Mullets (Mugilidae)

Mullet silhouette.

The mullets belong to a moderate-size family with a worldwide distribution in tropical and temperate marine waters. Mullets are torpedo-shaped fishes with horizontal mouths. They have two well-separated dorsal fins. The first dorsal has 4 spines. They have forked tails. The beginning of the anal fin is almost directly below the beginning of the second dorsal fin. Mullets have fewer than 13 anal rays, and their pelvic fins are abdominal.

One species (the striped mullet) commonly enters fresh waters in Connecticut. Another species, the white mullet (Mugil curema) may also occasionally enter fresh water. It can be distinguished from the striped mullet by a lack of stripes on its body, having 3 spines and 9 rays in the anal fin, and by the presence of scales extending onto the bases of the soft dorsal and anal fins.

Click on the species name below to learn more.

Striped Mullet (Mugil cephalus) - Native

Striped mullet.


Mullet are relatively easy to keep in a larger saltwater aquarium. They will eat a variety of small dried or frozen food items. They are active, fast-moving fish that swim in schools and are often seen near the surface. They are also prone to jumping out of open tanks.


Text and images adapted from Jacobs, R. P., O'Donnell, E. B., and Connecticut DEEP. (2009). A Pictorial Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. Hartford, CT. Available for purchase at the DEEP Store.