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The Pancake Batfish (Halieutichthys aculeatus) is a species of fish in the batfish family (Ogcocephalidae). Batfishes in general are characterized by a depressed body disk, which in most species (including those in Halieutichthys) appears circular or triangular in dorsal view, Species in the genus Halieutichthys, known generally as pancake batfishes, are bottom-dwellers and are often found over sandy substrata at depths ranging from 10 m to more than 800 m. Members of this genus occur in the western Atlantic Ocean, including the coasts of the southern United States, the West Indies, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea.

Research published in 2010 revealed that what had previously been treated as a single species, H. aculeatus, was actually a complex of several similar species. Ho et al. (2010) reviewed the morphology and complex taxonomic history of the genus Halieutichthys, including the description of two new species, distinct from H. aculeatus and belonging to what they now refer to as the H. aculeatus complex. Members of the H. aculeatus complex occur mainly along the Atlantic coast of the southern United States and in the Gulf of Mexico (whereas members of the H. caribbaeus complex occur mainly in the Caribbean and West Indies). They have a reticulate pattern on the dorsal surface of the body, many tubercles on the tail, and usually two black bands extending fully across the pectoral fin. (Ho et al. 2010).

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© Sara Eckert and Leo Shapiro

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