Can Cory Catfish and Shrimp Live Together?

Jaime Douglas
Jaime Douglas

Writer at The Aquarium Keeper

Shrimp and cory catfish is an interesting combination, that a lot of people want to try in the fishkeeping hobby. Both species are mainly bottom dwellers, that like to hang out on the substrate, eating all the leftovers they can find. 

Corys and shrimp have an excellent reputation as being good tank cleaners, but can these two different species live together? Will Cory Catfish feel threatened by shrimp and eventually eat them? Read this article to find out!

Table of Contents

Shrimp and Cory Catfish Compatability

Cory catfish and shrimp can easily live together without any problems in the same aquarium. Both species spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, but they are not territorial and aggressive, so they can definitely be housed together.

All species tend to do strange and desperate things if the aquarium conditions are not right. To prevent any unnatural aggression from corydoras, they have to be properly fed, because these two species feed at the same place in the tank, and if there is enough food for everyone, that means corydoras and shrimp will get along just fine.

Do Cory Catfish Eat Shrimp?

In a short answer, cory catfish do not see shrimp as food in most cases. If corydoras are kept correctly and fed accordingly, they will not harm shrimp. In most situations, corydoras try to eat shrimp only if they are hungry and desperate. As we mentioned before, they are bottom dwellers, that usually tend to sit at the bottom and wait for food to come down. If you have other fish and put not have enough food, your cory catfish might not get food to the bottom, because all of it is going to be eaten before it sinks down. Also, corydoras might try to swim in the middle of the tank to eat food, but they are not very good at it compared to other fish species. So going after shrimp might be their last resort.

close up of blue neocaridina shrimp that is standing on aquarium plant

Cory catfish is an omnivore, which means this fish likes to eat a wide range of different foods and is not a picky eater.  The best food to feed corydoras is algae wafers, shrimp pellets, and tropical granules. Shrimp and corydoras eat the same food, so they might bully each other for food, but they won’t harm or hurt each other in most cases.

Reasons Why Cory Catfish Might Eat Shrimp

In general, the cory catfish is a peaceful fish, that does not go after other species and chooses to avoid conflict rather than fight with other fish. But as we talked about before, if the aquarium conditions are bad and there is not enough food, corydoras might go for your shrimp, because shrimp are small and really can’t fight back.

Of course, it does not mean that shrimp can easily be caught and killed by cory catfish. Shrimp are very fast and agile, and in most cases, adult shrimp would be too big for cory catfish to eat. On the other hand, smaller baby shrimp can become food due to their size. Corydoras will only go for your shrimp if it is very hungry and there is nothing else to eat. Corydoras are particularly very lazy fish when it comes to food because these species chose to just wait for the food to come down to the bottom, while other fish fights for it in the middle of the tank.

You might also like to read: Can Cherry Shrimp and Neon Tetras Live Together?

What Shrimp Species Can Get Eaten By Corydoras

Some shrimp species have a higher chance of being eaten by a cory catfish than others. Mainly, it comes down to size, so the smallest shrimp species have a tougher time living with corys. Neocaridina cherry shrimp is the smallest freshwater shrimp in the fishkeeping hobby, and cherry shrimp babies might get eaten by a hungry cory catfish.

We want to mention again, that usually all corydoras species are very friendly and peaceful community fish. Keeping neocaridina shrimp and corydoras is possible and can be done easily. We don’t want to picture corydoras as cold-blooded shrimp killers, but they might try to eat a baby shrimp if they are really hungry.

How to Prevent Corydoras From Eating Shrimp?

The obvious answer is food. Your corydoras need to be well-fed to not go after your shrimp. Do not starve your corydoras if you have some algae in your tank. They do eat algae, but just like humans, fish don’t like to eat repetitive food a lot. Feed your fish good quality food, so that they would be happy and do not cause any unwanted trouble.

albino cory catfish close up in aquarium

The other thing you can do is to have a lot of different aquatic plants in your aquarium. Having a bunch of hiding places in the bottom section of your tank would significantly reduce the possibility of your shrimp getting consumed by a cory.

Best Cory Catfish Species for Shrimp

Smaller cory catfish would do just fine with any type of shrimp. They would even have a really hard time going after baby shrimp if they tried, so there is very little danger of shrimp being eaten by smaller corydoras. We recommend keeping these species:

  • Pygmy Cory Catfish (Corydoras pygmaeus)
  • Dwarf Cory Catfish (Corydoras hastatus)
  • Salt and Pepper Cory Catfish (Corydoras habrosus)
  • Tail Spot Cory Catfish (Corydoras caudimaculatus)
  • Shy Cory Catfish (Corydoras gracilis)
  • Smudge Spot Cory Catfish (Corydoras similis)
  • Panda Cory Catfish (Corydoras panda)

Worst Cory Catfish Species for Shrimp

Size is a big factor when it comes to housing shrimp with cory catfish. Some bigger corydoras species might be a problem, because they have a larger mouth and can easily swallow even an adult neocaridina shrimp, so it is best to avoid these species when housing with shrimp: 

  • Banded Cory Catfish (Scleromystax barbatus)
  • Pepper Cory Catfish (Corydoras paleatus)
  • Emerald Cory Catfish (Corydoras splendens)
  • Albino Cory Catfish (Corydoras aeneus)

These big corydoras species might not eat shrimp, but just to be safe we would not recommend keeping shrimp and bigger bottom dweller fish in the same aquarium.

Related Questions

Can Cory Catfish Live With Amano Shrimp?

Amano shrimp and corydoras can definitely live together. Unlike neocaridina, amano shrimp are way bigger and can definitely escape a hungry cory. Amano shrimp also do not breed in freshwater, because they need brackish water to successfully multiply. This means there are not going to be any shrimp babies in your aquarium, and corydoras will not go after adult amano shrimp.

Can Cory Catfish Live With Ghost Shrimp?

Ghost shrimp are very similar to cherry shrimp in size, but they are very white and are not as appealing in terms of appearance. They can live with cory catfish without a problem, just be sure corydoras are well fed, because ghost shrimp easily breed in freshwater, so there will be a lot of babies if you are planning on keeping ghost shrimp.

Will Cory Catfish Eat Shrimp Eggs?

Corydoras are opportunists, and they will definitely eat your shrimp eggs if they get a hold of them. In most cases, shrimp drop their eggs if they are stressed, or if the water conditions are not right, and corydoras will eat shrimp eggs without a second thought.

Will Cory Catfish Eat Dead Shrimp?

Corydoras can easily go after dead shrimp because these species are scavengers. They are lazy fish and will take the opportunity to grab an easy meal if they can.

Writer's Thoughts

Personally, I have kept pygmy corydoras with cherry shrimp for the last 2 years without a problem. The key to keeping these species together is just providing enough quality food and space, and they will happily live together.

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