Humphead Batfish, Platax batavianus Cuvier 1831

Other Names: Batavia Batfish, Batavian Batfish, Batfish, Humped Batfish, Hump-headed Batfish, Moonfish, Zebra Batfish

A Humphead Batfish, Platax batavianus, at Wessel Marchinbar Island, Northern Territory, August 2013. Source: Ian Shaw / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A deep very compressed silvery fish with a dark bar through the eye, a second faint bar just behind head and a yellowish tail. Subadults brownish with a black bar from nape, over eye to chest, a second black bar from dorsal-fin origin to pelvic fins; pectoral and pelvic fins dark brown or black. 
Small juveniles are black with irregular wavy white lines, and are very well-camouflaged when sheltering amongst crinoids. 

Video of a juvenile Humphead Batfish

A juvenile Humphead batfish at Cebu Mactan, Philippines

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Platax batavianus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Apr 2024,

Humphead Batfish, Platax batavianus Cuvier 1831

More Info


Recorded in Australia from Shark Bay, Western Australia, around the tropical north to Tweed Heads, New South Wales; also Scott Reef, Western Australia, and Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea. Elsewhere, widespread in the tropical, west Pacific (Indo-Australian Archipelago).

Adults usually prefer moderately deep open areas with sparse reef or coral heads. Small juveniles also occur on reefs, often sheltering amongst crinoids.


Dorsal fin VI-VII, 28-31; Anal fin III, 19-23. 
Body deep, strongly compressed; large adults (>40 cm) with  convace snout profile, and a prominent bony swelling between the eyes; bands of slender, flattened, tricuspid teeth in jaws, the middle cusp 3 to 4 times longer than lateral cusps; band of strong teeth on vomer, teeth absent from palatines; 5 pores on each side of lower jaw.


Large adults (> 40 cm) silvery, with dark bar through the eye, second faint bar just behind head; caudal fin yellowish, other fins dusky. Subadults brownish with a black bar from nape, over eye to chest, a second black bar from dorsal-fin origin to pelvic fins; pectoral and pelvic fins dark brown or black. Small juveniles black with irregular wayv white lines on body and fins. 

Similar Species

Differs from the Round Batfish, Platax orbicularis, in having an indistinct dusky margin on the caudal, soft dorsal & anal fins and more pointed dorsal and anal fins (vs. a black margin on P. orbicularis, and rounded dorsal and anal fins).

Species Citation

Platax batavianus Cuvier, 1831, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 7: 225. Type locality: Jakarta (as Batavia), Indonesia.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Atlas of Living Australia

Humphead Batfish, Platax batavianus Cuvier 1831


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37362002

Depth:5-40 m

Fishing:Aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:65 cm SL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map