Mugil cephalus

Common Name

Striped Mullet

Year Described

Linnaeus, 1758


Dorsal Fin: IV, 8
Anal Fin: III, 8
Pectoral Fin: II, 14-15
Lateral Scale Rows: 36-40
Transverse Scales: 13-15
Circumpeduncular Scales: 19-20
Gill Rakers:

Body elongate; cylindrical anteriorly and becoming more compressed posteriorly. Body more robust than in Mugil liza. Snout narrowly blunt. Top of head flat. Eye diameter greater than snout length. Subterminal mouth reaches anterior margin of orbit. Teeth with slightly curved tips. Adipose eyelid present (absent in juveniles). Spiny dorsal fin situated at mid-point of body. Anal fin inserted above origin of second dorsal fin. Dorsal and anal fins mostly scaleless with scales only at the anterior base of fin Pectoral fin high on side and not reaching dorsal fin origin. Tail forked. Body scales with minute spines.


Dorsum bluish to dark grayy, grading to whitish on the belly. Several dark stripes on body follow scale rows. Dorsal, pectoral, and caudal fins dusky yellow. Ventral fins pale. A dark blotch on the pectoral axil and on the upper opercle. Eye pale.


Maximum size to 120cm SL, but mostly under 40cm SL


Found inshore and in estuarine waters.


Known from Canada to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. Reported into the Caribbean Sea but the limits of the southern range are unknown. Not known off South America.


Durand, J.D., K.N. Shen, W.J. Chen, B.W. Jamandre, H. Blel, K. Diop, M. Nirchio, J.J. Garcia de Léon, A.K. Whitfield, C.W. Chang & P. Borsa. 2012. Systematics of the grey mullets (Teleostei: Mugiliformes: Mugilidae): Molecular phylogenentic evidence challenges two centuries of morphology-based taxonomy. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 64, 73–92.

Harrison, I.J. 2002. Mugilidae (pp 1071-1085). In: Carpenter. 2002. The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Vol. 2: Bony fishes part 1 (Acipenseridae-Grammatidae). FAO Species Identification Guides for Fisheries Purposes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication No. 5.

Siccha-Ramirez, Z.R., N.A. Menezes, M. Nirchio, F. Foresti & C. Oliveira 2014. Molecular identification of mullet species of the Atlantic South Caribbean and South America and the phylogeographic analysis of Mugil liza. Reviews in Fisheries Science & Aquaculture, 22 (11), 86–96.

Other Notes

Durand et al. (2012) demonstrate that the “Striped Mullet” is actually a complex of several cryptic lineages that is found worldwide. Siccha-Ramirez et al. (2014) concluded that all South America grey mullets are actually Mugil liza and M. cephalus is a more northern species. The taxonomy of Atlantic Mugil cephalus still needs to be investigated and several Atlantic lineages may be undescribed.