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The Bizarre Red-Lipped Batfish

Updated on November 11, 2015

The red lipped batfish is a truly bizarre fish. It has an enlongated and sharp nose and it looks like it has lots of lipstick on its lips! No wonder why it's named this way!

Scientifically described as Ogcocephalus darwini, the species is named after Charles Darwin. Other than its strange appearance, this fish has many unusual traits that distinguish it from your everyday fish. Let's learn more about it.

Where can we find them?

The red-lipped batfish lives in relatively swallow waters, on the sandy bottoms of the Galapagos Islands. It is commonly spotted at depths of 30 to 50 meters. The deepest recorded sightings have been at depths of 120 meters.

According to Carl L. Hubbs (see references sections), a few individuals were once caught in nets in California. However, these sightings should probably be attributed to other, similarly looking and possibly related species of fish. Moreover, the species should not be confused for the rosy-lipped batfish (Ogcocephalus porrectus), a very close related and similarly looking fish that can only be found near Cocos Island, on the coast of Costa Rica.



Individuals can be up to 25cm (~10 inches) long. The head is depressed and comes with a pointed, horn-like snout which has a few hairs that project well forward between the eyes. The snout is not well-visible on the images, but you can get a better look of it at the videos below:

Of course, the species most distinguishing characteristic is the bright red lips, that are seemingly covered with lipstick. The body color varies from a creamy-beige to emerald green.

They are bad swimmers !

Interestingly, despite being a fish, the redlipped batfish is a really, really bad swimmer!

Over time, their pectoral and pelvic fins have evolved so that they can be used for walking instead of swimming. The same applies for their anal fins that have been modified overtime so that they allow it to "sit" and rest on the sea bottom.

Why the bright red lips?

For now the species is not well studied and we don't know much about it, including why it has red lips. Some scientists say that the bright red lips may enhance species recognition during spawning or used by males to attract females during the reproduction period.

A red lipped batfish resting on the ocean floor
A red lipped batfish resting on the ocean floor

What do they eat?

They are voracious carnivores, meaning that they eat very large amounts of food, if given the opportunity. They have been recorded to eat other smaller fish, shrimps, mollusks and crabs.

Are they threatened?

The good news is that unlike other strange and exotic animals, the species is not endagered or threatened. The IUCN lists it as "Least Concern", meaning that it is not endangered and has stable populations with no known immediate threats. Moreover, its habitat is protected in its entirety, as it falls within the Galapagos Islands Marine Protected Area. The future is bright for these strange little guys !

As aforementioned, there is little research about the species. Actually, there isn't anything else interesting to write about this weird but beautiful creature, so I will leave you with one more video and some links you may like! Don't forget to thumbs up, comment, subscribe and share if you enjoyed reading the hub!

The closely related Rosy Lipped Batfish

As mentioned in the introduction, the red-lipped batfish is closely related and very similar looking to the rosy-lipped batfish. One easy way to distinguish which is which, is that the Rosy-Lipped batfish features numerous protruding bony spines on its back.

Rosy lipped batfish Video

You may also like

Here are a few related hubs and sites you may also like:

  • Strange sea creatures: On-growing list of numerous bizarre sea creatures from all over the world
  • Yellow boxfish: The yellow box fish is, as suggested by its name, a yellow cube-like species of fish that can be described in only word. Cute!
  • Yeti lobster: The yeti lobster is a recently discovered species, living in deep sea hydrothermal vents of the Pacific.


  • Ogcocephalus darwini, a New Batfish Endemic at the Galápagos Islands, by Carl L. Hubbs © 1958 American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.
  • Hubbs, C. (1958). Ogcocephalus darwini, a New Batfish Endemic at the Galapagos Islands Copeia, 1958 (3) DOI: 10.2307/1440581
  • Bradbury, M.G. 1980 A revision of the fish genus Ogcocephalus with descriptions of new species from the western Atlantic Ocean (Ogcocephalidae: Lophiiformes). Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. 42(7):229-285


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