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23. Spadefish in the Blue (Platax teira)


A group of Longfin Spadefish (Platax teira) is facing the mild current on a Maldivian thila. The Longfin Spadefish is a beautiful marine fish that belongs to the Ephippidae family. It is also known as the Longfin Batfish due to its wing-like fins and the bat-like appearance of its body. The Longfin Spadefish is a popular aquarium fish, known for its distinctive appearance and friendly temperament. In this article, we will explore the Longfin Spadefish and compare it to other species of Spadefish.

The Spadefish family (Ephippidae) comprises various species, each of which has unique physical and behavioural traits. These fish are commonly found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. The Spadefish family is characterised by their deep and compressed bodies, with a wide and flat forehead. They also have small mouths and large, spade-shaped dorsal and anal fins, which give them their name.

The Longfin Spadefish is easily recognisable; its body is silver with black bars, and it has long, flowing fins that give it a striking appearance. Another typical characteristic is a large black mark above the rear edge of their yellow pelvic fins. This schooling fish is a medium-sized Spadefish species, growing up to 40cm/16inch in length.

In contrast, the Circular Spadefish (Platax orbicularis) is a smaller species, growing up to 28cm/11inch in length. It has a similar body shape as the Longfin Spadefish, but its coloration is paler, and it has a few black spots on its sides. This smaller species can be found in seagrass beds and coastal areas. The Batavia Spadefish (Platax batavianus) is one of the bigger species of this family, reaching a size of 50cm/20inch. It resembles the much smaller Circular Spadefish but has a rounder shape, and the little blackspot on this fish is on its belly.

It is important to note that Spadefish are often confused with Batfish. While Spadefish are characterised by their spade-shaped fins and flat foreheads, Batfish are bottom dwellers that belong to the Ogcocephalidae family. Batfish have a different body shape and are adapted to life on the ocean floor. They have large, round bodies with fins that resemble wings and are usually brown or grey in colour.

In terms of behaviour, Spadefish are known for their curious and friendly nature. They are often seen swimming in schools and are not afraid to approach divers and snorkelers. The Longfin Spadefish is particularly known for its playful behaviour, and it is not uncommon to see them performing acrobatic manoeuvres in the water.

Spadefish are also omnivorous and feed on a variety of small fish, crustaceans, and plankton. In the wild, they are an important food source for larger predatory fish, such as groupers and barracudas.


Because this scene was filmed against the light and without video lamps, it was necessary to reduce the noise in the image as well as to increase the contrast (to bring out the different shades in the Spadefish’s body), to colour correct the blue of the water column and to boost the yellow of the fins.

Filming location:

This short underwater videoclip has been filmed in the Maldives 🇲🇻

More on this topic:

For another in-depth description about Longfin Spadefish please go to our vlog post 199 or click on this link: https://www.beyondscuba.com/post/longfin-spadefish-facing-the-current

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