Round Batfish, Platax orbicularis (Forsskål 1775)

Other Names: Cooper Batfish, Narrow-banded Batfish, Orbicular Batfish

A group of Round Batfish, Platax orbicularis, in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Source: Elias Levy / Flickr. License: CC BY Attribution


A large silvery-yellow to dusky batfish with a dark band through eye, a band behind the head, and a third dark band on the tail base, yellowish dorsal, anal and caudal fins with black margins, black pelvic fins with a yellow leading edge, and often small scattered black spots on the sides. Small juveniles are yellowish to reddish-brown and resemble leaves drifting amongst flotsam at the surface or moving along the bottom in the current.

Video of a juvenile Round Batfish mimicking a mangrove leaf in Cairns Harbour, Queensland.

Video of a juvenile round Batfish swaying like a leaf at Lembeh Strait, Indonesia.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Platax orbicularis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 May 2024,

Round Batfish, Platax orbicularis (Forsskål 1775)

More Info


Shark Bay, Western Australia, and Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea, around the tropical north almost to Sydney, New South Wales; also Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific.

Occurs in a range of protected coastal habitats including mangroves, coral reefs and deeper silty areas. Adults prefer sandy areas in deeper waters, occasionally forming large schools.

Juveniles usually shelter in mangroves and sheltered lagoons, often amongst flotsam where they mimic dead floating leaves. 


Dorsal fin V, 34-39; Anal fin III, 25-29. 
Body very deep, strongly compressed; large adults (> 40 cm TL) with a concave snout profile and a bony swelling between eyes; each side of lower jaw with 5 pores. Jaws with bands of slender, flattened, tricuspid teeth, the middle cusp about twice length of lateral cusps. Teeth absent from palatines and vomer. 


Silvery-yellow to dusky, with a dark bar through eye and another behind head; body sometimes with several small, scattered black spots; caudal-fin base reddish-brown, fin transparent; dorsal and anal fin yellowish, with black posterior margins; pelvic fins black. Small juveniles reddish brown resembling leaves, with irregular black spots and blotches, small, white (black-edged) ocelli on body and a small black spot at posterior base of dorsal- and anal-fin rays.


Feeds on small fishes, algae, and invertebrates.


Of minor commercial importance and aquacultured in parts of its range. Juveniles are popular aquarium fishes.

Similar Species

The similar Humphead Batfish, Platax batavianus, differs 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).


The specific name is from the Latin orbicularis (= circular, orbicular) in reference to the round body shape.

Species Citation

Chaetodon orbicularis Forsskål, 1775, Descript. animalium: 59. Type locality: Djedda, Red Sea.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Round Batfish, Platax orbicularis (Forsskål 1775)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37362007

Behaviour:Juveniles - mimic leaves

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-60 m

Fishing:Minor commercial, aquaculture, aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated, mangroves

Max Size:60 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map