Flatheads are the members of the Platycephalidae family. They are found in the Indo-Pacific oceans. They have elongated body, depressed head, upward directed eye and large mouth with lower jaw longer than upper jaw. Their pelvic fins are behind pectoral base and first dorsal spine short, isolated or scarcely connected to second spine.

Flatheads are benthic fishes frequently found burying in the bottom, on mud or sand of the continental shelf from 10 to 300 meters depth. However, most of them are found at less than 100 meters. They feed mainly on crustaceans and small fishes.

There are 18 genera and about 74 species worldwide. Malaysia has about 20 species.


Scientific Name: Cociella crocodilus  (Cuvier, 1829)
English Name: Crocodile Flathead
Mandarin Name: 牛尾 (Niúwěi), 正颚鲬 (Zhèng è yǒng)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Bebaji, Baji-baji, Baji Buaya
Main Diagnostic Features: Brownish with small dark spots on upper body. Usually with 4-5 dark brown bands crosses back. Spiny dorsal with broad black band near edge and small black spots below. Other fins darkly spotted.
Size: Maximum total length 45 cm, commonly to 40 cm.

Scientific Name: Cymbacephalus nematophthalmus  (Günther, 1860)
English Name: Fringe-eyed Flathead
Mandarin Name: 牛尾 (Niúwěi), 线眼乳突鯒 (Xiàn yǎn rǔ tú yǒng)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Bebaji, Baji-baji, Kumba Buaya
Main Diagnostic Features: A prominent pit located behind upper rear edge of eye. 6 to 9 skin tentacles above eye. Short dark streaks usually crossing rays in dorsal and caudal fins.
Size: Maximum total length about 58 cm, commonly to 30 cm.

Scientific Name: Platycephalus indicus   (Linnaeus, 1758)
English Name: Bartail Flathead
Mandarin Name: 牛尾 (Niúwěi), 印度牛尾鱼 (Yìndù niúwěi yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Bebaji, Baji-baji, Baji Ekor Jalur
Main Diagnostic Features: Caudal fin centrally yellow and black stripes on upper and lower margins.
Size: Maximum total length 50 cm, commonly to 35 cm.