Meet the Mini Pizza

Everyone, please meet the minipizza batfish (Halieutaea stellata).

Minipizza batfish (Halieutaea stellata)
Minipizza batfish (Halieutaea stellata) (License image)

Yes, you read correctly. Minipizza, as in miniature pizza.

This flattened fish is also known variously as a round batfish, red batfish, starry handfish, starry seabat, and probably more (aka-gutsu in Japanese, アカグツ).

But truly, I prefer minipizza because,'s such an apt description that inspires mushy-gooey-squishy feelings:

Minipizza batfish (Halieutaea stellata)
Picture the waddling motion of the minipizza batfish (License image)

Though to be complete, the fish's full name should perhaps be something more along the lines of minipizza-batfish-with-funny-flippers-that-waddles-more-than-swims-and-sometimes-flattens-itself-to-be-inconspicious-and-at-other-times-stands-on-its-fins-to-gain-(self-perceived)-high-ground-advantage, but I guess that would be too long. Certainly accurate though.

Minipizza batfish (Halieutaea stellata)
Minipizza batfish imitating a personal pan pizza (License image)
Minipizza batfish (Halieutaea stellata)
Top-down view of Halieutaea stellata (License image)
Minipizza batfish (Halieutaea stellata)
Minipizza batfish standing up for high-ground advantage (License image)

Minipizzas are generally found in deep water, from 50m to 400m or so, though they do occasionally come up to scuba-depth. This one and a few others were brought up in a fishing net. I got to photograph it on its way back down to depth after being released.

These fish are not particularly fast or graceful swimmers, which again doesn't come as a surprise given their morphology.

Of interest to me were the two "intake valves" (for lack of a better term) at the front end of the fish, which I believe connect to the two "exhaust valves" at the rear end. I didn't notice any obvious external gills, so I'm guessing that the two channels created by the intake/ exhaust structure serve to funnel water past internal gill structures. Anyone know more about this?

One more photo. How can you not love that perma-bewildered expression?

Minipizza batfish (Halieutaea stellata)
Halieutaea stellata on its way back to depth (License image)