How Long Do Cory Catfish Live?

Most species of cory catfish (Corydoras) have a lifespan of 5-10 years. If the fish are maintained under the right conditions, their lifespan could be significantly more. If cory catfish are not housed in a healthy aquarium environment, their lifespan may be shorter than five years. 

You can extend the lifespan of your cories by housing them in a large tank with adequate filtration, aeration, and water parameters. A healthy diet is also recommended, along with other factors that would replicate the species’ natural environment.

How Long Can Cory Catfish Live?

Although most cory catfish live between 5-10 years, they can live up to 15 years and longer if handled with great care. Generally, the lifespan of cory catfish depends on the species.

Some examples of the lifespans of certain cory catfish species are as follows:

  • Bandit cory: 5 years
  • Bronze cory: 5-10 years
  • Julii cory: 5 years +
  • Panda cory: 10 years +
  • Pepper cory: 5 years
  • Skunk cory: 5 years
  • Three stripe cory: 10 years

All species of cory catfish can live up to 5 years in an aquarium. Most wild specimens may reach a life span of 10-15 years.

The aeneus cory species (bronze cory) is almost always found in any pet shop worldwide. This species is one of the oldest and most common cory catfish species.

This cory species is a particularly hardy fish, and a 15-year-long lifespan is not uncommon. There have been some species recorded living up to 27 years of age.

These older fish may no longer spawn but still actively feed and enjoy their lives inside the hobby.

Bronze Cory with Grass

How To Increase A Cory Catfish’s Lifespan

The lifespan of cory catfish in captivity depends on the tank conditions.

Cory catfish are relatively easy to take care of, provided you give full attention to all the essential parameters.

Keep Cory Catfish In A Reasonably Sized Tank

Keep the catfish in a suitably sized tank based on the fully-grown size of the species and the number of fish you choose to keep.

These catfish are best kept in groups and need a minimum tank size of at least 30 to 40 gallons. Big tanks help to keep these fish active.

Cory catfish thrive in large community tanks. An extended-size tank is better than a tall tank. These fish need the space to swim around the tank happily.

Cory catfish are little scavengers and love moving around and exploring their hobby.

Keep The Water Parameters And Substrate In Check

Place your cory catfish in warmer water as warmer temperatures aid their digestion.

Meeting their temperature needs is vital for keeping them healthy. The ideal temperature would be 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

The water pH should be in the range of 5.5 to 7.0 at the most.

Cory catfish are also sensitive to ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites changes. Keep nitrates below 20 ppm (parts per million) and ammonia and nitrites at 0 ppm.

Maintaining excellent water quality, scheduling regular water changes, and providing adequate filtration will ensure that the water in the fish tank is always in perfect condition.

These ideal tank conditions will, in turn, result in happy and healthy cory catfish.

Smooth stones, soft sand, and pebbles are the best substrate types for cory catfish. These fish have very fine underbodies and may hurt themselves on harder-typed substrates.

Catfish also have whisker-like barbels as appendages. An abrasive substrate is sure to damage their sensitive barbels.

Panda Cory on Brown Gravel

Consider Lighting And Filtration Conditions

Avoid bright lighting as cory catfish do not like much light. Try to shield out as much light as possible, mimicking the fish’s naturally darker environment.

Use a filter that can nitrify bacteria effectively and can filter water five times the water volume in just under a minute.

A slower flow calms the fish and prevents stress and anxiety, so be sure to monitor that your water flow isn’t too strong in the tank.

A Good Diet Can Also Prolong A Catfish’s Lifespan

Feeding your cory catfish a varied, balanced diet also benefits their health and increases their lifespan.

Aim to balance frozen or live meaty foods and high-quality dry fish foods. Examples of appropriate nutritious fish foods are:

  • Flake foods
  • Sinking pellets
  • Brine shrimp
  • Bloodworms

Variety is the key when feeding cory catfish.

Keep The Fish Tank Well-Planted

You should keep the tank well planted for the fish to feel safe and secure inside the hobby.

Cory catfish need space to rest or hide when feeling threatened. They love to take shelter under or between plants.

Rock caves or hollow logs placed in a tank for décor will also provide much-needed safe hiding spots.

Naturally decorated aquarium setups work best.

Keep 6 Or More Cory Catfish Together, But Avoid Overcrowding

As schooling fish, cory catfish need to be kept together in a school of 6 or more. The bigger the group, the better these fish will cope.

These are social fish species, and they will not thrive on their own. In the wild, these fish are together in huge-sized schools.

It is crucial to their health to mimic their natural habitat as far as possible.

You can opt to keep more than 6. However, consider the size tank you are using and adjust the tank size accordingly.

Overcrowding may deprive cory catfish of the much-needed space to thrive and cause stress and unwanted diseases.

How Do I Know If A Cory Catfish May Be Dying?

You need to be aware of the signs of a healthy fish so that you can quickly react if something isn’t right.

Signs of a healthy fish are:

  • Good appetite
  • Good overall coloration
  • Active and alert movements/swimming
  • No sign of any fish illnesses
  • Clear eyes

Examples of some of the warning signs that your cory is not healthy:

  • Bloating
  • Weight loss
  • Slow swimming/ strange swimming patterns
  • A dip in activity/energy levels
  • Pop eyes or unclear/cloudy-looking eyes
  • Not eating
  • Changes in overall coloring
  • Spots on the body
  • Strained/fast breathing
  • Damaged barbells
  • Damaged fins

Contact a veterinarian or aquatic specialist as soon as possible should you observe any of these warning signs.


Cory catfish have a lifespan of 5-10 years. These fish will thrive in suitably sized and appropriately assembled fish tanks with ideal water conditions, a balanced diet, and proper care. Housing cory catfish in an optimum environment is crucial for their growth and longevity.