How Long Do Panda Cory Catfish Live?

Corydoras panda (Panda cory catfish) fish have a lifespan of 3-5 years in the wild and can live up to 15-20 years in captivity under ideal environments. The perfect ecosystem, socialization, and aquarist care are needed for them to reach their maximum age.

These tropical fish come from the upper echelons of the Amazon River in Peru, where snowmelt feeds the river a cool and fast current. Tropical they may be, panda cory catfish require a colder water temperature than other tropical fish. When acquiring a panda cory, you should consider its habitat and upkeep if you want it to live long.

Do Panda Cory Catfish Have Long Lives?

Panda cory catfish can live long and happy lives provided they are properly homed and not neglected. They may be considered peaceful and perfect fish for beginner aquarists, but while not demanding, they are still living creatures in your care and require effort.

If you want to ensure your panda cory lives its full 15-20 years, you will need to meet certain habitat conditions, such as tank, water, and decoration provision and safety. And provide optimal care as you would any other pet, such as feeding, cleaning, and health checks.

Chronotopian [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Panda Cory Catfish Can Live Long

Panda cories are tropical bottom feeders that can live in clean or muddy waters. Although their size may make them intimidating to smaller timid fish, their peaceful and lively nature makes them great schoolmates.

When ideal panda cory conditions are met, and the aquarist takes care, you might experience the joy of having them in your care well beyond the 5 years usually afforded them in the wild.


Wild panda cories live in the cool waters running off the Peruvian mountains and are used to temperatures of about 66° Fahrenheit. Panda cory catfish may not be the best fish to put in your tropical aquarium if the temperature falls out of the 72°-78° F range, as this is where they are most likely to thrive.

Aquarium size

These fish can grow up to 1.5-2 inches and are very lively; you want a longer tank to afford them full movement. At the very least, a tank of 10 gallons (76L) can house a single school of panda cories (4-6 fish). You will require a larger tank if you add more fish, panda cory, or other species.

Tank Floor

Other natural conditions to consider would be rounded gravel or sand for the tank floor. Notably, the floor covering should not have sharp edges as this can harm the panda cory’s barbels which help them find food.

Tank Decorations

You can decorate the tank with driftwood or dried leaves to offer dim lighting and many plants for the fish to hide between. When setting up these decorations, ensure access to the tank floor; remember that panda cories are bottom feeders. Clear surface space is also necessary as it gives the fish access to fresh oxygen.

Water pH And Hardness

Wild panda cories prefer water with a pH of 3-6, whereas bred panda cories will do better at a pH level of 6-8. They also flourish under softer water conditions, roughly around 2-20°dH. Ensure you check these levels often and avoid adding salts or chlorine to the tank.


While they might be bottom feeders, they cannot survive off other fish’s leftovers or tank debris alone. Supplement their diet with sinking pellets and flakes or provide fresh or frozen brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworm.


The panda cory catfish are very social and cannot be kept alone. Stock your aquarium with a small school of panda cories and think about adding other species, such as betta, guppies, or catfish, to keep them company. Avoid adding aggressive fish like oscar and jaguar cichlid or smaller, more timid fish that may be intimidated by the panda cory.

Panda Cory on Brown Gravel

How Do I Know If My Panda Cory Catfish Is Dying?

Like any other fish, panda cories can get sick and die. Often this results from neglect or might be due to stress and poor tank conditions.

You will know your panda cory is sick or dying from some of the following signs:

  1. It is swimming slowly or exhibiting strange swimming patterns (upside-down, bursts of energy followed by lethargy, or not swimming away when you try to touch it).
  2. It is not eating or visibly starving.
  3. Its breathing is too fast, or gasps at the surface for air.
  4. It shows physical signs of deterioration, such as damaged barbels and fins or clouded eyes.

If these signs are present in your panda cory, it is not always a definitive sign of death, but it could indicate illness.

Preventing Your Panda Cory’s Death

Based on signs of illness such as gasping at the surface, pinched fins, and starvation, you can take some preemptive actions to keep your panda cory catfish happy, healthy, and living a long life.

Measures you can take to keep your panda cory healthy:

  1. Prevent disease in your tank by quarantining new fish and washing your hands before putting them in the water. You can keep separate tools for different tanks or clean tools thoroughly before use if sharing.
  2. If your panda cory is not eating, check that its barbels are not damaged and that they are receiving enough food. Also, be sure they have access to the tank’s floor and surface to search for food. Starvation is the least noticeable death a fish might face.
  3. Because panda cories are bottom feeders, they are more susceptible to dirty tank debris. They will be the first fish to get sick if there is a buildup of ammonia, nitrites, or bacteria at the bottom of the tank. Make sure to clean the tank regularly and consider using methylene blue to prevent fungal growth.
  4. To prevent toxicity and introduce fresh oxygen, change 30% of the tank’s water weekly. If the pH levels are incorrect or there is a nitrite peak along with distress signs from the fish, consider changing 50% of the water immediately.
  5. Ensure your tank is not overcrowded and does not contain species that might attack your panda cory. Consider getting a larger tank or having separate tanks for fish that won’t get along.
  6. Introducing your panda cory to a new aquarium can be stressful. Ensure that the water conditions are right and that they have a school to keep them company. Avoid jostling or introducing them into an adverse habitat, as it can lead to a stress-induced death.
  7. Make sure tank decorations are not harmful. Floor sand should be smooth, peat should be in a clean bag, and you should avoid stirring up decay from plants or shade decorations.

Provided you follow the preventative measures and keep an eye out for signs of illness, keeping your panda cory catfish alive and in good spirits for a long time is manageable.


Panda cory catfish can live between 5 to 20 years. This life span wholly depends on your careful upkeep of the tank and consistent care of the animal.

Keep an eye out for warning signs and take the necessary steps to ensure the tank is always livable and the fish are safe. Even if panda cory are considered beginner fish, they are still living creatures and need careful attention.