Scleromystax barbatus

Scleromystax barbatus is one of the largest Corydoras-like species, they can reach a total length of up to 12 centimeters.

Scleromystax barbatus

Scleromystax barbatus can reach a total length of up to 12 centimetres, making it one of the largest Corydoras like species. Just like Corydoras they have barbels that are used to find food particles on or in the substrate.

Scleromystax barbatus is dimorphic, which means you can distinguish males from females. The males are darker having a lot of black markings on the head and front half of their bodies. They also have a row of bristles along their “cheeks” at the bottom edge of the gill covers. Males also have much longer pectoral fins, which can be seen from an early age. Their belly is silvery white and their fins are translucent with black spots. Females look like a large Pepper Cory.


Scleromystax barbatus or Banded Corydoras are active schooling fishes that have to be kept in schools of at least 6. They will do fine in community tanks and are very peaceful towards others and their own species. We advise not to combine them with the more aggressive cichlids or bottom-dwelling cichlids.


Callichthys barbatus, Corydoras barbatus, Corydoras eigenmanni, Corydoras kronei – this species used to be part of the Corydoras genus, together with some others they were separated as Scleromystax.


Brasil, they inhabit the coastal drainages from Santa Catarina up to Rio de Janeiro.


Scleromystax barbatus is omnivorous, they will eat small living foods like mosquito larvea, cyclops, but also algae, and herbivorous tablets and different kind of flakes. Just give them a mixture of herbivore and carnivore foods to keep them healthy.

The Aquarium

These fish need an aquarium of at least 100 centimetres in length. Decorate your tank with at least some driftwood or stones to create hiding spots. Make sure they can reach the surface as they will shoot to the surface from time to time to get some air, besides their gills they also use their intestines to get oxygen from the air.
Provide them with a sandy substrate so they wont hurt their barbels when looking for food particles on the substrate.

Water parameters

Temperature: 16-25 degrees Celsius.
PH: 5,5-7
GH: 2-6


Breeding Scleromystax barbatus is fairly easy. Give them their own breeding tank and feed the parents with good quality living and frozen foods (especially black mosquito larvae). Changing 50% water which is cooler usually triggers them into spawning. Keep GH and KH low, if your GH is above 3 the eggs probably won’t hatch. The soft, acidic water helps to hatch the eggs. After spawning remove the parents as they will eat the eggs. After 5 days the eggs will hatch. You can feed the fry with newly hatches brine shrimp, crushed flakes etc.

Transporting Corydoras

Many Corydoras species have a poisonous defence mechanism to prevent being eaten by larger fish. In case of danger they can spread the spines in their dorsal and pectoral fins and lock them in place. This way the Corydoras gets stuck in the mouth or throat of the predator, a clear signal for other predators to leave them alone. When netting Corydoras you will see them get stuck in your net with their fins. Take care when you are getting them out, if the spine punctures your skin the tip can break off and remain in your skinn. The wounds can be painfull and often can become infected.

Besides the pointy spines some Corydoras species can release a toxin to the water when they are stressed or in danger. Transporting them in small amounts of water or too many Corydoras in a small space can lead to rapid death of fish. Just put a couple of Corydoras in a plastic bag but don’t add other species and make sure you give them some room. Not much research has been done to this toxin so its unclear whether the toxin is released from their spines or where their venom glands are located.




Copyright images

Peter Maguire

Additional information






Callichthys barbatus, Corydoras barbatus, Corydoras eigenmanni, Corydoras kronei

First described by

Jean René Constant Quoy, Joseph Paul Gaimard


Social behaviour

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