Mullets are medium to large (to 160 cm), silvery grey fishes with a moderately elongate body; head often broad and flattened above; eyes partly covered by a transparent fatty eyelid; mouth small, opens at front or under snout, lips usually relatively thin; teeth usually very small or absent; two short, widely spaced dorsal fins, 1st with IV slender spines; pectorals high on body, 1st ray hard; pelvics inserted behind pectoral base; concave or weakly forked tail; scales moderate to large, rough on body; some species have large modified scales at insertions of pectoral, pelvic and dorsal fins; no lateral line.
Mullets occur in all tropical and temperate seas, usually near shore, frequently in brackish estuaries and fresh water. They commonly form schools containing up to several hundred fish. Their diet consists mainly of detritus and algae, but insects, fish eggs, and plankton are also consumed. Fresh mullet flesh is excellent eating and they are commercially important in many areas. In Southeast Asia mullets are frequently cultivated in ponds.
The family contains approximately 75 species in 17 genera. The tropical eastern Pacific species (7 species in 3 genera) were treated by Thomson (1997).