Taxonomy is an interesting lesson in creativity, as there are so many times you see a particular moniker given to several different species, sometimes species that look or act nothing alike. Such is the case for the batfish, whose name is given to no less than three individual fish species that really have nothing in common. The batfish we’re covering today hails from the Ephippidae family, also known as spadefish. There are about 20 different species of spadefish, with the batfish variety being a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts for its silvery shine and interesting markings. The batfish-spadefish is characterized by its spade-like, laterally compressed shape, with very symmetrical anal and dorsal fins. There are some genera that have long trailing fins in place of the smooth-edged triangular fins of their cousins. In the wild, they are often mistaken for angelfish, as their shape is quite similar, but there’s no relation there. Feeding primarily on algae and invertebrates, the batfish of the Ephippidae family plays a crucial role on the Great Barrier Reef, since it eats a type of seaweed that other herbivores will not. Overgrowth of seaweed is just as problematic as undergrowth, so the batfish of the spadefish variety turns out to be different from the others after all.
Top image via edwardcallaghan73