Fun Amazon Leaf Fish Facts For Kids

Arpitha Rajendra
Oct 20, 2022 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Read more interesting Amazon leaf fish facts here.

The Amazon leaf fish (Monocirrhus polyacanthus), also known as South American leaf fish, is a fish species of the Polycentridae family. This fish is spread across the Amazon basin, for which they are named, and is a low-density fish.

Also, they can easily mimic a dead leaf, even to the extent of drifting like a dead leaf. These fishes are also kept in an aquarium. This fish is the only species of the genus Monocirrhus.

Polycentridae consists of two genera with three described species found in tropical South America, as per FishBase. Previously in Cichliformes order, Polycentridae is now considered incertae sedis, belonging to the clade Percomorpha under the subseries Ovalentaria.

This fish is an ambush predator with a large protractile mouth. It is a huge task to maintain these species in an aquarium. Polycetrus, a small fish genus, is the other genus in this family.

The Amazon leaffish has a gray-brown body and can also change the body color to an extent. They can live up to five to eight years.

Read more fun monkfish and gar facts on Kidadl.

Amazon Leaf Fish Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Amazon leaf fish?

The Amazon leaf fish (monocirrhus polyacanthus) is leaf fish of the clade Pecomorpha and phylum Chordata. They are slow-moving and are ambush predators. Monocirrhus polyacanthus species camouflage well in their habitat as they can mimic a dead leaf in the wild or captivity.

This allows them to hide from both their predators and prey. They can pray that is of the same length and size as themselves. They are kept as aquarium fishes but it difficult task.

What class of animal does an Amazon leaf fish belong to?

The Amazon leaf fish (monocirrhus polyacanthus) belongs to the class of Actinopterygii of animals.

How many Amazon leaf fish are there in the world?

The exact number of the Amazon leaf fish (monocirrhus polyacanthus) population in the world is not yet known.

Where does an Amazon leaf fish live?

The Amazon leaf fish (monocirrhus polyacanthus) is found in the Amazon river throughout Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, and Peru.

What is an Amazon leaf fish's habitat?

The Amazon leaf fish (monocirrhus polyacanthus) inhabit shallow water, riverbed, submerged vegetation like creeks, swarms, and warm pools. In the aquarium, they need dim light, floating plants, and soft water with hardness around 5-8°DH and pH of 6.0-6.5. They also prefer freshwater with submerged vegetation.

Who does Amazon leaf fish live with?

The Amazon leaf fish (monocirrhus polyacanthus) lives on their own.

How long does an Amazon leaf fish live?

The Amazon leaf fish (monocirrhus polyacanthus) lives for eight to nine years.

How do they reproduce?

The leaffish reach maturity when they reach 1.6 in (4 cm) in length. The Amazon leaf fish (monocirrhus polyacanthus) is not difficult to breed in captivity with the right temperature and water conditions.

However, finding the right pair that is ready for spawning is difficult. If the spawning is available, then the females lay around 300 eggs on the underside of an overhanging stone or overhanging broadleaf like an Amazon sword plant.

After the eggs are laid, males fertilize them. Each egg is attached by a short thread the stone or leaf.

So, these glossy eggs are raised marginally off the spawning surface. Both the parents care for the eggs and the male always stays close by fanning the eggs. It is necessary to remove the female once the incubation starts as the female might harass the male.

The eggs hatch in three to five days. The young fry remains attached by an egg thread to the breeding surface after they hatch.

When they get free-swimming, the young fry remains still most of the time like the adult fish. You start off feeding the young fry small live food and by the time they reach half an inch, they will eat small fish head-first like baby guppies.

The fry are born transparent existing on rocks and mature plants. After two weeks the larger fry must be separated and put into another aquarium.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the Amazon leaf fish (Monocirrhus polyacanthus) is Not Evaluated.

Amazon Leaf Fish Fun Facts

What do Amazon leaf fish look like?

The adult Amazon leaffish species (monocirrhus polyacanthus) resembles the shape dead leaf. They are small and the body shape is oval.

From the side they are flat. They have transparent rear tips and pectorals on their anal and dorsal fins. Both dorsal and anal fins are spiny with jagged edges, which look like an outline of a leaf.

The body is yellow to gray-brown and has lines that run from their large mouth to from eye to the dorsal fin, and from their eye to the belly with markings. These lines resemble leaf veins. They also have a flap of skin that protrudes from their lower lip and this looks like a leaf stem.

The leaffish may change color like a chameleon to match the background. Females have smaller fins than males.

The Amazon leaffish stays in an head-down position.

How cute are they?

Amazon leaffish or the south American leaf fish (monocirrhus polyacanthus) are not considered cute.

How do they communicate?

Amazon leaffish or the south American leaf fish like all other fish use chemicals, vibrations, and body language to communicate.

How big is an Amazon leaf fish?

The Amazon leaf fish size range is 3.1 in (8 cm) in length. Females appear plumper than the male in the breeding season. The Angelfish is almost twice the length of the Amazon leaffish or the south American leaf fish.

How fast can an Amazon leaf fish swim?

South American leaf fish (monocirrhus polyacanthus) is slow swimming fish.

How much does an Amazon leaf fish weigh?

The weight of the South American leaf fish (monocirrhus polyacanthus) is not known.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name given to the Amazon leaf fish male and female fish.

What would you call a baby Amazon leaf fish?

The baby amazon leaffish is called a fry.

What do they eat?

The South American leaf fish or Amazon leaf fish diet is completely carnivorous. These are predatory species. Their large mouth can swallow not only small but fish species that are of the same size.

The fish mainly feeds on small invertebrates when young and as an adult, they eat small fish both in the wild and captivity. Live food must be their main diet in the aquarium.

By feeding them an amount of about three large guppies per day gives them the strength to thrive in the tank. When they hunt they stay in an un-fish-like position, head-down angle. Food like mayfly nymphs, brine shrimp, river shrimp, and fish species of Labiasinids and Characids are healthy.

Are they dangerous?

No, they are not dangerous to human beings.

Would they make a good pet?

They would make a good pet but amazon leaf fish care is a difficult task. They need an aquarium with open swimming space, optimum temperature, floating plants, and dim light. They must always be fed live food like guppies or shrimp which is an essential part of their diet.

The temperature should be around 77-82 F (25-28 C). The minimum tank size must be 20-25 gal (75.7-94.6 l).

The hardness is around 5-8°DH and pH of 6.0-6.5. They always float towards the tank bottom. As this fish is a predator, it is better to keep them with larger catfish species or medium-sized loricariids.

Did you know...

This fish can be bought online. There are also many other species of leaffishes available.

Literary evidence from the 1920s about what would happen if you poison an entire stream to see what comes up showed that only the gasping behavior of this leaf fish separated them from dead leaves.

Are Amazon leaf fish endangered?

As the exact population data on these fish species is unavailable, the conservation status of these species has not yet been evaluated. They do face some threats of overfishing and habitat loss.

How did Amazon leaf fish get their name?

The specific term, Amazon refers to the geographic location of their habitat. This common name is given to them because with the minimum effort they can mimic a floating dead leaf.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these rockfish facts and green sunfish facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring on one of our free printable Amazon leaf Fish coloring pages.

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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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