Corydoras Adolfoi: A Complete Care Guide

Adolfo’s catfish (lat. Corydoras adolfoi) is a small-sized, brightly colored, and peaceful aquarium catfish. This fish has quite recently appeared in tanks of aquarium fish fanciers, and it is less popular than other Corydoras species. Adolfo’s Cory is a peaceful species that can be kept with other peaceful fish species of similar size and temperament. They are well-suited for community aquariums, alongside other small, non-aggressive fish like tetras, rasboras, and dwarf cichlids.

Habitat in the wild

Corydoras adolfoi, also known as Adolfo’s Cory or Adolfo’s Catfish, is a small freshwater fish species belonging to the Corydoradinae subfamily of the Callichthyidae family. The corydoras adolfoi was called by the name of the discoverer’s and the legendary fish fancier Adolfo Schwartz, who collected the first specimens in the Orinoco River basin.

It seems that this Corydoras endemic is likely encountered only in the Rio Negro tributaries, São Gabriel da Cachoeira municipality, Brazil. However, some sources state that these fish species are encountered in the Uaupés River, the main Rio Negro tributary. Currently, there is no information that can be considered more reliable.

Adolfo’s Cory inhabits the dark, tannin-stained waters of the Orinoco River basin. Catfish prefers slow-moving blackwater tributaries and flooded forest areas, where the water has a specific color resembling tea color because the water is rich with tannin and tanning substances. Such water has rather low hardness, pH of 5.5 to 6.8. The temperature of the water ranges from 72°F to 79°F (22°C to 26°C). The rivers and tributaries where they are found are often surrounded by dense vegetation and have overhanging trees, which create shaded areas and provide cover.

Their natural diet consists of various small organisms found in the substrate, such as insect larvae, worms, small crustaceans, and plant matter. They use their barbels, sensitive appendages around their mouths, to search for food particles in the sand or mud.

In the wild, Corydoras adolfoi is a shoaling species, meaning they form groups or schools. They typically inhabit the lower areas of the water column, close to the substrate, where they forage for food. Adolfo’s Cory is known for its social behavior and is often observed moving and feeding together in a coordinated manner. Common dwellers of such water basins are small-sized Characin fish species and dwarf cichlids.


Adolfo’s Cory has an elongated, streamlined body shape that is characteristic of the Corydoras genus. It grows to a size of approximately 2 to 2.5 inches (5 to 6 centimeters) when fully mature, while the males are a bit shorter. The body coloration is predominantly dark black or deep brown, providing a beautiful contrast to its striking feature—the iridescent golden stripe that runs horizontally along its body. This golden stripe is a defining characteristic of the species. The dorsal (top) and caudal (tail) fins are transparent, adding to the overall visual appeal of the fish.

Corydoras adolfoi has a ventral mouth with two pairs of barbels, which are whisker-like appendages around its mouth. These barbels are highly sensitive and help the fish locate food particles in the substrate. Adolfo’s Cory has a series of bony plates, known as scutes, along its body, providing protection.

The lifespan of Corydoras adolfoi, like most aquarium fish, can vary depending on various factors such as water quality, diet, genetics, and overall care. On average, Adolfo’s Cory has a lifespan of about 3 to 5 years when kept in proper conditions.

Common NameAdolfo’s Cory or Adolfo’s Catfish
Scientific NameCorydoras adolfoi
OriginOrinoco River basin in Venezuela
SizeAround 2 to 2.5 inches (5 to 6 centimeters)
Body ColorDark black or deep brown base color with a golden horizontal stripe
Fin ColorTransparent dorsal and caudal fins
BehaviorPeaceful and social, forms tight-knit groups
Preferred HabitatSlow-moving, shallow waters with sandy or muddy substrates
Water Temperature72°F to 79°F (22°C to 26°C)
pH Level6.0 to 7.0
DietOmnivorous, accepts sinking pellets, live, and frozen foods
CompatibilityPeaceful, suitable for community aquariums
Special ConsiderationsProvide soft substrate, dimly lit environment

Difficulties in keeping

It is a peaceful fish that is good for community tanks. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for beginner aquarists. Even though Corydoras species are not demanding, there are some restrictions in the case of corydoras adolfoi. The fish requires soft water, dim light, proper tank bottom substrate, and calm tank mates.

In the new tank that has just been started, the fish will fill uncomfortable.

Keeping in a tank

The fish is active for the whole day. Most of its time it spends on the tank bottom looking for food. Catfish can go up to the water surface to get some air or swim in the medium water layer. If your Adolfo’s catfish are not active during the day, it can be due to the compatibility issues (large-sized tank dwellers scare them), or the number of species in the school is too small.

To make sure that catfish feel comfortable, they should be surrounded by species of their kind. This means that a standard fish school should contain at least eight species! The larger catfish school is, the more natural behavior of the fish you can observe (but keep in mind the size of your tank).

Minimal number of the fish species in the school – 6 or 8 species. Optimal number – 9-13 species. The most natural fish behavior is observed – more than 14 species. The more fish you have in the school, the better. Since in the wild, adolfoi corydoras can gather a school on several hundreds of fish at the same time!

Tank size

Corydoras adolfoi is a relatively small fish species that doesn’t require a large aquarium. However, providing adequate space is important to ensure their well-being and to accommodate their social behavior. The recommended tank size for a small group of Corydoras adolfoi is at least 20 gallons (75 liters).

A 20-gallon tank provides enough swimming space for the catfish and allows for the addition of suitable tank mates. It also offers sufficient surface area for biological filtration and the establishment of a stable aquarium ecosystem.

When keeping Corydoras adolfoi, it’s important to consider not only the tank size but also the dimensions of the aquarium. Corydoras are bottom-dwelling fish that prefer a wider tank footprint over a tall tank. A tank with a longer length and width provides more bottom area for them to explore and forage.

Furthermore, keeping Corydoras adolfoi in a small school is recommended. A group of at least 6 individuals is ideal to promote their natural behavior and well-being. Adding more individuals can further increase the recommended tank size accordingly.


As for other tank decorations, it is up to you what to choose. I’d recommend providing the fish with some shelters in the tank. Snags, dry tree leaves, coconut shells – all these will help you to create the tank environment close to the one of catfish habitat. Leaves and snags will produce tannin and other substances that color the tank water and make it dark to resemble the one the fish used to dwell in.

Water parameters

The ideal temperature range for Corydoras adolfoi is between 72°F and 79°F (22°C and 26°C). It’s essential to provide a stable temperature within this range to promote their overall health and well-being.

Corydoras adolfoi prefers slightly acidic to neutral water conditions. Aim for a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. Adolfo’s Cory thrives in relatively soft water conditions. The recommended water hardness for Corydoras adolfoi is around 2 to 12 dGH (German degrees of hardness). This softer water mimics their natural habitat and promotes their overall well-being.

It’s important to note that while these are the recommended water parameters for Corydoras adolfoi, they are adaptable to a certain extent. However, sudden and extreme fluctuations in water parameters can stress the fish and compromise their health.


Water filtration is desirable, but adolfoi corydoras doesn’t like strong water flow in the tank, so it’s better to direct the water flow to the tank water surface. Adequate mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration will help remove waste, excess food, and toxins from the aquarium. Regular water changes, typically around 20% to 25% every 1 to 2 weeks, are also important to maintain water quality.


Since corydoras adolfoi is a bottom-dwelling fish, small-grained sand will be a perfect bottom substrate for it. However, small-sized gravels or basalt will also do.

Tank mates

Corydoras adolfoi is a peaceful fish that generally gets along well with other small, non-aggressive species in a community aquarium. As you’ve understood, the best tank mates are its relative species. Keep in mind that various Corydoras species can’t be kept in one tank. Since adolfoi corydoras won’t stay in one school with panda cory. The school should consist of the same fish species.

You can select any fishes that dwell in upper and medium water layers as tank mates; at that, they shouldn’t be large and aggressive. If these fishes aren’t aggressive towards adolfoi corydoras, they will be able to share the tank successfully.

Here are some suitable tank mates for Corydoras adolfoi:

  1. Small Tetras: Many small tetra species can make good tank mates for Corydoras adolfoi. Examples include Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi), Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae), and Black Neon Tetras (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi). Tetras are peaceful, active, and colorful, making them compatible with Corydoras adolfoi.
  2. Rasboras: Species like Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma heteromorpha) and Phoenix Rasboras (Boraras brigittae) can be suitable companions for Corydoras adolfoi. Rasboras are small, peaceful fish that prefer similar water conditions and won’t compete with the bottom-dwelling Corydoras for food.
  3. Dwarf Gouramis: Certain species of dwarf gouramis, such as the Honey Gourami (Trichogaster chuna) or the Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila), can be compatible tank mates. These gouramis have peaceful temperaments and prefer calm aquarium environments.
  4. Dwarf Cichlids: Some species of dwarf cichlids, like the German Blue Ram (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi), can coexist with Corydoras adolfoi. Dwarf cichlids are generally peaceful and add a unique element to the aquarium with their vibrant colors and interesting behaviors.
  5. Other Peaceful Bottom-Dwelling Fish: Consider adding other peaceful bottom-dwelling fish like Otocinclus catfish or smaller species of Plecos (Ancistrus, etc.). These fish occupy different niches in the aquarium, complementing the activities of the Corydoras adolfoi.

It’s important to monitor the behavior of tank mates after introducing them to ensure compatibility. Avoid keeping Corydoras adolfoi with larger, aggressive fish that may harass or intimidate them. Providing ample hiding spots and ensuring sufficient space in the tank will also help reduce stress and promote harmonious coexistence among the fish.

Diet and feeding

The fish isn’t troublesome in terms of nutrition, and it eats all kinds of food. Adolfo’s cory should have a diversified diet, and you should feed it with different food types. Frozen, live, artificial – the fish eats all kinds of food. Catfish also likes special pellets for catfish.

The main issue is that there isn’t much food that gets to the tank bottom, because most of it is eaten by the fishes in the middle water layers. If you see that your catfish don’t have enough food, feed them after you turn off the light. Besides, don’t forget about the food competition between bottom-dwelling fishes. Besides the fact that not all food from the water surface gets to them, they also fight for it with other bottom dwellers such as bristlenose catfish, for example.

Gender differences: male vs female

Adolfo cory females are larger than the males. The difference is especially pronounced among the reproductive fish species. Females might have a rounder and broader body shape, especially when they are carrying eggs. Males may appear slightly slimmer and more streamlined.


Breeding is similar to one of the other Corydoras species. When breeding the fish, you should put one female fish and two males into a separate tank and feed them high.

Once the female fish gets rounded with eggs, renew the tank water with some fresh and cold water in a large proportion (50-70%), and increase the water flow simultaneously. Repeat these actions until the fish start spawning. Adolfoi corydoras may lay eggs right on the tank bottom, but it is recommended to add some tank plants with lobed leaves or a synthetic meshed shower pouf.

After the spawning finishes, you should remove either the eggs or the fish. If you remove the eggs, the water parameters in the new tank should be completely the same as the ones in the initial tank. Most of the breeders add some methylene blue or other substances to prevent fungal infection.

Usually, the eggs incubation time is about 3-4 days. It lasts till the larvae eat the yolk bag contents and start feeding independently. You can start feeding juveniles with brine shrimp, and other kinds of live food.