Skip to Content

Sterbai Cory: A Detailed Care Guide

Sterbai Cory: A Detailed Care Guide

Are you looking to add some lively, friendly inhabitants to your aquarium? Sterbai Cory are small, peaceful fish that are native to South America and are known for their stunning looks and docile nature. But before you add Sterbai Cory to your tank, it’s essential to understand their specific care requirements. 

To care for Sterbai Cory, keep them in a 30-gallon tank with clean, filtered water while maintaining temperatures between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Feed them an omnivorous diet, and clean the tank to maintain good water quality. Sterbai Cory are social, so keep them in groups of six. 

This article will expand on the Sterbai Cory and their care requirements. Keep reading to learn more about these beloved little fish. 

Sterbai Cory At A Glance

  • Common name: Sterbai Cory
  • Scientific name: Corydoras sterbai
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Size: Maximum 2–2.6 inches (5.1–6.6 cm)
  • Life Span: Between 10 and 15 years
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Group size: At least six
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons
  • Water temperature: 76-82°F (24-28°C)
  • Water pH levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 0 to 15 dKH

Sterbai Cory Behaviour & Temperament

The Sterbai Corys are fascinating little freshwater fish that are peaceful in nature, much like other Corydoras species. These fish tend to be quite reserved, preferring to keep to themselves and stay out of trouble.

Although Sterbai Corys may seem shy, they are skilled scavengers and are always on the hunt for food. Using their barbels as a guide, they sift through the substrate to find bits of plant detritus, leftover food, and anything else they can get their fins on.

During the day, they tend to stay hidden in the shadows of plants or under pieces of driftwood. They may not be the most playful fish, but they certainly make up for it with their impressive scavenging skills.

Sterbai Cory Tank Requirements

Sterba’s corydoras are native to South America, specifically the lower reaches of the Guapore river between Bolivia and Brazil. They live in various habitats, including slow-moving streams, rivers, and swamps, where they feed on a diet of worms, insects, and other small invertebrates and plant matter. 

They are a popular choice for aquariums because they are relatively easy to care for and adapt well to a wide range of water conditions.

That said, a proper tank setup and regular maintenance are essential for the health and well-being of Sterbai Cory catfish. These small, peaceful fish are not fussy but require specific conditions to thrive in captivity.

Size and Type of Tank

Sterbai Cory catfish are small, averaging around 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) in length when fully grown. As a result, they do not require an exceptionally large tank to thrive. A 30-gallon (114 liters) tank should suffice for a small group of Sterbai Cory catfish. 

Nonetheless, these fish are social animals and do best when kept in groups of at least 5-6 individuals. Therefore, a larger tank may be necessary to accommodate a larger group of fish.

It is also important to consider the type of tank when setting up a home for your Sterbai Cory catfish. These fish are bottom dwellers, meaning they do not require a lot of vertical space. As such, a long, shallow tank is preferable to a tall, narrow tank. This will provide plenty of swimming space for the fish while also giving them lots of room to explore and forage on the substrate. 

Tank Setup and Maintenance

As mentioned, Sterbai Cory catfish are natural bottom-dwellers, meaning captive ones spend most of their time at the bottom of the aquarium, browsing the substrate for food. As such, the first step in setting up a tank for these fish is to choose the right substrate

A smooth, fine-grained substrate, such as sand or small pebbles, is best for Sterbai Cory catfish. Avoid rough or sharp substrates, such as gravel, as they can damage the delicate barbels on the fish’s face.

Next, provide plenty of hiding places and decorations for the Sterbai Cory catfish to explore. These fish are naturally timid and appreciate the security of having places to hide. Driftwood, plants, and PVC pipes can all be used to create a natural and inviting environment for the fish.

Tank maintenance is also an important aspect of caring for Sterbai Cory catfish. These fish might be renowned for their hardiness, but they are still quite sensitive to water quality. 

Sterbai Cory catfish require regular water changes to stay healthy. Therefore, perform a 25-30% water change once a week to maintain proper water conditions. Be sure to use a water conditioner to remove chlorine and other toxins from the tap water before adding it to the tank. 

I recommend checking out the Aquatic Experts TankFirst Water Conditioner on This conditioner does an excellent job of removing chlorine and heavy metals from tap water. Additionally, it does not have a strong odor, making it friendlier for your fish. It is also incredibly budget-friendly.

Water Parameters

  • Water temperature: 76-82°F (24-28°C)
  • Water pH levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 0 to 15 dKH

Sterbai corydoras are native to South America, meaning they evolved to live in warm, tropical waters. As a result, they require a tank with a temperature of 76-82°F (24-28°C) and a pH of 6.5-7.5 to thrive. Therefore, test the water in the tank regularly to ensure that these parameters are being maintained. 

You will also need to maintain the proper level of dissolved oxygen in the tank. These fish are highly sensitive to low oxygen levels and require a tank with good water circulation to ensure that they are getting enough oxygen. A quality filter and air stone can help keep the water well-oxygenated.

Based on my experience with the AquaClear 50 Power Filter on, I recommend it as a reliable and effective option for aquarium filtration. The multi-stage filtration system does an excellent job of removing impurities and maintaining water quality, and the filtration volume is more than sufficient for most aquariums. 

The flow control feature is also a nice touch, allowing you to customize the water flow to suit the needs of your specific setup. The added oxygenation from the waterfall design is a nice bonus, and the filter operates quietly and efficiently.


Consider adding live plants to the tank to provide a natural look and to create a more stable ecosystem. Some good options for live plants in a Sterbai Cory tank include Java fern, Anubias, and Amazon sword plants. Be sure to choose plants that are appropriate for the water parameters in your tank. 

You should also consider the lighting in the tank. Being bottom-dwellers in murky waters in the wild, Sterbai Cory catfish can be sensitive to high levels of light. As such, a low to moderate lighting level is sufficient for these fish. If using live plants, it may be necessary to provide additional lighting to support the plants.

Sterbai Cory Diet and Feeding

So, what do Sterbai Corydoras eat? Here’s what you need to know.

Nutritional Requirements of Sterbai Cory Catfish

Sterbai corydoras are omnivorous, meaning they require a balanced diet that includes both plant and animal protein. In their natural habitat, these fish feed on various foods, including insects, worms, crustaceans, and plant material. 

In captivity, you can get away with providing a varied diet that includes a mix of high-quality commercial foods and live or frozen treats. 

Some good options for commercial foods include high-quality flakes or pellets that are specifically formulated for omnivorous fish. These foods should contain a balance of plant and animal protein and should be enriched with vitamins and minerals to support the overall health of the fish. 

Also, practice due diligence when buying commercial pet food to avoid foods that contain fillers or artificial additives.

In addition to commercial foods, remember to provide Sterbai Cory catfish with a variety of live or frozen treats. These can include items such as brine shrimp, daphnia, blackworms, and bloodworms. Live or frozen vegetables, such as spinach or peas, can also be offered as an occasional treat.

Feeding Frequency and Portion Sizes

Sterbai Cory catfish should be fed once or twice a day, depending on their age and activity level. Juvenile fish may require more frequent feeding since they are still growing, while adult fish can be fed once or twice daily. 

Ensure to observe the fish and adjust feeding frequency to avoid overfeeding. These fish are prone to obesity and can suffer from serious health problems if they are fed too much. 

A general rule of thumb is to feed the fish an amount of food they can consume in 2-3 minutes. Any uneaten food should be removed to prevent it from decomposing and polluting the water.

Sterbai Cory Tank Mates

Sterbai Corys have a peaceful nature and their tank mates should be chosen carefully, as some fish can be too aggressive or too territorial for Sterbai Corys.

Great tank mates for Sterbai Corys are:

  • Other Corydoras
  • Betta Fish
  • Gouramis
  • Danios,
  • Barbs
  • Tetras
  • Apistogramma
  • Peaceful Catfish

Tank mates that you should avoid are large bottom-dwellers and aggressive fish.

Sterbai Cory Catfish Common Health Issues

Sterbai Cory catfish are prone to a few common health issues that can be caused by poor water quality, improper diet, or stress. Some of the most common health issues to be aware of include:


Ich, also known as white spot disease, is a common bacterial infection that causes small white spots to appear on the fish’s skin and fins. It is highly contagious and can be transmitted through contact with infected fish or contaminated water. 

Symptoms of ich include white spots on the skin and fins and scratching against objects in the tank in an attempt to find relief.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is a bacterial infection that causes the fish’s fins to become frayed and disintegrate. It is often caused by poor water quality or physical injury to the fins. Symptoms of fin rot include frayed or disintegrating fins, redness or inflammation of the fins, and a foul smell.

Internal Parasites 

Internal parasites, such as worms and flukes, can infect Sterbai corydoras and cause a variety of health problems, including weight loss, reduced appetite, and lethargy. Symptoms of internal parasites may include diarrhea, a swollen abdomen, and general deterioration.

Signs of Illness

In order to provide timely treatment for any health issues that may arise, it is vital to be aware of the signs of illness in Sterbai Cory catfish. Some common symptoms to look for include:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Visible changes in appearance, such as redness or swelling
  • Scratching or rubbing against objects in the tank
  • Difficulty swimming or breathing
  • Visible parasites on the fish’s body

If you notice any of these signs, ensure to take immediate action to address the issue.

Prevention and Treatment of Common Health Problems

The best way to prevent health issues in Sterbai Cory catfish is to provide proper care and attention to water quality. This includes maintaining the proper temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen levels in the tank, as well as performing regular water changes and cleaning the tank and equipment.

If a health issue does arise, take prompt action to address the issue. This may involve performing a water change and adding a water conditioner to remove toxins from the water, administering medication as prescribed by a veterinarian, or making changes to the tank setup or decorations to prevent further injury.

Breeding Sterbai Cory Catfish

Sterbai Cory catfish are fairly easy to breed in captivity, provided that the right conditions are met. These small, peaceful fish are known for their prolific breeding habits and can produce large numbers of offspring with minimal effort.

Setting Up a Breeding Tank

A breeding tank should provide the ideal conditions to support the eggs and fry. A separate, smaller tank is recommended for breeding, as this will allow for better control of the water conditions and make it easier to monitor the progress of the eggs and fry.

The water parameters in the breeding tank should be similar to those in the main tank, with a temperature of 76-82°F (24-28°C) and a pH of 6.5-7.5. As always, remember to maintain good water quality and to perform regular water changes to support the health of the eggs and fry.

Additionally, provide a suitable substrate for the eggs to be laid on. A smooth, fine-grained substrate, such as sand or small pebbles, is best for Sterbai Cory catfish eggs. 

Selecting a Breeding Pair

The next step in the breeding process is selecting a breeding pair of Sterbai corydoras. Choose a male and female that are around the same size and are in good health. You can identify the males and females by looking for physical differences. Female corydoras have wider abdomens than males. 

It is also a good idea to purchase more than one breeding pair, as this can increase the chances of success and provide a backup in case one of the pairs is not successful in breeding. Keep in mind that Sterbai corydoras are social fish and should be kept in groups, so it is important to have enough space and resources to accommodate multiple breeding pairs.

Courtship and Spawning

Once you have a suitable tank and a breeding pair of Sterbai corydoras, the next step is to encourage the fish to breed. The breeding process typically begins with courtship behavior, during which the male fish will chase the female and nudge her abdomen with his snout. If the female is receptive, she will lay a batch of eggs, which the male will then fertilize.

Sterbai corydoras are known to lay eggs on a variety of surfaces, including plants, rocks, and the substrate. It is essential to provide plenty of suitable surfaces for the female to lay her eggs on, as this can increase the chances of successful breeding.

Remove the breeding pair from the tank after breeding since cory catfish are known to eat their eggs or fry. The eggs typically hatch within 3-7 days, depending on the water temperature and other conditions.

Caring for Eggs and Fry

Once the eggs have been laid and fertilized, it is important to provide proper care to ensure the success of the breeding process. Here are some tips for caring for the eggs and fry:

  • Protect the eggs: Protect the eggs from being eaten or damaged by other fish or the movement of the other fish in the tank. One option is to separate the breeding pair into a separate breeding tank or partitioned section of the tank. You can also use a breeding box or net to separate the eggs from the rest of the tank.
  • Monitor the eggs: Check on the eggs regularly to ensure that they are developing properly. If you notice any eggs that are not developing or are not fertilized, remove them from the tank to prevent the risk of fungal infections or other problems.
  • Care for the fry: Once the eggs hatch, the fry will emerge as small, transparent fish. Provide them with proper care to ensure their survival. This includes maintaining good water quality, feeding the fry small amounts of food several times a day, and providing plenty of hiding places for the fry to seek shelter in.

Sterbai Cory FAQs

How big do Sterbai Cory get?

Sterbai Corys are a relatively small species of freshwater fish, and they typically grow to be around 2–2.6 inches (5.1–6.6 cm) in length when fully mature.

Females are usually larger and rounder-bodied than males.

How many Sterbai corydoras should be kept together?

Sterbai corydoras are social fish and do best when kept in groups of at least 5-6 individuals.

Do Sterbai corydoras eat shrimp?

Corydoras are omnivorous, so their diet includes both plant and animal protein. When they are big enough, they will certainly eat shrimp.


Caring for Sterbai Cory involves providing them with a suitable tank setup, proper diet, and regular maintenance. A tank with soft, slightly acidic water and plenty of hiding places is ideal for these fish. They should be fed a varied diet of high-quality pellets, frozen or live foods, and vegetables.

Regular partial water changes and cleaning of the tank and equipment are also important to ensure a healthy environment for the fish. By following these guidelines, you can help your Sterbai Cory thrive and live a long, healthy life in your aquarium.

I’m Elle, the founder of FishHQ. I created this website to share knowledge, tips, and inspiration for beginner hobbyists to help them create a healthy, happy, and vibrant environment for their fish to thrive. Read more...