C. sterbai will thrive in a tank set up to replicate an Amazon biotope. This would be very simple to arrange. Use a substrate of river sand and add a few driftwood branches (if you can’t find driftwood of the desired shape, common beech is safe to use if thoroughly dried and stripped of bark) and twisted roots. A few handfuls of dried leaves (again beech can be used, or oak leaves are also suitable) would complete the natural feel. Aquatic plants are not a feature of this species‘ natural waters. Allow the wood and leaves to stain the water the colour of weak tea, removing old leaves and replacing them every few weeks so they don’t rot and foul the water. A small net bag filled with aquarium-safe peat can be added to the filter to aid in the simulation of black water conditions. Use fairly dim lighting.
Alternatively, it also does well in a more standard, preferably well-planted tank. A good maintenance regime is essential with this species as it’s sensitive to deteriorating water conditions. As with all corys, don’t use undergravel filtration and ensure the substrate is kept scrupulously clean. These cats are sensitive to poorly-maintained or dirty substrates and can lose their barbels if kept in poor conditions.
Very peaceful and suitable for many community tanks. Don’t keep it with anything very large or aggressive. Good tankmates include small characins, cyprinids, anabantoids, dwarf cichlids and other peaceful catfish. Always try to maintain Corydoras in groups as they’re far more confident and active in the presence of conspecifics. A group of at least six is best.