Ma Awaiting Image
Ma Awaiting Image

Asian Leaf Fish

Nandus nandus
SynonymsBedula hamiltonii, Coius nandus, Nandus marmoratus
DistributionBangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Sexual DimorphismDifficult to determine. In mature fish, the female fish may have shorter anal and dorsal fins compared to those of the male.
Maximum Size20cm (7.9")
Temperature22-26 deg C (72-79 deg F)
Water ParameterspH: 6.5-7.5, dH: up to 15 degrees.
CompatibilitySpecies-only aquaria.
LightingDim (brighter lighting can be diffused with plants).


The Asian Leaf Fish is widely distributed throughout much of South and South-east Asia, from the Indus drainage in Pakistan and eastwards as far as Vietnam. Here it favours heavily vegetated, slow-flowing backwaters, coastal lakes, inundated fields, quiet streams, and swamps. The laterally compressed body and cryptic colour pattern affords this species great camouflage against plants and fallen leaves, and any unsuspecting fish that swim too near are ambushed with ferocious speed and agility. The aquarium should be mature and spacious, with a dark substrate and an abundance of hiding places amongst tangles of driftwood and dense, jungle-like planting. In addition to rooted varieties, floating species can be useful to help diffuse the light and make these shy fish feel more secure. The addition of a small quantity of leaf litter would also be beneficial - dried Indian Almond leaves (Terminalia catappa) are ideal and are readily available, but will require periodic replacement. Filtration should be efficient, but water movement fairly gentle, and small, frequent partial water changes will help keep nitrate to a minimum. Asian Leaf Fish, although predatory, are actually quite shy and should be kept in groups of 6 or more. Ideally all specimens will be of a similar size and introduced to the aquarium simultaneously, which will help to prevent any territorial arguments that might otherwise be aimed at any newcomers. Do remember that these fish have surprisingly capacious mouths, and coupled with their nocturnal activity, this spells a very real danger for standard community fish, so they are always best maintained in a species tank environment. Not recommended for beginners. May also be seen on sale as the Gangetic Leaf Fish.


Can be tricky, particularly when first introduced to new surroundings. The diet should be ‘size dependent’, i.e. tailored to the size of your particular specimens. Small live or (defrosted) frozen foods are best for younger fish e.g. bloodworm, white mosquito larvae, daphnia, vitamin-enriched brineshrimp etc. Larger specimens will take bigger foodstuffs such as Mysis shrimp, chopped prawns and chopped earthworms (make sure these are clean and free of any pesticides). May eventually take some dried foods, but is unlikely. Observe to make sure any dried foods that are offered are actually taken, as otherwise the rotting uneaten food can easily foul the aquarium water. Warning: Will eat any fish that can fit into their deceptively cavernous mouths!


This species has spawned in the home aquarium, although few details are available. The fish come together in an embrace similar to that seen in many of the anabantids, the male wrapped around the female, with eggs/milt released simultaneously over aquatic vegetation. Eggs are said to number up to 300. The adults exhibit no parental care.

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