South American Leaf Fish, Barbeled Leaf Fish Monocirrhus polyacanthus
Synonyms: Monocirrhus mimophyllus
Physical description: An oval shaped fish with strong lateral compression. The mouth is large and the lower jaw has a pointed extension. The anal and dorsal fins have long bases and are made up of small spines. The coloration is adaptable to the surroundings. Usually the color ranges from orange-yellow to brown with various markings giving this species the appearance of a dead leaf. A transverse line runs through the eye to the belly, while another runs from the mouth, through the eye and to the caudal fin. The third line runs from the eye to first rays of the dorsal fin.
Size/Length: To 4" (10 cm)
Similar species: Other Leaf fish
Habitat: Inhabits shallow, shore areas with dense vegetation of slow-moving or still water. South America; in the Rio Negro and Guyana.
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Aquarium: A tank measuring 28" (71 cm) with a volume from 20-25 gallons (76-95 L) is adequate. The tank should be well-planted, especially with large leafed plants. Use floating plants should to diffuse the light. The tank should be arranged in dark colors.
Water chemistry: pH 5-6.8 (6.5), 2-10 dH (6), 73-84°F (23-29°C)
Social behavior: A predator that should not be combined with other fishes. However, if combined with others, keep with larger, robust species.
Suggested companions: Preferably none. Armored Catfish, Pictus Catfish, Leporinus, Anostomus, Myleus
FOOD: Live; small fish, mosquito larvae, earthworms, aquatic insects, Tubifex , crustaceans
Sexual differences: The females are rounder during spawning season
Breeding techniques: Use a breeding tank with a single pair. The water values should be: a pH of 6.0-6.5; a hardness of 2-4 dH; and a temperature of 77-82°F (25-28°C). The eggs are attached to the underside of large-leafed leaves. The males look after the 300 eggs, fanning them with his fins. The female will be chased by the male, and she should be removed. The young hatch in 60 to 90 hours. Start feeding with small moving food such as Brine Shrimp nauplii. The fry are voracious eaters and will consume their body weight in food daily. The young grow at different rates and periodically must be sorted according to size to prevent cannibalism.
Breeding potential: 8. Breeding is difficult.
Remarks: The Leaf Fish waits for its prey amongst leafs of plants, with its head pointing down. The coloration of the fish makes it hard to distinguish from a dead leaf. It approaches the prey using it's transparent pectoral fins which makes the fish almost undetectable. Prey is sucked in when the fish opens its large mouth. These fish have the ability to change colors, so they can camouflage with their surroundings. Take care when disrupting tank furnishings, as this species is very nervous.
Difficulty of care: 7. This species is somewhat sensitive to water conditions. The Leaf fish is an aggressive predator that requires live foods.