, searching the substrate for scraps of food.

Origins and distribution

Checker corys are found in Venezuela and Colombia, pygmy corys come from Ecuador, Peru, and western Brazil, and dwarf corys are native to Brazil, the Pantanal, and Paraguay.

The habitats that fish live in vary quite a bit, depending on the season and location.

Some areas are situated under thick forest canopies and have black water, while others are open to the sky and the water is clearer. All three species of corys gravitate toward areas with soft, sandy, or muddy substrates, although some habitats have gravel bottoms or are covered in fallen leaves. Most areas are heavily vegetated with rocks, drift, wood, and fallen branches.

Requirements for Pygmy and Dwarf Corydoras Aquariums

tank size

Corys are very active fish that need plenty of space and open areas to swim. So while you can keep a few of these little guys in a 10 gallon tank, I would recommend going for a larger setup or around 20 gallons or more. Choose a long tank, rather than a tall one, to maximize the space available for swimming.

water parameters

Although both species of mini corydoras will tolerate temperatures between 72° Fahrenheit and 79° Fahrenheit, they do best with a water temperature between 75° Fahrenheit and 77° Fahrenheit.

Corys prefer soft, acidic water with a pH between 6.0 and 7.2 and a water hardness below 15 dGH.


Include plenty of dense plants, driftwood, and rocks in the tank, and choose a fine sandy substrate that the fish can safely feed on without damaging their sensitive barbels. Adding a few handfuls of dried leaves also helps replicate the corys’ natural environment.

An efficient filtration system is important, but keep the flow rate to a minimum and dampen if necessary, as fish prefer a slow to medium current.

tank mates

In the wild, dwarf corys mix with a fairly diverse group, including guppies, killifish, tetras, and other small catfish. Therefore, shallow-bodied tetras, hatchet fish, other regular corydora species, and dwarf catfish make good tank mates for these tiny fish.

Avoid choosing any large fish species that may try to make a meal out of the little corys. These catfish have defensive blocking spines and if swallowed can result in a sticky end for both parties.

Nutrition and Diet

All species of corydoras are omnivores, enjoying a diet that includes plant and vegetable matter, certain types of algae, and meaty proteins.

For captive corys, the most convenient nutrition option is good quality tropical fish pellets. Pellets are a better choice than flakes because they sink to the bottom of the tank, where corys tend to hang during feeding times. Frozen foods are a good addition to the cory’s diet, especially brine shrimp, insect larvae, and bloodworms.

Feed the fish a couple of times a day, offering enough to last a couple of minutes, as corys are tremendous scavengers and often pick up scraps of food that other fish in the tank have missed or left behind. fall.


When it comes to breeding pygmy and dwarf corys, the process is relatively easy. When the right conditions exist, the fish mate regularly. Provide your fish with a high-quality diet and keep the water conditions clean and healthy, and spawning will occur naturally.

During spawning, the female will lay up to 100 eggs, retaining some in a pouch next to her pelvic fin where the male fertilizes them. Once the eggs are fertilized, the female sticks them to a flat surface until they hatch.

Remove the parents from the tank to prevent them from eating the eggs and remove any eggs that develop fungus. When the eggs hatch, feed the fry very finely crushed infusoria or flakes.

In conclusion

Although the pygmy cory and the dwarf cory are often assumed to be the same fish, they are actually completely different species. That said, the care requirements of these two lovely minnows are so similar that they can be kept together in a community tank with a few other peaceful tank mates.

I hope you have enjoyed this pygmy vs cory dwarf guide. Keep in mind that these two varieties of corydoras catfish are often confused and mislabeled in fish stores, so check carefully before you buy.

If you enjoyed this guide, please share it with your friends and tell us your thoughts and experiences with pygmy and dwarf corys in the comment box below.

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