Pinnatus Batfish Care and Breeding Guide

The Pinnatus Batfish, is a type of saltwater fish which are named in the scientific community as Platax. It has been referred to by several common names such as: Dusky Batfish and/or Firebird fish. They can grow up to 10 cm in captivity.

The base color of the pinnatus batfish is deep black with orange lines along the outer body, which is why it is one of the most sought out fishes for enriching every fish keepers’ aquariums. But it is not as easy to keep in captivity as are most fish.

They have a flat, disk-shaped body with big dorsal fins, so when they grow into adults they gain a triangle-like shape. If you get the pinnatus batfish as a juvenile, don’t be disappointed if it loses its black coloring, that’s a part of their adulthood.

Pinnatus Batfish


Feeding the pinnatus batfish is one of the biggest problems for home fish keepers. Feeding a wild-caught batfish is almost impossible. They have a stubborn temperament and are used to eat what they can get by themselves. They are omnivores, so they eat food with animal or plant origin.

Not many fish keepers have had success with keeping the pinnatus batfish alive more than a couple of weeks, maybe for a few months, but those who did are sharing their experience and this is how they did it:

For the first 2 weeks they gave the pinnatus batfish live brine and some worms (black/blood worms), if you are successful the first week with this diet, after that you can lure them into eating both live/frozen brine and Mysis until they are capable of eating only frozen food. Experiment with offering the pinnatus batfish different kinds of food (like flakes), as they are a curious species and will try it, but keep in mind that they will reject it if they don’t like it.

After the pinnatus batfish starts feeding in general, you have to keep the continuity by giving the food in the preferable dimensions so the batfish won’t spit out what it can’t swallow. The best way to do this is to freeze the food and then grind it in a hand grater so you can get it into small bites for the pinnatus batfish. The good thing about this grating process is that the food comes out in different sizes (all small, but various) and the batfish would have multiple choices and would eventually eat the desirable sized food.

This particular way of feeding the pinnatus batfish has been done in a Quarantine Tank, but getting the batfish to feed in an aquarium with other fishes is a different situation altogether. After joining your aquarium with other species, you must observe its behavior and watch closely if the pinnatus batfish is eating properly and regularly. The food that you will be grating for it should increase by proportion because of the smaller fish who will eat from it around its den. When you increase the amount of food you are giving the pinnatus batfish, you will notice how he will not only eat its own food, but also start trying out the general food you are feeding the other fish with.

If you notice your pinnatus batfish stops eating regularly, start feeding in for 5 to 6 times a day, just to get it back on the healthy track again.

Choosing the right fish tank size

Keeping in mind their fin size, which is particularly big, you will be needing a large-sized fish tank, from 200 to 300 gallons. Yes, this is an above-average aquarium, but if the pinnatus batfish doesn’t feel comfortable, it will fall under the duress of stress and you will lose its companionship. It will also require a stony decorum with large-sized hiding places, preferably with a higher position to the top of the aquarium, but not so high that its fins will touch the top of the tank.

Also the depth of the tank should be a minimum of 2.5 feet deep. As the pinnatus batfish grows, it needs more space to swim freely and stress-free.

Fish tank Maintenance

High quality water is recommended. Changing the water of the tank weekly will be the cornerstone of keeping the pinnatus batfish in pristine condition. Don’t empty half of the tank by replacing it with fresh water by 50%, make sure you empty the whole tank and replace all of the water by a 100% diluted water change.

The temperature of the water would have to be around 80F, where the gravity must be from 1.018 to up to 1.025. Remember to get the Ammonia and Nitrite levels as close to 0 as possible, as for the Nitrites – 10 ppm is acceptable.

Some fish keepers that have the pinnatus batfish are using UV sterilizers to destroy any parasites that can give the batfish the Ich, which they are highly vulnerable to.


Don’t be alarmed if your pinnatus batfish is hiding in a cave or just standing still in a corner during the day, they are night swimmers, moving around the tank freely during the night. If living within a fish community, you will notice it chasing other fish from the food when it’s feeding time.

 Keeping the Pinnatus Batfish in a reef aquarium

The fact that the pinnatus batfish is feeding on corals and anemones is the biggest problem for keeping them in a reef aquarium. Even if you place defenses for the corals and anemones like crabs, it would be useless as the pinnatus batfish is quite clever and fast, so it can outmaneuver them with great ease.

Only for seasoned aquarist

If you are just starting out as a fish keeper, don’t bother with adding the pinnatus batfish to your collection as it will die from the smallest little negligence on your part. Expert fish keepers are very mindful of their pets’ needs and keep a close eye on them all of the time. Any single change in the pinnatus batfish behavior must be met with adequate reactions to better its living conditions, especially if it’s living in an aquarium with other types of fish.

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