These Red Lips are not Made for Kissing!

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The Red-Lipped Batfish

Some people refer to the red-lipped Batfish as “weird,” while others just call it downright ugly/ It is mainly found in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, mostly in the Galapagos Islands. They are sometimes found in Peru as well as Ecuador. They are not great swimmers, and they tend to stay in the sand on the ocean floor. However, in some regions, they do rise to the surface when in deep waters. 

Call It What You Want

These “different looking” fish are referred to by several names. These include the Galapagos Batfish, Batfish, or Pez Murcielago. The Batfish usually does not face any type of threat. Therefore, the population is healthy and does not face any decline in the near future. This is mostly due to the flexibility of being able to survive in a broad range of depth and water habitat. 

Resembles A Bat

The Batfish possess some features common to a bat – which is the reason for its name. The body is a light-brown to gray color. In a school of fish, it can only be identified due to its characteristic red lips. They are bright red – almost fluorescent in color. Their lips look like a fresh coat of red lipstick has just been applied. Marine biologists believe this is a mechanism to enhance species recognition during the breeding season. Batfish has 19 to 20 vertebrae. The largest Batfish discovered measured 1.31 feet in length.

Pectoral Fins Help It Walk

Unusually, most deep-water fish know how to swim well. This is not true with the Batfish. It is very capable, however, of walking on the ocean floor due to its highly altered pectoral fins which assists in walking. Since the Batfish is a bottom-dwelling fish, it moves from place to place using its modified fins. These fins help it to walk across the ocean floor as opposed to swimming. When the Batfish matures, the dorsal fin becomes a spine-like projection. It extends from the head. The illicium is used to attract prey. At the end of the illicium, a bright light is sent out. This attracts smaller fish, which become food for the Batfish. The Batfish’s diet consists of small fish, shrimp, mollusks, and crabs. 

Imagine a scuba diver swimming into one of these red-mouthed fish, as it is walking along in the sand, on the ocean floor.