The New International Encyclopædia/Mullet (fish)

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670786The New International Encyclopædia — Mullet (fish)

MULLET (OF., Fr. mulet, diminutive of mulle, from Lat. mullus, red mullet). Any one of a variety of useful fishes, principally of the family Mugilidæ. In this family the body is nearly cylindrical, with large scales and two widely separated dorsal fins, the first with four stiff spines. The mouth is small. The best-known mullets belong to the genus Mugil, of which there are many species found in all warm waters. The common or ‘striped’ mullet (Mugil cephalus) is the largest (10 to 12 pounds) and best of all. It occurs on both coasts of America, and also in Europe. It often ascends rivers, and searches for soft or fat substances for food, frequently obtained by thrusting its mouth into the mud. It is easily reared in ponds, readily answers the call which usually summons it to be fed, and was in great request among the ancients. Mullets are used fresh, salted, and smoke-dried. A preparation of their roe, called ‘botarcha,’ is in great esteem as a condiment in Italy and the south of France. They are often caught in the Mediterranean by angling from a rock, with a bait paste, when they have been previously attracted to the spot by macaroni thrown into the water. The white or ‘blueback’ mullet (Mugil curema) is found on both shores of America, and is of importance as a food fish. An abundant species about the Florida Keys is the ‘fantail’ mullet (Mugil trichodon). Mullets are very numerous in surface-swimming shoals in the lagoons of the Gulf Coast in late winter and spring, and are captured generally by means of casting nets. Among the fishermen of Spanish America, mullets are called ‘liza,’ ‘lizita,’ and ‘macho,’ with descriptive adjectives for the various species.

The name is also given in the Western and Southern United States to various suckers of the genus Moxostoma. Consult Goode, Fishery Industries, sec. i. (Washington, 1884). See Plate of Mullets and Allies.


1. GULF SILVERSIDES (Menidia peninsulæ).    5. SAND-EEL (Ammodytes Americanus).
2. BARRACUDA (Sphyræna barracuda).    6. CALIFORNIA ‘SMELT’ (Atherinopsis Californiensis).
3. COMMON MULLET (Mugil cephalus).    7. AMERICAN SURMULLET (Mullus auratus).
4. SLIMEHEAD (Beryx splendens).    8. GULF BARBUDO (Polydactylus Virginicus).