Roundel Batfish

Roundel Batfish, Zalieutes elater

The Roundel Batfish, Zalieutes elater, whose common Spanish name is murciélago biocelado, is a species in the Batfish or Ogcocephalidae Family, known as murciélagos in Mexico. Globally, there are sixty-four species in the family  currently placed in ten genera. Ten members are found in Mexican waters, nine in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific. Two species in the genus Zalieutes are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific. All family members are bottom dwellers that are specially-adapted fish. Most are found in very deep, lightless, global tropical waters at depths between 650 and 3,300 feet.

The Roundel Batfish have very flattened bodies that are shaped as rounded triangular discs. Their dorsal side is brown with a varying number of black-rimmed orange eye-like spots (ocelli) and their ventral surface is white. Their head is depressed and not elevated above the disc. Their small mouth opens at the front and they have a short fishing pole in a small cavity overhung by a cone-shaped rostrum that points straight ahead with an equal-sized cone flaring out on each side. Their gill rakers are modified to long thin plates and covered with teeth. Their body is covered with many denticles of varying sizes. Their tail is long with the underside covered with prickles and two rows of cones. Their pectoral fins are arm-like and well-separated from the body.

The Roundel Batfish are a benthic species found in inshore coastal waters over sandy and muddy bottoms at depths between 35 and 825 feet. They reach a maximum length of 17.0 cm (6.5 inches). They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Roundel Batfish are found in all waters of the Pacific.

The Roundel Batfish is the only Batfish found in the Pacific, thus is very easy to identify.

The Roundel Batfish are caught as a by-catch of deep water shrimp trawlers and are normally discarded. They are of limited interest to most.

Roundel Batfish (1)Roundel Batfish (2)Roundel Batfish (3)Roundel Batfish (4)

Roundel Batfish, Zalieutes elater. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos Area, Baja California Sur, February 2010 to May 2012. Length: 11.7 cm (4.6 inches).