Striped red mullet (Mullus surmuletus)

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



The striped red mullet, Mullus surmuletus, is a member of the goatfish family, members of which are easily recognised by the pair of long chin barbels under the jaw. It has a moderately elongate body up to 40 cm in length. It has two well-separated dorsal fins and a forked tail. The first dorsal fin has dark markings. The body of Mullus surmuletus has longitudinal red and brown stripes.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Its distribution is predominantly southern orientated, and it is most often found of the south and south-west coasts of the British Isles and southern Ireland but migrates through the English Channel into the North Sea.

Global distribution



The red mullet is a demersal species. It is found at depths of 3-90 m on sandy or muddy bottoms but also at times on rocky ground.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Pair of chin barbels, longer than the pectoral fin.
  • Up to 40 cm in length.
  • Two distinct dorsal fins.
  • First dorsal fin has dark markings.
  • Longitudinal red and brown stripes run the length of the body.
  • Head is less steep than red mullet Mullus barbatus.

Additional information

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Listed by

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

  2. 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.]

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

  4. Quero, J-C., Hureau, J-C., Karrer, C., Post, A. & Saldanha, L. (eds.), 1990. Check-list of the fishes of the eastern tropical Atlantic (CLOFETA) JNICT, Lisbon; SEI, Paris; and UNESCO, Paris.

  5. Wheeler, A., 1978. Key to the fishes of northern Europe. Frederick Warne, London.

  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).


  1. Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre, 2017. BRERC species records within last 15 years. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. Fenwick, 2018. Aphotomarine. Occurrence dataset Accessed via on 2018-10-01

  3. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. IOW Natural History & Archaeological Society Marine Records. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  4. Kent & Medway Biological Records Centre, 2017. Fish: Records for Kent.. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  5. Merseyside BioBank., 2018. Merseyside BioBank (unverified). Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  6. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  7. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-05-27


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Mullus surmuletus Striped red mullet. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 27-05-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 02/09/2008