Giant Triangular Batfish, Malthopsis gigas Ho & Shao 2010

A Giant Triangular Batfish. Malthopsis gigas, from off Nanfang'ao, northern Taiwan - 12 cm. Source: Ho, Hsuan-Ching / NMMBA. License: All rights reserved


A uniformly yellowish-brown to dark grey deep-sea batfish, often a whitish underside, darker fins, and sometimes a darker band across the caudal peduncle. 

The Giant Triangular Batfish is the largest member of the genus Malthopsis. It has a depressed triangular body, and an elevated head with a relatively strong elongated rostrum and tough skin heavily covered in robust conical bucklers.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2022, Malthopsis gigas in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jul 2024,

Giant Triangular Batfish, Malthopsis gigas Ho & Shao 2010

More Info


Off Rowley Shoals, Western Australia, to north of Melville Island, Northern Territory, including off Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea, and east of Dunk Island, Queensland, to off Picnic Point Beach, New South Wales; also the Lord Howe Rise south of Lord Howe Island (just south of AUS EEZ), and south of Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the Indo-West Pacific: East Africa to French Polynesia, north to Japan, south to New Zealand.
Occurs mostly on the continental slope.


Dorsal fin 5-6; Pectoral fin 11-14.

Body depressed, markedly triangular in dorsal view, head elevated above other parts of disc with a strong and relatively long rostrum; rostrum about equal in length to eye diameter, rostral spine directed forward and upward, distinctly overhanging the illicial cavity and mouth; rostral base relatively wide.

Illicial cavity small, triangular, wider than high; esca a single bulb with 2 small cirri on dorsal margin; mouth small, terminal; jaws with narrow bands of small villiform teeth; teeth present on vomer and palatines.

Scales on body surface relatively sharp, pointed bucklers; top of disc between main bucklers densely covered in smaller flat bucklers.


To 136.4 mm SL


Grey to deep brown above, occasionally with up to 5 small black spots; underside and anal fin pale to greyish; caudal peduncle sometimes with a dark band; fins darker.


Deepsea batfishes use the fishing lure on the head to attract prey.


Little is known of deep-sea batfish biology, including reproduction and larval development.

The sexes are separate and fertilisation is external. Like in many other anglerfishes, the scrolled ovaries presumably produce buoyant gelatinous egg rafts. 

The pelagic larvae deep-bodied, have large heads, a strongly inflated dermal sac and very large, early-forming pectoral and pelvic fins. The illicium or "fishing rod" forms during postflexion.


Of no interest to fisheries.

Similar Species

Malthopsis gigas is the largest species in the genus, and was previously misidentified as Malthopsis jordani, which is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.

The following characters distinguish M. gigas from all other species in the genus Malthopsis: rostrum relatively long and strong, body densely covered in strong conical bucklers, dorsal surface with smaller flat bucklers completely covering the spaces between the larger bucklers; anal fin extending beyond caudal fin base when pressed back.


The specific name gigas refers to the relatively giant adult body size of this species.

Species Citation

Malthopsis gigas Ho & Shao 2010, Bull. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. A 4: 13, figs. 2B, 3B, 3D, 4B, 4C, 5. Type locality: ca. 24°48’N, 122°25.2’E, Tashi fish market, Yilan, NE Taiwan, 210–340 m


Bray, D.J. 2022


Atlas of Living Australia

Giant Triangular Batfish, Malthopsis gigas Ho & Shao 2010


Ho, H.-C. 2013. Two new species of the batfish genus Malthopsis (Lophiiformes: Ogcocephalidae) from the Western Indian Ocean. Zootaxa 3716: 289-300.

Ho, H. 2020. Malthopsis gigas. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T140346387A140859667. Accessed on 23 October 2022.

Ho, H.-C. & Last, P.R. 2021. Review of the batfish genus Malthopsis from Australia (Lophiiformes: Ogcocephalidae), with descriptions of five new species. Bulletin of Marine Science 97(1): 165-218

Ho, H.-C. & Shao, K.-T. 2008. The batfishes (Lophiiformes Ogcocephalidae) of Taiwan, with descriptions of eight new records. Journal of the Fisheries Society of Taiwan 35: 289-313. (as Malthopsis jordani)

Ho, H.-C. & Shao, K.-T. 2010. A review of Malthopsis jordani Gilbert, 1905, with description of a new batfish from the Indo-Pacific Ocean (Lophiiformes: Ogcocephalidae). Bulletin of the National Museum of Nature and Science A 4: 9-19.

Ho, H.-C. & Shao, K.-T. 2010. Redescription of Malthopsis lutea Alcock, 1891 and resurrection of M. kobayashi Tanaka, 1916 (Lophiiformes: Ogcocephalidae). Journal of the National Taiwan Museum 63(3): 1-18.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37212040

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:143-650 m

Habitat:Bottom dweller, deep sea

Max weight:14 cm SL

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