Scientific Name: Corydoras panda
Common Names: Panda Corydora
Origin: South America
Care Level: Easy
Lifespan: 4-5 years
Behavior: Schooling Fish, Peaceful
Minimum Tank Size: 75L
Temperature: 22-26° C
pH Level: 6-7
dH Level: 5-10
Approx. Price: R30
The Panda Corydora is a very docile and peaceful fish that would make a great addition to any community aquarium. As long as they are kept in groups of five or more they will actively comb the bottom of your aquarium in search of food. This fish is easy to care for making a great beginners, with that said it is recommended that they only be added to established aquariums so that they have enough food to scavenge.
- These fish are incredibly docile, very peaceful and are a wonderfully easy fish to own. However it is a remarkably little known fact that Corydoras species have a very sharp barb just under each eye, one in the adipose fin, and a large one in the front of their dorsal fin.
- The fish uses these barbs to protect itself from being swallowed by a larger fish. Therefore when using a net to catch these fish, be prepared for the Cory to become caught up in the mesh of the net. Also, ensure you don’t try to catch this fish in your hand!
- What is also little known is that most species of Corydoras have a poison gland in their barbs which causes fish which try to eat them to get stung. This causes the attacking fish to suffer a lot of pain rather like a jellyfish sting. Needless to say this causes an annoying, but harmless, irritant to aquarists skin if they get stung also.
- The Cory has a sensitive sense of smell and its barbels allow it to taste food hidden in the substrate.
- These fish are armoured, not scaled, catfish. They have two rows of overlapping bony plates running down each side and large plates covering their head. Indeed, the name Corydoras is derived from the Greek kory (helmet) and doras (skin).
Tank Set Up: Panda Corydoras stay small and will do fine in most sized aquariums, but 20gal(75L) or more is recommended. The aquarium should have plenty of hiding places such as plants and driftwood. The aquariums substrate should ideally be sand as Panda Corydora have fragile barbels that can break off on rough surfaces.
Corydoras panda inhabits clear river waters that are relatively fast-flowing, well-oxygenated, and flowing over substrates that may comprise soft sand or fine gravel. These rivers are usually well vegetated with assorted species of aquatic plants. The proximity of the home rivers of the fish to the Andes mountain range, and the replenishment of those rivers with meltwaters from Andean snows at higher altitudes, has led the fish to be adaptable to cooler temperatures than the norm for ‘tropical’ fishes – the temperature range of the fish is 16°C to 28°C, though the fish exhibits a marked preference for the cooler regions of this temperature spectrum, particularly in captivity. Indeed, the fish can, for limited periods, survive temperatures as low as 12°C, though captive rearing at such low temperatures is ill-advised. The native waters of Corydoras panda are consequently mineral-deficient, with a neutral to slightly acid pH, and replication of such conditions in captivity are recommended for successful maintenance.
As has already been cited above, the species has a preference for cooler than normal waters when compared to many other popular tropical fish species, and consequently, if it is intended to maintain the fishes in a ‘community’ aquarium setting, companions should be chosen that share the fish’s tolerance or preference for cooler temperatures, around 22°C (72°F) being a good choice of maintenance temperature for the species. Given the cleanliness of the fish’s native waters, scrupulous attention to water quality in the aquarium is considerably more important for this fish than for the more domesticated Corydoras species such as C. paleatus or C. aeneus. Additionally, scrupulous attention to aquarium substrate cleanliness is a must, as the fishes are intolerant of poor aquarium maintenance in this area, and succumb to stress and disease rapidly if their aquaria are not kept to a high standard. Despite this, the species remains highly popular with aquarists, upon account of the appearance of the fish, and its lively, vivacious behaviour in a well-planned aquarium setting.
Like many other Corydoras species, the Panda Catfish is a highly gregarious fish, and in common with several other smaller Corydoras species such as C. habrosus and C. pygmaeus, manifests a distinct need for numerous companions of its own species in order to thrive, and can thus be described as being more avowedly social than some of the larger members of the genus. A minimum of eight individuals should be housed in the same aquarium, and if space permits, this number should be revised upwards, as the fish exhibits a very definite preference for grouping together with others of its species. They also associate themselves easily with the Clown loach and school together in currents where sufficient numbers of their own species is lacking.
An aquarium for this species should be well furnished, ideally with a mixture of live aquatic plants, and solid furnishings providing caves, sheltered areas and hiding places to give the fish security. Floating plants to provide additional areas of shade are also welcomed by the fish.
Like all Corydoras species, the fish feeds primarily upon animal matter. The aquarist is advised, however, that the traditional use of Corydoras catfishes as putative ‘scavengers’ in an aquarium setting will be detrimental to the well-being of this species – it requires high quality foods for long-term maintenance, and a varied diet. Ideally, the fish should be given live foods at least intermittently, and will dine enthusiastically upon such items as Bloodworms (larvae of Chironomus midges), Daphnia, cultivated Brine Shrimp (Atermia salina), and Tubifex worms. The latter, however, should be cultivated in order to minimise the risk of introducing pathogenic organisms to the aquarium, as Tubifex live in unsanitary conditions in the wild. Freeze dried Tubifex may be preferable, as the risk of introduction of disease is eliminated. High quality flake foods are also appreciated, particularly those containing shrimp or other similar matter.
The lifespan of Corydoras panda in the aquarium has not been systematically determined, but given the longevity of other Corydoras species in the aquarium, it is reasonable to assume that well-cared for specimens will enjoy a lifespan in excess of 10 years, and frequently in excess of 15 years.
Diet: Omnivore, Panda Corydoras will eat almost any food that drops to the bottom of the aquarium. With that said if you keep other fish in the same aquarium it is a good idea to buy sinking algae wafers in to insure that they get enough food. Panda Corydoras also enjoy the occasional treat of bloodworms or brine shrimp.
Breeding: Corydoras panda follows, with a few minor deviations, the standard model for breeding for the genus. Stimulus for breeding consists of the influx of cooler, oxygenated waters into their habitat, usually corresponding in the wild with the onset of the rainy season. However, while some Corydoras species require a temperature drop in the aquarium for spawning to be stimulated, in the case of Corydoras panda, the temperature drop appears to matter much less, as specimens have spawned in the aquarium without a temperature drop. The addition of new, clean, oxygenated water appears to be the primary stimulus for this species. In the wild, the appearance of new water courtesy of the rains is followed by an increase in the populations of assorted food organisms, and feeding upon these conditions the fishes for breeding.
Once conditioned fishes are stimulated into spawning, males begin chasing females energetically. Females begin developing eggs within their reproductive tracts, and when ‘ripe’ (laden with eggs), become receptive to the attentions of the males. Eventually, one male will succeed in courting a female, using his barbels to provide stimulation to the female, usually beginning with caresses of the female’s caudal peduncle, followed by caresses of the fontanel and the front of the head. if the female is receptive, then the male positions himself before the female, so that the female’s mouth is in close proximity with one of the male’s pectoral fins. The male then clasps the female’s barbels between the pectoral fin and the body, and this stimulates the female to press against the male’s side. When seen from above, the fishes form a ‘T’ shape when conjoined thus, hence the term ‘T position’ has become conventional in aquarium circles when describing the breeding of Corydoras catfishes.
Once the male and female are in the ‘T position’, the pressing of the female against the male’s body stimulates his release of sperm. Though the exact mechanism of fertilisation has yet to be scientifically documented, from the observations of aquarists who have been successful in breeding Corydoras catfishes, it seems likely that the female takes the male’s sperm through her mouthparts, and directs them through the gills, in a current that carries the sperm to her pelvic fins. At this point, the female releases a single egg (occasionally two), and purses her pelvic fins in order to provide a receptacle for the freshly extruded egg, which is then fertilised.
One difference observed between the adoption of the ‘T position’ in Corydoras panda, when compared to other Corydoras species, is that the exercise is frequently more acrobatic in appearance, with the ‘T position’ being adopted in mid-water, some distance above the substrate, rather than resting upon the substrate as is the case with the majority of other Corydoras.
Once the female is carrying a fertilised egg within her pelvic fins, she then seeks an egg deposition site. The choice of such a site is frequently, though not always, a mass of fine leaved aquatic vegetation. In the aquarium, the plant known as Java Moss, Vesicularia dubayana, is of considerable utility as an egg repository for Corydoras catfishes, even though the plant is not a South American native, and Panda Catfish females will choose large clumps of this plant readily as safe deposition sites for fertilised eggs. The female is frequently pursued by one or more males as she seeks the deposition site, each male presumably seeking to be the chosen mate to fertilise the next egg. Up to 25 eggs may be produced by a single female during a single spawning, which may take place over four to five hours.