Do Cory Catfish Need A Heater? (Helpful Guide)

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The corydoras catfish, more affectionately known as the cory catfish, is an adaptive fish species that can survive in nearly any environment. These fish struggle to adapt to cold water because they are ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals. Therefore, they need a heater in their tank to maintain the proper water temperature. 

When the cory catfish’s water reaches below certain temperatures, it can threaten their health. Luckily, using a water heater can mitigate water temperature changes.

In this article, I will discuss what water temperature is necessary for a Cory catfish and how you can maintain their ideal water temperature. By the end of the article, you will feel confident about keeping your cory warm. Let’s begin!

What Temperature Does A Cory Catfish Need?

A cory catfish requires water temperatures between 74 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Some cory catfish require a heater to stay warm. If you keep their aquarium in a cold room that forces their water to drop below room temperature, you may be jeopardizing their health.

While they can go in cold water, the catfish will become vulnerable to disease in a less optimal environment.

Use a water heater to maintain these temperatures and ensure they never drop below 74°F. Since the cory catfish is a bottom feeder, they often feed in colder temperature waters but dropping below 74°F is when your cory catfish begins reaching dangerous territory. 

The cory catfish do not spend long durations at the bottom of water bodies because they cannot endure the cold for a long time.

In the wild, corydoras prefer shallow water bodies to avoid subjecting themselves to cold water for long times. You may notice them emulating this behavior in your tank when they swim near the surface to gather the heat of your lamp.

Read Also: Are Cory Catfish Hardy? What Are The Hardiest Cory Catfish?

Can Cory Catfish Go in Cold Water?

The corydoras catfish can go in cold water, but it prefers warm water because it is an ectothermic animal. The cory catfish can go in cold water for short times while feeding, but they will not survive long if you house them in cold water habitats.

Therefore, you should never place a cory catfish in cold water, or you endanger their health.

Placing a cory catfish in cold water most often ends in the death of your beloved fish, either caused by a shock to their system or sickness. These illnesses caused by the cold are sometimes contagious to other fish. While not all illnesses are contagious, you should still treat them immediately or they can kill entire fish tanks.

In the wild, cory catfish do not associate with cold water bodies. They remain in shallow areas where the sun is easily accessible under the water’s surface.

To emulate this in your fish tank, I suggest providing your catfish with sufficient lighting and a water heater. These two devices will keep your cory catfish warm in their fish tank. 

Do Cory Catfish Like Cold Water?

The corydoras catfish is a tropical fish that prefers cooler temperatures. However, they prefer warm temperature waters between 74 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything less than this temperature begins to drift into dangerous territory for the corydoras catfish.

The distaste for cold water is true for all corydoras catfish. However, wild cory catfish are more likely to survive in cold habitats than domesticated ones.

The evolutionary adjustments have made the domestic cory catfish rely on heaters and other important water quality aspects compared to some wild cory catfish, which thrive in suboptimal environments.

I suggest using a heater in your fish tank to avoid dangerous situations.

Heaters maintain your water temperature. Water is prone to falling below room temperature so your water heater will increase the overall water temperature and prevent it from falling below the important 74-degree Fahrenheit threshold.

Read More: Cory Catfish Tank Size: A Complete Guide (+ Infographic)

How Cold Can Cory Catfish Live?


The cory catfish can survive in temperatures no less than 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below this temperature can be immediately lethal for your Cory catfish because of sudden shock to their system.

I recommend limiting the temperature of your tank to the recommended standard of 74°F and 80°F. 

These aquatic animals are tropical bottom feeders so they are accustomed to colder temperatures. However, the ectothermic fish still requires heat from your fish tank heater.

In the wild, they can go to and from cold areas when they please, so you must offer them the same opportunity in your fish tank if they want it.

Read Also: How Long Do Cory Catfish Live?

How Does A Water Heater Help Corydoras Catfish?

A water heater helps your corydoras catfish by maintaining a steady water temperature between 74 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Forgetting to include a water heater in your fish tank can be lethal to your fish because of the dangers it causes your beloved fishy friend.

Water heaters improve the water quality of your fish tank by increasing or decreasing the water temperature of your fish tank.

Maintaining steady water quality in your fish tank is important in every environment because the exterior weather can cause your water to change drastically. 

Without something to mitigate weather changes, your fish can suffer the brute of external changing temperatures.

Even if your fish are inside, your fish can also suffer if their external air temperature rapidly drops and changes during changing seasons or throughout the daytime. 

Leaving your corydoras catfish tank in some areas around the house or certain places can change their water temperature too.

For instance, placing your fish tank in front of the window can cause rapid water temperature changes as the sun hits the water. Without a water heater to mitigate the rapidly changing temperature, your fish might suffer from accumulating heat from the sunlight.

I recommend placing your fish somewhere out of direct sunlight and setting a tank temperature with your heater.

If you invest in a heater, you must check on your fish regularly to guarantee that your heater is working properly. Sometimes heaters can adjust on their own so you will want to recalibrate it if you notice this happening to your water heater often. 

Related: Do Cory Catfish Need Bubbler?

Final Thoughts

You must always keep your cory catfish warm, maintaining a tank temperature between 74 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In most cases, this means that you will require a heater to mitigate potential threats. Heaters emulate the heat that fish get in their everyday lives living in the wild. 

If you choose to put your cory catfish in a fish tank without a heater, I recommend keeping your tank in a quiet part of your house that maintains a relatively steady temperature. Or using a heat lamp so they can swim near the surface for heat. These are not better than a heater but they can suffice until you can afford one.

Using a heater helps emulate their life in the wild and it will make you feel safer knowing that your fish is not threatened by changing temperatures and weather. If you have a heater, you can also adjust the heat or cold of your home any way that you want without worrying whether your fish will suffer.

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