Since the introduction of this species in 1971 to the aquarium keeping hobby, this corydoras species has been very popular. It is an attractive little fish with very interesting behaviour. The markings on the head do resemble the colouring of a panda bear what might explain his popularity for a part.
This species has been first described by Nijssen & Isbrückers.
With a length of 5 centimetres is the Corydoras panda not immediately the largest species but despite his little size, the Panda Cory is hardly shy. This fish has striking images with its two black spots, one on the head, around the eye and one on the lateral line, near the beginning of the caudal fin. The colour is usually white/beige, however, there can be variations, the dorsal fin is black.
If in the front an open space is reserved then the Panda Cory will be found there, scavenging the soil for food. To not damage the barbels, it’s best to use sand as a substrate. This little fish can really dive into the sand, often covering even the eyes, sharp or rough substrate could damage the eyes or skin, causing trauma. Also, make sure there is an open body of surface space as these fish like to dart to the surface and take breaths of air. This intestinal breathing is common to these fish.
Males and females are equal in size (+/- 5 centimetres), despite their gender-neutral look, the females have a much rounder belly area, however, this is only visible when the animals are fully grown.
The Corydoras panda inhabits the upper stream area of the Amazon in Peru. They live in both clear as blackwater streams and tributaries. In spring, the temperature of these waters can drop to as low as 19° Celsius as these are fed with meltwater from the Andes.
Just as all other Corydoras the Corydoras panda loves red mosquito, brine shrimp nauplii, tubifex worms, enchytraeids but also all other frozen foods will be taken. Sinking pellets are also liked. Tablets can be given too as long as these are not too large. This bottom-dweller is a real omnivore who will scout the substrate for anything edible.
The tank for the Corydoras panda does not need to be very large. A minimum length of 60 centimetres for a small shoal of about 8 fish is sufficient. Sand is the best substrate for a Corydoras tank. Make sure they have open space on the substrate where they can scavenge for food.
Besides the substrate, hide-outs are equally important. You can use larger plants or wood where they can hide when this is necessary.
The temperature may not be set too high for the Corydoras Panda. Keep them between 20° to 25° Celsius. A continuous temperature of 25° Celsius and above will shorten the life span of this little Cory. So, don’t keep these too warm!
For breeding, a ratio of 1 female to 3 males is sufficient but make sure these are well fed with black mosquito larvae. The eggs are fertilised in open water and attached to the tank’s glass, leaves, rocks or Java moss. Detach the eggs or together with the substrate transport these to the breeding tank. The eggs will hatch 2 to 3 days later. The eggs are vulnerable to fungus due to lighting so don’t keep them in a high lit tank. The fry can be brought up by using cyclops or brine shrimp nauplii.
Many of the Corydoras species have a self-defence mechanism to prevent becoming another’s fish diner. When there is a danger they will lock stingers in their dorsal and pectoral fins. This causes them to remain stuck in the assailant’s throat or beak. When you want to remove them from the tank it can be that they become stuck in the netting, be careful however when removing them as these stingers can penetrate or even break off in the skin causing inflammation of the wound.
The toxin from the glands can also be released when they are stressed or in danger. When transporting Cory’s don’t put too many of them in a bag and also remove any other fish, as the toxin will be lethal to them if released.
Not much research has been done towards the toxin and it is yet unclear if the toxin is released from the gills or stingers. Following Corydoras species are believed to have this toxin: Corydoras adolfoi, Corydoras arcuatus, Corydoras melini, Corydoras metae, Corydoras panda, Corydoras robineae, Corydoras rabauti, Corydoras atropersonatus, Corydoras sterbai and Corydoras trilineatus
Coby – J. de Lange