Monday, December 03, 2012

Feeding The Polkadot Batfish






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.




18 comments:

threecollie said...

I laughed right out loud. YUM! They look more like they ought to be called frog fish though...right down to their facial expression.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Fascinating. I didn't know there was such a fish. Let alone a fish that eats earth worms like a snake would. A scary looking creature too. Something old-time horror movies are made of.

Island Rider said...

I kept waiting for it to burp!

Anonymous said...

Hi FC,

That is one strange looking fish! Do people eat them?

OH......I saw a poster in an antique store in Palatka that I thought you might be interested in. I need to find the card. About a ranger in a Fla state park. It was really cool. It didn't have a price.

p

Deb said...

That is one cool looking fish. I'll have to show that to Joe, my junior naturalist.

Marilyn Kircus said...

You might try them on red worms, Eisenia fetida. They will be MUCH easier to raise since they don't need tunnels and homes.

AND you could get the kids to recycle kitchen waste from the cafeteria and have a green project which will also lend itself to many science projects. After a while, an entire ecosystem develops and the compost is the best stuff there is - especially for starting seeds, transplanting and feeding house plants.

And although I seem to be changing to a robot, I think I'm still pretty much human - just not enough to read these characters. Could you forgo them, please. I took them off my blog and have had no problems.

Back to trying to make like a human - third attempt.

pablo said...

You always have the best stories!

myamuhnative said...

Really cool video!

LauraHinNJ said...

That barely looks like a fish... it has feet!

Caroline said...


Makes Michael Phelps, our betta, look pretty lame and tame! What a cool looking creature your batfish is! Have the kids christened them with names?

robin andrea said...

Batfish? You make that stuff up, right? You're not really a teacher, but a mad scientist.

Soren said...

Wow it's fast - should I worry about being attacked next time I visit my favorite U.S. state :-)?

Pablo said...

Finally! Information on this blog that I can actually use.

Naba Thapa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Floridacracker said...

Sorry friends,
BUSY week!
Batfish are harmless. They ate Canadian Nightcrawlers (Huge!) today! What a sight.

Tomorrow is another 5k mud run, Mud Crusade in Jacksonville.
This time I have a team! At last new targets for my GoPro! Expect a video after I get it all stitched together.

Banjo52 said...

Now that batfish are a new feature in my consciousness, I can . . .

That's one weird creature. A real horizon expander. Thanks.

Julie Zickefoose said...

That cannot be a fish. It is an aquatic, water-breathing horny toad. And it is adorable. And it uses the vacuum principle to admirable effect. I would like to see it tackle a bowl of spaghetti.
Had no idea batfish walked. Fascinating. But can they swim?

Floridacracker said...


Julie,
Yes, they swim in a not too fast, not too impressive for a fish, S-shaped swishy way.

Banjo,
Well put. They expanded mine the first time I caught one!