Leaf Fish
Monocirrhus polyacanthus

Care Level




Reef Compatible


Plant Safe


Max Size

2 - 5

Minimum Tank Size



light brown, tan, dark brown, dark orange



Water Conditions

72-81F, KH: 3-7, pH: 5.0-6.8


General: The leaf fish originates from northern South America, including Brazil, Colombia, and Bolivia. They typically inhabit acidic swamps and marshes that are cluttered with leaf litter, where they very consistently capture their prey. When keeping the leaf fish in the home aquarium, be sure to not have overly intense lighting, as these fish are very skittish and will become even more stressed. Provide the leaf fish with lots of plants in which it can hide among and feels safe. The same goes for driftwood. An extra bonus is that by adding driftwood, it will lower the pH of the water and help mirror the swamps in which this species originates. Finally, aside from the filter make sure there is very little water movement in the aquarium, as leaf fish are not good at swimming against currents and an increased stream of water will force the leaf fish to expend more energy than needed.

Fecundity: The breeding tank for the leaf fish should be very densely planted and have very soft water. Condition the leaf fish for spawning by conducting frequent water changes and by feeding them high quality live food. When spawning, the colors of the leaf fish will become very vivid and the female will lay around 200 eggs on the backside of a leaf or any structure that creates a natural overhang in the aquarium. After spawning, the adults should be removed to avoid the chance of them eating the eggs. The fry will be able to eat live baby brine shrimp after hatching and later on will accept larger live food, such as various crustaceans and smaller fish like guppies. Eventually the fry will end up growing at vastly different rates and should be separated into different groups based on size in order to avoid aggression and predation. Be sure to conduct frequent water changes and maintain acidic water conditions to ensure a fast growth rate for the fry.

Water Chemistry: Leaf fish prefer a water temperature that ranges from 72-81F, a KH that ranges from 3-7, and a pH that ranges from 5.0-6.8.

Aquarium Diet: Leaf fish are carnivores and almost always will require live fish, so be sure to ensure a steady supply of food. Leaf fish are ferocious eaters and may require multiple feedings per day. Because of this, it is important to keep up with water changes.

Dimorphism: Females are slightly rounder in the stomach than males before spawning.

Compatibility: Due to being so aggressive, it is best to keep the leaf fish with other leaf fish or to house them with fish that have armor-like scales such as raphael catfish.

Author: Grant Stevens