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Batfish Facts and Species Information

[Phylum: Chordata] [Class: Actinopterygii] [Order: Lophiiformes] [Family: Ogcocephalidae]

Out of all 60+ different species of batfish, the most common sighting for scuba divers is the circular batfish (Platax orbicularis).

This section contains fun facts and information about batfish species, including where they live, what they eat, and how batfishes reproduce.

Habitat and Distribution of Marine Batfishes

You can find batfish living in most of the warm and temperate oceans around the world.

There are more than sixty (60) extant (still in existence) species that inhabit the majority of saltwater environments.

Some of the members belong with a group of about 200 anglerfish of the order Lophiiformes.

Large schools of batfishes are quite bold in their natural habitat. They often swim close to scuba divers and skin divers.

The orbicular batfish (P. orbicularis) is one of the rounded batfish that lives in superabundance in almost all of the Indo-Pacific regions - and even in parts of the western Atlantic Ocean (e.g. southern Florida).

Batfish Characteristics and Behaviour

It's fair to characterise the adult deep sea batfishes by their broad, somewhat flattish, head with a slender body, but not rounded or triangular.

Most of these types of batfish also have rigid bumps on their skin. Some of the group also have sharp spines, and others feature an elongated, upturned nose (snout).

Here's the thing:

Unlike the cooper batfish (Platax orbicularis), these creatures are not good swimmers. In fact, you may see them using their adapted pectoral fins to walk along the bottom of the seabed when they hunt for prey.

Most of the species grow to about thirty (30) centimetres long. But, the biggest adult batfish can measure around seventy (70) centimetres in length (28 inches). Thus, the disc-shaped Platax teira is a good example of the largest batfishes.

What Do Batfish Eat?

Being mostly a carnivorous ray-finned fish species, batfish tend to supplement their daily diet with a combination of:

However, most of the omnivorous batfish specimens feed on:

How Do Batfishes Reproduce?

Even outside the mating season, adult orbicular batfish group together in small schools - and sometimes in large congregations. But, the juveniles live more of a solitary lifestyle.

Female batfish reach sexual maturity after growing to about 32 centimetres long (13 inches). After laying pelagic eggs (meaning they spawn in open ocean), the baby batfish are vulnerable until they can feed on algae and small invertebrates.

Sea Batfish Species List

Atlantic Batfish

Circular Seabat

Humpback Batfish

Longfin Batfish

Orbicular Batfish

A deep, disc-shaped, compressed body, and symmetrical anal and dorsal fins, are standout characterisitics of Ephippidae spadefishes.

This segment contains fun facts and information about circular batfish (Platax orbicularis), including where they live, what they eat, and how they reproduce.

Pinnate Spadefish

Red-Lipped Batfish

Roughback Batfish

Shortnose Batfish

Threats and Predators

Even though some batfish live in freshwater and are of some interest to the aquarium industry, most of the marine batfish live in deep water and have few natural predators. But, most of the shark phylum prey on the disc-shaped orbicular batfish.

Pro Tip: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species assessed most global batfish species as being widespread and of "Least Concern" (LC).

Related Information and Help Guides

Note: The short video [1:23 seconds] presented by "Deep Marine Scenes" contains footage of the bottom dwelling red-lipped batfish (Ogcocephalus darwini) showing its modified fins for walking on the ocean floor.

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