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221. A Scorpion Leaffish (Taenianotus triacanthus) is hiding in plain sight


A ghostly white-coloured Scorpion Leaffish (Taenianotus triacanthus) is sitting just underneath an aggregation of Goldbelly Cardinalfish (Ostorhinchus apogonoides). Although the Scorpion Leaffish is a ferocious predator of small reef fish, the Goldbelly Cardinalfish swimming just above are probably just too big to fall victim to the Scorpaenoid. Juveniles and smaller members of the cardinalfish family could be an ideal source of food for the strange-shaped scorpionfish family member.

Being often brightly and uniformly coloured, the Scorpion Leaffish isn’t that well-camouflaged. The colours of this predator often reveal its presence to scuba divers, underwater videographers, and photographers. What probably tricks most fish species, and some divers, in overlooking the predator is its flattened, leaf-like body. Moving with the motion of the water flow like a flag on a pole in the wind, and its relatively small size is probably more than enough to make most fish believe that it can’t be a serious threat.

Scorpion Leaffish are not the only members of the Scorpionfish order that have flattened bodies. Waspfishes (genus Ablabys), velvetfishes (genus Ptarmus), and the to Australia endemic prowfish species (family Pataecidae) all have to some extent a flattened body and a leaf-like shape. Most other members of the Scorpionfish order have rather bulky and voluminous shapes. All are characterised by their strange leathery skin structure and the absence of real fish scales. They also shed their skin at regular intervals. When this happens, some individuals might slightly change colour.


When filming a subject where other items (other fish, weeds, seagrass, etc.…) might pose themselves between it and your camera’s lens, it is very important to make sure that the manual focus of your camera is turned on. If this often handy feature is set to automatic focus, chances are that your camera is constantly trying to refocus on whatever is in front of its lens.

Pick your subject, adjust your aperture so that only the item you want to film is in focus, and turn off the autofocus, focusing manually on the subject. It might be a lot for beginning and novice amateur underwater videographers, but with a little practice, you will be able to achieve your goals, and you might be rewarded with cool images of the underwater world.

Certain tools such as “focus peaking” can help you so that you are sure that the thing you want to film is in focus. Focus peaking is a great tool, and I use it all the time to assure that my subject is always in focus. This real-time focus mode works by overlaying all parts that are in focus with thousands of very small red specks in your viewfinder. Not all cameras have this great feature, and in some cameras, it is called Focus Assist for Live View. Often, scuba divers aren’t aware that their camera has this great tool built-in. If you ever are on the lookout for a new underwater video camera, make sure that your new buy has this tool. Once you start using it, you’ll become so used to it that it will become indispensable.

Filming location:

This short underwater videoclip has been filmed in Mauritius 🇲🇺

More about this topic:

For an in-depth description about a the Scorpion Leaffish please visit vlog posts 125 or click on this link: https://www.beyondscuba.com/post/the-scorpion-leaffish-taenianotus-triacanthus

To see how a Scorpion Leaffish is attacked and chased away by a Threespot Dascyllus please go to our vlog post 54 or click on this link: https://www.beyondscuba.com/post/damsel-s-territory

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