Do Cory Catfish Eat Shrimp? Can They Live Together?

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Many fish owners enjoy raising cory catfish, as they are quite easy to care for and get along with many other species.

However, not many feel comfortable raising them with shrimp, as they are quite small and delicate. At least that’s how I felt a few years back.

In this article, I’ll discuss whether cory catfish are likely to eat shrimp, and which species can live with them in the same tank. 

Lastly, I will mention how cory catfish will react to baby shrimp (shrimplets), and brine shrimp. Let’s dive right into it.

Corydoras pygmaeus (Pygmy Cory), which grow up to 1 inch, are great for shrimp tanks because they remain tiny.

Do Cory Catfish Eat Shrimp?

Cory catfish do not eat shrimp. You cannot completely eliminate this outcome, but the chances of a healthy cory catfish eating adult shrimp are tiny. 

Consider the following:

1. Their Mouths Are Too Small

Cory catfish are bottom dwellers. They have downturned mouths with barbels on the side that make them efficient scavengers.[1]

They use those downturned mouths to consume worms, insects, and plankton in the wild.[2] But shrimp are much bigger than those.

You wouldn’t expect them to take an interest in shrimp, especially smaller species like the pygmy cory that can only grow to a size of 1.5 inches.

The same goes for other creatures like snails, which cory catfish will likely ignore

The size is challenging because fish will eat whatever creature fits in their mouths. Many shrimp types can match the size of a cory catfish. 

Therefore, the fish are less likely to perceive the shrimp as food. 

However, try to remember that the tiniest shrimp are not entirely safe in an aquarium with 5-inch cory catfish.

The fish may consume them accidentally while searching for leftovers at the bottom. Shrimp are only truly safe when they are too big to fit in the fish’s mouth.

The cory catfish’s mouth is too small to consume adult shrimp.

2. Cory Catfish Are Peaceful

Cory catfish are not aggressive species. Consider this paper from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (South Africa).[3]

It repeatedly identifies corydoras catfish as suitable companions for ornamental species like mollies and swordtails because of their peaceful temperament. 

Even when they encounter aggressive neighbors, they would rather run and hide than stand their ground and fight, and for a good reason. 

Their downturned mouths are designed to suck up food, not bite, which puts the species in a vulnerable position.

Fortunately, shrimp are equally peaceful. They won’t attack, eat, or antagonize one another.

Also, thanks to the cory catfish’s docile temperament, it can happily coexist with other bottom dwellers, including loaches, plecos, and twig catfish.

3. Most Cory Catfish Remain Small

The cory catfish type won’t influence the situation in your aquarium, not directly. Most cory catfish are peaceful. The only significant consideration is the size.

It will change depending on the type. For instance, emerald green cory catfish are four inches long, while their pygmy counterparts are just one inch, as I discussed here.

If a size mismatch concerns you, avoid Hoplo catfish which can reach nine inches. 

They are part of Megalechis/Hoplosternum instead of callichthydae, so you can’t classify them as real corys.

But a clueless retailer can sell one to you by mistake without mentioning the size they can attain as adults.

What Is The Best Type Of Cory Catfish For A Shrimp Tank?

The rule of thumb here is to get the smallest cory catfish you can, which is the Pygmy corydoras (also known as Dwarf Corydoras).

Pygmy corydoras grow up to 1 inch in size, which is amazing for a shrimp tank, as their mouths are tiny and they won’t be able to consume your shrimp.

If you can’t get your hands on this particular type, these may also work in a shrimp tank:

  • Salt and pepper cory catfish (Corydoras habrosus)
  • Smudge spot cory catfish (Corydoras similis)
  • Shy cory catfish (Corydoras gracilis)

What Kinds Of Shrimp Can Live With Cory Catfish?

Cory catfish can co-exist with most shrimp types. The most prominent include:

  • Bamboo Shrimp – At 3 inches, cory catfish have no interest in eating bamboo shrimp. The bamboo shrimp have quiet, friendly personalities.
  • Crystal Red Shrimp – Crystal red shrimp can survive in any aquarium that appeals to cherry shrimp because the species have a lot in common. Crystal red shrimp have nothing against cory catfish.
  • Blue Dream Shrimp – Blue Dream shrimp have an average size of 1.25 inches. The creatures are not particularly difficult to rear. They are a decent addition to any cory catfish aquarium.
  • Blue Bolt Shrimp – Blue bolt shrimp are difficult to raise. However, they are more than worth the challenge because of their eye-catching colors.
  • Glass Shrimp – Glass shrimp have a transparent body that inspired their name. Some people call them ghost shrimp. They are just as easy to rear. Cory catfish won’t eat them.
  • Black Pinto Shrimp – Black pinto shrimp are okay if you have the experience to care for them. Otherwise, they are quite sensitive.
  • Tangerine Tiger Shrimp – Tangerine tiger shrimp are great tank cleaners and peaceful enough to co-exist with smaller species like cory catfish.
Cherry shrimp can get along with cory catfish as they are similar in size.

How To Prevent Cory Catfish From Eating My Shrimp?

Cory catfish have no interest in eating shrimp. However, you can lower the possibility of aggression between these two creatures by taking the following steps:

1. Keep The Right Water Parameters

Give the fish favorable parameters, including a temperature of 74 to 80 degrees F and a pH of 7.0 to 8.0.[4]

You should also keep the ammonia and nitrite at 0 ppm, while nitrate remains below 20 ppm. Those are mostly controlled by routine water changes and gravel vacuuming.

Bear in mind that the exact temperature and pH will vary depending on the type of cory catfish. The last thing you want is to make them unhappy.

According to one aquarist from Eastern Michigan University (Sarah Hamade), these creatures can release poisonous mucus that kills everything in the vicinity.[5]

Admittedly, this weapon has its drawbacks. The resulting stress will kill the catfish. In other words, you risk losing your fish and shrimp by creating conditions that generate aggression in the creatures.

2. Make Sure The Tank Is Large Enough

Give the tank’s inhabitants ample room to swim and explore. Cory catfish are small creatures. However, they thrive in groups.

Therefore, you need at least 20 gallons to keep them happy. A cory catfish without six or more of its kind will go into hiding because it feels unsafe.

3. Introduce A Few Plants

Give the shrimp suitable hiding places, such as plants and decorations. Organic plants are the best option because they add oxygen to the water.

You may use liquid fertilizer to boost plant growth without making a mess. Small shrimp will use the plant life to avoid larger fish.

Some suitable plants for a cory catfish and shrimp tank may include:

  • Java Fern
  • Amazon Sword
  • Anubias Nana
  • Marimo Moss Balls 
  • Water Sprite
Anubias Nana is a great addition to a shrimp tank as they provide plenty of hiding spots.

Will Cory Catfish Eat Baby Shrimp (Shrimplets)?

Cory catfish are a threat to baby shrimp because they are small enough to fit in a fish’s mouth.

They may even get the shrimplets buried within the substrate, as cory catfish are scavengers that spend most of their time at the bottom.

Don’t expect the catfish to eat enough babies to prevent your shrimp population from growing. Cory catfish will most likely eat the babies by accident after confusing them for food.

Will Cory Catfish Eat Brine Shrimp?

Yes, cory catfish will eat brine shrimp. Brine shrimp are no different from bloodworms and daphnia. 

People add them to the water to feed cory catfish. At 0.4 inches, they are small enough to fit in a cory catfish’s mouth.[6]

Do Cory Catfish Eat Shrimp Pellets?

Although I’ve never tried feeding shrimp pellets to my cory catfish, I’ve seen many fish owners ask this question online, so I decided to do some research.

Apparently, in many cases, cory catfish will ignore shrimp pellets and won’t eat them. Many aquarists have had more success with cheap, sinking food instead.

If your corydoras ignore the shrimp pellets, you may try turning off the lights. Some cory catfish just feel safer when the lights are off.

Pro tip: Cory catfish need to eat food that sinks to the bottom. Floating food forces them to swallow air, and possibly develop swim bladder disease.


Like any other fish, cory catfish will eat whatever fits in their mouths, including worms, plankton, and insects. However, this does not include mature shrimp.

Corydoras have tiny downturned mouths, and most shrimp just don’t fit in those. But the same cannot be said for baby shrimp, also known as shrimplets.

Cory catfish will also happily eat brine shrimp. Many fish owners use this type of food thanks to its high nutritional value.