Red mullet

red mullet

Red mullet by Paul Naylor

Red mullet

Scientific name: Mullus surmuletus
A strikingly beautiful fish, it is not hard to see where the ‘red’ mullet gets its name from!

Species information


Up to 40cm, but usually much smaller.

Conservation status

IUCN Least Concern, but more research required.

When to see

January - December.


Red mullet spend a lot of their time snuffling around in the sediment, searching for buried crustaceans, worms, and molluscs to gobble up. You can often see young red mullet when snorkelling in and around sandy estuaries or rocky reefs.

How to identify

The most distinctive feature is the pair of long, white barbels on its chin. Their scales are clearly visible, and colouration varies from yellow-brown to orange-red. Usually there is a distinctive bright red line along the middle of the body.


Found in south and south west Britain and down into Mediterranean.

Did you know?

If a group of red mullet is disturbed, an individual fish will raise its front dorsal fin to warn the rest of the group to swim off!

How people can help

If you eat fish then always choose sustainable fish. The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians, and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives.