Corydoras sterbai

Corydoras sterbai is a peaceful schooling fish that is very suitable for the community aquarium. They are often kept in combination with Discus fish.

Corydoras sterbai

Corydoras sterbai was officially described in 1962 by Knaack. The species name sterbai was chosen in honor of Professor Dr. Gunther Sterba. A well-known ichthyologist and author of aquarium books from the former East Germany.

The name Corydoras consists of two parts: Cory means “helmet” and doras means “skin”. The name is a reference to the double row of bony plates under the skin on the flank of this genus. These bony plates act as a kind of armor, hence the common collective name for this group of fish: Armored Catfish. Due to the possession of the bony plates, they do not need any further protection, so they do not have scales.


Corydoras sterbai can reach a length of about 7.5 to 8 centimeters including tail. This fish is anthracite gray with rows of silvery speckles all over its body. The pelvic and pectoral fins are bright orange which is very striking, and they have two pairs of beard threads. The females are more solidly built, the males have a more pointed dorsal fin.


Rio Guaporé, this river forms part of the border between Bolivia and Brazil. Corydoras sterbai inhabits the small tributaries, creeks, lakes and floodplains.

Because these Corydoras are very popular and they are willing to pay a fair amount, wild caught fish are rarely sent to Europe. The vast majority of fish offered here, are captive bred.

The aquarium

Corydoras sterbai requires an aquarium with a length of at least 80 centimeters. Decorate the aquarium with some plants, driftwood and a fine sandy substrate in which they can dig without damaging their beard threads. They do need a lot of free swimming space. They appreciate some mild current.

Sometimes Corydoras sterbai wants to seek some hiding, so shelters in the form of broad-leaved plants, wood, stones or burrows are regularly visited.

Make sure that the water surface remains open, because they sometimes start breathing on the surface (intestinal breathing, they swallow the air and then squeeze it through the intestines).

Water parameters

Temperature: 23-28 Celsius.
PH: 6,5-7,5
GH: 5-12

In nature, fish have to deal with fluctuating temperatures. Keeping fish at the minimum or maximum temperature for a long time is not always desirable and can shorten the average lifespan of the animals.


Corydoras sterbai are omnivores, small live food such as mosquito larvae, tubifex and cyclops, also algae and green food, tablets, supplement with dry food. Although they are good cleaners in the aquarium, you should still provide enough variety in their food.


Corydoras sterbai is a peaceful and pleasant schooling fish that you can keep together in a group of 7 or more, they are also very suitable for a community aquarium. Do not hold together with cichlids. They are sifting through the substrate looking for food.

Breeding Corydoras sterbai

If you want to breed with Corydoras sterbai, you will need a group of adults with more males than females (4/3). Filtering over peat promotes egg deposition. They deposit about 50 eggs against the glass, leaves or stones. The eggs can be transferred to a breeding tank. Raising the fry with newly hatched brine shrimp, later with other live or frozen foods and crushed flakes or tablets.

Transporting Corydoras

Many Corydoras species have a venomous self-defense mechanism to avoid being eaten by larger fish. In case of danger, they can spread and lock the spines in their dorsal and pectoral fins. As a result, they get stuck in the mouth or throat of the attacker, so that another fish will not want to swallow a Corydoras. Even when catching a Corydoras with a net, they regularly hang in the net with these spines. Be careful when loosening, if the spine gets into your skin it can partially break off and remain in the skin. These wounds are painful and often become inflamed.

In addition to the pointy spines, some Corydoras species can release a toxin into the water when stressed or in danger. When transported in too small a volume of water or too many Corydoras in the small space, this can lead to rapid death among the fish. It is therefore preferable to only transport the Corydoras with other Corydoras and not too much in one bag. Because little research has been done on this venom, it is not clear whether this venom is spread from the gills or from the spines. It is thought that at least the Corydoras adolfoi, Corydoras arcuatus, Corydoras melini, Corydoras metae, Corydoras panda, Corydoras robineae, Corydoras rabauti, Corydoras atropersonatus, Corydoras sterbai and Corydoras trilineatus have this poison, but it is advisable to pay attention to the other species as well.




Copyright images

J. de Lange

Additional information





First described by

Joachim Knaack


Social behaviour

Breeding behaviour


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