Juvenile batfish are gorgeous, unique fish, especially the Platax Pinnatus. They are pitch black, with long dorsal and anal fins, giving it a bat-like appearance, with a distinctive orange neon-like outlining of the entire body. Not only has it a mystique appearance, it also swims most gracefully through the water. An outer worldly creature that would make a great addition as a character in the latest Avatar movie.

As adults these looks completely change though. The body morphs into a more flat, triangular shape with a mostly grey and light silver color to it. Quite often the adult version has a dark colored bar running through the eyes vertically and through the fins as well. They become extremely big, making them unsuitable for the average home aquarium but also because of their special dietary needs they are unfortunately not suitable as pets in a home aquarium. Fin to fin measures can be up to 50 cm.

Keeping a batfish

If you want to keep a batfish make sure you have a big tank with lots of open swimming spaces, at least 1500 liters or bigger. Also give them hiding places in the form of caves. As they are active during the day, they will appreciate a place to temporarily hide if they feel threatened. It is best to keep them in FOWLR systems as they are known to eat SPS, LPS and leather corals, anemones and crustaceans.

Regarding mixing batfish with other fish species: batfish do fine with other non-aggressive large fish. When we look at water quality, it is important to keep water quality high and the temperature stable. This is a very sensitive species that doesn’t react well to any changes.


An omnivorous species, meaning they eat both meat / protein as well as plant based matter. It is therefore important to offer them a varied diet. They love to eat krill, shrimp, crab, squid, live and frozen brine and Mysis shrimp. But equally important is their need to consume macroalgae. You can give them nori leaves and dry food (kelps / seaweed), algae grown in the refugium as well as frozen spirulina and spinach food to meet this demand.

Hybrid platax batavianus / pinnatusUp to 50 cm.
Pacific Ocean, from Japan to the Ryukyu Islands and all the way to Australia. Most commonly found in western Australia.Temperature: 24 – 26 °C
pH: 8,2 – 8,4
sG: 1.018 – 1.025
The adults look completely different than the juveniles, and we are talking completely different. Not only do they get huge but their entire body shape and color changes!Not suitable for home aquariums due to adult size and they are extremely difficult to keep alive due to special dietary requirements and high sensitivity.


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