How Big Do Peppered Cory Catfish Get?

Belonging to the catfish family Callichthyidae, peppered cory catfish have a life expectancy of five years. The peppered cory catfish can grow up to 3 inches in length, approximately 7,62 cm. The average adult species will grow up to 2.5 inches, equivalent to 6,3 cm in length.

Although the peppered cory catfish are peaceful, hardy fish, their life expectancy and growth rate are determined by their habitat, diet, care routine, and tank mates.

Factors Determining How Big Peppered Cory Catfish Get

Native to South America, the peppered cory catfish was one of the earliest captive-bred fish for the aquarium trade during the 18th century.

Fast forward to the 20th century, the peppered cory catfish remains one of the most bred of all cory catfish species.

To ensure the peppered cory catfish’s longevity and to reach their optimum growth level, they must be treated with utmost care.

Here are some of those determining factors.

Peppered Cory Catfish


A conducive habitat is one of the most critical factors contributing to the optimum growth of a peppered cory catfish.

Since these cory species have originated from streams, rivers, and small lakes in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Suriname, and Uruguay, you must mimic this habitat as closely as possible in your home aquarium.

Peppered cory catfish are notorious for spending their days on the bottom of the tank and at their happiest when digging through the substrate. An ideal substrate mix would be sand and smooth dark colored gravel.

This cory catfish prefers privacy, and hiding is one of their fortes. Driftwood, bogwood, and live and artificial plants give the peppered cory catfish a sense of security.

Subdued lighting is also more conducive; floating plants make this possible.

Recreating the original environment will help them feel secure and grow to their optimum. The correct aquarium size, water temperature, nutrition, tank decorations, and tank mates are all contributing factors.

Tank Size

A peppered cory catfish is peaceful and much more relaxed than the other cory species. If you search for them in your aquarium, you will likely find them at the bottom of the tank, scavenging for food.

Considering that the peppered cory catfish spends most of its time on the bottom of the tank, in this instance, tank dimensions are of more significant value than the height.

Peppered cory catfish are shoaling fish; apart from scavenging for food, they swim around in groups. A minimum of 6 of the same species are advisable to feel secure and part of a family unit, giving them a sense of belonging.

Although a tank size of 10 gallons is sufficient, a tank size of 15 gallons is much more suitable, giving the peppered cory catfish much more tank room. If you are keen on including other tank mates, a 20-gallon tank size might be advisable.

Water Temperature

The below is advisable for peppered cory catfish to thrive and grow to its optimum.


Factors To Consider

Aquarium-bred pepper cory catfishA water temperature of 72.0 to 79.0 degrees Fahrenheit (22.2 to 26.1 degrees Celsius) is suitable.
Wild caught pepper cory catfishSpecies of peppered cory catfish caught in the wild and transferred to your aquarium will need cooler water temperatures to adjust.
Breeding TemperatureDuring spawning, the breeding water temperature should be 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit – 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit (22-26 degrees Celsius).
PH RangeThe Ph range should be 6.0 to 8.0,
Hardness Range4-18DGH
Water MovementThe water movement should be weak to moderate.
Intolerant water temperatureIt is worth noting that this fish species will not tolerate warmer water temperatures of over 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Diet And Nutrition

As bottom feeders, they only occasionally need to rise to the surface when they want an extra nibble. Sinking pellets or tablets will take care of their nutritional needs to ensure that they receive adequate food.

Due to their active status during the day, they prefer to feed at night; an additional feed at night will ensure they are well-fed. Feed twice daily; the amount should depend on the food consumed in five minutes.

Peppered cory catfish relish live foods when in the wild; if you transfer them into the home aquarium, ensure that you take care of these needs.

Live foods can be lodged into tank decorations on the base of the tank, ensuring that the peppered cory catfish receives the dosage of live foods that packs with nutritional value ensuring they reach their maximum growth level.

Peppered Cory Catfish

Tank Mates

Peppered cory catfish have a very calm demeanor and choose not to socialize with other fish except their species. Most of the time, they can sit in solitude at the bottom of the tank, looking for food.

However, it is common for them to feed next to their tank mates as long as they don’t see them as a threat. They are shoaling fish, and you should consider keeping a minimum of six of the same species.

Despite the peppered cory catfish having razor-sharp barbs under each eye, situated below the adipose fin and on the front of the dorsal fin, they are not aggressive unless they need to deter large fish from swallowing them.

In a tank environment, it’s not advisable to keep them with larger fish; this will ultimately lead to fish stress and stagnate their growth.

This species also prefer colder water temperatures, so be mindful of keeping them with other fish that prefer more tropical water temperatures.

Since peppered cory catfish are small in stature, keeping them with smaller fish will be more suitable and contribute to their overall well-being. Larger fish, on the whole, tend to be more aggressive and often compete for food.

The ideal tankmates would be.

  • danios
  • small peaceful barbs
  • livebearers
  • small tetras
  • killifish
  • dwarf cichlids


Diseases can stagnate the growth of a peppered cory catfish. The barbels of the fish can become infected by high nitrate levels, making it difficult for them to eat normally.

Regular water changes and maintaining a nitrate level of 20 ppm will help alleviate this. A proper environment and well-balanced diet will increase the immunities of the peppered cory catfish.

As soon as suspicion arises of other tank mates having infections, try to isolate the infected immediately to prevent the spread of the disease.

How Big Does A Female Peppered Cory Catfish Get

The peppered cory catfish is a small fish. In an aquarium, females grow to an average size of 2.3 inches, equivalent to 5.9 cm in length. Their belly is also much more rounded, considering they are egg layers. Female peppered cory catfish are also known to be wider than their male counterparts.

How Big Does A Male Pepper Cory Catfish Get

The growth of a male peppered cory catfish is significantly lower than its female companions. An adult male usually grows to 2 inches, equivalent to 5 cm. The unique characteristic is the vocal sounds made during mating.


A happy peppered cory catfish will ultimately become healthy, resulting in optimum growth. Factors like habitat, environmental conditions, and social aspects contribute to ensuring a well-fed, well-grown, well-bred peppered cory catfish.