Members of the Ogcocephalidae family, batﬁsh are mostly small fish comprising nearly 60 similar species. These peculiar-looking ﬁsh employ the energy-saving tactic of luring, instead of hunting for, their food. This method is valuable in deep-sea environments, where food is scarce and thinly distributed.
IdentificationThe head and the trunk of the batfish are broad and ﬂattened, having either a disk or a triangular shape, and its body is covered with broad spines. The long pectoral and rodlike pelvic fins enable the batﬁsh to “walk” on the sea bottom. There is a protuberance, the rostrum, on the front of the head between the eyes, which can be long or short. Under the rostrum hangs a small tentacle that acts like a lure.
The mouth is small but capable of opening broadly. Batfish are usually heavily armored by bony tubercles and hairlike cirri, with the exception of the gill opening on the pectoral fin. Coloration varies among individual species; for example, pancake batﬁsh (Halieutichthys aculeatus) are yellowish with a net design, whereas polka-dot batfish (Ogcocephalus radiatus) are yellowy white with small black dots. Most are camouflaged according to their surroundings.
Batfish can be distinguished from gooseﬁsh and frogﬁsh by the reduced ﬁns on their heads.