Malayan leaffish Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: November 22, 2022

The Malayan leaffish is a beautiful freshwater fish that is native to Thailand.

This species is rather unique looking, and their leaf-like shape is what gives them their name.

If you’re looking for a fish that is sure to turn heads, the Malayan leaffish is a great choice.

But before you run out and buy one, there are a few things you need to know about their care. In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about Malayan leaffish care.

You’ll learn about their diet, tank size, tank mates, and more!

Species overview

The Malayan leaffish (Latifundulus malayaensis) is a type of freshwater fish that’s found near Malaysia and Indonesia. They get their name from the fact that their body shape and coloration heavily resemble a dead leaf.

They are a very slow-moving fish that prefer to stay hidden among the plants and leaves in their natural habitat. Because of this, they are not a very active fish in the aquarium and will likely spend most of their time hiding.

Malayan leaffish are a very peaceful fish that can be kept with a wide variety of tank mates. They are not known to be aggressive toward other fish and will get along well with most community fish.

One of the most unique things about Malayan leaffish is their courtship behavior. The male will build a bubblenest out of saliva and plants in order to attract a mate. Once the female is close enough, he will wrap his body around her and release his eggs into the nest. The female will then leave and it is up to the male to care for the eggs until they hatch.


Malayan leaffish

Malayan leaffish are very unique looking fish that are sure to stand out in your aquarium. They have a very “leaf-like” appearance that gives them their name.

The body of this fish is very thin and laterally compressed. This gives them a very wide appearance from the front, but they’re actually quite thin when you look at them from the top.

Their dorsal and anal fins are both very large and leaf-like in appearance. The dorsal fin has 13-17 rays and the anal fin has 11-15.

These fins are what give the Malayan leaffish their distinctive shape. The fins are a bit transparent with some darker spots near the base.

The caudal fin is forked and relatively large. The coloration on this fish is very variable. They can be brown, green, or even purple with various patterns and markings.


The Malayan leaffish lifespan is around 3 years, although some have been known to live for up to 5 years in captivity.

In the wild, their lifespan is likely to be shorter due to predation and other risks. But in a safe, well-maintained aquarium, they can thrive and live for several years.


Malayan leaffish grow to an average length of 3-4 inches.


Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a Malayan leaffish is 10 gallons. If you’re interested in keeping a community tank, you may be able to get away with a smaller tank but we recommend at least 20 gallons.

As with most fish, the more space you can provide the better. These fish are relatively peaceful and won’t require a ton of extra space but they do like to have a little bit of room to swim.

Water Parameters

The Malayan leaffish is a freshwater fish that does well in a wide range of water parameters. They are found in slow moving rivers and streams with a sandy substrate.

The water parameters you need to maintain for Malayan leaffish are as follows:

  • Water Temperature: 72°F to 80°F
  • pH Levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water Hardness: Soft to medium
  • Alkalinity Levels: 2-12 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

The Malayan leaffish is a peaceful and relatively shy species. They do best in aquariums that are heavily planted with plenty of hiding spots.

We recommend using a substrate of fine gravel or sand. These fish like to sift through the substrate looking for food, so a finer substrate is better.

As for plants, you have a lot of options. Hornwort, Water Wisteria, and Java Moss are all great choices. These plants are all relatively tough and can handle being nibbled on.

In terms of décor, you can use driftwood, rocks, or caves. Just make sure there are plenty of places for your fish to hide.

Malayan leaffish are known to be jumpers, so a tight-fitting lid is a must.

Common Diseases

The Malayan leaffish is a freshwater species that is rather hardy and resilient. They don’t often fall ill, but there are still a few potential diseases that you should be aware of.

The most common disease that these fish experience is ich. This is a parasitic infection that will show itself as small white spots on the body of your fish.

It’s important to act fast when you see these spots, as ich can quickly become serious (and even fatal) if left untreated.

Other potential diseases include Gill Flukes, Hole-in-the-head Disease, and Tail/Fin Rot. These are all relatively common in the freshwater aquarium world, so it’s important to be on the lookout for any signs of them.

The best way to prevent your Malayan leaffish from getting sick is to maintain a clean and stable habitat. A well-maintained tank with high-quality water conditions is the best defense against disease.

Behavior & Temperament

The Malayan leaffish is a very shy fish. In the wild, these fish tend to stay hidden in the leaves of plants and only come out at night to feed. This behavior carries over into captivity.

You can often find them hiding in the plants of your aquarium. When they’re feeling stressed, they may even bury themselves in the gravel.

Because they’re so shy, it’s best to keep them in a tank with other peaceful fish. If you house them with aggressive fish, they may not come out of their hiding spots very often and could even stop eating.

Although they’re shy, Malayan leaffish are not aggressive. They will not bother other fish in the tank and will generally keep to themselves.

Tank Mates

Malayan leaffish are shy and reclusive by nature. As a result, they’re not well-suited for community tanks with a lot of activity.

These fish do best in planted tanks with plenty of hiding places. They’re not fond of open spaces and will feel stressed if they don’t have plenty of places to hide.

In terms of tank mates, it’s best to stick with other peaceful fish that occupy different parts of the water column. This will give the leaffish plenty of space to themselves while still allowing them to feel like they’re part of a community.

Some good tank mates for Malayan leaffish include:

  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Otocinclus Catfish
  • Neon Tetras
  • Ember Tetras
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Guppies
  • Mollies
  • Platies


The Malayan leaffish is a beautiful and unique fish that is not commonly seen in the home aquarium. They are, however, fairly easy to breed in captivity.

The first step is to set up a breeding tank. It should be at least 30 gallons and filled with soft, acidic water. You can use a sponge filter to keep the water clean.

Add some live plants and a few pieces of driftwood for decoration. The plants are important because the female leaffish will lay her eggs on them.

When ready, add two females for every male. These fish are not aggressive, so you don’t have to worry about them fighting.

The female will lay her eggs on the plants in the tank. The male will then fertilize them. Once that’s done, the eggs will hatch in about two weeks.

Remove the adults from the tank once the eggs have hatched. The fry will feed on microscopic organisms in the water. You can supplement their diet with baby brine shrimp.


The Malayan leaffish is a great choice for the beginning aquarist. They’re not too difficult to care for and they’re very peaceful, making them a good addition to a community tank.

They’re also a very beautiful fish, with their bright colors and interesting patterns.

Overall, we think the Malayan leaffish is a great choice for anyone looking for a low-maintenance fish that will add some beauty to their tank.