The ‘bat’ connotation arises from the winglike fins from the members of this family. The batfish has a flat and tall body with small scales and a mouth that is slightly sticking out, as in ‘protruding’. It is omnovirous, holding a preference for algae and invertebrates. They roam around either in couples or groups or in large schools.
They can be approached easily by divers since they have a very curious mind. The batfish has a peculiar habit of impersonating a dead leave by lying on one side when feeling threatened. This leave resembles those of mangroves in their habitat.
- Longfin batfish
- Orbicular batfish
The longfin batfish also goes by the name of the teira batfish, the longfin spadefish or the round-faced batfish. It can reach a length of 50 centimeters. Like the orbicular batfish, has a blackish band through the eye and another band with the pectoral fin.
This fish is usually silver, grey or brownish. It feels comfortable in shallow coastal habitats to deeper offshore environments. The longfin batfish is an omnivore. It will eat plankton, invertebrates and algae.
The orbicular batfish, also known as the circular batfish, orbiculate batfish, round batfish, or orbic batfish occurs in the open sea opposite outer reef slopes at depths up to 30 meters. The silvery body of the batfish is almost disc-shaped and very thin. It has two vertical black bands, one covering the eyes. Males can grow to up to 50 cm in length. Juvenile fish are solitary or live in small groups, among mangroves other inner sheltered lagoons. Adults are found in more open waters and at greater depth. The orbiculars feed on small fish, algae and invertebrates.