Tips on Red-Lipped Batfish Care

The red-lipped batfish or Ogcocepphalus darwini belongs to the family Ogcocephalidae. This fish is endemic to the waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands, Coco Island and Costa Rica. These are bottom dwellers usually occupy depths in the 100 feet range.

The red-lipped batfish is definitely one of the more bizarre looking marine specimens. Its body is very tightly compressed horizontally. Despite their name, these batfish only bear a vague resemblance to the animal form after which they are named. Quite obviously this particular species has red lips.

This species has two distinctive evolutionary traits in common with another odd looking bottom dwelling group of fish know as anglerfish or frogfish. Both are poor swimmers and rely heavily on modified fin structures to walk on the ocean floor. Both have dorsal fins that have adapted into spine like appendages on their heads that are used to lull their prey. These unique creatures actually go fishing for their dinners. This is accomplished by the use of an appendage know as an illicium. The illiciums is a thin, string-like extension that can be projected or cast out in front of their bodies much like a fisherman casts out his fishing line. They have a second evolutionary adaptation known as an esca. Esca are thicker membranes on the tip of the illicium which have the same function as placing a lure on the end of a fishing line. Unlike frogfish, batfish have an elongated snout that overhangs their fishing appendages and serves to protect them from damage. The coloration of both these fish, although nothing alike, serves as a natural means of camouflage to aid them in the capture of prey. This batfish is brown with spikes on its upper body and blends in quite well with the ocean floor.

Because of its predatory nature batfish are not considered good community tank dweller. They are actually quite docile in nature. These are relatively small fish. They only grow to 3.5-5 inches as an adult. If you wish to obtain one make sure its fellow tank mates are not small enough to be lured in and eaten. These fish inhabit deeper waters in their natural environment. They will require a dimly lit aquarium.

This is a carnivorous creature. In nature their diet consists primarily of small fish, crustaceans and mollusks. Live food may be required in order to help them better acclimate to a captive environment. Since this species is rarely kept in home aquariums they are not known to breed in captivity.