Leaf fish

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Leaf fish
A leaf fish in the aquarium of the Berlin Zoological Garden

A leaf fish in the aquarium of the Berlin Zoological Garden

Order : Perch-like (Perciformes)
Subordination : Scorpionfish relatives (Scorpaenoidei)
Family : Scorpionfish (Scorpaenidae)
Subfamily : Scorpaeninae
Genre : Taenianotus
Type : Leaf fish
Scientific name of the  genus
Lacépède , 1802
Scientific name of the  species
Taenianotus triacanthus
Lacépède, 1802

The leaf fish ( Taenianotus triacanthus ) belongs to the scorpion fish (Scorpaenidae) and is the only kind of genre Taenianotus .


Leaf fish have a leaf-shaped, laterally flattened body. The large dorsal fin begins just behind the eyes. As with other scorpion fish, their hard rays are associated with venom glands. The venom of the leaf fish is much weaker than that of the lionfish and stone fish . There have not yet been any fatal accidents.

With their powerful pectoral fins, the fish can walk on the bottom and hold on to. The head and mouth are big. The basic color of leaf fish is yellow, ocher, pale white, less often pink or red. Various skin protrusions and spots ensure that the animals visually merge with their surroundings. A dark line runs across her eyes. They are often confused with forehead fins . Leaf fish grow to be ten centimeters long.

The passive way of life has led to special adaptations. The leaf fish molt every 10 to 14 days. The old skin loosens on the jaw and gill cover and is stripped off in one piece.

Fin formula : Dorsal XII / 8–11, Anale III / 5–6


They live throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific , from the coast of East Africa to the Galapagos Islands and from the Ryūkyū Islands and Hawaii to the coast of New South Wales , in coral reefs and algae stocks from shallow water to a depth of 130 meters.


Leaf fish usually rest completely passively in their hiding place between algae, corals or other stuck organisms. If they feel threatened by a larger animal or if potential prey is nearby, they begin to rock like a leaf in the waves (leaf mimicry ). However, they do not rock when a conspecific approaches.

When defecating, the leaf fish lifts its rear end and expels the feces so that it is carried away by the current.


Leaf fish are ambulance hunters who wait for suitable prey, a small fish or a shrimp to approach. Then, with the help of his pectoral fins, he moves slowly towards his victim while rocking constantly. The prey does not notice the approach as it is not noticeable due to the rocking movement. If the leaf fish has come close enough, the victim is sucked in by suddenly opening the mouth. It eats prey up to half its body length. He completely ignores larger animals.


  • Michael Voitel: Taenianotus triacanthus, The care of leaf fish , in Der Meerwasseraquarianer, 4/2005, Verlag Rüdiger Latka.

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