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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrate > fishes
Family Mugilidae

updated Sep 2020
Where seen? This tiny plump fish is commonly seen on many of our shores. Often in small groups of 5 or so, in rock pools or pools in sandy areas. They are probably juvenile mullets. Larger adults are often seen in schools at high tide from boardwalks and jetties. Mullets are farmed in cages in the West Johor Strait, so during mass fish deaths, they often wash up in large numbers.

What are mullets? Mullets belong to Family Mugilidae. According to FishBase: the family has 17 genera and 72 species. They are found in tropical and temperate seas. Species can look very similar and are hard to tell apart in the field. Some can reach 90cm long.

Features: On the intertidal, tiny to small juveniles (1-4cm) can be seen. Body long and cylindrical with a broad flat blunt head and a small mouth. Two dorsal fins, wide apart from one another. Colour generally silvery, some with stripes.

Tiny juvenile.
Sentosa, Jan 05

Small juvenile.
Labrador, Jul 11

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Feb 11

Large ones seen from the boardwalk.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Feb 11
What do they eat? They feed by filtering large quantities of bottom detritus, to eat microscopic algae and other tiny organisms. They may have only tiny teeth or no teeth at all. Most are found in brackish coastal waters, in some, the juveniles are found in freshwater.

Human uses: They are among the important fishes harvested for food with a wide variety of nets.

Mullets on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Tiny juveniles often seen in schools.
Changi, May 17
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Small Sisters Island, Jun 16
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Pulau Hantu, Aug 14
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Kusu Island, Sep 14
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

Family Mugilidae recorded for Singapore
from Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore.
*Lim, Kelvin K. P. & Jeffrey K. Y. Low, 1998. A Guide to the Common Marine Fishes of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre.
** from WORMS
+Other additions (Singapore Biodiversity Record, etc)

  Family Mugilidae
  +Crenimugil heterocheilus (Fringelip mullet)

Liza macrolepis
Liza subviridis
Liza vaigiensis
(Squaretail mullet)

Mugil caeruleomaculatus=**Moolgarda seheli
Mugil dussumieri=**Liza subviridis
Mugil longimanus=**Valamugil cunnesius

Myxus elongatus

Valamugil cunnesius
Valamugil engeli
Valamugil seheli=**Moolgarda seheli



  • Kelvin K. P. Lim & Tan Heok Hui. 30 April 2020. New Singapore record of the fringelip mullet, Crenimugil heterocheilus. Singapore Biodiversity Records 2020: 46 ISSN 2345-7597
  • Wee Y.C. and Peter K. L. Ng. 1994. A First Look at Biodiversity in Singapore. National Council on the Environment. 163pp.
  • Allen, Gerry, 2000. Marine Fishes of South-East Asia: A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Periplus Editions. 292 pp.
  • Lieske, Ewald and Robert Myers. 2001. Coral Reef Fishes of the World Periplus Editions. 400pp.
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