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Species: Mugil curema, White Mullet

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

iris white
opercle: large gold spot
pectoral: dark blotch - base top 10 rays
flank: stripes
D2 front tip dark
flank scales + small accessory scales
top teeth minute, wide tips
pectoral 15-17, not quite reaching D origin
A dark, III, 9-10
scales: 34-39 lateral, 8-11 before pectoral
D2 & A: completely scaled

Mugil curema Valenciennes in Cuvier & Valenciennes, 1836

White Mullet

Moderately elongate, robust body; head deeper than wide at rear edge of operculum, top of head flat; eyes mostly covered by a well developed transparent fatty eyelid; mouth small (rear end of upper jaw reaching to between rear nostril and level of front rim of eye), opens at front, lips thin, with knob at front of lower lips; outer (primary) teeth in jaws tiny but visible with naked eye as a fine fringe, distinctly curved, those an upper jaw with wide tips; upper jaw with broad toothless gap between outer (primary) row and inner (secondary) row of teeth; less than 30 teeth per side of top and bottom jaws; two short, widely spaced dorsal fins, IV (origin midway between snout tip and tail fin base) + l, 8; anal fin III, 9-10 (juvenile III, I,8); pectorals high on body, 1st ray hard, i, 16 (15-17), fin usually not reaching level of origin of first dorsal fin, 16-21% of SL; pelvics inserted behind pectoral base; forked tail; scales moderate to large, rough on body of adults; scales in lateral series from top of pectoral base to base of tail fin 37 (34-39), 11.5-13 (rarely 14) in transverse series, 17-19 around tail base; flank scales usually with small accessory scales; 8-11 scales in longitudinal series before tip of pectoral fin; pectoral axillary scale 5-8% of SL; second dorsal and anal fins completely scaled; no lateral line.

Olive to bluish on back, silvery on sides, and white below; ~6 dark stripes along flank; iris white; a large blackish blotch covers base of top 9-10 rays of pectoral fin; a medium to large gold blotch on operculum; 2nd dorsal fin with front tip dark or slightly darker than rest of fin, but not as a black spot; anal fin dark; pelvic fins yellowish, other fins whitish.

Size: to 91 cm.

Habitat: occurs in mangrove estuaries and brackish lagoons, also near the surface in clear water; adults not found in freshwater.

Depth: 0-25 m, inshore.

Atlantic and Pacific sides of the Americas, and west Africa, mainly in tropical seas; Canada to Brazil.

Note: Genetic data distinguish at least 4 lineages; 1 in West Africa, 2 in the West Atlantic and 1 in the East Pacific.

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  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom + water column
  • Mid Water
  • Near Bottom
  • Near Surface
  • Surface
  • Rocks
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Water column
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Bentho-Pelagic
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Detritivore
  • Omnivore
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
  • Benthic microalgae
  • Detritus
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic worms
  • Phytoplankton
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • East Pacific + all Atlantic (East+West)
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 91
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 25