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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes
Family Ephippidae
updated Sep 2020

Where seen? The fishes with long fins are sometimes seen, in seagrass meadows, near reefs and at jetties on our Southern shores.

What are batfishes? These fishes belong to Family Ephippidae. According to FishBase: the family has 7 genera and 20 species, found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Those recorded for Singapore belong to Platax sp.

Features: The body is flattened sideways. The mouth is small. Adults are silvery and rather squarish. Hence their other common name of Spadefish. Juveniles may look very different in colour and pattern and have very elongated dorsal and anal fins. Those seen 12-15cm long usually with two dark bars, one through the eye, on an orange body. The species are difficult to distinguish without examination of small body parts.

St John's Island, Apr 12

Pulau Semakau, Aug 11

Pulau Semakau, May 07

Marina at Keppel Bay, Oct 09
Make like a leaf: Sometimes, may lie on the side, floating in the water to mimic leaves or flat against the surface mimicking toxic flatworms. In some species, the juveniles are found with feather stars.

May be confused with the Silver moony (Family Monodactylidae).

St. John's Island, Apr 12

Resembles a floating leaf.
Kusu Island, May 16
What do they eat? They feed on seaweeds and small animals.

Tanah Merah, Aug 11

A tiny Batfish swallowing a fish
almost as large as itself!

Finished swallowing its prey!
Human uses: Juvenile batfishes are often taken from the wild for the aquarium trade.

Status and threats: None of our batfishes are listed among the threatened animals of Singapore.
However, like other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution. Over-collection by hobbyists can also have an impact on local populations.

Batfishes on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Tanah Merah, Aug 09
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

Seringat-Kias, Aug 12
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Cyrene Reef, Nov 08
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Family Ephippidae recorded for Singapore
from Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Records, ect)

  Family Ephippidae (previously listed under Family Chaetodontidae)
  Platax batavianus (Batavia batfish)
Platax orbicularis
+Platax pinnatus
(Longfin batfish)
Platax teira
(Blunthead batfish)



  • Koh Kwan Siong. 18 December 2015. Batfishes off Pulau Hantu. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2015: 205-206.
  • Toh Chay Hoon. 31 October 2013. Juvenile longfin batfish (Platax pinnatus) in the Singapore Straits. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2013: 41
  • Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore. National Council on the Environment. 163pp.
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