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


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. Greyish to brown above with up to five small black spots.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Malthopsis gigas in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Aug 2020,

Giant Triangular Batfish, Malthopsis gigas Ho & Shao 2010

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Widespread in tropical and temperate waters of the Indo-West Pacific. Known in Australian waters from off eastern and off northwestern Australia, and around Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. The Giant Triangular Batfish lives on the bottom in depths of 143-419 metres.


Meristic features: 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 on top, with up to 5 small black spots; underside and anal fin pale to greyish; caudal peduncle sometimes with a dark band; fins darker.


Carnivore. 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: 9-19 [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


Dianne J. Bray

Giant Triangular Batfish, Malthopsis gigas Ho & Shao 2010


Ho, H.-C. & K.-T. Shao 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.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37212040

Biology:Fishing lure on head

Depth:143-419 m

Habitat:Bottom dweller, deep sea

Max weight:14 cm SL

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