(Golden Spadefish, Boer's Platax)
Platax boersii Bleeker, 1852
Family Ephippidae
n April 1980 several Golden Batfish were seen under the cargo pier at Midway Atoll over 1000 miles northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands. One was speared and its identity confirmed. Given the location, it is highly unlikely that these were aquarium releases so they probably arrived naturally. On the other hand, there is no evidence that these fish have continued to live and reproduce at Midway or anywhere else in the Hawaiian Chain.
     In August 2014 Deron Verbeck photographed a Golden Batfish in Keauhou Bay on the Kona Coast of Hawaii Island (see below).
Deron's fish is possibly an aquarium release, especially given its location in a small boat harbor, but a natural arrival can't be ruled out.. Batfish make attractive aquarium pets when young, but soon outgrow a small tank. At that point, the aquarist might be tempted to release the fish into the sea. This is strongly discouraged. Look at the immense harm that imported lionfish have caused in the Caribbean.
If you see a batfish in Hawaii, email me! How do you know if it's a Golden Batfish or a Longfin Batfish? The two are similar, but the Golden Batfish, as it's name implies, has a yellowish tinge overall. The best way to identify the Longfin is by the dark spot low on the body above the pelvic fins. There is often a narrow vertical dark mark just behind it. Both are clearly visible in this photo.

Deron Verbeck, Keauhou Bay, Hawaii

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Text and photos copyright by John P. Hoover