Catfish of the Month Right Arrow May 2013 • Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded May 27, 2013

False Bandit Cory, Panzerwels/Corydoras - Catfish (Germany) - Corydoras(ln9) melini   Lönnberg & Rendahl, 1930

All corys are facultative air breathers, meaning that, depending on conditions, they have the ability to breathe atmospheric air, to a certain extent and if necessary. They do this by utilising a modified intestine, which has many more blood-carrying vessels than other fish, that assist in the uptake of atmospheric oxygen. This adaptation allows them to survive if their habitat becomes oxygen-deprived for any reason. In the wild, one can sit next to a still pool of water containing these fishes and watch it bubble here and there as they come up for air. In many cases Corys live in what we would call muddy water and can't be readily seen from solid ground. So, when attempting to collect them in the wild (at least if you're on your own with a decent-sized dip net) one can take a blind swipe at the water below such a bubble and this will yield a Cory from time to time.

In the aquarium they continue to do this. You'll see them darting to the surface to take in gulps of air on occasion. This is perfectly natural and no cause for concern unless the amount of dissolved oxygen present is lower than it should be, in which case the frequency of visits to the surface will usually rise correspondingly. Corys will often do this in quick succession, and a group of half a dozen or more Corys doing this is fun to watch.

Corydoras melini is a commonly imported species and can be confused with other wild imports such as C. davidsandsi andC. metae. All of these have both a vertical black stripe through the eye (hence the bandit mask common name) and a black stripe diagonally down the back. Generally, C. melini has a 'dirty' look to its flanks with haphazard touches of black colouration on the twin row of armour plates all Corys have. The reliable identification characteristic is the precise shape of the black stripe running from the lower dorsal fin area to the upper caudal fin. In C. metae this terminates at the caudal peduncle, leaving the tail fin clear and showing a short bar, vertically, on the caudal peduncle. In the other two species the stripe splits into two above the caudal peduncle, a feature most readily viewed from above. C. davidsandsi is also marginally more elongate (or lower in the body) and differs slightly in body colouration — it is paler and without even a hint of pigmentation on the flanks. C. melini is the overall sandy brown fish with those “dirty” marks and with a much higher body shape, akin to C. metae, hence the common name False Bandit Cory.

Acquiring a group of these attractive Corys will not, however, involve daylight robbery. Wild imports are inexpensive as Corys go and it's a species that is sometimes bred in captivity. Therefore it sometimes appears at breeder-friendly LFS and club / society auctions. Irrespective of the route this species is offered to you, it's a nice one to consider for a modest aquarium.

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 Name Corydoras(ln9) melini  Lönnberg & Rendahl, 1930
Common Names False Bandit Cory
Panzerwels/Corydoras - Catfish (Germany)
Type Locality Luaretê (0°35'N, 69°13'W) at confluence of Rio Papurí and Rio Uaupés, Rio Negro system, Amazonas, Brazil.
Pronunciation mell INN eye
Etymology Named to honour Dr. Doug Melin.
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 45mm or 1.8" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
Distribution South America: Upper Negro and Meta River basins.
Orinoco, Middle Orinoco, Meta (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Middle Amazon (Solimoes), Negro, Upper Negro (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Status Least Concern
Temperature 22.0-26.0°C or 71.6-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
Breeding Has been bred in the aquarium.
Breeding Reports There are 5 breeding reports, read them all here.
Jump to next section Further Information
Reference Arkiv för Zoologi v. 22 A (no. 5), pp 1, Fig. 1.
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Last Update 2019 Oct 16 11:44 (species record created: 2013 May 27 19:43)

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