Friday, October 5, 2012

Creature Feature: Rosy-lipped Batfish (Ogcocephalus porrectus)

By request, today I present you with the rosy-lipped batfish (scientific name: ogcocephalus porrectus). Found in the waters of Cocos Island off the coast of Costa Rica, this odd looking fish looks like it is ready for its "maybe it's Maybelline" close-up for smear-proof lipstick, but it definitely needs a shave.

This bottom-dwelling fish can be found at depths ranging from 90 to 450 feet. Seen from above, it has been said to resemble more of a "frog fish roadkill" than a bat. Full-grown it is about the size of your open hand, nearly flat on top, and spreads its pectoral fins out to its sides. A slow and clumsy character, the rosy-lipped batfish uses its pectoral and pelvic fins like legs to crawl on the ocean floor rather than swim. Ichthyologist and batfish expert John McCosker says they prefer to “sit upright, like old tail-dragging airplanes.”

It has a leathery skin that feels like sand paper and large spiny knobs covering its back. To add to its bizarre appearance, this fish has a unicorn-like horn protruding from its head. According to McCosker, this rostrum (a Latin word meaning "beak") is "firm - sort of like chicken gristle, and it protects a thin, retractable appendage that the batfish deploys to lure small edible fishes".

Ogcocephalus corniger is found in the waters of the southeastern
United States and 
the eastern Gulf of Mexico. 

Rosy-lipped batfish are voracious, carnivorous eaters who prefer a diet consisting mainly of small fish, shrimps, mollusks and crabs. An interesting x-ray of a close relative to the rosy-lipped batfish shows just what they enjoy eating. Another close relative is the red-lipped batfish, also called the Galapagos batfish (Ogcocephalus darwini), so aptly named for its choice of residence.

Why this drag-queen-looking fish looks like it does, I don't know if anyone really knows. I didn't find any answers in my research. But does the rosy-lipped batfish remind you of anyone in your family?


  1. Thank you for the information and additional photos. I sent the top one out -- this year.. captioned "LOVE,LIFE, JOY AND PEACE, and happy valentines day from me to you"

    And a note that in the communes i lived in, we transformed Valentines Day into Validation Day. We make cards for every one who wants to play, and put them in a box about 2 weeks before Validation Day. The rules are: we can only write genuine validations; we can look at every card but our own (honor system); write in as many (or as few) as you like --- and the cards will be handed out at Validation Day supper. Some of us have kept our cards of Validation Days past for years, and look thru them occasionally, remembering past validations

  2. Hello, I am researching this for my school project and would like to know if there are any good websites for facts... please and if so thank you.

    1. Google rosy-lipped batfish and start with Wikipedia. will give you a little info.
      You might try this link also
      Hope this sends you on the right track. Good luck with the project!

  3. I'm researching too, but I need more information of this fish like: weight, reproduction, ages, enemy,... Please help me! Thanks.

    1. Did you try this site? Encyclopedia of Life
      Maybe it will give you some more info or lead you in the right direction.

  4. We were recently in Cuba and saw a creature very similar to this, we only saw it from top view as were not down snorkeling or anything, we took a picture but no one seemed to know what it was. Thank you.

  5. is this
    a rosy or a red lipped batfish?