The striped red mullet or surmullet (Mullus surmuletus) is a species of goatfish found in the Mediterranean Sea, eastern North Atlantic Ocean, and the Black Sea. They can be found in water as shallow as 5 metres (16 ft) or as deep as 409 metres (1,342 ft) depending upon the portion of their range that they are in. This species can reach a length of 40 centimetres (16 in) SL though most are only around 25 centimetres (9.8 in). The greatest recorded weight for this species is 1 kilogram (2.2 lb). This is a commercially important species and is also sought after as a game fish.
Despite its English name, the striped red mullet, of the goatfish family Mullidae, is only very distantly related to the grey mullet and other species called “mullet“, classified in a different family of the order Perciformes.
Distribution and habitat
The red mullet is widespread in the Eastern Atlantic from Norway (it is rare in the north of the Channel) to Senegal, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. It has rocky and even sandy bottoms or covered with vegetables, but in the vicinity however of hard substrates, always at low depths, the juveniles live in the open sea. The temperature in the places populated by it is around 17-21 ° C, not above 24-25 ° C.
It has a rather elongated body, with a small mouth that can protract; from the end two appendices (barbels) branch out, which are used to look for food on the seabed, they can also be hidden in a furrow on the jaw while resting. The eyes are located near the upper edge of the head, which can be more or less sharp. Very typical are two large scales present in the back of the jaw right under the eyes. Another typical feature are the teeth that are only found in the lower part of the mouth, that is the jaw. Its dorsal fins are separated and in the anterior one there are some longitudinal bands of dark color. The red mullet has many shades of color: it has a reddish-brown back, the sides are pinkish-orange and whitish with three or four horizontal stripes of yellow-gold, the belly is generally pink. The mullet of mud is very similar (even if it lives in completely different environments), you can distinguish for the profile of the steep snout, the first colorless dorsal fin, the less rich coloring and the presence of three scales on the cheeks (in the red mullet they are two). The red mullet reaches a length between 20 and 25 cm, even if the females are larger than the males.