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Leopard Cories

Last Updated: 2/21/14

Two of my leopard cories on 1/26/08.

Quick Information
Setup and Water Preferences
My Leopard Cories, Photos, and Videos

Note: Much of the information on this page (except physical description) holds true for many of the small South American cory species.

I also have these pages on other corydoras catfish:
Corydoras habrosus
Corydoras panda

Much of the information on my panda cory page also applies to leopard cories so you will find some of the text below comes right from that page with modifications to fit leopard cories.

Quick Information

Common name: Leopard Cory, Three-Lined Cory, False Corydoras julii
Scientific/Latin name: Corydoras trilineatus and similar species Corydoras julii and Corydoras leopardus
Maximum length: 2 to 2.5 inches
Colors: Bronze, white, and black
Temperature preference: 70 to 78 degrees F
pH preference: 6 to 7
Hardness preference: Soft to moderate
Salinity preference: Low
Compatibility: Excellent
Life span: 2 to 10 years
Ease of keeping: Easy
Ease of breeding: Moderate


There are three species of cories called leopard cories: Corydoras julii, Corydoras trilineatus, and Corydoras leopardus. The ones I bought did not say leopard cory but rather Corydoras julii. Most web sites seem to say that they are most likely instead Corydoras trilineatus and mislabeled. The two cories look similar with the Corydoras trilineatus having more squiggly black lines on the head while Corydoras julii has more black dots. According to the internet, Corydoras julii does not have any lines down its body. Mine do, so they must be Corydoras trilineatus, also called the three lined cories (yet mine only have the one line I notice). Big surprise that the pet store does not know the species of fish it carries. It does not matter as all three "leopard cories" are basically the same as far as their care and everything else goes.

Leopard cories look like a cory that has light bronze on the top half of the body and white on the bottom half. Then, sprinkle black dots on the fish, add a black horizontal line down the body (for Corydoras trilineatus, and then black on the tip of the dorsal (back) fin. They are quite beautiful. Leopard cories normally grow to about 2 inches long but some bigger individuals (usually female) may grow to 2.5 inches long.

Setup and Water Preferences

Leopard cories require clean, oxygen-rich water. They do best between 72 and 78 degrees F but may tolerate it a few degrees cooler, at least short term. They do not tolerate high temperatures for long periods. Like all cories, leopard cories prefer to be in groups. About six in a 50 gallon with a few other peaceful fish would be a good colony. Individual cories, without companions, will waste away. They are most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular). Provide small pots, plants, etc. in which they can hide. Also, feed sinking tablets. There are many types made specifically for cories. Cories are omnivorous, eating whatever appeals to them in the substrate. Favorite live foods include black worms, tubifex worms, brine shrimp, and microworms. These little vacuum cleaners are known for their cleaning abilities. They will eat leftover foods. Leopard cories do not eat fish feces and other waste like some people believe.


Females are larger and fuller. Males are noticeable smaller. It helps to view them from above. The female will be noticeably wider. If you catch them breeding, you can be sure of their sexes. The female will be the one carrying the egg around.


Breeding Triggers:

High protein diets full of beef heart, seafood, and fish help to condition leopard cories to spawn but are not required. Small currents in the tank also help. The largest breeding trigger is a large water change with cooler water. For more assured success, use water 10 to 15 degrees cooler when the barometer is dropping (before a storm).


They spawn at dusk (right before or right after the lights go out) in the typical cory manner. The female leopard cory appears to suck up the male's sperm while in a "T position." She somehow places the sperm within reach of her layed egg (many ideas exist). The mother cories carries eggs in her pectoral fins and deposits them around on glass, fake plants, etc. She will then repeat the process. The rather large fry hatch in 4-6 days and lay on the bottom where you can suck them up (with a Python cleaner, etc.) so that other fish do not eat them and raise them in their own tank. After a few additional days, they search the bottom for food.

Rearing Fry Outside of Their Parents' Tank:

Alternatively, one can utilize a razor blade or credit card to gently cut the eggs off of the glass (if on a plant, just pick up the plant or its leaf) after they are fertilized and hatch the eggs away from hungry mouths. They should be raised in shallow containers of 3 to 5 inches deep. Like most catfish, they need to gulp air. Their first gulp is essential to fill their swim bladders. Newborns should be given sinking microscopic foods. Newborn brine shrimp work well since they move all over the tank. Microworms also work. In small containers, the bottom should be vacuumed of uneaten food daily. Fifty percent daily water changes may be necessary in small containers with lots of fish. When they are larger, black worms are baby cories' favorite, and fry will grow fast once they can eat worms. You should cut up the worms at first, or the fry will try to eat a 5 inch worm that simply will not fit in his or her body!

For information on fry care and feeding, go to my breeding and fry care page.

My Leopard Cories, Photos, and Videos

On 1/18/08, I bought six leopard cories, labeled not as that but as Corydoras julii. They are in fact probably Corydoras trilineatus. I added them to my 50 gallon tank. They have been very active, going up and down the glass especially at dawn and dusk. I hope the rosy barbs let them get some food since they are so quick to eat. I may start putting in some sinking foods after dark for the cories and my Queen Arabesque pleco in there.

On 1/24/08, I found a poor leopard cory that had died. The other five are fine. One of the cories had seemed slow and out of it when I first put them in so I assume that was the one that died.

I thought I had lost one of the five leopard cories but I counted all five in July of 2009. They are doing fine (no barbel degradation, etc.) but have yet to spawn (that I know).

Update 7/12/10: All five leopard cories are still alive but I have never found eggs or fry from them. I have seen chasing though.

I had a confirmed sighting of all five leopard cories on 3/12/11.

I found and removed a dead leopard cory on 5/21/11. It had been dead a few days.

As of 6/5/12, there are still a few leopard cories alive. I have yet to ever find any fry though (unlike my panda cories who breed like mad in my 20 gallon tank).

On 8/25/12, I found a dead leopard cory and removed it. The tank is heavily planted, so I am not sure how many of the other three are still alive. I saw one on this day.

On 1/12/13, I found and removed a dead leopard cory. There are at most two left.

I last saw a leopard cory in my 50 gallon tank in the spring of 2013 sometime. They are all presumed dead.

Photos of My Leopard Cories

It has been really hard to get photos of the leopard cories. The digital camera either will not focus or the flash reflects off of the glass. The only photo that turned out (out of six photos!) the first day is the next one. I later got a few more.

Photos are listed oldest to newest.

Five of my six new leopard cories in the bag they came in on 1/18/08.

Here are two photos of the leopard cories from 1/26/08:
Two leopard cories
Two leopard cories

These two photos from 2/16/08 show all five leopard cories and are the best photos yet.
Five leopard cories
Four leopard cories

Leopard cory on 7/3/10.

Leopard cory on 7/3/10, in the front. I took the photo for the Queen Arabesque pleco in the back.

These photos from 4/22/12 showed the Queen Arabesque pleco in the fake log as well as a leopard cory in the back.
Leopard cory
Leopard cory
Leopard cory - close-up from the previous photo.

Video of My Leopard Cories:

Leopard Cories and Rosy Barbs - 3311 KB, mpg movie.
This video from 6/14/08 shows the 50 gallon tank during the day right before I got to cleaning it. You can see the leopard cories going up and down the glass which may indicate spawning activity. I never found any eggs or fry though as of yet (6/29/08). At the end of the video, I pan up to the 30 some hungry rosy barbs.

Rosy Barbs and Leopard Cories. This is a video of the rosy barbs and leopard cories in my 50 gallon tank some time in April 2012.


Leopard Cory Cat - includes a photo and stories from aquarists

Planet Catfish - a UK catfish page with information on lots of catfish. Here is the page on Corydoras trilineatus

Corydoras trilineatus

Cory encyclopedia

I Love Corydoras! - site includes lots of cory stuff.

Corydoras World - a large cory site.

Scotcat.com - a site dedicated to catfish.

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