Batfish – A Complete Care Guide to Pet the Fish

Batfish In Natural Domain
By Garrison Hickles Updated

You may have heard about ‘Batman’ – the superhero with an admiring personality and amazing power to fight with the dark part of the world. Now, what about Batfish? Have you ever heard about this saltwater bat-shaped fish? Do you think this fish is heroic and aggressive like a Bat or the Batman? No, this fish is just opposite to them and it is a very passive-natured cute species found in saltwater.

It does not have any superficial power or quality like Batman, but the dark shining body and flowery shape, and calm nature of the species attract fish enthusiasts to adopt it for their aquarium.

Being from Ephippidae family, it is one of the dark-shaded fish breeds found in the oceans of different regions like Australia, East Africa, Indonesia, India, and Melanesia. With a solid black body, red border and burnt orange pattern on the fins this fish can increase the beauty of your aquarium.

So, why don’t you include it in your fish family to bright-up the ecstasy of your fish tank? However, before you add it in your group of pet friends, try to adopt a little knowledge about its care guide, to nourish and nurture your cute swimmer buddy properly.

Quick Details on Batfish

Some short details may brush up your ideas on how to take care of your pet fish. Moreover, acquiring this knowledge may also help you guide other fish hobbyists.

Scientific Name Platax Pinnatus
Origin Australia, East Africa, Indonesia, U.S.A, India and Melanesia
Life-Span  5-12 years
Colors  Black, Silver, Brown, Yellow
Temperament  Non-Aggressive
Size                 16-30” (40-76 cm)
Diet  Omnivore
Family  Ephippidae (Spadefish family)
Compatibility  With Peaceful and Same-sized Fish
Tank Size  200 Gallons
Care Level  Moderate to Difficult


You may also know Batfish by other names like Firebird Fish and Pinnatus Batfish. This passive-natured fish is very familiar with fish breeders and other aquatic species in the aquarium that are nonviolent. It may look thin and weak when it’s at a juvenile stage but if you provide proper care and nourishment to this wispy fish then it can really live long because it is a hardy fish.

Fishkeepers find keeping this subdued-shaded omnivorous fish difficult because of its food choice and tank requirement. If you want to purchase it from the market then you will get it between $70-$170 per fish.


Batfish can change its color to hide from the predators and aggressive fish breeds because it has a camouflaging quality.

Origin of Batfish

You will mainly find this fish in Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Coastal water of Galapagos Island in USA and in the sea near Cocos Island in Australia. Thus, you should arrange a marine aquarium to keep this saltwater fish with the surrounding of rockwork to provide it with a natural eco-friendly ambiance of the deep sea.

Usually, this fish is social and it loves living with a group of Batfish or other species that are calm and passive in nature. It is a harmless creature of saltwater that doesn’t like fighting.

Appearance of Batfish

Do you know the name ‘Platax’ is derived from a Greek word – ‘Platys’, which means flat? Batfish is known as ‘Platax’ because of its flat and disk-shaped body. Also, the name ‘Batfish’ is given because of the dark color and bat-like fins of the species.

The anal fin of this fish has three spines, it has large dorsal and anal fins like a bat which gives a triangular shape to their body, and also help them swim properly. This breed look reedy and they have outstretched wings when they are younger but with the age, their body starts gaining volume and they get a spade-like shape.

Although, all the species of Batfish genus are not similar to each other by looks; their temperament is similar. You will get varieties of species in The family of this breed with various colors like yellow, zebra-patterned, black, dark brown, silver, dusky-grey, red-lipped, etc.

Batfish Temperament

This dark-colored slow-moving fish are peaceful in nature, and also friendly to the school of different non-aggressive fish breeds who are social like Batfish.

Never keep them with any large size fish breeds that are more than 30” because they can easily eat these species; make sure it is not a superhero like Batman who would be capable to fight with its enemies (predatory fish). So, it is better to keep this fish away from aggressive and territorial water species.

Suitable Tankmates of Batfish

Usually, this fish is hardy and its gentle nature makes it a suitable friend for both the beginner and expert aquarists. You can easily pet them if you really prefer keeping calm-natured fish in an aquarium.

As mentioned earlier, Batfish does not like strong-tempered water species that can harm or attach its family. So, if you want to save this passive-natured innocent pet from stress, agitation and bloodshed then find suitable companions for this species.

Some suitable tankmates of Batfish are peaceful and medium in size such as:

  • Tangs
  • Gobies
  • Damsels
  • Boxfish
  • Clownfish
  • Butterflyfish

Tank Requirements for Batfish

Native to Indo-Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean, Batfish prefers living in a high saline deep water. You will occasionally find this breed floating on the upper part of the water. In the wild, this fish is found under a rock on the outskirts of the reefs.

Green Chromis are bottom dwellers, so you should try to provide a big deep aquarium and natural environment to this peaceful saltwater fish by following proper tank setup suggestions.

Tank Size

Batfish is about 30” (76.2 cm) in size, so you need a spacious and rectangular-shaped 200-gallon aquarium for its comfort.


House them with FOWLR (fish-only-with-live-rock), sandy substrate and marine water plants, to make them comfortable, instead of reefs and corals. If you are keeping corals for the decoration then it is of no use because Batfish will eat them.

Also, try to keep live rocks and caves to make perfect hiding place, and also to provide security to the fish for laying eggs.


The tank should not be over-crowded because Batfish is large in size and it needs wide space to dwell.


This fish is a nocturnal aquatic species that does not need harsh light in the tank. So, keep low lighting in the aquarium of this fish.


Keep a water filtration system in the tank of this fish to refine the pollution of the water such as the uneaten foods. You can also run UV sterilizers to kill the parasites in the water which is the reason for fungal infection and Ich.   

Water Type for Batfish

Follow these important points if you want to provide a safe place to dwell your pet Batfish. Water is the most essential thing for fish because they cannot survive without it.


The water temperature for Batfish should be 77-80°F (25-26 °C).


The alkalinity of the water should be 3.5-4.5 meq/L (or 10-12 dKH).

pH Level

The pH level of the water should be 8.2-8.4.

Specific Gravity

The specific gravity of the water should be 1.018-1.025

Mineral Level

The nitrite and ammonia should be of zero levels. About 10 ppm nitrate in water is suitable for the tank.

Cleaning Method

While cleaning the tank of Batfish, you can use vinegar, lemon juice, and soft liquid soap to wash out the algae, fish poops and dirt from the tank. Use a brush to scrub the dirt and after scrubbing the walls and objects of the aquarium, wash it off with aerated water.

Replacement Procedure

During the replacement process, change about 20-25% of the water once in a month why cleaning the tank. If you want to do it on a weekly basis then it will be better to change 10% water.

While putting a batch of new aerated and RO-proved water, just check the temperature, salinity, pH level, and hardness to keep your pet fish comfortable.  

Diet for Batfish

Though Batfish is an omnivoros fish it is not easy to explain the diet of a wild-caught Batfish from the very beginning when you start breeding this fish. You cannot give every type of food to this sensitive omnivoros fish because it is prone to several diseases, and the wrong diet can be a major reason for the decrease of its lifespan. Some of the fish are carnivoros also who prefers eating meaty foods.

Some of the favorite foods of Batfish are:

  • Plankton
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Algae
  • Corals
  • Invertebrates
  • Sea Plants
  • Mussels
  • Scallops
  • Anemones
  • Seaweed

Whatever you feed to your pet fish, just don’t feed the foods directly as soon as you bring them from the wild. They will be better if you feed them thrice a day and in a medium quantity. Also, purchase pellets and refined foods available in the market such as:

  • Aquatic Venturez Pro Bottom Wafers
  • Hikari Tropical Massivore Delite

These foods are specially made for the omnivoros fish who need nutrition to stay strong and live long. These foods will also help Batfish fight with multiple infections.

Now, if your pet Batfish is not eating anything then it might be it is in stress. Try to reduce its anxiety level by keeping proper tankmates with this fish, changing its aquarium or providing its favorite foods. It is a sensitive fish and its mood is often changed with the ambiance, weather and food choice.

Batfish Breeding

It is difficult for Batfish to give birth in captivity because it goes aggressive while reproducing. You are suggested to bring a separate spacious fish tank for the mother Batfish when it lay eggs. Keep the mother and eggs in the separate tank till the time egg fertilizes.

You will be surprised to hear that Batfish never protect its eggs and small fries after giving birth, but if you want to encourage its breeding then keep the small fries in the separate tank till it gets mature because other fish can eat or attack the juvenile Batfish if you keep them with other breeds.

Types of Batfish

Not only one but there are various species in the group of Batfish who have different colors, shapes, and styles. Each variant of Batfish is distinct from one another. So, have a look at some of them:

  1. Teira Batfish – The other name of Teira Batfish is Round-Faced Batfish. When it is young, it is brown in color and looks just like a thin floating leaf. After growing adult, the color changes into grey and silver with a dark blotch in the bottom part. The pelvic fins of this fish are yellow and it can grow up to 30”.
  2. Dusky Batfish – When this fish is juvenile, it has a dark dusky-black body, the crimson margin on the border of the fins which are long like a bat. When the fish grows up, it becomes silver in color and its dorsal and anal fins are yellow in color.
  3. Orbiculate Batfish – This fish is also known as Cooper Batfish that is reddish-brown with black spots during the juvenile stage. When it grows up, it turns into dusky yellow-silver color and develops bands on its eyes and head. You will also find black spots scattered on the body. Orbiculate Batfish grows up to 20”.
  4. Tall-Fin Batfish – The steep head and rounded large back of this fish help it swims properly. Its fins can grow up to 27”. The bird-like fins of this fish make it look like a bat at night.
  5. Shaded Batfish – You will find this fish in the Western Pacific Ocean. This fish has black bands and dark spots in its greenish body.
  6. Red-Lipped Batfish – Another name of Red-Lipped Batfish is Galapagos Batfish because it is found in the coastal water of Galapagos Island in the USA. You will also find this fish on Cocos Island of the Pacific Coast in Costa Rica (Australia). This fish is known as Red-Lipped Batfish for its rosy lips. Usually, you will find this fish lying on the ground of the aquarium because it is a bottom dweller.

Diseases of Batfish with Interventions

As we know Batfish is an omnivoros fish and eat all types of foods, it is quite evident that this breed will have a high tendency to get affected by several diseases such as:

  • Marine Ich
  • Bacterial Infection
  • Megalocytivirus Infection

So, it is your duty to keep the tank clean, maintain the saline level and alkalinity of the water where you are keeping the Batfish. The poor quality and low level of salinity in the water can make the fish ill. Also, an unhygienic condition in the tank can be the other reason for the spreading of infection in the aquarium. Moreover, remove the uneaten foods from the fish tank to keep it clean and fresh.

Difficulties in Keeping Batfish

Yes, Batfish is a peaceful and familiar fish but it is not very easy to pet this fish because this fish is sensitive in nature and highly prone to various diseases. Moreover, choosing its foods is also not an easy task because you cannot feed every type of foods to this dark-shaded omnivore. However, if you know the care guide properly then you can easily take care of your pet fish.

Interesting Facts

  • With the growing age the body features and colors of Batfish changes.
  • They are extremely intelligent marine fish.
  • They can hide by lying down behind the rocks or coral to save themselves from the enemy.
  • You will find this fish in the deep lagoons of Coastal area.
  • The young Batfish can camouflage themselves in mangroves.
  • Some of this fish eats sea turtle’s poops and urine.

Know About More Interesting Saltwater Fish

There are multiple species that you get in seawater, some are quite interesting by their appearance, diet, and behavior. Here are some of them you may want to know about: