Do Corydoras Play Dead And How To Tell If They Are Dead

Last Updated on December 12, 2021 by cmoarz

Do catfish play dead, Or is my corydoras catfish actually dead? Can corydoras play dead sometimes?

These are questions that crop up quite often from new corydoras keepers. Usually, they come asking these questions in a panic because it appears their corydoras have died for no reason at all! So let’s put your mind at ease, my fellow cory keepers!

Do cory catfish play dead?

Yes, they in fact do play dead from time to time. It’s enough to put a scare into any of us who happen to be passing by their tanks when they do it!

But don’t worry, they’re not actually dead; they’re just pretending. But why do catfish play dead? There has to be a valid reason for it right?

Actually yes there is. Corydoras will play dead if they aren’t doing well and need to hide from predators or if they are feeling threatened. It’s their way of trying to avoid being eaten or attacked while they are trying to recover from illness or stress.

Stress is a big part of this, and when you see your corydoras play dead, they aren’t “playing”, it’s a symptom of a bigger problem that you need to rectify.

This could be caused by a few different reasons. The first is bad water quality. If your water isn’t clean, your corydoras will be stressed and more prone to illness and death.

The second is overcrowding. If you have too many corydoras in too small of a space, they will become stressed and start playing dead as a way of dealing with it.

On the other hand, there is understocking. Corydoras are social shoaling fish and need at least 6 of their own species in the tank with them. This stress can lead directly to illness and death.

Diet is also important. Make sure you are feeding them a good, varied diet that includes both meaty and plant-based foods (but mostly meat, like shrimp pellets/shrimp wafers). If they are only eating plant-based nutrients they will not be getting the nutrients they need and will become stressed.

Last but not least is temperature. Corydoras prefer cooler water temperatures in the mid to high 70s F.

And of course, there’s always illness. While it sucks to have a sick fish, you should know how to spot the most common illnesses such as White Spot, Red Blotch, fungal infections, and other parasites.

It should also be noted that soon after a female spawns, she will need to spend some time recuperating. Spawning is hard work, and she may lay lifeless looking for a while.

This is normal behavior and is expected most of the time.

So as you can see, Most of the time if your cory is playing dead, there is usually a reason for it and you should look more closely into what’s causing this reaction.

How can you tell if a cory is really dead?

In most cases, Giving them a bit of a poke or nudge with a fish net or your finger is usually all it takes to get them to start swimming around again.

If they don’t respond or if they are bloated, then there’s a good chance they have died and you will need to take appropriate action.

Cories usually won’t play dead by being upside down either, If they are upside down it’s important to double-check there isn’t something wrong with their swim bladder or if they are actually dead.

How Do I Know if My Cory Catfish Is Dying?

When fish are actually dying, they show signs of physical deterioration.

This can be in the form of color fading, scales falling off, loss of appetite, change in behavior (usually lethargy), and finally, death.

Prolonged periods of rest while listing to the side or upside down can also be a sign that your fish is dying.

If you see any of these signs, it’s important to act fast and figure out the cause and try to treat the fish. It could only be a matter of hours before a fish succumbs to death after you first notice a problem.

Are Cory Catfish Really Active?

Corydoras will show large spurts of activity when shoaling or feeding time, but after that, they are usually found resting in a shaded area of the tank or digging through sand looking for scraps.

Glass surfing is a common thing to see corydoras do. It’s an extremely endurance-heavy activity that females will do while finding a place to stick their eggs. Almost like they are cleaning the glass. Males will also do this behavior.

It can also occur in new tanks and with the new addition of new corydoras as they get adjusted to their new homes.

Do Corydoras Rest?

Corydoras do rest. In fact, they rest a lot. They are lazy fish by nature and will spend a lot of time just sitting on the bottom of the tank or in plants.

They will also rest for a while after spawning and after they’ve had a large meal.


Owner of and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!