South American Leaf Fish Comments: Leaf Fish can change color and pattern to match their background and look like fallen leaves. They do this to camouflage themselves from predators and to sneak up on small fish and eat them.
Most very young fish live close to the surface of the water away from the monster fish down below. This swarm of young fish serves as a smorgasbord for Leaf Fish like the one in picture above, who'd just finished eating a dozen small fish, when one of us snapped this picture.
Origin: this species naturally lives in Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, and Bolivia, where it is collected by skilled local people and shipped to us.
Maximum Size: about 4" long.
Behaviors: this fish is a predator that eats small fish with it's large expanding mouth.
Compatibility: Corydoras Catfish, which might fit into it's mouth but are too prickly to eat. Also a Plecostomus Catfish and maybe some Angelfish that are too big to fit into it's mouth.
Temperature: Leaf Fish like it warm. So we recommend a temperature of about 80-degrees F. Note that 84 is the maximum and may be too warm, and 76 is getting too cool.
Feeding: Small fish like Guppies that are small enough to fit into the Leaf Fish's mouth, which can greatly expand. It a good technique to heavily feed the Guppies with lots of premium food before feeding them to the Leaf Fish, thus making the Guppies more nutritious for the Leaf Fish.
Water Conditions: A pH of about 6.5 to 7 with low hardness is best. Most water in the US has a much higher pH and is much harder. So you will need to provide sspecial water for these fish.
Aquarium Size: It's probably best to house these fish in at least a 40-gallon aquarium. Or maybe keep just one in a 30-gallon aqauarium with a few nearly full grown Corydoras Catfish and some Guppies for the Leaf Fish to feed on.
Decor: Leaf Fish do not need gravel, and a layer of gravel more than 1/4" thick will usually fill with bits of uneaten food that will contaminate the water. Click here for more about aquarium gravel. Live Plants are beautiful, improve the water quality, and are really needed for Leaf Fish to be comfortable. Water Sprite and Java Ferns are very good plants for Leaf Fish. Non-toxic driftwood is also very good. Click here shop in this store to buy Aquarium Plants. Aquarium Filter: Bio-Wheel Filters are highly recommended. A Penguin 350B in an aquarium with 30 to 40-gallons of water is ideal. Click here to learn more about aquarium filters. The addition of Lava Rocks will keep nitrates in the ideal range, which is very important for this fish. Click here to learn more about using Lava Rocks in aquariums. Life Span: Leaf Fish live for several years and sometimes many years with proper care, good water, and plenty of small fish to eat.
Gender: We've seen no differences, but we expect the mature females are plumper, when they fill with eggs. Breeding: We recommend keeping a few of these in a large aquarium like maybe 80 to 120-gallons. Feed them lots and lots of small fish like Guppies. If some of them are weaker and chased by the stronger ones, remove the weaker ones to another aquarium.
You'd like to end up with a strong male and a plump female. Keep feeding them a lots of Guppies. Lower the pH and hardness by doing daily small partial water changes with RO-water. Maybe boost the temperature from say 78 to 82-degrees F.
Others have written that a pair then begins to interact, and rarely the female will lay eggs on the underside of a leaf. The male then fertilizes the eggs and chases the female away. He fans and tends the eggs for a few days, until they hatch.
Remove him and wait for the babies to absorb their yoak sacs and become free swimming, then feed them small live food like newly hatched baby brine shrimp and daphnia.
As soon as possible feed the babies newly hatched baby fish like baby Guppies. Apparently this has been achieved only a few times in an aquarium and is a great change for the most skillful aquarists. Best of luck if you decide to try.
Popularity: This is a rare and expensive fish. But many advanced aquarists, like DrTom, would love to keep one and carefully watch it.
Variations: This species occurs across a wide region, and so we expect there are variations but we're not aware of any specific details.
Names: The scientific name of this species is Monocirrhus polyacanthus.
We hope you've enjoyed reading these comments.
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