Latin name

Taenianotus triacanthus

Other names

Paperfish, paper scorpionfish, sailfin leaffish, threespine scorpionfish.


The fish is flat, almost like a leaf, and resembles it in many ways. The venom of Taenianotus triacanthus is much weaker than that of the lionfish and stonefish. The skin is often spotted, which increases the camouflage effect. The head and mouth are large. There are appendages around the mouth and sometimes real algae and hydroids grow on the skin. This fish molts every 10-14 days and may change coloration after molting.

Features of fish fins

The large dorsal fin begins just behind the eyes and contains 12 spines and 8-11 soft rays. The anal fin contains three spines and five or six soft rays. 

Fish colouring

Coloration ranges from green, red, pink, brown, ochre and yellowish to white. A dark line runs across the eyes. 


The species is widely distributed from the East African coast and the Red Sea to the tropical Indo-Pacific, north of the Galapagos Islands, the Ryukyu Islands, Hawaii, and the coast of New South Wales.


This species can be found in tropical waters on coral reefs, from shallow waters to depths of 130 meters.


The length of the body is about 10 centimeters. 


The fish resembles a fallen leaf lying in the water. To enhance this camouflage, it even makes slight sideways movements to resemble a floating inert object. They are found in pairs, but are sometimes found alone or in small groups.

Food and feeding habits

It is an ambush predator, waiting for suitable prey, fish or shrimp. Then it slowly creeps up to the prey on its pectoral fins. Once close enough, the fish pulls the prey in and suddenly opens its mouth.


Nothing is known about the reproduction of this species in the wild. There is no reliable information about successful attempts to breed this species in captivity, but it is believed to be impossible.


Not commercially important and of no interest to fishermen.

Relationship with a person

Used in aquariums. A sting from their poisonous spines can be quite painful. 

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Scorpaeniformes
Family Scorpaenidae
Genus Taenianotus
Species T. triacanthus
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years No information
Maximum body weight, kg No information
Maximum length, cm 10
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Not edible
Way of eating Predator

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Leaf scorpionfish

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