Think Tank

Flatfish Skeleton

The skeleton of a flatfish has evolved so it can lie hidden at the bottom of the sea

Flatfish skeleton from Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Flatfish Skeleton

The skeleton is made up of the bones on the inside of the fish.

A fish is an animal that lives in water, has gills, a cold blooded metabolism, fins but no legs, and is covered in scales.

Flatfish live on the bottom of the sea.

Flatfish eat shrimps, squid and other fish.

More about Flatfish

There are many different kinds of Flatfish, all of which belong to the Order with the scientific name Pleuronectiformes. This order includes many economically important fish, such as plaice, flounders, sole, turbot, dabs and halibuts.

Flatfish eat algae, plankton, marine worms, shrimps and other crustaceans, sea urchins squid and fish.

Most bony fish are flattened from side-to-side, whereas most cartilaginous fish (such as sharks and rays) are flattened from top to bottom. As the Flatfish is a bony fish, it lies on one side on the bottom of the sea.

As Flatfish lie on the sea bottom on one side it means one eye would always be looking at the sea floor. Baby flatfish swim above the surface like ordinary fish and have one eye on each side of the head, but as they grow up they begin to lie on one side, and the bottom eye migrates onto the other side of the head.

Most Flatfish have changeable protective colouration that helps disguise them from predators and prey. As they live on the sea bottom, many species partially or completely cover themselves with sediment to make them even more difficult to spot.

This is a small Flatfish only 28 cm long and 18 cm wide. The largest flatfish is the world is the Atlantic Halibut (with the scientific name Hippoglossus hippoglossus) which can grow to over 2 metres long and can weigh 325 kilograms.

Want to know more?

To find out more about Flatfish, download the Resources to your right. 

This Flatfish is part of the collections held in store by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in Birmingham. Use the ‘Birmingham City Council’ web link below to find out more about the Birmingham Collections.

Stag beetles from Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Stag Beetles are the largest beetle in the UK. Find out more about Stag Beetles by clicking the image above.

Dapedium fossil fish from Worcester Museum

Many Jurassic fish had thick, armour-like scales, unlike the light scales of modern fish. Find out more about Jurassic Fossil Fish by clicking the image above.