Catfish of the Month Right Arrow April 2001 • Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded April 01, 2001

Three Line Cory, Leopard Cory, Panzerwels (Germany), Three Stripe Cory - Corydoras trilineatus   Cope, 1872

When writing a catfish of the month article, I focus on a facet or set of features that make the individual species in question unique or interesting to the aquarist. Usually these are natural features like behaviour, physical appearance and the like. Among the multitudinous ranks of the genus Corydoras it is hard to find many that stand out. Like many other species in the genus, this month's catfish, which can commonly be found in aquatic retailers' tanks the world over, is a species that does not stand out.

To find a talking point we have to divert from the natural and examine the artificial. Mankind has given this unassuming little catfish the doubtful pleasure of being the most commonly misidentified catfish of all time! As I mentioned, it is commonly found for sale but rarely labelled correctly. Almost always labelled as Corydoras julii or simply as the "Julii Cory", that it is not. C. julii is a valid scientific name, but for a different species.

If you examine them closely these two species have only really a passing resemblance. That said, the three line Cory, like many other species of Corydoras, is quite variable in terms of colour patterning. Compare the picture on the left and the one above - both are C. trilineatus. The fish above displays bold reticulated (wavy) lines, particularly around the head area. Now look at the image on the left, the pattern is not as well defined although the lines are still present. There are two features you should look for when attempting to tell the species apart. Firstly Corydoras julii tends to have a more broken mid-body lateral stripe. The top image on this page shows a very bold strongly defined line which is a good example although, again, the image to the left is less well defined. In C. julii the stripe is almost a collection of spots running along the body. Maybe more significant is the patterning on the fishes head. This is most easily compared if you look at the fish head-on (see image below). C. julii has distinct spots and no reticulated lines whereas C. trilineatus always shows at least some of these wavy lines.

So, there you have it - a tale of two corys. The history of this great misidentification I am less sure of. Most likely the first species imported was indeed C. julii from Brazil. The more recent opening up of South America, in terms if export by air, allowed species from other countries (specifically Peru in this case) to replace certain species with others in the marketplace.

To a degree, older literature is to blame, although if you look at quite a few really old aquarium books from the middle of the last century you are often surprised by a picture of the real C. julii. Enough about C. julii - it's hogging this spotlight which should be on C. trilineatus. The bottom picture in this article I took this morning to go with this article. It shows (from left to right). Corydoras similis, C. trilineatus and C. gossei. This particular C. trilineatus is special and has a story to tell.

During a tropical fish collection expedition into the area down river from Iquitos, Peru, we chanced across a local hut literally in the middle of nowhere. Nothing remarkable about that, this was a common occurrence, but within a small girl was ill with fever. Her somewhat anxious father asked the leader of our party as we passed if we could help in any way. We gave him some paracetomol to ease the girl's condition. It was all we could do, but the father was very grateful. Espying our various nets and buckets he correctly guessed we were collecting fish and rushed off to soon return with a small plastic bucket. Within it were a number of Corydoras which he had collected to sell onto exporters or their agents. He gave us these with his thanks. The three line Cory you see below was in that bucket.

Corydoras similis, C. trilineatus & C. gossei

Copyright information for the images used in this article can be found on the species' full Cat-eLog page.

Jump to next section Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific NameCorydoras trilineatus  Cope, 1872
Common NamesThree Line Cory
Leopard Cory, Panzerwels (Germany), Three Stripe Cory
Type LocalityTributary of Río Ambyiacu, Peru.
Synonym(s)Corydoras dubius, Corydoras episcopi
PronunciationKory DOOR ass - try lin knee ah tuss
EtymologyCory = helmet, doras = skin. In this case it was incorrectly used to mean armour (cuirasse) instead of skin in allusion to the dual rows of plates that run along the flanks of this genus. From the Latin Tres meaning three and lineatus meaning 'of a line'. Alludes to the two pale and single black line running along the fishes body.
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 55mm or 2.2" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
IdentificationCorydoras are identified by their twin rows of armour plates along the flanks and by having fewer than 10 dorsal fin rays. They are most commonly confused with the other genera in the sub-family, namely Brochis, Scleromystax and Aspidoras.

Probably the most misidentified fish commonly found in aquatic retailers who incorrectly sell it as C. julii. The true C. julii is such a rare import that sheer numbers mean you are unlikely to really encounter this Brazilian fish. C. julii is similar to the more spotted forms of C. trilineatus but has no trace of any reticulated colour patterning at all and is entirely covered with small, distinct spots. It's mid-lateral black stripe is fainter and does not reach as far towards the fishes head as in C. trilineatus. This species was described in 1872 with a couple of paragraphs of text and drawings which do not clearly show coloration. The author notes, "Light straw-colored, brownish above, a yellowish lateral band with rather faint brown margin above and below, and blackish median line. A very black spot on the ends of the soft dorsal rays; tail deeply forked, with five vertical bands; anal spotted. Some longitudinal lines on the side of the face".
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionPeruvian amazon: Rio Ampiyacu, Rio Ucayali and the Yarina Cocha. Ecuador: Rio Pastaza.
Amazon, Upper Amazon, Marañón, Ucayali (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Upper Amazon, Ampiyacu (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Upper Amazon, Marañón, Pastaza (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Middle Amazon (Solimoes), Purus, Macapá (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Show it on a map (Click the map-icon to show/hide map of species distribution)
pH5.8 - 7.2
Temperature16.0-25.0°C or 60.8-77°F (Show species within this range)
Other ParametersA hardy species that will tolerate most water conditions found within a reasonably maintained aquarium.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingSinking pellets and frozen bloodworm are ideal although all prepared foods that reach the bottom are accepted.
FurnitureSandy or small rounded gravel is required to ensure the fishes barbels are not damaged in the search for food. Some plants should be used to provide shade and a sense of security.
CompatibilityThis commonly encountered Corydoras is a perfect community tank citizen.
Suggested TankmatesShould be kept in a shoal of at least six individuals. This, along with the presence of some mid water shoaling species, will increase the confidence of the fish in a community tank environment.
BreedingThe fish appears to prefer clean, soft water and should be conditioned in such an environment. pH and temperature seem less important but a drop in temperature may induce spawning. The eggs hatch after four to five days. The eggs are very susceptible to fungus and best removed, treated and the fry allow to hatch in a very controlled environment. The young can be raised on newly hatched brineshrimp again vigilance in respect of water quality is paramount.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesProceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia v. 23, pg 281, Plate 6 (figs. 2a-2c).
Registered Keepers(1) bronzefry (k: 56), who also notes: "Prefer a slightly warmer temperature for breeding; between 74-76 degrees F. The larvae change colours almost daily. There was a large black stripe down the eye almost immediately, but it faded as they become sub-adults and the three-lines took shape.", (2) Sktchy, (3) kcmt01, (4) Tulio, (5) Lornek8, (6) ivokilli, (7) amergim, (8) Travis_Conklin, (9) Yan, (10) Tuti, (11) BigMoneee, (12) Barracuda518 (k: 6), (13) philtre, (14) florafan, (15) FuglyDragon (k: 12), (16) Teelie (k: 2), who also notes: "Started as a trio with one dying during an unknown outbreak of attrition. May get more in the future but for now plan to leave them in their existing 29g aquarium with pandas, Neons, Betta and Candy Stripe.", (17) Richie Hell, (18) certan, (19) MisanthropeKitty, (20) smithrc, (21) Birger Amundsen, (22) einstein-a-go-go, (23) Bengt F, (24) hoplo (p: 2, k: 31), who also notes: "Spawned 4/1/12", (25) Dan Steveo, (26) Plecofanatic1989 (k: 2), (27) Selveste_Preben (k: 2), (28) Cory Lover 1, (29) thelivelylady (k: 5), (30) Luka (k: 6), (31) Colin Keightley (p: 2, k: 4), (32) reneb (k: 3), (33) glenny (k: 4), (34) gem400, (35) Firestorming (k: 4), (36) iramjohn (k: 6), (37) foffo (k: 5), (38) teddyman5, (39) nooneknows, (40) Azaezl (k: 5), (41) JohnB (k: 2), (42) Gump (k: 2), (43) Troender (k: 14), (44) Liz H, (45) tomh, (46) astroaquaria, (47) griffl (p: 2, k: 2), who also notes: "Replaced this sickly specimen with a healthier Cory T.", (48) OldMan (k: 4), who also notes: "Have been keeping these in a 120 community tank where they get along with everybody.", (49) Lyssa (k: 3), (50) jar (k: 3), (51) Moosipher (k: 6), (52) anninen (k: 8), (53) Fishaliciousfish (k: 6), (54) Griffzilla, (55) JDogg, (56) kamas88 (k: 8), who also notes: "Breeding several times", (57) PGR (k: 11), (58) AimsPink, (59) chalkvandam, (60) apisto-nut, (61) Kampfer, (62) krzys, (63) tophat665, (64) ranmasan (k: 6), (65) ash104a (k: 9), (66) vernonlarge, (67) novice, (68) Kets, (69) chochiss, (70) nvcichlids (k: 6), (71) arzerkle, (72) L number Banana (k: 4), who also notes: "Never spawned.", (73) NorthHawk (k: 5), (74) polardbear (k: 13), (75) rdecker81 (k: 2), (76) xander, (77) dougkn (k: 6), (78) gedtranter (k: 10), (79) timkel, (80) AU_Arowana-RG, (81) Sponge Bob, (82) KTLM (k: 2), (83) Minus (k: 3), (84) Greg Curtis, (85) Nick44, (86) jørn henning flåten, (87) docszoo, (88) Fred T. Washington, (89) saphphx, (90) Anni (k: 8), (91) JothaR, (92) rich815, (93) naturalart (k: 3), (94) neilson, (95) Gibbiceps (k: 3), (96) aarnes (k: 15), (97) jha61, (98) Deb (k: 4), (99) ayrtoninst (k: 2), (100) catkeeper (k: 3), (101) keen-eyed (k: 2), (102) steveh28, (103) TheWetArm (k: 13), (104) corycrazy (k: 15), (105) emmettbaby, (106) oli (k: 4), (107) Kestrix, (108) AndiH, (109) sawilson2003 (k: 10), (110) Substral (k: 27), (111) hoody47 (k: 5), (112) bulati, (113) boyneburn, (114) ginagv (k: 3), who also notes: "There are only 3 right now.. big.. about 2- 2.5 inches...", (115) nasdaq77, (116) FunkyFredFrog (k: 6), who also notes: "Spawned after adding 3 new fish to 3 existing fish in a 2 foot tank - 15% daily water changes (cold water) - live food more often than normal and spawning mops / plants which were spawned in.", (117) roacan, (118) Joost (k: 10), (119) MMK1996 (k: 6), (120) coryla (k: 3), (121) gem997 (k: 4), (122) freakkmeister, (123) Mark Roesner, (124) Armand (k: 15), (125) CATMAndrew (k: 3), (126) This Old Spouse, (127) JamesStuddart (p: 2, k: 28), (128) Torb, (129) madmacaw, (130) corielover, (131) KansasGuppyGuy (k: 10), (132) damonbay, (133) Donaldm, (134) madattiver, (135) natteheks, (136) spewydog (k: 6), (137) wrasse (k: 3), (138) jeff.l, (139) WillowRose, (140) 4122Johns, (141) spinyoldbrian (k: 2), who also notes: "Pretty much the most adorable catfishes ever.", (142) Catfish freak, (143) Bruton, (144) Bastyns, (145) Floody, (146) Greywitch, (147) Chris5787, (148) donpetty (k: 6), (149) mani29 (k: 10), (150) Marie-Alix, (151) agusmeteor (k: 2), (152) lasteeves (k: 4), (153) mikey, (154) miku (k: 5), (155) yogi88, (156) FerocactusLatispinus, who also notes: "Oscar. She and Felix, R.I.P., were always a pair!", (157) Baxter4568 (k: 4), (158) Vikachu, (159) estherevans, (160) corydoras, (161) lurch1000 (k: 4), who also notes: "Added in two stages", (162) Lusitano972 (k: 8), (163) dvdrew, (164) linuxrulesusa (k: 6), (165) cinnamonsticks (k: 6), who also notes: "I have movies of fry and pictures if you would like some. My young adult pair breed every four days and I have fries.", (166) Shazray, (167) azura, (168) JamieDurrant (k: 5), (169) tetratom, (170) uaru (k: 25), (171) Catfishfingers, (172) crazyjock (k: 5), (173) Stefanus, (174) richard501, (175) jvision (k: 10), (176) Shaddex, (177) Valb68 (k: 6), who also notes: "I originally purchased 4 of these. They were very skinny and sick acting. I added them to my 20 gallon planted tank with 4 C. Aneus and all but one recovered. They spawned the first time with no prompting 3 days ago. 7/6/13 Just took pity on 3 more of these corys at Petco. So skinny and pale.", (178) rmc (k: 6), (179) Lee Meadows, (180) Tony C (k: 6), (181) Gruff (p: 2, k: 10), (182) Sean B, (183) LostYeti (k: 4), (184) ianc, (185) javierhnb (k: 2), (186) Ozboy (k: 15), (187) Esufrank1, (188) mcq1 (k: 5), (189) Dominic H., (190) Minheral (k: 4), (191) akira, (192) nicoleandthebee (k: 4), (193) Mol_PMB (k: 6), (194) ted williams (k: 4), who also notes: "Are in a 20 gal. Long Community Tank with 7 Neons, 2 Flame Tetras, 8 Clelestral Pearl Danios, and 2 male Dario Dario", (195) zeehop (k: 5), (196) Martin S (k: 4), (197) parrot1974 (k: 4), (198) Marine590622, (199) mark24, (200) Deb2703 (k: 2), (201) krazyGeoff, (202) acharman (k: 4), who also notes: "Sold as Julii but I assume they are more likely to be Trilineatus. They haven't stayed still in a decent position long enough for me to confirm.", (203) rcbows (k: 5), (204) Mountain (k: 20), (205) Mariska, (206) lee73, (207) dpm1 (k: 10), who also notes: "Initially very healthy and active. Lost some through water issues but the last few seemed to just fade and die without any obvious cause, whilst other corys in the tank were unaffected - odd!", (208) bekateen (k: 4), (209) sushi1980, (210) o_beas, (211) Dalek Tzet (p: 2, k: 6), (212) lynja321, (213) ahxw (p: 2), (214) CowBoYReX, (215) scandicman (k: 8), (216) 4evercories, (217) jodilynn, who also notes: "VERY chubby little fish, always on the move. Of course Petsmart sold it as a "julii".", (218) DJay (k: 5), who also notes: "Wild caught adults. Spotted form.", (219) Eggheadfish (k: 7), (220) Vestyxe (k: 5), who also notes: "I love them, they're like chubby fishy puppies. Adorable.", (221) Arron_N, (222) ebrehe (k: 3), (223) TriLamb13, (224) irishman710, (225) gerwen (k: 4), (226) mcesario, (227) Yellowtail, (228) hdbikersbabe, (229) Gerald CapeTown, (230) flh1200 (k: 5), (231) cowturtle, (232) slayer5590, (233) Mvinyl, (234) Waldsee, (235) muffy, (236) aqua_maniacs, (237) zurikitty13 (k: 3), (238) Tamcon83, (239) gulogulo (p: 2, k: 7), who also notes: "On loan from Randy", (240) fishyNZ (k: 4), (241) Fish777 (p: 2, k: 7), who also notes: "1 breeding pair + 2 unknown. Male was breeding at 3/8". First with Sterbie that I got rid of ,then bought 3 more and 1 was female. The other 2 now join in like a friskie fish ball. But don't lay eggs or get into t position . I have seen them play fight like sparring cichlids drifting up from the bottom in a v head slightly down maybe vibrating a little. Unknown behavior to me . When the female is laying they both dive on her in a ball of fish then they break up male follows behind mate. Are they being a distraction from predators? Seriously other fish follow to eat the eggs( clown loach,r t shark),ect...and then these break off into different directions. Football- who's got the eggs. You can laugh but I see something going on there.", "Spotted type (rare ?)", (242) Junglejason, (243) Arget (k: 2), (244) ThePoseidon (k: 3), (245) kastokke, (246) MattHunt (k: 5), who also notes: "Having added a fifth this weekend they have now shown the classic 'herding' when resting.", (247) bedwetter, (248) KeXx (k: 8), (249) jmw975, (250) sapphire (k: 6), (251) protopterus, (252) ShakesPurr (k: 4), (253) scott1601, (254) sommit (k: 4), (255) Mr.ToR.

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Breeding Reports(1) bekateen (b: 60), (2) uaru (b: 56), (3) Valb68 (b: 56), (4) cinnamonsticks (b: 46), (5) parrot1974 (b: 46), (6) dpm1 (b: 46), (7) Armand (b: 45), (8) steveh28 (b: 45), (9) hoplo (b: 35), (10) Marine590622 (b: 12), (11) Fish777 (b: 12), (12) Marie-Alix (b: 10).
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Last Update2015 Jul 30 03:32 (species record created: 2001 Apr 01 11:22)

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