Corydoras narcissus Care: Tank Size, Lifespan, Food & More

Corydoras narcissus, commonly referred to as the Long-Nosed Skunk Cory, is a unique armored catfish originating from the Brazilian waterways of the Rio Purus. It is a peaceful species, but adult fish can display territorial aggression, particularly in the breeding season. Renowned for their fascinating mimicry abilities, these catfishes blend with others from the Amazon River region, engaging in Müllerian mimicry for survival. In the wild, they forage on a diet consisting of worms, small crustaceans, insects, and plant debris.

Corydoras Narcissus Profile:

Scientific NameCorydoras narcissus
Common NameLong-Nosed Skunk Cory
Usual Size in Fish TanksUp to 10 cm (4 inches)
Recommended pH Range6.0 – 7.5
Recommended Water Hardness (dGH)2 – 25°N
Recommended Temperature22-26°C (72-79°F)
OriginRio Purus, Brazil
Temperament to Own SpeciesPeaceful but territorial
Temperament to Other FishGenerally peaceful
Usual Place in the TankBottom
LifespanApprox. 5 years
Tank Size Requirement50 gallons or larger
Filtration SystemRequired
Sexual DimorphismPresent
Substrate CleaningFrequent

Aquarists should provide a spacious tank with a soft substrate to mimic their natural habitat, considering their tendency to burrow. Life expectancy for well-cared-for individuals is around five years, and a dedicated filtration system is imperative to maintain clean water conditions. Males and females show sexual dimorphism, aiding in breeding efforts. Due to their social nature, it’s recommended to keep them in small groups or with dither fish to promote natural behaviors within a community aquarium.

Note: It is crucial to avoid fish medications containing copper, as it is particularly harmful to all species of Corydoras.

Scientific Name

The scientific classification of Corydoras narcissus places it within the family Callichthyidae, which is known for armored catfishes native to the diverse ecosystems of South America. This particular species thrives in the soft, acidic waters of the continent and is recognized for its distinct appearance and behavior among aquarium enthusiasts.

Corydoras Narcissus Scientific Classification:

SpeciesC. narcissus

In home aquariums, C. narcissus typically attains a size of 6-7 cm (2.36-2.76 inches), making them a suitably sized fish for a variety of tank setups. To ensure their well-being, it is essential to maintain water conditions within their preferred range. A pH of 6.7-7.2 and water hardness of 3-19°N (53.57-339.29 ppm) will create a thriving environment that emulates their natural habitat in the wild.

Average Size

Corydoras narcissus, commonly known as Long-Nosed Skunk Cory, is a relatively compact member of the freshwater fish community, with adult fish usually reaching an average size of 7-8 cm (2.76-3.15 inches). It is noteworthy to mention that they seldom exceed 8 cm in length, which underscores their charm as small, manageable pets for aquarium hobbyists.

Despite their modest size, these fish stand out due to their multiple pairs of barbels. These sensory organs equip the Corydoras narcissus with the ability to meticulously scour the aquarium substrate, detecting and snapping up any edible morsels that might have settled.

Providing a lifelong home for these delightful creatures requires commitment, as they boast a longevity of 15-25 years. The Corydoras narcissus is not only a delight to observe but also a lasting companion in the aquatic world.


Corydoras narcissus, also referred to as the Long-Nosed Skunk Cory, has a shorter lifespan than many other popular aquarium dwellers. Typically, these armored catfishes live for 3 to 5 years. The vitality of these fish is largely influenced by the care they receive. Factors such as water quality, diet, and overall tank conditions are critical in determining their longevity.

In their natural habitat, which spans the Amazon River and its tributaries such as the Rio Purus and Rio Ipixuna, their life expectancy might be reduced due to threats like predation. Conversely, in the controlled environment of an aquarium, with regimented care, their lifespan can be maximized.

To ensure your Corydoras narcissus thrive, it’s essential to maintain pristine water conditions and serve a balanced diet inclusive of plant matter and high-quality frozen foods. With dedicated aquarium care, these peaceful species have the potential to reach or even exceed the higher end of their lifespan expectancy.

Average SizeLifespanSexual Dimorphism
7-8 cm (2.76-3.15 inches)15-25 yearsFemales are stockier

Consistent attention to aquarium care and conditions can significantly contribute to the longevity of these fascinating fish.

Natural Habitat

Corydoras, including the Corydoras narcissus, are accustomed to the gentle flow and shallow waters of river systems like those of the Amazon Basin. They display a preference for soft, sandy bottoms or fine gravel, which is crucial for their well-being as harsher substrates can damage their delicate barbels. This, in turn, might lead to infections that can shorten their lifespan. To keep these armored catfishes healthy in captivity, aquariums should have efficient filtration systems and moderate water circulation to closely mimic these conditions.

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In their native settings, Corydoras seek refuge among shady retreats provided by fallen driftwood, densely planted areas, and rocky nooks. Recreating such an environment is essential for their comfort and stress reduction in an artificial habitat. Given that C. narcissus possesses a unique ability to breathe air directly, aquariums should be designed with a space between the water’s surface and the lid to allow these fish to gulp air when necessary.


The Corydoras Narcissus is often celebrated as one of the most splendid members of its family. With distinguishing features that captivate enthusiasts, these fish boast a remarkable aesthetic. A noticeable stripe graces their face, extending from below the eye to the snout, a stripe that intriguingly varies with the fish’s mood.

Their allure is further heightened by their considerable size and mysterious demeanor, paired with bold markings that command attention in any tank setting. However, it’s essential to note that their size and distinctive long noses have been associated with unexpected aggressive behaviors. This nuance means they need to be kept with compatible species to maintain a harmonious aquarium environment.

The fish’s unique charm has not gone unrecognized. The name ‘narcissus’ was bestowed upon them as a playful homage to the collector who first discovered this enchanting species. This moniker reflects both their enigmatic presence and the bewitching impact they have on aquarists and observers alike.

Corydoras Narcissus Appearance

Behavior & Temperament

The Corydoras narcissus exhibit a blend of peacefulness and aggression that must be managed within the aquarium environment. Generally, they are placid and make good community fish, but they have a distinct behavioral pattern during breeding periods when males can show intense aggression towards each other. It is recommended to provide them with a spacious tank with a soft sand substrate and ample vegetation to mimic their natural habitat.

Corydoras Narcissus Behavior & Temperament

Are Corydoras narcissus Fin Nippers?

No, Corydoras narcissus are not typically known as fin nippers. They possess spiny fins that contain a venom, which can be a defense mechanism, but they do not actively pursue or nip at the fins of other fish in the tank. Their non-nipping behavior makes them suitable inhabitants of a community aquarium, assuming other compatibility factors are met.

Are Corydoras narcissus Aggressive To Each Other & Other Fish?

Corydoras narcissus can become aggressive, especially during mating. Mature males in particular may engage in conflict that occasionally leads to injuries or fatalities. Outside the breeding period, they are a peaceful species, but proper tank size and environment are required to minimize aggression. When it comes to other fish, C. narcissus are generally not aggressive and can coexist well in a community tank if they are not overcrowded and a sense of territory is maintained.

Are Corydoras narcissus Friendly To Each Other & Other Fish?

Corydoras narcissus have a peaceful demeanor with other fish species and are generally friendly towards each other when not in breeding mode. Still, it is crucial to maintain them in proper numbers and conditions to prevent stress and possible aggression.

Are Corydoras narcissus Schooling Fish?

Corydoras narcissus are not as gregarious as other Corydoras species and tend to occur in smaller groups rather than large schools. This behavior underscores the importance of keeping them in groups to satisfy their social requirements and improve their wellbeing in the aquarium setting.

Can You Have Just One Corydoras narcissus In The Tank?

It is not recommended to have just one Corydoras narcissus in a tank as they are social creatures that thrive in the company of their own kind. A lone Corydoras narcissus can become stressed, which may lead to a susceptibility to diseases. Group maintenance is indeed important for the health and behavior of individual fish.

Do Corydoras narcissus Need To Be In Groups?

Yes, Corydoras narcissus need to be kept in groups for their overall well-being. Being a less social species than other Corydoras, they should be maintained in a group of at least five individuals to allow for their innate social behavior to manifest. Keeping them in groups helps to disperse any aggression that may occur, particularly among males during breeding season, and contributes to a more natural and stress-free environment for these fish.

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Social RequirementGroup SizeBehavior
Group Maintenance5 or moreSocial, occasionally aggressive during breeding
Tank ConditionsRecommendation
SubstrateSoft sand
VegetationAmple, dense
FiltrationEfficient with good oxygenation
Water MovementModerate

Food & Diet

Corydoras narcissus are omnivorous armored catfish that require a balanced diet to maintain optimal health and vitality. These fish appreciate a variety of foods, including worms, small crustaceans, and plant matter to mimic their natural feeding habits in the Amazon River systems, such as the Rio Purus and Rio Ipixuna.

Corydoras Narcissus Food & Diet

Do Corydoras narcissus Eat Algae?

While Corydoras narcissus do consume plant matter as part of their varied diet, they are not avid algae eaters and should not be relied upon for significant algae control in an aquarium. Instead, their nutritional needs are best met with a diet that includes high protein foods. To keep them in top condition, aquarists should provide sinking pellets, algae wafers, and occasional treats of live or frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and chopped mussels.

Do Corydoras narcissus Eat Shrimp?

Small live or frozen prey, such as shrimp, are readily consumed by Corydoras narcissus. Their natural foraging behavior is encouraged when they are provided with sandy substrates that allow them to root around for food, including shrimp. However, care must be taken not to overfeed them, as excess food can lead to water pollution and adverse health effects.

Do Corydoras narcissus Eat Bloodworms?

Bloodworms are an excellent addition to the diet of Corydoras narcissus. These foods, along with other protein-rich offerings, should be fed in the evening when these nocturnal feeders are most active. Supplementing their staple diet with these nutritious treats can promote growth and vibrant health, but as with any live or frozen foods, it is essential to avoid overfeeding.

Do Corydoras narcissus Eat Mosquito Larvae?

In their natural environment, Corydoras narcissus will opportunistically feed on mosquito larvae. Supplying mosquito larvae in an aquarium setting provides a natural and nutritious food source that can contribute significantly to their diet. Not only does this practice enrich the dietary variety for the fish, but it also stimulates their natural foraging behavior.

Do Corydoras narcissus Eat Planaria?

While Corydoras narcissus may incidentally eat planaria present in the aquarium, these worms are not a substantial part of their diet. Their feeding regime should primarily consist of balanced commercial foods designed for bottom feeders, supplemented with live or frozen foods. Focus on providing this species with a constant supply of nutritionally appropriate food rather than expecting them to subsist on planaria or other occasional invertebrates.

Do Corydoras narcissus Eat Plants?

Corydoras narcissus need some plant matter in their diet, yet they lean more towards a carnivorous diet rather than being herbivores. Although they may graze on soft plants or plant detritus occasionally, they chiefly need protein-rich foods for their health. Aquarium care should involve adding vegetation for environmental enrichment rather than as a primary food source.

Dietary NeedsRecommended Foods
ProteinBloodworms, brine shrimp, chopped mussels
VegetationAlgae wafers, occasional plant matter
Feeding ScheduleEvening feedings; small, frequent portions

Sexing: Male vs Female

Identifying the gender of Corydoras narcissus can be quite straightforward for the well-versed aquarist. Males and females showcase distinct physical differences, particularly when viewed from above. Females are noticeably wider, boasting a larger underbelly suited for egg carrying, while males tend to have a more slender profile and are shorter in length.

As a peaceful species, C. narcissus thrive in carefully arranged aquariums where territories can be established, especially since males can display territorial behavior towards each other. This underscores the importance of an adequately sized tank and a strategic group setup.

Corydoras Narcissus Sexing Male vs Female

Additionally, males exhibit more pointed fin tips, lending them a sharper appearance compared to their female counterparts. With proper conditioning, these differences become more pronounced, making sex differentiation easier.

In contrast, female C. narcissus stand out due to their size and stoutness, often overshadowing males in girth and overall bulk. This sexual dimorphism is particularly evident during breeding readiness when females are at their most robust.

GenderBody ShapeFin TipsSize
MaleSlender, shorter lengthPointedSmaller, less stout
FemaleWider, larger underbellyRoundedLarger, more stout

Remembering these key differences will aid in effectively sexing your C. narcissus and managing their peaceful communal living.

Corydoras narcissus Tank Mates

When selecting companions for Corydoras narcissus, peaceful coexistence is key. These armored catfish thrive in soft, acidic waters similar to their native Amazon River habitat, specifically the tributaries around Rio Purus and Rio Ipixuna. They should be kept in shoals of at least five, as living in groups helps them feel secure.

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Compatible tank mates include gentle, non-aggressive species such as tetras, rasboras, small barbs, and dwarf cichlids, who share their requirement for similar water parameters. Larger or dominant fish species should be avoided, as they can cause undue stress to the docile C. narcissus.

Corydoras Narcissus Corydoras narcissus Tank Mates

Bottom-dwellers, like small loaches or various Corydoras types, make excellent tank mates, as they naturally occupy distinct niches within the aquarium. This separation reduces competition and promotes a harmonious aquatic community.

Summary of Ideal Tank Mates:

Tank Mate TypeExamplesCompatibility Reason
Peaceful Top/Mid-DwellersTetras, Rasboras, Small BarbsSimilar water needs; non-aggressive
Dwarf CichlidsApistogramma, RamsPeaceful; require same water conditions
Bottom-DwellersSmall Loaches, Other CorydorasDifferent tank levels; minimize competition

A diverse mix curated with care encourages a tranquil environment, perfect for the unassuming C. narcissus.

Aquarium Setup

Creating the perfect home for Corydoras narcissus involves attention to tank size, water parameters, and tank environment. These long nosed armored catfish prefer a habitat that mirrors the sandy riverbeds of their natural Amazonian environment, like those found in the tributaries of the Rio Purus and Rio Ipixuna. To simulate their native conditions, a spacious aquarium with a soft, fine sand substrate is essential for their well-being, allowing them to root for food without injury.

The aquarium should be designed to encourage their gregarious nature, promoting the social behavior that these fish are known for. A planted tank with ample room for swimming and gaps between vegetation for exploration recreates the diverse environment they are accustomed to.

Corydoras Narcissus Aquarium Setup

Ideal Tank Size

The Corydoras narcissus, also recognized as the Long-Nosed Skunk Cory, commands a generous amount of space to roam and exhibit natural behaviors. A minimum tank size of 208 liters (55 US gallons) is recommended. This size allows for a significant shoal and multiple living zones, which is essential for these social creatures and their tank mates. Ensuring enough space for each fish to thrive is crucial for their physical and psychological health.

Ideal Water Parameters

Maintaining the right water parameters is critical for the health of Corydoras narcissus. Ensure the water has a pH range of 6.7 – 7.2, with a hardness level between 3 – 19°N (53.57 – 339.29ppm), which aligns closely with their natural habitat conditions. Consistent and ideal temperature range should be kept between 22 – 28°C (71.6 – 82.4°F) to mimic the warmth of the Amazonian waters they thrive in. Regular testing of the aquarium’s water for parameters such as pH, nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia is essential to keep these parameters within the desired ranges for the fish’s well-being.


Efficient filtration in the aquarium is vital for the health of Corydoras narcissus. A quality filter system will prevent the accumulation of waste and ensure moderate water movement, imitating the natural flow of their habitat. Additionally, filtration plays a significant role in the oxygenation of the water which is crucial for these bottom dwellers, as well as facilitating the nitrogen cycle to reduce harmful toxins like ammonia. Regular maintenance, such as partial water changes, must complement the filtration to maintain water clarity and health.


Appropriate lighting is important in an aquarium for plant growth and mimicking natural daylight cycles. Corydoras narcissus does not have specific lighting needs, but a balanced lighting system that promotes a natural day and night cycle will create a comfortable environment for them to thrive. It is recommended to opt for moderate lighting that supports live plants, without being too intense to stress the fish. Adjusting the lighting to reflect diurnal patterns will help in regulating the fish’s behavior and physiological processes.

Aquarium Care & Compatibility Summary:

Tank SizeMinimum 208 litres (55 US gallons)
Water pH6.7 – 7.2
Water Hardness3 – 19°N (53.57 – 339.29ppm)
Temperature22 – 28°C (71.6 – 82.4°F)
FiltrationEfficient with moderate flow
LightingModerate; simulates natural cycle

This setup ensures a balanced and healthy environment in which the peaceful Corydoras narcissus can coexist with other compatible species, reflecting their native South American ecosystems.

Common Possible Diseases & Prevention

To ward off common ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, a proactive approach to health is vital. Engaging in regular physical activity, sticking to a nutritious diet, and evading tobacco and excessive alcohol are the cornerstones of disease prevention.

Timely health check-ups play a pivotal role in early disease detection, leading to quicker intervention and diminishing the chance of severe consequences. Vaccinations also form a crucial shield against many harmful viruses and bacteria.

Corydoras Narcissus Common Possible Diseases & Prevention

Basic hygiene habits are instrumental in curtailing the spread of infectious diseases. Simple actions like frequent handwashing and proper etiquette when coughing or sneezing go a long way in preventing illness transmission.

Lastly, a holistic approach to well-being, including adequate sleep, stress management, and staying informed on health guidance, reinforces our defense against common health issues.

Preventive Measures Overview:

Lifestyle AspectPreventive Action
Diet & ExerciseHealthy eating and regular exercise
Medical CareRegular screenings and vaccinations
HygieneHandwashing and respiratory hygiene
Well-beingSufficient sleep and stress management

By incorporating these practices, you can enhance overall health and significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Breeding Corydoras narcissus In Aquarium

Breeding the intriguing Corydoras narcissus within an aquarium setting presents a unique challenge. Unlike many other species, successful captive breeding of this particular fish has remained elusive, primarily due to their natural reproductive behavior as egg scatterers.

To foster a conducive breeding environment, enthusiasts should consider spacious tanks. This specie’s solitary nature during spawning necessitates ample room to prevent potential aggression. A serene ambiance is crucial; therefore, incorporating rocks and driftwood offers the necessary refuge for these fish to feel secure.

Corydoras Narcissus Breeding Corydoras narcissus In Aquarium

Substrate selection is also pivotal. Fine gravel or sand is ideal to safeguard the Corydoras narcissus’ delicate barbels, which are integral to their sensory exploration.

Identifying sexes is feasible through differences in body shape and fin tips. Ensuring a breeding group with a minimum of five fish is vital for maintaining their social dynamics.

Key Points for Breeding Corydoras narcissus:

Tank SizeLarge tanks for reduced aggression
Hiding SpotsRocks and wood for a secure habitat
SubstrateFine gravel or sand to protect barbels
Social GroupAt least 5 members for social behavior

This approach heightens the chances of successful breeding but does not guarantee it, given the complexities associated with reproducing Corydoras narcissus’ natural reproductive processes in captivity.