Amazon Leaf Fish

In the great Amazon River there swims a fish.

It is flat and brown.

It is hard to see.

The Amazon leaf fish looks like a fallen leaf!

Amazon leaffish (Monocirrhus polyacanthus) at the Steinhart Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences. (Image Credit: Ben Young Landis/CC-BY)

Amazon leaffish (Monocirrhus polyacanthus) at the Steinhart Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences. (Image Credit: Ben Young Landis/CC-BY)

The leaf fish floats like a fallen leaf.

Like a ninja warrior, it hides carefully.

But when it gets hungry and sees food to eat,

Its mouth opens wide and bites quickly!

What a strange mouth the leaf fish has!

Like a pop-up book, it sticks out fast.

Like a pop-up book, it folds back flat.

Think of all the yummy food this mouth can grab!

Can you hide like a leaf fish, too?

Wear brown clothes to hide with other brown things.

Then sit very still so no one can see.

What a great idea for a game of Hide-and-Seek!

An Amazon leaffish (Monocirrhus polyacanthus) at Steinhart Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences. (Image Credit: Ben Young Landis/CC-BY)

An Amazon leaffish (Monocirrhus polyacanthus) at Steinhart Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences. (Image Credit: Ben Young Landis/CC-BY)

For Parents:

You could say the Amazon leaffish is the ninja warrior of the Amazon River. It blends into its surroundings — but can strike with a deadly weapon when it sees a target!

I took these two photos of leaffish at the Steinhart Aquarium, which is part of the California Academy of Sciences museum in San Francisco, California, USA. “Cal Academy” is a wonderful science museum for all ages, even hosting weekly soirées inside the museum for the grown-up crowd.

The second video — of the baby leaffish feeding — was also filmed by Cal Academy. Find more Cal Academy videos on their YouTube channel.

Read more about the Amazon leaffish in the original Better Know a Fish blogpost: https://betterknowfish.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/amazon-leaffish-monocirrhus-polyacanthus/

Monocirrhus polyacanthus Heckel, 1840
Amazon Leaffish (click for names in other languages)

Monocirrhus means “single curl”, referring to the whisker-like appendage on the fish’s chin, while polyacanthus means “many spines”.

— Ben Young Landis

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