The body is elongated and compressed at the sides, up to 30 cm long, usually 10-20 cm. The dorsal and anal fins are short, the tail fin is forked. The head is large with a steeply sloping, almost vertical snout and high-set eyes. The mouth is small and located in the lower part of the head and has small bristles. Two long antennae hang from the chin. The body is irregularly coloured red, the belly silvery, the fins pale yellow.
Found in the Mediterranean, the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea and the eastern North Atlantic, its range extends from Scandinavia to Senegal.
Lives near the coast, usually at shallow depths of 15-30 metres, although it can be found at depths of 100-300 metres. They stay in schools near the bottom and never rise into the water column. They prefer soft muddy or sandy bottoms, but can also be found on coquina and stony bottoms.
Dimensions are: Length, 7.9-11.8 inches (20-30 cm); Weight, 1.1-2.2 pounds (0.5-1 kg).
Life history and Behavior
Adults come to the shore in spring and stay until winter, sometimes being found in estuaries. In winter they migrate to deeper waters. Life span - 10-12 years, in the first summer of their life they can reach a length of 4 to 12 cm, depending on the time of spawning.
Food and feeding habits
Finding food helps the fish with its long antennae: it moves slowly close to the bottom and carefully "feels" the surface with its antennae in search of small bottom dwellers. It feeds on bottom invertebrates.
Sexual maturity is reached in the second or third year of life. Spawning takes place from May to August at depths of 10 to 55 metres near muddy or sandy bottoms. Each female lays several portions of eggs, with total fecundity for the season ranging from 3.6 to 88 thousand eggs. Hatched and fertilised eggs rise to the upper layers of water, from which the larvae emerge after 3.5-2.5 days, depending on the temperature. Young fish feed on small organisms in the water column and camouflage themselves against predators with a silvery, bluish-green colouring. Approximately 1.5-2 months after hatching, the fry approach the shore and when they reach a length of 4-6 centimetres, they sink to the bottom and acquire the typical appearance and colouration of adult fish.
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Tags: red mullet