Ecology of Mugil cephalus
Main Ref. Kailola, P.J., M.J. Williams, P.C. Stewart, R.E. Reichelt, A. McNee and C. Grieve, 1993
Marine - Neritic
  • supra-littoral zone
  • littoral zone
  • sublittoral zone
Marine - Oceanic
  • epipelagic
  • mesopelagic
  • epipelagic
  • abyssopelagic
  • hadopelagic
  • estuaries/lagoons/brackish seas
  • mangroves
  • marshes/swamps
  • rivers/streams
  • lakes/ponds
  • caves
  • exclusively in caves
Highighted items on the list are where Mugil cephalus may be found.
Remarks Can survive in freshwater but does not breed in it (Ref. 4967). In some areas such as Shark Bay and the Houtman Abrolhos in Western Australia, adults live in marine waters throughout the year. This behaviour seems to occur only where estuarine and freshwater habitats are limited (Ref. 28722). A small proportion (probably about 5%) (Ref. 28722) of older juveniles may leave the estuaries and migrate along the beaches in early summer. The migration may be associated with flooding of rivers and is referred to as the 'hardgut' migration because the mullets' guts are empty (Ref. 28722). Migrating sea mullet do not feed during either the 'hardgut' migration or spawning migration (Ref. 6390). Feed on zooplankton, benthic invertebrates, microalgae, and detritus (Ref. 11889). Undergo ontogenic shift in diet (Ref. 41769). Small mullet (< 4 cm SL) feed exclusively on sediment by browsing. Large mullet (< 4 cm SL) have been observed to feed by grazing on the sediment (Ref. 41769). Changes in the feeding habits from planktonic organisms and migratory zooplankton to meiobenthos which takes place between 0.1 and 0.2 cm length, and a switch from meiobenthos to microbenthos between 0.15 and 0.25 cm length (Ref. 56101). Sea mullet normally feed close to the river bed in shallow water, but do move throughout the water column in river channels and individuals often jump high out of the water (Ref. 6390). Sea mullet have a strong tendency to school as juveniles and during the spawning season as adults. Feeding schools of juveniles commonly disperse over sand and mud flats of estuaries during high tide and reform on the ebb tide (Ref. 28722). Presence of sharp pointed teeth that enable the species to select fine material (Ref. 74863). In southwestern Australia, Mugil cephalus is a dominant finfish in the middle and upper estuaries especially in winter and spring - up to 95% of frequency of occurrence (Lonengan & Potter 1990). Has a short, well-defined juvenile recruitment period; although found in freshwater, occurs in far greater numbers in all areas of estuaries and is common in the sea (Ref. 74748, 74749). Gill-raker filaments were found in the stomach captured using gill net. Mullets struggle to be free of the constricting meshes, food is often regurgitated at an early stage, subsequent gasping of oxygen would then easily cause gill-rakers, broken loose in the struggle, to be swalowed (Ref. 74739). Also Refs. 12676, 26213.


Substrate Soft Bottom: sand; mud; Hard Bottom: rocky;
Substrate Ref. Hoese, D.F., D.J. Bray, J.R. Paxton and G.R. Allen, 2006
Special habitats Coral Reefs;
Special habitats Ref. Nguyen, N.T. and V.Q. Nguyen, 2006


Associated with
Association remarks


Feeding type mainly plants/detritus (troph. 2-2.19)
Feeding type ref Moreira, F., C.A. Assis, P.R. Almeida, J.L. Costa and M.J. Costa, 1992
Feeding habit variable
Feeding habit ref Moreira, F., C.A. Assis, P.R. Almeida, J.L. Costa and M.J. Costa, 1992
Trophic level(s)
Original sample Unfished population Remark
Estimation method Troph s.e. Troph s.e.
From diet composition 2.14 0.18
Ref. Wells, R., 1984
From individual food items 2.48 0.17 Trophic level estimated from a number of food items using a randomized resampling routine.
(e.g. 346)
(e.g. cnidaria)
Entered by Luna, Susan M. on 06.10.91
Modified by Sampang-Reyes, Arlene G. on 07.30.19
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