Corydoras elegans

by Gene Moy

Corydoras elegans used to be more readily available, but with the interest in new species, this former standby has become rare in the shops. I picked up my first elegant Cory about three years ago as an oddity in one of the local shops. It took me a while to figure out which species of Cory I had. It also took me a while to obtain more individuals to keep the single one company. I did keep my Corydoras elegans with other species of Corydoras.

On one occasion in August of 1998, I thought I could get a group of these from Rick’s in Frederick, Maryland. When the shipment came and the Corys were in, they were in extremely bad shape. Rick could not offer them for sale, as the catfish were dying off in his tank.

On another occasion, while in Cleminton, NJ, I thought I saw a few remaining Corydoras elegans. When I brought them home, I found out that I had another species, Corydoras undulatus. On yet another occasion, I did pick up additional individuals from House of Tropicals in Glen Burnie, but these did not survive their quarantine period. Over the last year or so, I picked up the odd individual here or there until I did pick up enough for a breeding group.

The patterns on Corydoras elegans and Corydoras undulatus are similar. They both are somewhat difficult to describe, but are sort of a blackish-green-stripy pattern on a base of blush. The stripes are not as distinct as those on Corydoras trilineatus. Corydoras undulatus are short and stubby, compared to Corydoras elegans. Corydoras elegans is mildly sexually dimorphic, with the male of the species having a taller dorsal fin. The two species are also sexually dichromic, with the males having more of a reticulated pattern with more speckling, especially near the head. There are reportedly different population variants. My first elegant Cory showed a greenish sheen under certain light conditions, while the later arrivals are black.

I generally keep groups of Corys in a 40 gallon breeder or in a 29 gallon. Both tanks are set up as a community aquarium, with a emphasis on Corys. In this setup, the Corys do not have any opportunity to breed, even if they wanted to. The fish in these tanks are fed a variety of foods, from flakes to sinking shrimp pellets, frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp, and occasionally treated with live black worms.

I finally gave the elegant Corys a 20 gallon tank of their own this past winter. The tank had a thin layer of small gravel and a small clay flower pot. Filtration was with a small power filter as well as a sponge filter. Within weeks, I discovered over 200 white eggs pasted on the side of the tank. Most of the eggs were in the upper reaches of the tank and near the corners. As is my routine with Corys, I remove the parents from the tank. The power filter was turned off.

The eggs hatched in four days. Unlike Corydoras aeneus, I could see the young wrigglers immediately after hatching. A few days after hatching, I lowered the water level to half. The youngsters did not show much activity at first, but as they grew, they became more active foragers. The young were fed a dry, powdered fry food at first. As they grew, they were provided with occasional microworms and frozen baby brine. They soon were able to accept crumbled flakes. Around week two, I lost a sizable percentage of the young wrigglers. I am not sure of the cause.

The youngsters show a spotted pattern that is quite interesting. At one month, the young Corys are double their hatching size at almost 10 mm long. The youngsters have started losing their spotted pattern and started resembling their parents, with a strip in the midsection. At two months, the young are almost 20 mm long.

Corydoras elegans is easy to keep and have a very interesting pattern. Although not as easily available as in the past, finding and obtaining them is worth the effort.

This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 31, # 3-4