Batfish? What’s That?
A shortnose batfish is a very strange fish. They can and will swim if disturbed, but they mostly “walk” along the sea floor using their unique pectoral and pelvic fins, which, interestingly, strongly resemble feet! Their mouth and “lips” are positioned in a way that makes them look as if they have a permanent frown and are always pouting. Unlike most fish, which are smooth and have scales, shortnose batfish are rough, poky, and “armored.” They can be picked up by hand, but be careful if you do so – some of their “armor” is sharp!
Shortnose batfish eat both plants and animals. They will feed on crustaceans (such as small shrimp), worms, snails, and algae. They do not chew their food, but instead swallow it whole.
Batfish in Aquariums
Normally, batfish are good-tempered fish, but they are difficult to take care of and can not be kept with other fish that will bite at it or pester it. If you are looking to keep a batfish in an aquarium, you will need to give it a large, sandy, open area for it to live in. Make sure you do plenty of research before you get your batfish – it’s a living animal – not something that you can just get rid of or throw away when you’re done with it or change your mind about keeping it.
Observing Batfish in the Wild
Much of the time, batfish are not very alarmed by the presence of people, and will most likely “play rock” (sitting motionless on the bottom, appearing to be a rock or piece of debris on the sea floor). Often it isn’t hard to catch them by hand and pick them up, but be careful if you do, because some parts of their “armor” are sharp. When observing wild batfish, make sure you do not use a net to catch them – their poky armor can easily become entangled.
Range and Habitat
Shortnose batfish are found mostly in western areas of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Shortnose batfish are commonly found sitting on sandy bottoms and mud flats in very shallow water, but they can also be found at depths of over 890 feet!
Other Great Rescources on Shortnose Batfish
- http://www.seascapestudio.net/reference/fish.php?id=532 (webpage)
- http://www.fishbase.org/summary/3092 (webpage)
- Picture of the Week – Grumpy Fish Gallery (webpage on Snails2Whales)
- Photo Album – Walking Batfish (webpage on Snails2Whales)
Have a Question?
Do you have a question about batfish or any other aquatic animal? Email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!