Leaf Scorpionfish, Taenianotus triacanthus Lacépède 1802

Other Names: Paper Fish, Paperfish, Three-spined Scorpionfish

A Leaf Scorpionfish, Taenianotus triacanthus, at Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. Source: Ian V. Shaw / Reef Life Survey. License: CC by Attribution

A small compressed scorpionfish with a high long-based dorsal fin, skin coved in prickly papillae and fine appendages around the mouth. The Leaf Scorpionfish is variable colour and ranges from whitish, to greenish, pink, and yellow to brown with lighter or darker mottling.

Leaf Scorpionfish are ambush predators and often rock back and forth with the current or tide, resembling leaves or drifting seaweed. They regularly moult their skin to remove algae and invertebrates that grow on their sides, and can change colour after moulting. A sting from the venomous spines may be quite painful.

Video of Leaf Scorpionfish ambushing prey in Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Video of Leaf Scorpionfish at Balicasag Island, Bohol, Philippines.
Video of a Leaf Scorpionfish at Lombok, Indonesia.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Taenianotus triacanthus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3342

Leaf Scorpionfish, Taenianotus triacanthus Lacépède 1802

More Info


From off northwestern Australia to northern New South Wales, with juveniles as far south as Sydney; also Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Indian Ocean. Elsewhere, widespread in the Indo-West Pacific from East Africa to Hawaii.


Carnivore - feeds on small fishes and crustaceans.

Species Citation

Taenianotus triacanthus Lacépède, 1802, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 4: 305. Type locality unknown.


Dianne J. Bray

Leaf Scorpionfish, Taenianotus triacanthus Lacépède 1802


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Russell, B.C. 1986. Part VII Fishes. 79-103 in Berry, P.F. (ed.). Faunal Surveys of the Rowley Shoals, Scott Reef and Seringapatam Reef, northwestern Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 25: 1-106.

Coleman, N. 1981. Australian Sea Fishes North of 30°S. Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 297 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. A comprehensive reference for divers and fishermen. Sydney, NSW, Australia : New Holland Publishers xvii, 434 pp.

Lacépède, B.G. 1802. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : chez Plassan Vol. 4 728 pp. 16 pls.

Poss, S.G. 1999. Families Scorpaenidae, Caracanthidae, Aploactinidae. pp. 2291-2358 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 4 2069-2790 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37287090

Danger:Venomous spines

Depth:1-135 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:10 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map