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Corydoras leucomelas EIGENMANN & ALLEN, 1942

Blackfin Cory

SynonymsTop ↑

Corydoras caquetae Fowler, 1943


Corydoras: from the Ancient Greek κόρυς (korus), meaning ‘helmet’, and δορά (dora), meaning ‘skin, hide of an animal’, in allusion to the rows of bony plates on the flanks of genus members.



Order: Siluriformes Family: Callichthyidae


Type locality is ‘Yarinacocha, cutoff lake at right bank of Río Pacaya, near Sarayacu, about 5°15’S, 74°15’W, Upper Amazon, Peru’.


Mainly inhabits blackwater rivers and tributaries. The water in these biotopes is often stained brown with tannins and other chemicals released from decaying organic material, and is very acidic as a result. C. leucomelas can be found schooling in very large numbers over soft, often muddy substrates.

Maximum Standard Length

45 – 55 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

Minimum base dimensi0ns of 90 ∗ 30 cm or equivalent are recommended.


Ideally use a substrate of fine sand, although rounded gravel is an acceptable alternative provided it’s kept scrupulously clean.

Other décor is largely down to personal choice, but some cover should be provided to give the fish security.

Water Conditions

Temperature – °C


Hardness0 – 0 ppm


Corydoras spp. are foraging omnivores, and most will accept sinking dried foods as well as small live and frozen varieties such as chironomid larvae (bloodworm), Tubifex, etc.

Feeding a varied diet will ensure the fish are in optimum condition.

Under no circumstances should they be expected to survive on ‘left-overs’ from other inhabitants of the aquarium or relied on to ‘clean’ the aquarium.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Peaceful and gregarious. Should be maintained in a group of at least 4-6 individuals.

Sexual Dimorphism

Females tend to grow larger, and sexually mature individuals are noticeably broader and deeper-bodied than males.


Can be bred in a similar fashion to many other Corydoras species.

Use a ratio of two or more males per female if possible, and when the females are visibly full of eggs perform a large (50-70%) water change with cooler water, and increase oxygenation and flow in the tank. Repeat this daily until the fish spawn.

Eggs may be deposited on the aquarium glass, among fine-leaved vegetation or within sunken spawning mops, with the latter particularly recommended since they facilitate easy removal of eggs.

Once spawning is complete either adults or eggs should be removed; the latter can usually be rolled gently up the glass with a finger. The new container should contain the same water as the spawning tank and be similarly well-oxygenated.

Most breeders add a few drops of methylene blue, or an alder cone or two at this point in order to prevent the eggs developing fungus.

Incubation is normally 3-4 days and once the fry have fully-absorbed their yolk sacs they are able to accept small live foods such as microworm, Artemia nauplii, etc.

They are not the easiest to raise, requiring excellent water quality, but seem less susceptible to ailments when maintained over a thin layer of sand rather than in a bare arrangement.

NotesTop ↑

This species is one of the most abundant corys in its natural waters. It’s caught and exported in huge numbers for the trade, often being shipped in consignments of “mixed Corydoras” or “spotted Corydoras” alongside similar looking, sympatric species such as C. agassizii, C. ambiacus, C. gomezi and occasionally C. schwartzi. Unfortunately, most of these are easily confused and can be tricky to tell apart.

C. schwartzi is the most easily distinguished, as it’s the only one to possess a creamy-white leading ray to the dorsal fin. C. leucomelas has an obvious dark band running through the eye, which is absent in both C. agassizii and C. ambiacus. In C. gomezi the dark dorsal marking is restricted to a spot in the upper part of the fin, whereas in C. leucomelas the marking extends into the upper body and is only present in the lower part of the dorsal fin.

The genus Corydoras is among the largest catfish groups and currently contains over 150 valid species.

It is included in the family Callichthyidae, of which members are often referred to collectively as ‘armoured’ or ‘mailed’ catfishes group due to the presence of bony plates in place of scales on the body.

Their taxonomy can be confusing, and numerous undescribed species are also thought to exist. Fish of unconfirmed identification entering the aquarium hobby are therefore typically assigned a ‘C’ or ‘CW’ number for purposes of reference and organisation.

They are facultative air breathers and possess a modified, highly vascularised intestine which has evolved to facilitate uptake of atmospheric oxygen and aid survival in oxygen-deprived environments. In the aquarium you’ll occasionally see them rising to the surface to take in gulps of air.

The stiffened pectoral-fin spines are capable of piercing human skin and a ‘sting’ can be very painful indeed, so care should be exercised when handling them.

It is thought that secretions from the axillary glands at the base of each spine may even be mildly toxic or venomous.


  1. Eigenmann, C. H. and W. R. Allen, 1942 - University of Kentucky: i-xv + 1-494
    Fishes of Western South America. I. The intercordilleran and Amazonian lowlands of Peru. II. The high pampas of Peru, Bolivia, and northern Chile. With a revision of the Peruvian Gymnotidae, and of the genus Orestias.
  2. Ferraris, C. J., Jr., 2007 - Zootaxa 1418: 1-628
    Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types.
  3. Fuller, I. A. M., and H-G. Evers, 2005 - Verlag A. C. S. GmbH: 1-384
    Identifying Corydoradinae Catfish.
  4. Nijssen, H. and I. J. H. Isbrücker, 1980 - Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde 50(1): 190-220
    A review of the genus Corydoras Lacépède, 1803 (Pisces, Siluriformes, Callichthyidae).
  5. Ortega, H. and R. P. Vari, 1986 - Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology No. 437: i-iii + 1-25
    Annotated checklist of the freshwater fishes of Peru.
  6. Reis, R. E., S. O. Kullander and C. J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds), 2003 - EDIPUCRS, Porto Alegre: i-xi + 1-729
    Check list of the freshwater fishes of South and Central America. CLOFFSCA.

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