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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes > Family Platycephalidae
Fringe-eyed flathead
Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus*
Family Platycephalidae
updated Apr 2020
Where seen? This fish with a flat head and a delicate fringe over its eyes is commonly seen on many of our shores, in sandy and coral rubble areas near reefs.

Those seen 6-20cm, but said to reach up to 58cm. Tiny ones about 2cm long have also been seen. Identified by the elaborate golden filigree fringe over the eyeball. Above the eyes 6-9 large fleshy tentacles. It has bony ridges on the head with spines. Colours and pattern are camouflaging, with 7-8 dusky bars on the back and sides and its fins has variegated patterns. Dorsal fin large and sometimes colourful.

Sometimes mistaken for other flattened fishes that live on the sea bottom. Here's more on how to tell apart fishes with flat heads.

Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, Jun 11

Sisters Island, May 08

About 2cm long. A juvenile?
Tanah Merah, Aug 09

Very large mouth on a large flat head.
Elaborate fringe over the eyes.

Sisters Island, May 08
Over the eyeball, an elaborate golden filigree fringe. Above the eyes, several fleshy tentacles.
Big Sisters Island, Sep 20
Photo shared by Jianlin Liu on facebook.

What does it eat? It is carnivorous, feeding on creatures that live on the sea bottom.

*Species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of display.

Fringe-eyed flatheads on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Labrador, Aug 17
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on facebook.

East Coast-Marina Bay, Oct 15
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

East Coast Park, Aug 20
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.

Seringat-Kias, Jun 09
Photo shared by Liana Tang on her blog.

Pulau Tekukor, May 10
Photo shared by James Koh on his blog.

Kusu Island, May 22
Photo shared by Richard Kuah on facebook.

Kusu Island, May 22
Photo shared by Richard Kuah on facebook.

Terumbu Pempang Tengah, May 11
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his blog.

Pulau Hantu, Jul 20
Photo shared by Vincent Choo on facebook.

Pulau Senang, Jun 10
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on her flickr.

Labrador, Sep 09
Photo shared by Neo Mei Lin on her blog.

Beting Bronok, May 11
Photo shared by Russel Low on facebook.

Pulau Pawai, Dec 09
Photo shared by James Koh on his flickr.

Pulau Pawai, Dec 09

Filmed in Aug 08 on Pulau Semakau

flathead fish@semakau....gone in a flash! from SgBeachBum on Vimeo.

  • Allen, Gerry, 2000. Marine Fishes of South-East Asia: A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Periplus Editions. 292 pp.
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