How Many Cory Catfish in a 5 Gallon Tank

Keeping cory catfish in a 5-gallon tank is not advisable. Since these fish shoal together, a minimum of six of the same species in a tank will ensure they feel protected within a family unit. A 5-gallon tank will restrict their ability to move freely while digging and searching for food.

Native to South America and found in the East of the Andes Mountains extending to the Atlantic Ocean, cory catfish can grow between 1 and 4 inches in length. If you plan to include them in your aquarium, it is advisable to keep them in a tank larger than 5 gallons.

Why Should Cory Catfish Not Be Kept In A 5 Gallon Tank?

Any aquarists will agree that cory catfish are social and peace-loving—one of the reasons to include them in your freshwater aquarium.

Although they prefer not to disrupt others as they cling to the bottom of the tank. They are known to fare well in groups, especially at night when they seek security.

A shoaling fish with no companionship can become stressed, ultimately leading to illness and death.

Although they desire security, they may only sometimes pack tightly, preferring to stay close but still have ample space.

Even the pygmy cory catfish, known to be the smallest species, will feel restricted.

A restricted fish is not happy, and even a peace-loving cory catfish can soon become territorial. Hence more space is needed to maintain their independence and yet remain social.

Cory and Cardinal Tetra on Gravel

What Is the Most Suitable Tank Size For A Cory Catfish?

Suppose you are still keen to include these little, bottom-feeding scavengers in your tank. The next step may be to ditch the 5-gallon tank and obtain a tank that is of a more appropriate size.

If you were planning on keeping the dwarf species, a 10-gallon tank would be adequate.

On the other hand, variations of cory catfish that may exceed the maximum growth of 4 inches should not be restricted to a 10-gallon tank. In this instance, a 20-gallon tank would be recommended.

A 30- gallon tank is ideal as a community tank with various cory species and other fishes. Larger tanks will also need space for more plants.

Recommended Number Of Cory Catfish In A Tank

Below is a guideline for the number of cory fish that should be kept in a tank. If you plan to add other appropriate fish species to the tank, you must reduce the number of cory catfish to reach the maximum tank holding capacity.

For example, if a 15- gallon tank can house six cory catfish, reduce the number to six and include two to three other appropriate fish species. The tank size of your choice is based on the species of cory fish, their tank mates, and the filtration.

If you opt for a 10-gallon tank, the maximum quota of cory fish is already reached; hence, no other species should be included.

Size Of TankNumber Of Cory Catfish
5-gallon tankNot Recommended
10-gallon tank6
15-gallon tank8 to 9
20-gallon tank8 to 10
Larger Tanks15 or more, based on the tank size

 Different Species Of Cory Catfish And Tank Size

A cory catfish is also known as corydoras. Although there are about 161 recognized cory catfish species, there are about 12 of these that are popular in freshwater aquariums.

1. Bandit Cory

Identification: The bandit cory derives its name from the distinct black mask over the eye, a feature commonly identifiable amongst bandits.

Scientific Name: corydoras metae

Adult Size: 2 inches (5cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon

2. Julii Cory

Identification: The julii cory has non-connected long chain-like spots throughout their bodies, not forgetting their expressive eyes.

Scientific Name: corydoras julii

Adult Size: 2.5 inches (6cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon

3. Bronze Cory Or Green Corydoras

Identification: Bronze cory remains the most popular amongst fish owners, identifiable by its shimmery brown bodies, with ribbed patterns, boasting specks of green on the gills and head.

Scientific Name: corydoras aeneus

Adult Size: 2.5 inches (6cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon

4. Albino Cory

Identification: Albino cory has distinct red eyes with pale white and pink body.

Scientific Name: corydoras aeneus

Adult Size: Males – 2.5 inches (6cm) Females – 2.8 inches (7cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon

5. Panda Cory

Identification: The panda cory is pale white and pink with three prominent black markings visible on the head, covering the eyes, on the dorsal fin, and finally on the tail.

Scientific Name: corydoras panda

Adult Size: 2 inches (5cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons

6. Pepper Cory

Identification: Pepper cory is pale olive or tan with dark green markings, with a blackish appearance throughout the body.

Scientific Name: corydoras paleatus

Adult Size: Males – 2.5 inches (6.5 cm) Females – 3 inches (7.5 cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 15 gallon

7. Pygmy Cory

Identification: The pygmy cory, in keeping with its name, is one of the smallest fish in the cory species—a magnificent glossy silver in color with black horizontal stripes throughout the body.

Scientific Name: corydoras hastatus

Adult Size: 0.75 – 1 inch (approx. 2.5cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon

8. Skunk Cory

Identification: The skunk cory is easily identifiable by the translucent white body with a thick black vertical marking visible on the entire back, from the head to the fin.

Scientific Name: corydoras arcuatus

Adult Size: 2.5 inches (6cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon

9. Emerald Cory

Identification: The emerald cory is one of the largest fish in the cory species. Based on the lighting, the splendor of its coloration can appear to be reflections of shimmering emerald green or metallic blue.

Scientific Name: corydoras splendens

Adult Size: 4 inches (10.16cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallon

10. Sterbai Cory

Identification: The sterbai cory has a dark body coloring with white spots on the snout and the head area.

Scientific Name: corydoras sterbai

Adult Size: 2.7 inches (6.5cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon

11. Orange Laser Cory

Identification: This vibrant-colored cory fish illuminates shades of yellowish brown and green, with a thick orange stripe on the center of their body.

Scientific Name: corydoras aeneus

Adult Size: 3 inches (7.62cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallon

12. Three Striped Cory

Identification: The three-striped cory, also known as the false julii corydoras, is silver in color with a thin dark strip from the gill to the tail.

Scientific Name: corydoras trilineatus

Adult Size: 2.5 inches (6cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon

Fish Species That Can Be Kept With Cory Catfish

When choosing the appropriate tank mate for a cory catfish, you must consider the fish’s character since the cory catfish is known to be calm, non-aggressive, and shy. A perfect tank mate would contribute to maintaining the peaceful tank dynamic.

Fish species that contribute to this aura are:

  • guppies
  • freshwater angel fish
  • plecostomus
  • otocinclus
  • neon tetra
  • silver dollar (more significant in statute and therefore suitable for as long as the tank size of 150 gallons)

Looking for More Tank Sizes for Cory Catfish?

How Many Cory Catfish in a 10 Gallon Tank

How Many Cory Catfish in a 15 Gallon Tank

How Many Cory Catfish in a 20 Gallon Tank

How Many Cory Catfish in a 29 Gallon Tank


Cory catfish are known to be shoaling fish that feels protected when swimming near other cories. Hence housing them in a 5-gallon tank is not advisable, as it restricts their movement. A minimum of six cories in a 10-gallon tank will provide ample space for swimming, alleviating any stress.