How to Care for Your New South American Leaf Fish

 Aqualand info on  Monocirrhus polyacanthus

 

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South American Leaf Fish Factoids

Origin

Peru, Brasil to Guyana

Maximum Size

Four inches

Housing

Likes a planted aquarium without bright lights
Water Prefers slightly acidic, slow moving water
Food Live fish and other live foods

Security

Disguised as a floating dead leaf.  Changes colors.
Longevity ?
Growth Rate ?

Temperature

Regular community tank temp -- tropical

Attitude

Sneaky predator
Sexing Females larger and chunkier.  Displays ovipositor.
Breeding comments Warm up to spawn.  Male cares for the eggs.

Just a Slight Delay.  Well, I started this page back in 2006 and just stuck it away in a corner.  Then I stumbled across the "stub" when perusing the web and thought I'd better wrap up the pieces. 

Josh G, Birmingham, AL, November 20, 2009
I have a suggestion for a new profile! How about the South American Leaf fish? Lots of people either have these or want these interesting oddballs, but people should know that they will usually only take live foods. If you could just find several people with the Leaf Fish (I don't have one) you could have another whole fish profile, and a popular one at that!
I am impressed with all the species you have so far and am looking forward to any new ones you put up! Thanks for considering,

A:  I started my South American Leaf Fish page back in 2006 but never got around to finishing it.  Maybe I'll finish it next Tuesday (my day off) or put it off another three years.  Who knows?  LA

LA
3-inch South American leaf fish.

LA
Same guy doing a color change.

LA
Reely big mouth.

Origins.  Since they're sold as South American leaf fish, it comes as no surprise to learn that they hail from Brasil, Peru, Guyana.  As far as I know, they are not often bred in captivity.  I've not even read an account of their spawning behavior.  They're not common in the market and remain fairly expensive.

LA
South American leaf fish approaching four inches.

Maximum Size.  When (more likely, IF) you see South American leaf fish for sale, they measure around two inches.  You might find a three incher.  In a large aquarium with plenty of food, they grow to four inches.  Do not think of them as regular community fish residents.  You can keep them with other non-aggressive fish about the same size, e.g.. angelfish and gouramis -- provided their tank mates are too big to swallow.

LA
Don't mix with fish smaller than your finger.

m Size.  When (more l

LA
True leaf fish in a four-inch clay flower pot.

Shy Predator.  Not at all a bully, South American leaf fish tend to find out of the way places.  They prefer to remain unnoticed.  They don't rush out and beat up other fish.  They slyly sneak up on their prey and swallow it -- like a vacuum sweeper.

Leaf Fish Decor.  South American leaf fish prefer dimly lit tanks and well planted tanks  -- sort of a contradiction but not quite.  Just use some of the low-light loving plants, i.e., Java fern, cryptocorynes, African water ferns or plastic plants.  You can help shade their tank with floating watersprite, duckweed, or crystalwort.

LA
True South American leaf fish (with stem).  Live food only.

Disguise.  Part of their modus operandi involves their camouflage colors which change from time to time.  They do their best to look like a dead leaf drifting thru the water.  The little "stem" protruding from their lower lip aids in their masquerade.  Their clear pectoral fins enable them to sneak thru the water unobtrusively.  Lunch never sees them coming.

LA 
Really beeg mouth. 

Satchel Mouth.  When your South American leaf fish pops his mouth open, it creates a sudden vacuum that slurps in unsuspecting prey.  He can inhale a goldfish about half his length or a much longer skinny fish. like rosy reds or other minnows.  Feeder guppies and ghost shrimp do not often escape his attentions.

LA
Float like a leaf, inhale like a Hoover.  No danger to archer fish.

LA
Gives you some idea of the size of a leaf fish.

LA
And his mouth.

Other Foods.  Unless you can provide live foods, you'd do best to acquire one of the South American leaf fish look-a-likes.  Suggestions:  small fish of any species, mosquito larvae, other aquatic insects (live bloodworms), crustaceans (shrimps, etc.), and California blackworms.  I haven't had much luck tricking then into any of the flakes, pellets, or frozen foods.  

LA
Large South American leaf fish that started "spinning."

LA
Then expired the next day.

Almost the Last Words.  I can't really recommend South American leaf fish to most people because of their food demands.  Also, they're not what most people consider a "community fish."  In fact, they would eat most community fish. 

Some "Other" Leaf Fish.  Other fish get sold as leaf fish.  Most are more flexible in their menu requirements.  They resemble South American leaf fish -- and like to eat live fish just as eagerly.

LA
3-inch leopard ctenopoma.  Often sold as an "African leaf fish."

LA
4-inch leopard ctenopoma -- also has the satchel mouth -- just not quite as expansive.

LA
4-inch Ctenopoma
acutirostre

Leopard Ctenopoma.  Often sold as a leaf fish, also called a bush fish, resembles a cichlid, but is actually an anabantid, Ctenopoma acutirostre, works better for most aquarists than the South American leaf fish.  He also slurps live fish, but fairly quickly learns to eat pelleted foods.  And he'll greedily consume frozen foods.

LA

One More "Other" Leaf Fish.  There's also an Asian leaf fish that shows up occasionally -- not often seen.  Similar modus operandi.

LA
Called an Asian leaf fish, he looks more like a datnioide.  He insists on hiding behind leaves.

LA
Maybe too new to the tank to relax yet.

LA
Finally he's out and ready to show off (and eat).

LA
These guys usually lurk in the background.  They also camouflage well.
 

Sam Gaines, Renton, WA, April 16, 2011
today i was reading your leaf fish page and stumbled upon your picture of an Asain leaf fish and recognized it to be a nandus (Nandus nandus) they grow to about 8 in and prefer mostly livefoods and they like hard and alkline water ranging from 72-79 degrees. hope i helped.
PS your website is awesome! never been misinformed.

A:  Well, I try to be accurate, but sometimes my not so humble opinions are just plain opinions.  I'm adding your input to my leaf fish page.  LA

Last Words.  One other leaf fish we used to see, but today not so much:  the false leaf fish or schomburgk's leaf fish, Polycentrus schomburgki .  I haven't had any for a few years so I can't provide a photo.  LA

 

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