> Subphylum Vertebrata > fishes
seen? Like a cross between a crocodile and a fish, flatheads
are often encountered on our shores. In coral rubble areas as well
as sandy areas and seagrass meadows. Although large, flatheads are
usually overlooked as they blend in with their surroundings and are
sometimes half buried in the sand.
What are flatheads? Flatheads belong to the Family Platychephalidae.
According to FishBase:
the family has 18 genera and 60 species. They are found in the Indo-Pacific
long. Some species can grow up to 1m long! The broad, flattened head
gives rise to the family's scientific name: 'Platys' means flat and
'kephale' means head in Greek. The snout is long and mouth huge; with
the lower jaw slightly longer than the upper jaw. The head has bony
ridges and some species have spines. Some species have elaborate tentacles
over the eyes. The long body is cylindrical and tapers towards the
tail. Spending most of the time on the sea bottom, most species lack
Flatheads often lie buried in sandy or muddy bottoms, sometimes with
only their eyes sticking out. Together with their camouflaged patterns,
they are hard to detect.
Sometimes mistaken for some flat-headed
(Family Callionymidae). The Crocodile
flathead goby (Psammogobius biocellatus) resembles a flathead.
Here's more on how to tell apart fishes
with flat heads.
What do they eat? Flatheads eat
small fishes, octopus and cuttlefish, crustaceans and other animals
that live on the bottom. Their large, long mouths expand into a huge
funnel to suck up prey. They have vomerine teeth (bumps on the roof
of the mouth) to help grip and swallow prey.
Human uses: Some large species
of flatheads are considered good eating. They are caught by seining
and trawling. The Bartail flathead (Platycephalus indicus)
is commercially cultured in Japan for the table and is also used in
Chinese traditional medicine.
Status and threats: Our flatheads
are not listed among the threatened animals of Singapore. However,
creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human activities
such as reclamation and pollution. Overfishing can also have an impact
on local populations.
East Coast, Nov 08
Disappearing into the sand.
on Singapore shores
flatheads on Singapore shores
Platycephalidae recorded for Singapore
Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity
*from Lim, Kelvin K. P. & Jeffrey K. Y. Low, 1998. A Guide to the
Common Marine Fishes of Singapore.
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Records, etc)
**Cociella crocodilus=Platycephalus crocodilus
**Cociella punctata=Platycephalus malabaricus
**Cymbacephalus bosschei=Platycephalus bosschei
nematophthalmus=Platycephalus nematophthalmus (Fringe-eyed flathead)
**Grammoplites scaber=Platycephalus scaber
**Inegocia japonica=Platycephalus bataviensis=Platycephalus isacanthus
**Sunagocia carbunculus=Platycephalus cantori
**Sunagocia carbunculus=Platycephalus carbunculus
Platycephalus indicus (Bartail
**Rogadius serratus=Platycephalus polyon
**Rogadius asper=Platycephalus pristiger (Thorny flathead)
**Suggrundus macracanthus=Platycephalus sundaicus
**Sorsogona tuberculata=Platycephalus tuberculatus
+Thysanophrys celebicus (Celebes flathead)
- Koh Kwan Siong & Kelvin K. P. Lim. 18 December 2015. New record of Celebes flathead in Singapore. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2015: 207
- W ee Y.C.
and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.
National Council on the Environment. 163pp.
- Ng, P. K.
L. & Y. C. Wee, 1994. The
Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened Plants and Animals of Singapore.
The Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore. 343 pp.
- Allen, Gerry,
Fishes of South-East Asia: A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers.
Periplus Editions. 292 pp.
- Kuiter, Rudie
H. 2002. Guide
to Sea Fishes of Australia: A Comprehensive Reference for Divers
New Holland Publishers. 434pp.
Ewald and Robert Myers. 2001. Coral
Reef Fishes of the World
Periplus Editions. 400pp.