information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Five-bearded rockling (Ciliata mustela)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.



The five-bearded rockling Ciliata mustela is a long, slender fish that may reach up to 25 cm in length. Its body is covered with smooth, scaleless skin. The five-bearded rockling has notably long dorsal and anal fins. It is easily recognisable by the five barbels around its mouth, two above each nostril and one on the lower jaw. The mouth itself is small and the corners of the mouth barely extend past the eyes. It is dark brown in colour.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found all around the coasts of Britain and south-east Ireland.

Global distribution



The five-bearded rockling is a demersal species that inhabits shallow water down to 20 m, usually over sand and under intertidal rocks.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Long, slender body up to 25 cm in length.
  • Five barbels around the mouth.
  • Two dorsal fins; the first is reduced to a fringe of very short rays that may be seen moving with a continuous wave-like motion.
  • Second dorsal fin and anal fin extending along most of the body-length.
  • Uniform dark brown colour.
  • No lobed fold of skin above the upper lip.

Additional information

Ciliata mustela can be distinguished from Gaidropsarus mediterraneus by the five barbels around its mouth, while Gaidropsarus mediterraneus only has three.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:


  1. Cohen, D.M., Inada, T., Iwamoto, T. & Scialabba, N., 1990. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 10. Gadiform Fishes of the World. An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Cods, Hakes, Grenadiers and Other Gadiform Fishes Known to Date. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Fisheries Synopsies, 125

  2. Froese, R. & Pauly, D., 2007. Fishbase. A global information system on fishes. [On-line], 2008-02-18

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. Muus, B.J. & Nielsen, J.G. 1999. Sea Fish. Scandinavian Fishing Year Book. Hedehusene: Denmark

  5. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017

  6. Whitehead, P.J.P., Bauchot, M.-L., Hureau, J.-C., Nielson, J. & Tortonese, E. 1986. Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Vol. I, II & III. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Ciliata mustela Five-bearded rockling. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 24-09-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 22/05/2008