Leaf Scorpionfish

Taenionotus Triacanthus
Leaf Scorpionfish - Marinewise © 2024 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Taenionotus Triacanthus
Other names Paperfish, Threespined Scorpionfish
Size Up to 10 cm (3.93 in)
Weight A few grams


Habitat & AU Distribution Coastal waters amongst reef flats, outer reef edges & channels in surge zone areas
Depth Range 1 - 30 m (100 ft)
Leaf Scorpionfish Distribution

Interesting Info

  • Leaf scorpionfish are found in shallow coastal waters through out Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef, Coral Sea, and various reef systems along the northern coast. Extending from Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales.
  • Leaf scorpionfish have an intricate appearance, resembling a leaf or piece of seaweed. Their coloration can vary greatly, ranging from vibrant red, orange, yellow, brown, or green, allowing them to blend seamlessly with their surroundings.
  • Leaf scorpionfish are primarily ambush predators, relying on their camouflage to remain hidden from both prey and predators. They wait patiently for small fish and invertebrates to swim by before striking with lightning speed.
  • Leaf scorpionfish have excellent control over their buoyancy and can hover motionlessly in the water column, aided by their pectoral fins. This behavior further contributes to their camouflage strategy, as they can blend in with the surrounding environment effortlessly.
  • Despite their venomous spines, leaf scorpionfish are generally not aggressive toward humans unless provoked or mishandled. Their venom is primarily a defence mechanism to deter potential predators.
  • Breeding habits of leaf scorpionfish in Australia are influenced by seasonal variations. They typically reproduce during the warmer months, with peak breeding activity occurring in spring and summer.
  • Estimates of lifespan are between 2 – 5 years.
Species Interaction

Aquarium, Snorkeling & Diving

Because of their striking appearance and small size, leaf scorpionfish are sometimes kept in home aquariums by experienced fish keepers. However, they require specific care, such as a well-maintained reef environment and a varied diet consisting of live or frozen foods. Observing leaf scorpionfish in the wild can be an exciting and rewarding experience for divers and snorkelers. However, their excellent camouflage makes them challenging to spot.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Scorpaeniformes

Family: Scorpaenidae

Genus: Taenionotus

Species: Taenionotus triacanthus

Conservation Status

In Australia, leaf scorpionfish have a conservation status of “Least Concern” according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. They are not currently listed as a threatened or endangered species in the country.

Leaf Scorpionfish
As Aquarium Fish

Care Level: Moderate to difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Diet: Carnivore

Reef Compatible: Yes

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Recreational Viewing
- Snorkeling & Scuba

Finding: Intermediate

Temperament: Peaceful

Location: Inner Reef, Outer Reef, Lagoon

Danger: Venomous Spines

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