How do I keep this predatory fish?


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A reader contemplates buying a Yellow leaf fish for his tank. Jeremy Gay advises.

My local fish shop currently has a Yellow leaf fish in stock and I’d really like to buy it. It’s about 5cm in size at the moment. I know it’s venomous, being a scorpion fish, and that it will eat small fish, but I wondered if it might be suitable for a small reef tank on its own, so long as there were no shrimps or crabs. If so, what sort of set-up would you recommend? 


Jeremy says: Yellow leaf fish, Taenianotus triacanthus, are fascinating and endearing relatives of the lionfish, and well deserving of a tank of their own. The fish you’ve seen should double in size to about 10cm and most only accept live river shrimp, which should be available from a specialist marine store.

They aren’t very active fish, so could actually be housed in a tank as small as 100 l, but you would need biological media and a protein skimmer. It will eat shrimp and crabs, but would probably leave a medium-sized hermit crab or some snails alone. Avoid most other fish, as it will either eat them or it will be outcompeted for food. It could be housed with other leaf fish, however. 

I would set up a simple soft coral reef with finger corals, toadstools and mushrooms and if you can find any corals, sponges or macroalgae to match the colour of your leaf fish, add that too — it will feel more at home when camouflaged against the background. 

Standard reef tank light and flow is fine, although a wavemaker or wavebox with a pulse function can be fun, as these fish sway in the current like a leaf, hence the name.