The red-lipped batfish is an unusual fish. Closely related to other batfish but completely unique to Galapagos, the red-lipped batfish is a bottom dweller and is usually found within the sandy bottom of reefs or on the ocean floor. They can be found at depths of 3 – 76 m in the Pacific Ocean around Galapagos or around the edges of reefs up to about 120m deep.
The body colour of the red-lipped batfish is light brown and greyish on its back, with a white stomach. On the top side, there is usually a dark brown stripe made of brown dots, starting at the head and going all the way down the back to the tail. The snout and horn of the red-lipped batfish are a brownish colour. As its name suggests, the batfish also has bright, almost fluorescent, red lips looking as though it has recently eaten a bloody meal, or is wearing some very bright lipstick.
The red-lipped batfish has another strange trait. Although it is capable of swimming along the seabed in search of food, the batfish’s fins are better adapted to work as pseudo-legs. These ‘legs’ are used to walk and perch on while it surveys its surroundings. It has a structure on its head known as an illicium which is thought to be employed for luring prey in. The species is a piscivore and insectivore, mainly feeding on other small fish and small crustaceans like shrimps and molluscs.
Where to see them: Red-lipped batfish can be seen in the coral reefs surrounding the Islands or on the ocean floor.
When to see them: Red-lipped batfish can be seen all year round.
Threats: The red-lipped batfish has no direct threats. However, rising sea temperatures and coral bleaching could pose a threat, as it will alter their natural habitat and may cause a decline in the availability of the natural food source. The industrial fishing industry and pet trade are other possible threats to the fish.
Conservation action: There are currently no projects specifically focused on the conservation of red-lipped batfish. We are currently working with partners to determine the risks of marine plastic pollution to wildlife as part of our Plastic Pollution Free Galapagos programme which could benefit the red-lipped batfish.
You can help us to protect marine life by donating to our Plastic Pollution Free Galapagos programme today!