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 deep-bodied very compressed fish with a silvery-yellow to dusky body, a dark bar through eye, another bar behind head, yellowish dorsal and anal fins with black margins and black pelvic fins, and small scattered black spots often on the sides. The small reddish-brown juveniles resemble floating leaves drifting amongst flotsam at the surface or moving along the bottom with 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. 2019, Platax orbicularis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 31 Mar 2020,

Round Batfish, Platax orbicularis (Forsskål 1775)

More Info


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

 Inhabits a range of mangrove and reef areas in depths to 30 m. Juveniles usually occur amongst mangroves and in silty areas, often mimicking mangrove leaves. Adults prefer sandy areas in deeper waters, occasionally forming large schools. 


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.


Omnivore - feeds on small fishes, algae, and invertebrates.


Of minor commercial importance and aquacultured in parts of its range. Also traded in the aquarium industry.

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).

Species Citation

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


Bray, D.J. 2019


Australian Faunal Directory

Round Batfish, Platax orbicularis (Forsskål 1775)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37362007

Behaviour:Juveniles - mimic leaves

Depth:0-30 m

Fishing:Minor commercial, aquaculture, aquarium fish

Habitat:Coral reefs, mangroves

Max Size:60 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map