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Corydoras armatus (GÜNTHER, 1868)

SynonymsTop ↑

Callichthys armatus Günther, 1868


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.

armatus: from the Latin armatus, meaning ‘armour, armed, armoured’, probably in allusion to the enlarged dorsal-fin spine or bony plates on the body (Günther did not specify).


Order: Siluriformes Family: Callichthyidae


Type description as given by Günther is ‘Xeberos and Huallaga’, which appears to correspond to the district of Jeberos in Alto Amazonas state, Peru and small province of Huallaga in San Martín region, respectively.

Both localities lie within the Río Huallaga watershed to which C. armatus may be endemic.

The Huallaga is a tributary of the Río Marañón which later becomes the Amazon following its confluence with the Ucayali.

Records also exist from the upper Río Madeira system in Brazil and Bolivia, but see the ‘Notes’ section below.

Maximum Standard Length

60 – 65 mm.


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

Temperature22 – 26 °C

pH6.0 – 7.5

Hardness36 – 215 ppm


Corydoras spp. are foraging omnivores and will accept most sinking dried foods, as well as small live and frozen varieties such as bloodwormTubifex, 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 rounder and broader-bodied than males, especially when gravid.

NotesTop ↑

Fish collected in the upper rio Maderia basin in Brazil and Bolivia have been traded under the invented names C. sp. ‘dorsalis’ and C. sp. ‘ogawae’ in the past, although are officially-considered conspecific with C. armatus.

This appears to warrant investigation since the Río Huallaga in Peru, type locality of C. armatus, and collection localities in the upper Madeira are separated by a straight-line distance of almost 2500 km.

C. armatus may also be confused with C. loretoensis but has a relatively deeper body and a longer, slightly curved (vs. shorter and straight) dorsal-fin spine.

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. Günther, A., 1868 - Annals and Magazine of Natural History (Series 4) v. 1 (no. 6): 475-481
    Diagnoses of some new freshwater fishes from Surinam and Brazil, in the collection of the British Museum.
  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. 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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