The mugilid mullets (not to be confused with the mulled goatfishes) are a family of nearshore, catadromous fishes ofconsiderable economic importance and of some taxonomic controversy. Their distinctly separated spiny and soft dorsalfins and spines in the pelvic and anal fins in part justify their inclusion with the other acanthopterygians (Fig. 15.3).They are considered primitive in that some have cycloidscales or scales intermediate between cycloid and ctenoid, and the pelvic girdle lacks any direct ligamentous or bonyconnection to the cleithral region of the pectoral girdle. Inmost higher groups the two girdles are connected. Manymullets are detritivorous, feeding on the organic silt that covers the bottom and digesting the minute plants and animals in such ooze with a gizzard like stomach. Mulletsfrequently leap from the water for inexplicable reasons;one study showed that the frequency of such jumping increases when dissolved oxygen levels are low (Hoese1985).
A striped mullet, Mugil cephalus. From Jordan (1905).