The panda catfish is a South American catfish with black and white coloration patterns closely similar to a giant panda.
Panda catfish are generally peaceful and active fish and can be a great addition to a small freshwater aquarium.
- Common names: Panda Cory, panda catfish, panda corydoras
- Scientific name: Corydoras panda
- Life expectancy: 10 years
- Adult size: 5 centimeters(2 inches)
- Family: Callichthyidae
- Diet: Omnivore
- Care: Intermediate
- Breeding: Egglayer
- Origin: Ucayali river system
- Tank level: Bottom-dwellers
- Social: Peaceful, schooling fish
- pH: 6 to 7
- Temperature: 20 – 25 degrees C (68 – 77 degrees F)
- Hardness: 2 to 12 dGH
- Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
Origin and distribution
Found in the Ucayali river channels, the famous Corydoras species originated from Peru, right in the main headwater of the Amazon River.
Even though it got the professional attention of H.R. Richards in the year 1968, this Corydoras species didn’t have any name, not until 1971. Isbrücker and Nijssen assigned the name Corydoras panda.
To honor giant pandas of China, that had pale bodies with black markings across their eyes and extremities, very similar to the attractive panda catfish.
The area from which panda catfish originated from is famous for its blackwater conditions. Due to its lack of minerals, the water is quite soft and is also very acidic. Also, the water panda Cory swim in is a lot cooler than other tropical regions, running on average as low as the 70s.
When originally introduced into the aquarium by fish lovers, they were tad bit costly, because specimens were wild-caught. Ultimately, the price was later significantly reduced due to captive breeding programs. This caused the fish to be affordable and even more popular than it was.
Colors and markings
Panda catfish can be characterized by their off-white near faint pink color, coupled with three noticeable black markings. The first black marking starts at the top of their heads and cuts across their eyes.
Very similar to the black markings around the eyes of giant pandas. The second marking envelopes the dorsal fins, while the third marking is settled at the base of panda Cory tails, which is also known as the caudal peduncle.
The size of the third spot at the tail (caudal peduncle) differs. It has given rise to the small-spot and big-spot morphs of the panda catfish, with each named for the size of the spot on their tails.
Akin to other members of the Cory family, the panda catfish possess two rows of overlapping bony plates that are referred to as scutes, instead of scales. Panda catfish also have three sets of paired barbels, as well as some sharp barns that act as a defense mechanism.
A barb is situated right under each eye of the panda cory. Another barb is on the adipose fin, while one is in front of the dorsal fin. Adult panda catfish can grow up to 2inches in length, but would mostly always retain sizes smaller than that.
Panda Cory extremely friendly and peaceful fish that enjoys the company of each other. It is preferable to keep them in groups, about a half-dozen or more should do, but not less than three or four if there isn’t adequate space.
These are fishes that are able to socialize perfectly with other bottom-dwellers, most particularly clown loaches.
The panda catfish are able to adapt well with virtually all kinds of fishes. They should be kept away from larger or overly rambunctious fishes that may threaten or feed on them. For instance, Tiger barbs aren’t good companions because of their tendency to bite on other fishes.
Ideal tank mates for panda corys would include small to medium danios, tetras, and rasboras. Other suitable tank mates would consist of small catfish like aspidoras and other cory species.
Habitat and care
Like all corys, the panda cory requires good water quality. It is also critical that a sound filtration system is provided, as well as a consistent water changing routine. Ensure that their water is soft, and the pH is slightly acid to neutral.
The temperature of water of 72 degrees F for the panda catfish is a little bit lower than is common among other warm-water species.
This species comes from a region with slightly cooler water compared to other tropical species. Most panda corys can adapt to warmer temperatures since almost all of them sold are captive bred.
The substrate should be fine and soft and can be either sand or gravel. Live plants are an alternative, mainly when shades and hiding spots are being provided.
Rocks, driftwood, and caves are all great ways to make the panda catfish get comfier. Floating plants, either artificial or real, are suitable in providing shades for this catfish.
Panda corys are excellent scavengers that nibble on any food that drops to the bottom. Nonetheless, if kept in a community tank along with other fishes, the food at the bottom of the tank must be ensured. Sinking food pellets or tablets are great food options.
A diverse diet is critical for optimal health. Live or frozen meaty foods should be included in their diet when possible. Foods like worms, shrimps, crustaceans, and insects are good choices. You may discover that panda catfish are particularly keen on eating brine shrimps, bloodworms, and daphnia.
Some prepared food pellets are specially formulated for panda corys that are great for the fish. Bear in mind that this fish is nocturnal, so it is perfectly okay to drop some food tablets in the tank before going to bed.
Female Corys are characterized by their more significant and more rounded underbelly. They are wider than male panda catfish when seen from above.
Sometimes, if not most time, the rounded belly of female Corys causes their heads to rest a little off the bottom of the tank. Male Corys are shorter and sleeker than females.
It was initially thought that breeding the species of Cory would be difficult, but time has proven otherwise.
Breeding tanks are usually furnished with plants like Java moss that allow for eggs to be collected when they are deposited. Breeders should have all the necessary information that would enable them to keep this fish in proper health conditions.
Partial water change can trigger spawning, especially when the water temperature is similar to their natural breeding conditions that take place during rainy seasons.
When females are swollen with eggs, they accent the approach of male panda catfishes where they assume the “T” position as seen in most Corydoras species. Females would cup their pelvic fin together and then pour out their eggs, which are later fertilized.
After male corys have fertilized the eggs, the females then look for a place to hide their sticky eggs, mostly in vegetation. The process progresses for many hours until as much as a hundred eggs are spread and fertilized. These eggs are light yellow and are very sticky.
It would take approximately four days for the eggs to hatch. These eggs are susceptible to change in water temperature, which shouldn’t be higher than 72 degrees F. In the absence of commercially prepared fry foods, fry does well with infusoria.
The quality of water is essential, and it is vital that when changing the water, it should be done with water that falls in the same water parameters of the fry tank. It would take about three months before the fry obtains the panda coloration of adult panda catfish.
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