Catfish of the Month Right Arrow August 2000 • Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded August 01, 2000

Elegant Cory, Elegant Pansermalle (Denmark), Panzerwels/Corydoras - Catfish (Germany) - Corydoras elegans   Steindachner, 1876

You will have to indulge me with this month's catfish. You see I'm just back from a catfish collecting expedition in the Peruvian Amazon and I've decided to feature one of my catches as this months catfish.

Corydoras elegans has been a mainstay within the multitudinous fish sold by Amazon based export companies for as long as Corydoras have been commercially exported. The fish is widely distributed in the wild and it is quite common to encounter different colour variations among groups of these fish that originated in different parts of South America.

Corydoras elegans habitat
Corydoras elegans habitat.

Furthermore the males and females look quite different. The male is smaller, less high bodied and slender. To top it off the male exhibits much more striking colouration than the drab female. Compare the image of the male above and the female below here.

Below is a photograph of the very stream that we descended upon and, quite by chance, encountered a group of Corydoras. Although this and the following pictures look quite dark, they were taken at around 1 o'clock in the afternoon. The little stream was about a mile inland from the Rio Orosa, a tributary of the Peruvian segment of the Amazon. We reached the stream by a jungle hike which was both fascinating and physically demanding.

Such efforts were forgotten when, after about half an hour of catching mainly small tetras and the occasional pike cichlids, we hit upon the motherlode. Both myself and my good friend Allan James ( had stumbled upon a part of the stream that contained Corydoras. Standing waist deep in water, Allan caught the first one and soon our local guide and I were catching as many as two or three in a good sweep of the net. While we were waist deep, it should be noted that only about 12 inches of this was actually water. The rest was a bed of dead leaves and lower down a grey and orange clay. The mood went from serious concentration catching the first few to (I can unashamedly admit) gleeful laughter once it became clear that there were lots of fish to be caught.

Jools & Corydoras elegans

Fortune also allowed my wife, Clare, to have brought her camera with her on this particular collecting trip and so was taken the picture to the right. Yours truly and a particularly fine female C. elegans.

What struck both Allan and I about these fish (and most subsequent catches) was the stunning colouration of the fish when pulled from the murky water. They were positively shining. The fish had amber fins and the colouration along the flanks of the fish was captivating. More than one opportunistic Cory escaped to freedom as we gawked at these jewels in our nets. That said, over thirty of them came home with me, the photograph of the female above is one of them.

I should also mention that, now that they are established in an aquarium, these colours markedly diminished. To make up for this however and over time they have now really coloured up - the males especially are quite spectacular.

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 elegans  Steindachner, 1876
Common NamesElegant Cory
Elegant Pansermalle (Denmark), Panzerwels/Corydoras - Catfish (Germany)
Type LocalityAmazon R. at Tefé, Amazonas, Brazil.
Synonym(s)Corydoras pestai
PronunciationKory DOOR ass - ELL ee ganz
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, elegans meaning tasteful, fine.
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.

A very variable species not made easier to identify by the difference in colouration of mature males and females. Similar to C. napoensis, C. nanus and C. sp. CW044 (often called C. pestai), C. undulatus and a few variations thereof.
SexingAs depicted above, the male is smaller, less high bodied, slender and more strikingly patterned.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionBrazil: Rio Amazonas near Tefé, Rio Solimoes
Ecuador: Rio Aguarico system, Rio Napo drainage system
Peru: Rio Ucayali, Rio Ampiyacu, Rio Nanay drainage, Rio yavari, Rio Tamaya
Colombia: Rio Caquetta, Rio Amazonas, Rio Solimoes
Amazon, Middle Amazon (Solimoes) (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Upper Amazon, Napo, Aguarico (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Upper Amazon, Napo (click on these areas to find other species found there)
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, Nanay (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Upper Amazon, Marañón, Ucayali, Upper Ucayali, Tamaya (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Upper Amazon, Yavari (click on these areas to find other species found there)
Amazon, Middle Amazon (Solimoes), Japurá, Caquetá (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)
pH6.0 - 7.4
Temperature22.0-25.0°C or 71.6-77°F (Show species within this range)
Other ParametersWater composition not vital but slightly softer water within the above ranges will bring out the best colouration in the males.
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingFlake, tablets. Live food such as whiteworm, bloodworm, brineshrimp and tubifex (sparingly). Frozen bloodworm is more easily supplied and seems to bring on growth in sub-adults very satisfactorily.
FurnitureThis fish quite likes mid-water and so provide shady open space surrounded by low plants to provide cover and a few refuges at the outskirts of the main swimming area.
CompatibilityAs for all Corys, a perfect citizen.
Suggested TankmatesOther similar Corydoras, dwarf cichlids and tetras. A robust species that will adapt to larger peaceful tankmates. Keep in a shoal of at least 6.
BreedingInteresting in that this fish is not reported to follow the usual Corydoras method of reproduction. Eggs are laid by the female and placed by the female in the usual manner, but the preceding T-position clinch does not occur. Fertilisation appears to occur after the eggs are placed on plants or the aquarium glass. Fry emerge after 3 days and are free swimming in another two. The fry are quite small and should be offered small foods such as microworm or powdered pre-soaked flake food. It is also reported that males become very aggressive in the lead up to spawning and no more than three are suggested.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesSitzungsber. Akad. Wiss. Wienv. 74 (1. Abth.) - pp141 [93]
Registered Keepers(1) Jools (k: 12), who also notes: "This group of fish were collected in the Peruvian amazon by me in 2000.", (2) synoguy, (3) natefrog, (4) Dick F., (5) Chrysichthys (k: 2), (6) hellocatfish, (7) amergim, (8) Coryologist, (9) geoffkemp, who also notes: "Bought this, thinking it was corydoras paleatus", (10) fmagnier, (11) Yan, (12) jdsworld8 (k: 3), (13) loafingloach, (14) Andersonic (k: 3), (15) Birger Amundsen, (16) Coryman (p: 2), (17) fulvioander (k: 3), (18) T4FR (k: 2), who also notes: "I bought one lonely strange looking cory, which was pretending to be a Zebra Danio. I turned out to be a Corydoras elegans Variante V from peru. Sadly I was unable to give it a place in a school of other elegans, so it ended up with one other elegans", (19) foffo (k: 10), (20) corydoras, (21) Bigpig (k: 6), (22) sarae, (23) Julie, (24) mante-religieuse, who also notes: "very small and active!", (25) Brie, (26) jopbgon (k: 5), (27) apisto-nut (k: 14), (28) Kampfer, (29) Kets (k: 3), (30) gem400, (31) AlaskanCorydoras (k: 5), who also notes: "My LFS had elegans in 4 different tanks, at 3 different prices. The tank I bought out of had the least expensive, and most stressed individuals. I bought them intentionally, as my 55 is set right in the ideal zone for the fish. ", (32) emperorted, (33) jha61, (34) Minus, (35) Nick44 (k: 3), (36) saphphx (k: 2), (37) tbm, (38) MichaelC95, (39) irshprncsk (p: 2, k: 4), (40) ginagv (k: 4), (41) corybreed, (42) dave.h, (43) gem997, (44) Mark Roesner, (45) ars (k: 13), (46) CATMANdrew (k: 4), (47) donpetty (k: 7), who also notes: "Have had these Corys for about 1 month and really like the Elegans family. they are great looking catfish.", (48) Decker504, (49) mace, (50) tjudy, (51) GregK, (52) Vess, (53) yogi88 (k: 40), (54) gossei (k: 6), who also notes: "Combination of F0 and F1.", (55) kwalker (k: 7), (56) Travis Webb, (57) Lee Meadows, (58) adcc, (59) fishdoc313 (k: 7), who also notes: "Spawned 10/4/13 12 eggs retrieved and transferred to breeder tank. All eggs hatched, but next day only 2 fry remain. 11/22 fry 1.4 cm, transferred to 10.6", (60) Sean B, (61) TKL, (62) daveh01772, (63) Matturbin, (64) ted williams, who also notes: "In a community tank 20 gal. Long with 3 C. Paleatus, 2 Female Cherry Barbs, 1 Serpae Tetra, 2 White Clouds, and 6 small Glow Light Tetras. This is my old timer tank, as all but the Glow Lights are 4 years old or older.", (65) jvision, (66) Nabobmob1, (67) acharman, (68) Goodeid608, (69) rmc, (70) PlecosAndLoaches (k: 9), (71) rcbows (k: 8), who also notes: "Haven't been able to get them to spawn. Almost over one year old. Still trying.", (72) scandicman (k: 7), (73) Eggheadfish, (74) Mvinyl (k: 2), (75) Fish777 (k: 5), (76) protopterus, (77) Don Kinyon (k: 5), (78) Samaki, (79) Gormets, (80) scott1601, (81) Mogl (k: 8), (82) dmcc445465, (83) lochness.

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Breeding Reports(1) fishdoc313 (b: 52), (2) scandicman (b: 50), (3) ars (b: 34), (4) Mvinyl (b: 13).
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Last Update2013 Jul 19 18:51 (species record created: 2000 Aug 01 11:22)

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