Monocirrhus polyacanthus, Heckel, 1840
Origin:South-America, Amazon region and Peru. Here the fish occur in slowly flowing and standing water.
Etymology: Monocirrhus(L.): Refers to the threadlike(cirrhus=thread) extension on the lower lip. polyacanthus(L.): With many spines, refers to the dorsal and anal fin.
Synonyms: Monocirrhus mimophyllus
First European import: Germany, 1911, by Kropac..
Description: See pictures.
Care:Very difficult fish to keep, definitely not for beginners! Monocirrhus polyacanthus are true predators. They are best not accompanied by other fish, although they can be accompanied by diskusfish, angels, and larger Corydoras species. Leaf fish can only be fed live food, juveniles will accept small live food like bloodworms. Older specimens are more picky, and require live fish. They eat approximately their own weight per day, so to keep them properly, you'll need a few tanks in which feeder fish can be bred, or have lot's of money to spend.
A pair can be kept in an 80 cm aquarium, although the larger the better. The tank should be well planted, especially with plants that have large leaves, like Echinodorus species, in between which the leaf fish loves to hide. They are extremely good at hiding, and it will always take some time before you spot them in the aquarium. A dark soil and some floating plants will be appreciated by the fish, but are no necessity. Some driftwood is definitely recommended!
Feeding: See care
Size:10 cm TL
pH: 5.0-6.5 Hardness: Below 4 dGH
Breeding: At a lower pH(below 6) the fish will spawn in a setup as described in the care section, and if fed well. Up to 300 eggs, which hang by a thread on a leaf, are deposited by the female, and guarded by the male.
At 25 degrees, the eggs will hatch in 4 days, and the fry are around 5 mm. If fed well, they can reach 3 cm in 3 months.
Sexual dimorphism: Recognisable at 4 cm, females display a ovipositor.
Additional: Do not use guppies as feeder fish! Many guppies are infected with fishtuberculosis, and leaffish are highly susceptible to TBC, and may contract it through the feeder fish.
Life expectancy: 8-9 years.
Picture references:All pictures: E. Naus
References: Der Makropode.
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