Looking like a creature straight out of a sci-fi movie, the red-lipped batfish is one of the most bizarre-looking fish in the ocean. Its highlighted lips make it stand out in the crowd. Today, we’ll dive into the interesting facts about these fish. Get ready to be amazed!
1. They put on too much lipstick
The red-lipped batfish, also known as Galapagos batfish, is one of the weirdest species in the ocean. Its distinctive appearance sets it apart from other fish.
Belonging to the Lophiiformes order, also known as anglerfish, this fish has a flattened, disc-shaped body. It has a light brownish-gray hue on the back and a white underside. There’s a dark brownish line that runs from the head all the way down its back to the tail.
These colors allow these fish to blend into their surroundings on the seabed. The most special characteristic of the fish is their lips. The lips are a bright shade of red, almost fluorescent. It’s like they put too much lipstick on their mouth.
So, why do they have red lips?
The vivid red lips of the batfish are believed to serve a dual purpose during the mating season. On one hand, they help the fish to identify their own kind, on the other hand, they attract their partner. Yet, scientists believe that these red lips also function as a lure, drawing prey to the fish’s mouth.
Red-lipped batfish have a size of 8 inches in length and weigh less than 2.2 pounds. The largest red-lipped batfish on record was approximately 40 cm long. These species possess around 19 or 20 vertebrae.
As a type of anglerfish, these batfish feature an illicium, a protruding knob on their forehead. This characteristic extends even further when the dorsal fin matures, resembling a spine-like structure on their head.
The gills of the batfish are basically small holes located behind its pectoral fins, and their scales have been altered to form bucklers.
Although having an unusual appearance, these fish are not dangerous to humans. They are not venomous or poisonous.
2. Red-lipped batfish Habitat
The southeastern Pacific Ocean is home to red-lipped batfish. They primarily live around the Galapagos Islands, a protected area free from human disturbance. This is why these fish are also known as the Galapagos batfish. They are rarely found in any location, except for occasional sightings in the areas near Peru and Ecuador.
The fish are commonly found at depths ranging from 10 feet to 249 feet. They often stay on the ocean floor sands, but also venture near the deep water surface. Typically, they are located near reef edges, with a depth limit of about 400 feet (120 meters).
3. They prefer walking
Despite being a fish that inhabits deep waters, it is not a proficient swimmer. Rather than swimming, it traverses the ocean floor by utilizing its unique pectoral fins as legs. It frequently props itself up like a tripod with its two front fins to scan its environments.
When the fish want to swim, it can retract its pectoral fins beneath its body and move its tail and pelvic fins to propel itself forward. You can see how they move on the video below.
4. They woo their prey come to them
Red-lipped batfish are carnivorous creatures. They mainly eat small crustaceans such as crabs, mollusks, and shrimps, as well as sea worms and other small fish. They are notorious for being ravenous eaters.
To catch food, the red-lipped fish use the illicium on their head to attract prey come to them. This is a characteristic shared by numerous batfish and it’s particularly suitable for these batfish since they hardly pursue prey with their odd swimming style.
Furthermore, the fish also have a unique bait – a glowing lure called an esca that sits on top of their illicium. This esca produces a bright light that draws prey in the deepest parts of the ocean.
Red-lipped batfish don’t have any significant predators in their habitat. That’s why they don’t need any specific mechanism to protect themselves. Despite this, they could be impacted by warmer waters and habitat degradation.
There is limited knowledge regarding the reproductive behavior of this red-lipped fish. However, it’s known that they reproduce sexually by discharging eggs and sperm into the water, which then fertilize. The resulting larvae are subsequently let out into the water. Red-lipped batfish are estimated to have a lifespan of up to 12 years.