Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

EspaƱol  Contact

Family: OGCOCEPHALIDAE, Batfishes

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

head flat, triangular
skin armor of cones
1 D, on tail
fish-lure between rostrum & small mouth
gill opening above-behind pectoral
pectorals = legs



Batfishes are small fishes (to 25 cm) that have a strongly flattened, somewhat disc-like, body; head pointed to rounded when viewed from above; a piston-like fishing rod apparatus on the snout in a cavity just above the mouth, a lumpy bait at the end of the rod; roof of the fishing-rod cavity juts out as a rostrum; gill openings small, behind upper base of pectoral fin; dorsal and anal fins small, at rear of body; large arm-like pectoral fins; smaller arm-like pelvic fins under body, well before pectorals; scales modified to form an armor of cones and prickles.

The batfishes mainly inhabit the deep ocean floor. The pectoral and pelvic fins are used to waddle across the bottom. Batfishes are sluggish swimmers, capable of only slow gliding movements; however a few species occur in relatively shallow depths. These predators of crustaceans and occasional small fishes rely on their camouflaged appearance and unusual luring behavior. On the snout there is a piston-like fishing rod apparatus that is thrust forward at the approach of potential prey. The end of the filamentous rod is equipped with a lumpy bait that is wiggled vigorously.

The family Ogcocephalidae is a circumglobal tropical to subtropical group containing 64 species divided among 10 genera. Three members of two genera are endemic to the shallower waters of our region.