Adolfo’s catfish

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.

Habitat in the wild

The fish was called by the name of the discoverer’s and the legendary fish fancier Adolfo Schwartz, due to whom the world’s found about the fish.

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.

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 4.0-6.0. Common dwellers of such water basins are small-sized Characin fish species and dwarf cichlids.

Scientific nameCorydoras adolfoi
Common NameAdolfo’s catfish, adolfoi cory
Tank size100 litres (22 gal)
DietOmnivorous bottom feeders
Temperature78 °F (26 °C)
pH5.6 – 7
Sizeup to 2.2 inches (5.7 centimeters)
Lifespanup to 5 years


Females are about 5.5 cm long, while the males are a bit shorter. Lifespan is up to 5 years.

The fish coloring resembles the one of corydoras panda, but unlike it, Adolfo’s catfish has an orange spot located between its dorsal and eyes. A solid black stripe goes along the fish back, and another stripe runs across its eyes.

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 Adolfo’s catfish. 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

Since Adolfo’s catfish 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.

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 filtration is desirable, but Adolfo’s catfish doesn’t like strong water flow in the tank, so it’s better to direct the water flow to the tank water surface.

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, Adolfo’s catfish can gather a school on several hundreds of fish at the same time!

Compatibility and tank mates

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 Adolfo’s catfish 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 Adolfo’s catfish, they will be able to share the tank successfully.


The fish isn’t troublesome in terms of nutrition, and it eats all kinds of food. Adolfo’s catfish 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.


Females are larger than the males. The difference is especially pronounced among the reproductive fish species.


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.

Adolfo’s catfish 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.