When my students bring up a batfish in our collecting nets, they are amazed and ALWAYS want to keep one or two for our lab aquariums. In the past, I've usually discouraged this due to the fact that the batfish never seemed to eat well in captivity.
This year, a student brought in two batfish as one of those surprise dropoffs that science teachers often receive. At Cedar Key, many of the kids are from clam farming or commercial fishing families, so cool stuff drops into their laps on a regular basis.
I told them, we can keep them as temporary guest fish, but we will need to release them if they don't eat.
Of course, they ignored our prepared food, bits of baitfish, and even chunks of shrimp.
It was looking like a pretty short visit for the bat duo, until I bought some bait earthworms to feed my freshwater bream in a classroom tank.
Hmmm ... the polychaete clamworms that batfish must slurp up out in the Gulf of Florida are earthworm cousins and can't be all that different.
Would the bats eat earthworms?
The answer is, "Why, yes, we will eat as many as you can afford to drop in our tank."
So, they get to stay.
And we need to start farming earthworms in our classroom.