Goatfish – Mullidae, as researchers refer to them – are a family of fish that can be found all around the world. They have elongated deep bodies that feature a few interesting characteristics, such as a pair of chin barbels that the fish use to probe the coral reef while searching for food. Also known as red mullets, the goatfish are benthic feeders that can adapt to a wide range of invertebrates they eat for food and are also found in many different habitats associated with both warm and cold waters.
A General Description of Goatfish – Mullidae and Their Colorful Aspect
Mullets are generally smaller in size and the only species capable of reaching a length of more than 60 centimeters are the dash-and-dot goatfish. These fish are quite colorful and feature beautiful stripes and forked tails that are quite close to the widely separated dorsal fins. White, blue, yellow, pink, and red are among the colors that are most commonly seen in goatfish. At the same time, these fish also have a special quality that has often made them a topic of interest among divers: they are actually able to change their coloration depending on what they do. A good example is the goldsaddle goatfish – a diurnal fish that changes its color to yellow or pale cream while feeding.
The Main Activities of Goatfish
When examining the chemosensory barbels used by goatfish, Mullidae researchers have observed that the fish uses these unique organs to probe the sand and coral formations in order to look for food. Although they mainly feed on mollusks and other small invertebrates, some species, like the yellow goatfish, may also hunt for smaller fish. They search for food in schools during the day, and go on lone hunting trips at night. Goatfish are quite friendly in most cases. In fact, Indonesian goldsaddle goatfish are commonly known to hunt in large schools, sometimes even with moray eels. The yellow goatfish on the other hand may also team up with certain species of snappers.
Mullidae Habitats and Distribution Related Insight
Most goatfish prefer tropical and subtropical regions, but they are also quite prevalent in temperate areas. They are mostly found at the bottom of littoral areas, but a few species can be also found at depths that exceed 500 m. Some species also enter estuaries, or even rivers, while most tropical goatfish are closely associated with coral reefs. When it comes to goatfish, Mullidae species can be found throughout all the oceans of the world, while most of them, however, are far more prevalent in areas like the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the northwest Atlantic close to the United States.