Leaf scorpionfish

Find me if you can

Leaf scorpionfish are masters of camouflage and can be hard to see, especially in their natural environment. They blend in with the surrounding reef colors—and with their blotchy skin, they look a lot like a waterlogged leaf lying just on top of the coral. Adding to the illusion, they sway slowly side to side, and sometimes even tip sideways like a leaf floating in water.

Leaf scorpionfish
A fish that sheds its skin
Leaf scorpionfish can be white, yellow, pink, red, brown or green—the colors found in their reef environments. They shed their skin about twice a month, and sometimes change color in the process. This is a very unusual behavior for a fish! Leaf scorpionfish can grow a very heavy coat of algae on their skin, which helps them camouflage themselves within their environment. Shedding helps them get rid of algae, bacteria and parasites on their skin. When they shed, their skin splits open and a very clean, brightly colored fish emerges. The skin molt comes off in one piece and is left behind.
I wait for my food to come to me
Hidden by their camouflage, leaf scorpionfish are ambush predators, waiting for prey to swim to them. The algae that sometimes grows on them, and the whisker-like hairs near their mouths, look like food to some animals or like a safe hiding spot for others. But when a shrimp (or anything else that can fit in its mouth!) comes close, the scorpionfish opens its jaws at lightning speed, creating a vacuum that sucks the prey in. Scorpionfish mouths are so big that they can eat prey measuring over half their own body length!
Why swim when you can hop?
Though they can swim, leaf scorpionfish have strong pectoral (bottom) fins which they often use to hop around the reef. They aren't big travelers, and usually live in the same area all their lives.


Leaf scorpionfish range

Quick Facts

Diet: Carnivore
Size: Up to 4"