Buying fish: I’ve always found it some of the most fun things to do.

However, if you don’t pick your store carefully, things can turn into a nightmare pretty quickly.

Here’s my personal experience buying fish, both online and in fish stores

Local fish store (LFS)

The first option I recommend is buying at your LFS.

Local fish stores are literally the backbone of the fish hobby, and with buying at them you support a local business. 

Most local fish stores are independently owned by aquarists and the owners often have a wealth of knowledge.


Personal advice

 In a good local fish store, you’ll get advice on how to care for your Corydoras. You’ll be able to ask them questions which they can reply to with their own experience.

You can see the fish

Seeing the fish in person is one of the things that I like most about going to my LFS. Many online fish stores offer pictures, but you never know what fish you’re going to get. 

Especially with cory catfish, I make sure to look at the barbels to check for erosion. This is an indicator of the health and water quality the fish have been living in.

No shipping risk

Although many online fish stores take great care in shipping their fish, it’s still a stressful process for the fish. 

Also, when buying your fish you’ll not have to wait or be afraid you won’t be home when the package gets delivered.

Building a relationship

Building a relationship with your LFS is a great idea, because it will allow you to connect with other aquarists.

Especially if you want to make an extra buck, and plan to breed fish for profit, an LFS will be your most likely buyer.


Limited choice

Many local fish stores have a limited supply and mostly hold the more generic fish. They’ll probably hold a couple of cory catfish species, like albino, panda and bronze. If you want to get a more rare cory catfish, you’ll have to look further. 


If you live in a less populated area, getting access to a LFS can be hard or a long drive. 


The cost of running a store are significantly higher than running a scalable online store, which makes buying the fish online often cheaper even if you count shipping with it.

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Should you buy Corydoras online?

I have bought many fish online over the years. In fact, I even imported betta fish out of Thailand. Unfortunately, the quality of local fish stores has become more scarce over the years. This makes many people thinking about buying fish online 

Whether you should buy fish online depends on your preferences. If you like having the convenience and cheaper prices, along with a bigger selection of fish, buying online is a good option. If you want personal advice or to see the fish in person, and have access to it, going to a quality LFS is best.


Bigger selection and more choice

Chances are, some species might hardly be available for you without looking online. As we’ve talked about, LFS often have a limited supply, while online stores offer a bigger variety.

Saving on fish

Because online stores often have big warehouses, they have the benefit of scale. The same fish will likely be cheaper online.


A couple of clicks and you can have fish on their way! Don’t get too comfortable, though ;). Make sure to have a tank set up before buying the fish!


No personal advice

Many online stores have their own resources and are available for some after-sale questions, but you won’t get the same personal experience as with a LFS


Although a good online store offers a DOA policy and will guarantee alive fish and take great care in shipping, sh*t happens. It’s never fun to receive a dead fish. 

Shipping can get expensive, too depending on what state you’re living in. Especially if you choose to get priority shipping, which is advisable in summer and winter.

Best places to buy cory catfish online

When it comes to where to buy fish online, it’s harder to form an opinion on an online image.

Here are 5 reputable top-rated sources that are run by people with a real love for these animals. 

Our partner Consolidated Fish Farms offers a variety of cory catfish mostly bred in-house. Depending on the availability, you can find some rare types there, too! 

Most animals are bred in their own farm, although they’re very transparent on the origin of their fish! 

Don’t take my word for it, though. They have a wopping 4.9 on Google reviews!

A quick overview on the species they have available their website, at the time of writing. They have many more, although some species tend to sell out quickly. 

Panda Corydoras
Paleatus Corydoras
Albino Corydoras
Green Corydoras (C. splendens)
Skunk Corydoras
Check available species

Here’s a quick screenshot on how to apply our coupon at checkout:

If you want to support a family US business, while getting the best fish (these guys offer a 100% alive guarantee), this is my go-to.

Save on your Corydoras fish

Use our coupon "KEEPINGCATFISH" for 10% off

By using our coupon we get a small kickback at no cost to you, which helps me making this content!

Another established business, that’s primarily known for its high-quality shrimp.

However, Flip Aquatics has a great selection of cory catfish, too. Here are some of the species they regularly sell.

Longfin panda
Paleatus cory catfish
Albino cory catfish
Panda cory catfish
Habrosus cory catfish
Pygmy cory catfish

Chance are, you’ve already come across this site because of the popular YouTube channel they have. Here’s a quick about video

Apart from live animals, they have a large collection of tools such as filters, food and dry goods.

Flip Aquatics website

3. Aqua Huna

Aqua Huna is a wholesaler in the Washington state. They have a great collection of shrimp, and a nice amount of cory catfish on their website.

Aqua Huna doesn’t sell to people in the state of Washington, as they deliver to many pet stores there and there would be a conflict of interest.

Aquarium Co-Op mentions Aqua Huna as their choice for buying fish online, which means a lot!

Here’s an overview of the Corydoras species they have for sale at the moment of writing

Panda cory catfish (6 pack)
Gold laser cory catfish (4 pack)
Orange venezuelan cory catfish (4 pack)
Longfin panda cory catfish (4 pack)
Albino cory catfish (6 pack)
Bronze cory catfish (6 pack)
Hifin albino cory catfish
Hifin paleatus cory catfish (6 pack)


The latest on this list is Aquabid. Aquabid is not a seller, but a marketplace where you can bid on fish that then get shipped to your door.

For that reason, it’s often possible to find some great deals. Betta fish are some of the most popular fish sold on this website.

You will be conversating directly with the sellers, with no real intervention of Aquabid.

Many sellers will also be from countries in Asia, where you can import fish from.

A disadvantage is that this method is less convenient than ordering from an online store because you have to organize everything with the seller.

Tips when buying fish online

Buying fish online is not something you do every day (I guess 😉 ?!), so you better come in prepared. Here are some tips that I learned over the years.

Do your research

This might seem obvious, but do your research before placing an order online. In just a few clicks, you have alive fish coming to your doorstep, which makes it a little too easy for some people. 

Set up a proper tank three weeks before buying your fish, and look up the kind of cory catfish you’re thinking of buying.

Notice the shipping method

There are many types of shipping via which fish are sold. 

Most of the time, classic flat rate shipping is a good choice. You can pick the seller’s recommended method if this is the case.

However, in the very cold winter months or hot summer days, I recommend picking overnight/priority shipping. Most sellers will even obligate this or not ship during these periods.

Make a video of you opening the box

All the stores we mentioned on this list offer a strong DOA policy. This means that they will fully refund you if your fish arrive dead. 

Mostly, a video of you filming the dead animals directly after arrival will suffice, but I like to do a small ‘unboxing’. This way, there is no dispute possible of the fish arriving dead.

Other ways to buy fish

Chain stores

This is one of the things I would not recommend. 

Chain stores often have worse quality fish than your LFS, and the advice there will often be bad.

With chain stores, I’m primarily aiming at Petsmart, and Petco and Walmart.

There are chain stores that treat their fish well, though. Most of the stores owned are franchises, which means the owner has a big influence on the store’s quality.

Hobby breeders

Buying from other hobby breeders is one of the best ways to swap experiences and form meaningful connections.

Often, the fish quality of hobby breeders is unmatched. The price will also be lower than if you buy at a fish store.

It can be hard to find hobby breeders from which you can buy, so try meeting up at local aquarium clubs or directory sites like Craiglist.

Importing fish

I’ve put importing fish last on this list because it’s probably the least chosen method for buying fish because you can buy most fish locally too.

However, for some fish importing can be a great idea. I’m mainly thinking about betta fish, as they are quite easy to import and the best quality is still in Thailand / Indonesia.