Catfish of the Month Right Arrow December 1999 • Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded December 01, 1999

Long Nosed Arched Cory, Panzerwels (Germany), Purus Cory - Corydoras narcissus   Nijssen & Isbrücker, 1980

The last catfish of the month in this millennium was also the first new Corydoras of the 1980's. As we approach the much heralded "Y2K" I though it appropriate to feature a fish both currently available (although still expensive) yet also largely undocumented. Our new millennium will hopefully see a reversal in both situations.

In Greek mythology Narcissus (or Narkissos in Greek) was the son of the river god Kephissus. He was a beautiful youth who rejected all admirers (including the gorgeous nymph Echo) and fell in love with his reflection in a pool. After much myth and fable he was finally transformed into the flower that bears his name. Today we now know these as daffodils which, you may have noticed, are always looking downwards - like Narcissus into the reflection of his pool. From this legend comes the term narcissism, meaning exclusive love of self. Psychoanalytic theory considers narcissism a normal phase of childhood yet suggests that remnants of this phase in adulthood may be a factor in some neuroses.

How this name and the various implications thereof meant that it was chosen for this species is one of those pieces of modern aquatic legend that is always interesting to attempt to unravel. Many people have many answers to this question usually blaming assorted "characters" in the hobby or prominent figures of one sort or another. The story goes like this. In 1976 a group of collectors (H. R. Axelrod, H. Bleher, G. van den Bossche, J. Gery and A. Schwartz none the less) captured a number of then undescribed catfishes. Unfortunately somebody began referring to one of these species as C. bleheri, a name which appeared in a subsequent magazine article about the trip and quickly caught on in various wholesalers. On the positive side, a sample of these fish were later sent to Nijssen & Isbrücker (two leading scientists in the field of South American catfish icthyology) apparently with at least a strong request to name them after one of the aforementioned collectors. In 1980 they were described as C. narcissus and within that paper read "Etymology - Corydoras narcissus is named after Narcissus, son of the Greek river god Kephissus, in honour or those who recently collected undescribed Corydoras species, and kindly suggested new names for them.".. So, tongue set firmly in cheek, they were named after the collector, generally if not specifically!

Many a Corydoras specialist lists this fish as one of the most beautiful of the genus - it is my (probably) favourite - because of it's character and large striking appearance. On the subject of appearance, you will notice that in the picture above the fish has a stripe running from below its eye to it's snout. The picture below shows fish without this feature, with my C. narcissus this appears to change with mood.

Corydoras narcissus

Such a large, enigmatic and boldly marked fish without a doubt makes for a striking shoal, but be careful. This species, along with a number of the other long-nosed Corydoras, can exhibit surprising aggression amongst themselves. Males often fight each other and care should be taken to keep a much higher percentage of females to males. I kept a shoal of 6 (2 males and 4 females) in a roomy 48x18x18" aquarium and the smaller, weaker male was harried to an early death. The remaining 5 fish are now in a less expansive 36x12x12" aquarium and doing very well. There are however active in a way you would more associate with armoured catfish (Megalechis spp. etc.) than with the more demure Corydoras stereotype.

Reference: Nijssen, H. and I.J.H. Isbrücker, 1980. Three new Corydors species from French Guiana and Brazil (Pisces, Siluriformes, Callichthyidae). Netherlands Journal of Zoology, 30 (3) :494-503.

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 narcissus  Nijssen & Isbrücker, 1980
Common NamesLong Nosed Arched Cory
Panzerwels (Germany), Purus Cory
Type LocalityCreek into Rio Ipixuna, 7°31'S, 63°16'W, 30 km west of Humaitá, Rio Purus system, Amazonas, Brazil.
PronunciationKory DOOR ass - nar SISS uss
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. Greek Mythology, After Narkissos, son of the Greek river god Kephissus. See catfish of the month article for a more detailed discussion.
Jump to next section Species Information
Size 75mm or 3" 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.

C. narcissus is the long snouted ''version'' of C. arcuatus and is readily identifiable by this characteristic. Two species exist that are commonly sold as C. narcissus. The real one is longer (the ratio of body height to length being significantly different), has a more pronounced concave head and a slightly darker basic colouration. The other, shorter fish is currently undescribed but can sometimes be labelled under the common name of mega narcissus or narcissus II.
SexingFemale larger and stouter especially when viewed from above. Male has more pointed fin tips.
Jump to next section Habitat Information
DistributionBrazil: Amazonas state, Rio Humaita tributary of Rio Purus System
Amazon, Middle Amazon (Solimoes), Purus, Humaita (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 - 7.0
Temperature23.0-25.0°C or 73.4-77°F (Show species within this range)
Jump to next section Husbandry Information
FeedingAll prepared foods and frozen foods especially bloodworm and brineshrimp. Adults gorge on chopped mussel.
FurnitureA little shading helps makes the fish feel at home. Sandy substrate brings out the best in these fish although because of the large size of the adult fish small pea gravel can also be employed.
CompatibilityPeaceful and not anti-social with other catfish excepting occasional quarrels with it's own species. Youngsters appear sociable to each other but become quarrelsome with age. Rival adult males may bully each other to death if kept in too small an aquarium.
Suggested TankmatesSouth American dwarf Cichlids, larger Characins such as Silver Dollars (Metynnis spp.) are ideal although medium sized Central American Cichlids and Asian anabatids are good alternatives if your are not a biotope purists.
Jump to next section Further Information
ReferencesNeth. J. Zool.v. 30 (no. 3) - pp497 - Fig. 2
Registered Keepers(1) Keithj (k: 4), who also notes: "Kept in a 90cmWx60cmHx45cmL community tank at 24C. Low nitrates - heavily planted - and neutral pH. Enjoy all types of food. Spawned 23 Nov 2007. 24C and pH 7, with rising air pressure. Only two fish took part, the others showing no interest. Eggs deposited in ones or twos in areas of strong current, mostly on the edges of giant vallis leaves but a few put on the glass.", (2) hka148, (3) Zebadee, (4) Yann (k: 4), (5) Nx7, (6) percyplec, (7) corybreed, (8) Mark Panaque (k: 10), (9) wugydugy.

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Breeding ReportsNone.
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Last Update2013 Jul 19 19:02 (species record created: 1999 Dec 01 11:22)

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