Diplobatis picta

Common Name

Painted Numbfish

Year Described

Palmer, 1950


Disk small, thickened, and spoon-shaped with kidney-shaped electric organs under each pectoral fin base. Body quite flat along entire width. Mouth relatively small with well developed labial cartilage. Teeth small (~20 rows) and not visible when mouth is closed. Eyes large and projecting. Spiracles large with short papillae (missing in small fish). Nostrils separated with a thin piece of cartilage with broad nasal curtain. Pectoral fins short. Tail a little longer than disk with low fleshy ridges. Dorsal fins about equal in size and rounded. Inter-dorsal space much shorter than length of dorsal base. Pelvic fins broad and long, without projecting anterior lobes. Pelvic fins not joined. Claspers very short and stout. Caudal fin rounded and quite small. Skin entirely smooth.


Dorsum pale brown to golden-brown with variably sized brown spots, lines, and blotches randomly scattered on body (becoming smaller toward edges). There are usually several white blotches surrounded by dark spots symmetrically arranged on back. Pattern is highly variable and changes with body size. Tail and fins with brown blotches. Ventrum cream.


A very small electric ray: maximum size to 18cm TL.


Found from shallow to deep depths (1-130m) on continental shelves.


Known from Colombia to northern Brazil. The limits of the range to the west is poorly known due to confusion with related species/forms.


Compagno, L.J.V. 2002. Sharks. In: Carpenter, K.E. (Editor) FAO Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of The Western Central Atlantic. Volume 1: Introduction, mollusks, crustaceans, hagfishes, sharks, batoid fishes, and chimaeras. ASIH Special Publication No. 5. FAO, Rome.

Last, P.R., White, W.T., Carvalho, M.R. de, Séret, B., Stehmann, M.F.W & Naylor, G.J.P (Eds.). 2016. Rays of the World. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.

Fechhelm, J.D. & J.D. McEachran. 1984. A revision of the electric ray genus Diplobatis with notes on the interrelationships of Narcinidae (Chondrichthyes, Torpediniformes). Bulletin of the Florida State Museum v. 29 (no. 5): 171-209.

Other Notes

The three species of West Atlantic Diplobatis are poorly known and the extent of their ranges are not well described. Diplobatis colombiensis and D. guamachensis appear to be allopatric but appear to differ significantly only in color pattern. Diplobatis picta overlaps the range of D. guamachensis on the coast of Venezuela. Fechhelm & McEachran (1984) consider all three species as subspecies or regional forms of Diplobatis picta. More study is needed to determine the validity of each species.

Diplobatis altenai (Boeseman, 1963), a synonym, refers to very small specimens of D. picta.