Platax orbucularis, orbicular batfish, leaf fish (1)

photo: Flickr user dachalan

Platax orbucularis, orbicular batfish, leaf fish (4)

photo: Flickr user howie516

Habitat: tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans
Status: Not Evaluated

Growing up as a fish is not easy. You’re teeny-tiny and everything wants to eat you. Not to mention, you run the risk of being teased in schools (get it?!) if you don’t fit in. The Orbicular Batfish (Platax orbucularis) knows just what to do to avoid becoming lunch – it uses its trusty camouflage!

Juvenile orbicular batfish resemble dead leafs to a T – from the rusty brown color of its scales right down to the very way it moves in the water, it puts up quite the skilled mimetic performance.

As you can see in the video, the fish sways in the current, placing itself near the very leaf its trying to imitate when possible. Juveniles grow up in the safety of mangroves or other inner sheltered lagoons until they reach adulthood.

Once they’re fully grown, they move out into deeper, more open waters. They’re overall appearance changes, too. They lose their brown coloration and take on a more silver hue with a black outline and subtle stripes. The batfish become almost disc-shaped, as the ‘orbicular’ part of their name implies, with its tail reaching about 20% of its body length.

Quite the transformation, don’t you think?