This page presents the species of the Mullidae family, commonly called goatfish or red mullets. 77 species have been identified around the world. Characterized by a pair of chin barbels, an elongated body, and forked tails, they are rather easy to identify.
Goatfish are often seen on sandy bottoms, using their barbels to probe the sand or holes in the reef for food. The larger species of red mullet can reach up to 60cm in length, but most individuals seen at shallow depths are 20 to 35cm-long on average.
Goatfish are an important fishery in many parts of the world and are therefore more common in protected areas.
In the Caribbean, the yellow goatfish is the most common species. It is easy to see in many locations, especially on sandy bottoms. In the Indo-Pacific, the yellowfin goatfish and the yellowstripe goatfish are frequently seen in large schools, including in shallow lagoons.
Some goatfish have a variable coloration. This is the case of the gold-saddle goatfish, which occurs from the Red Sea to French Polynesia, and which can be either completely yellow or bluish with a small yellow saddle above the base of the tail.
Locally, other species of goatfish are quite common, such as the doublebar goatfish in Reunion Island, or the manybar goatfish in Hawaii. In the Mediterranean, it is the striped red mullet that you will commonly spot, especially in the marine reserves.
Red Sea goatfish
Striped red mullet
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