Bandit Corydoras (Corydoras Metae)

Order: Siluriformes
Family: Callichthyidae
Genus & Species: Corydoras Metae
Common Names: Masked Corydoras, Bandit Corydoras, Bandit catfish, Meta River Corydoras
Temperature: 72 – 79ºF (22.2 – 26ºC)
pH: 6.0 – 7.5
GH: 5.0 – 12 dGH
Max Size: 5cm (2 inches)
Lifespan: 5 – 10 years
Depth Preference: Bottom dweller
Tank Size: 20 gallons

Due to their light-colored scales with black markings, bandit corydoras often look phenomenal in aquariums with darker substrates. They are also a species of catfish that are frequently active, particularly at feeding time and in the evenings.

Origin & Habitat

Bandit corydoras are a freshwater species of catfish endemic to Colombia’s Meta River watershed in South America. Primarily found in the upper basins of the Rios Humea, Ocoa Manacacias, Metica, Negrito, Guayuriba, and Guatiqua rivers

In their natural habitat, the substrate is entirely covered in various sizes of old driftwood, as well as fine white sand, leaf litter, darker river stones, and some rocky sections.

Bandit Corydoras Care

Bandit corydoras are a small type of catfish without scales that are instead protected by bony plates called scutes. Their three barbels, which are sensory organs that can detect food up to 15 feet away, are used to identify and locate food sources by sensing surrounding enzymes.

In a home aquarium housing corydoras, only soft, fine-grained sand should be used as a substrate. They feed by sifting sand through their gills to collect microorganisms and other food sources; larger-grained substrates or rocks prohibit them from feeding properly and run the risk of injuring their barbels. Smooth river rocks are also acceptable, but shouldn’t entirely replace sand.

They also have a modified colon that has developed to make it easier for them to absorb atmospheric oxygen which helps them survive in areas with low oxygen levels. Since they can breathe air, you might see them swimming to the surface on occasion; if kept in poor conditions, surfacing for air may become more frequent.

The pectoral’s spines are capable of piercing human skin that can be painful, so appropriate care should be exercised when handling them. When under stress, the axillary glands at the base of each spine secrete substances that may even be slightly poisonous or venomous.

Because of this, they shouldn’t be transported in the same bag as other fish. Prior to transportation, the best practice is to remove them from the aquarium and place them inside a bucket of water. This will typically cause enough stress so that they expel their toxic secretions, and then transfer them into a bag with a net shortly afterward.

Bandit Corydoras Diet & Feeding

An omnivorous species of catfish, bandit corydoras consumes a variety of foods in the wild, including insects, insect larvae, invertebrates, microbes, detritus, plant matter, and dead fish.

Contrary to popular belief, bottom feeders shouldn’t just be left to fend for themselves to rely solely on leftovers for nourishment. Under extreme circumstances, they may become lethargic or hide during feedings due to a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • The temperature is too high
  • Malnutrition due to low quality or unsuitable foods
  • The water’s parameters are beyond their tolerance levels
  • Ultra-bright LED lighting
  • A parasitic infection or other illness (worms)
  • Cramped tank with insufficient space to move around
  • Alone or in a very small school
  • Unsuitable substrates with sharp rocks

The majority of their diet should contain protein-based foods, so it is highly recommended to offer them a few different sources, primarily pellets made with insect larvae. In addition, brine shrimp and microworms are excellent sources of food whether they are live, frozen, or freeze-dried.

Flake food and plant matter that your other fish do not consume will usually be sufficient as a source of plant-based nutrition. Diced peas, on the other hand, are a healthy food source that should occasionally be included in their feeding schedule because they can ward off numerous digestive issues.

Tank Mates & Temperament

Bandit corydoras are a peaceful species of catfish that can comfortably coexist in most community aquariums with other passive bottom dwellers. Some semi-aggressive bottom dwellers, such as dwarf cichlids, won’t bother them too much if they are kept in larger schools in an aquarium with enough room.

They are best kept in schools of six to eight or more due to their highly social nature. When in smaller groups, they may display odd behavior and become rather timid. Additionally, they will actively school with any and all other species of corydoras.

The best tank mates for bandit corydoras include species within the angelfish, barbs, bristlenose pleco, dwarf cichlids, danios, hatchetfish, loaches, livebearers, pencilfish, rasboras, rainbowfish, and tetra families.

Male & Female Differences

Juvenile bandit corydoras display very little to no sexual dimorphism. In well-conditioned adults that have reached full maturity, females appear to have rounded under bellies and are noticeably wider when viewed from the top down. The difference in length is often negligible in this particular species, often leading to confusion between males and females of varying sizes.

Male and female bandit cory (Corydoras Metae)

Breeding & Spawning

Bandit corydoras will regularly reproduce in well-maintained aquariums that are clean, and highly oxygenated, with frequent water changes and nutritious food. Poor water quality and a lack of a balanced diet are the main factors that hinder their tendency to reproduce.

Corydoras spawn shortly after heavy rain seasons, the female corydoras will clutch two to four eggs at a time between their pelvic fins, and the male will fertilize the eggs for roughly 30 seconds. After that, the female swims to an appropriate location and attaches the sticky eggs to a smooth surface. This process will be repeated dozens of times until the female has exhausted all of her eggs.

After they have fully absorbed their yolk sacs, fish fry, which typically hatches within 4 to 6 days post-fertilization, are ready to consume small live meals such as baby brine shrimp, microworms, daphnia, etc.

The most effective method to entice bandit corydoras to spawn is consistency. Start by conditioning them with high-quality protein-based foods two to three times daily. With a higher male-to-female ratio, nearly two males should be present for every female.

While the corydoras are being conditioned, set the water temperature to their upper range between 75 – 79ºF (24 – 26ºC).

Install a few air stones that are quiet and produce a lot of tiny bubbles, as too much noise can prevent spawning from occurring. Additionally, compared to larger air bubbles, smaller air bubbles promote more efficient gas exchanges and significantly increase the amount of oxygen within the water.

When females become noticeably gravid, vigorous tank maintenance will be required. To create an artificial rain season that triggers their spawning behavior, set a schedule twice a week to perform 50% to 70% water changes using cooler water. You only need to lightly vacuum the top layer of the substrate during this process; the substrate’s bottom layer doesn’t need to be deeply cleaned because it is home to beneficial bacteria. Repeat this process until spawning occurs.

Due to the eggs’ susceptibility to fungus, which attaches to the eggs and kills them before they hatch, you can add a few drops of methylene blue to prevent fungus from forming on the eggs. A breeding tank, however, would be more suited because methylene blue has the ability to discolor almost anything in an aquarium.

More Information

Described as Corydoras Metae by Eigenmann, in 1914. With more than 150 recognized species as of this writing, the genus Corydoras is among the largest catfish families.

Bandit corydoras can be recognized from two other species that share strikingly similar appearances by the shape of the oblique black band on their back, which ends at the base of the caudal fin and does not continue onto the fin itself or split in half on the caudal peduncle.

The oblique black band on the back of Corydoras Melini and Corydoras Davidsandsi will continue onto the base of their caudal fin. While Corydoras Melini’s oblique black band is divided into two parts, which distinguishes itself from the others.

Difference between Corydoras metae, Corydoras melini, Corydoras Davidsandsi

The following combinations of traits are used to describe the bandit corydoras: The pectoral spine is slightly shorter than the head and extends beyond the middle of the ventrals; the lower maxillary barbel just reaches the gill opening. A dark band runs across the nape, through the eyes to the lower edge of the head; another black band runs across the end of the caudal peduncle, continuing forward along the mid of the back and expanding on the dorsal to cover the entire fin except the distal; the last seven rays were without markings.

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