Platax pinnatus

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Latin name Platax pinnatus - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Local name Dusky batfish
Family Ephippidae - Platax
Origin Australia, Japan, Indonesia, East Pacific, Central/West Pacific
Max length 45 cm (17.7")
As aquarium fish
Minimum volume 1200 l (317 gal)
Hardiness Delicate
Suitable for aquarium Experience, preparation and extra care required
Reef safe Not reef safe
Aggressiveness Mostly peaceful but might be aggressive towards similar species
Recommended Larger crustaceans (Shrimp, crabs...)
Macroalgea (Eg. seaweed / nori)
Other invertebrates
Small crustaceans (Krill, mysis, artemia...)
Maybee Large polyp stone coral (LPS)
Small polyp stone coral (SPS)
Soft coral
Beware of
Can be a threat to anemones

This species likes eating anemones.

Threat towards crustaceans

This species poses a threat towards shrimps and crabs etc., which are relatively small.


This species can be fastidious and in an aquarium it can be very difficult to get them to eat sufficiently.

High water quality

This species demands a high water quality.

Amongst other things it means, that water must be properly oxygenated.

Difficult to keep

It is recommended that this species be kept by experienced aquarists as it requires specialized food for its continual survival.

Enriched food

This species often becomes malnourished in captivity, it is therefore important to enrich their food with omega-3 and vitamins.  

Subsceptible to ich

This species is easily susceptible to Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon irritants), when stressed by other fish, bad water quality, or when relocated.

Keep in mind
Requires a varied diet

This species must be fed with an appropriately varied diet.

Heavy load

This species eats a great deal and demands an aquarium that can tolerate such a heavy load.

Live food

There is a greater chance of success with this species if one can supply a living feed to allow it to adapt to the tank.

Overhangs and caves

This species thrives best in an aquarium with overhangs and caves. 

Requires plenty of space for swimming.

This species revels in swimming and requires an aquarium with ample space.

Bred in captivity

This species can be bred in captivity, one can therefore consider asking your local fish store for a captive bred specimen.

Initially shy

This species can be very shy when first introduced into a new aquarium.

More aggressive fish can be introduced after this species has acclimatized.

Descriptions and further reading

When young this fish has a very impressive appearance, but develops a bland colour and loses its special shape when fully grown. 

Genus description (Platax)

Batfishes are not well suited to coral aquaria, as they pose a threat to shrimps, anemones, corals and other invertebrates.
They grow fairly quickly, a small fish can grow to be 25 cm in height within a couple of months. 

These fish will begin eating quickly, with the exception of Platax pinnatus, but will sometimes hide for a few days after being transported.
Be careful when catching the fish as their fins are easily damaged.

Batfishes should be fed with both algae based foods and different types of frozen food or seafood.

Family description (Ephippidae)

Many Spadefish cannot adjust to captivity and become much too big, but several species of the Batfish (Platax genus) can be kept in a large aquarium. 

Aquarium trade Yes
Distribution Western Pacific: Ryukyu Islands to Australia. Occurrence of this species in the Indian Ocean is doubtful.
English common names Shaded batfish
Long-finned batfish
Dusky batfish
Pinnate spadefish
Pinnate batfish
German common names Rotsaumfledermausfisch
Danish common names Mørk flagermusfisk
French common names Platax ombré à nageoires jaunes
References and further reading

About references

Bill Rosser. 2014. Dietary Discovery May be Key to Keeping the Pinnatus Batfish - Tropical Fish Hobbyist - (English)
Jason (r0cksteady). 2007. Pinnate Batfish (Platax Pinnatus ) Primer - Reef Central - (English)

Bob Fenner. Crazy About Batfishes, But Not Spades, Family, Ephippidae - Wet Web Media - (English)