Mullus barbatus ponticus (Esipov, 1927)

Mullus barbatus ponticus image

Synonyms: Mullus barbatus Linnaeus, 1758; Mullus barbatus Pallas, 1811.

Common names: Engl: Red mullet; Bulg: Barbunja; Rom: Barbun; Russ: Sultanka; Turk: Barbunya; Ukr: Barabulya.

Order (Scientific): PERCIFORMES.

Family (Scientific): MULLIDAE.

Taxonomic descriptions: Deep, short head (4.8 to 5 times in total length), with a pair of long barbels under the chin; profile of the snout nearly vertical, the mouth reaching to the level of the eyes; under the orbit, two large scales preceded by a smaller one (suborbital scales); upper jaw toothless; back and sides reddish-pink without yellow lengthwise bands; first dorsal fin without dark spots or bands. Body rather compressed from side to side; two well separated dorsal fins, the first with 8-9 spines, the second with 1 spine and 8 soft rays; scales large and easily detached. Size: maximum - 30 cm; common - 10 to 15 cm.

Mullus barbatus ponticus arealIUCN Status:
    World level:
    Black Sea Regional level: EN
    Subregion level: EN


Habitat type, Critical habitats, Limiting factors: Bottom fish usually inhabits shallow sands and mud bottoms, but may occur down to depths between 20 and 200 m. Common in the Mediterranean, Azov Seas, eastern Atlantic from the British Isles to the coast of Senegal. Conditions of hypoxia and pollution are limiting factors.

Biology: Feeds predominantly on small bottom-living invertebrates (crabs, worms etc.), but also zooplankton, fish larvae and vegetal debris. Small schools living in deeper waters in the summer, coming to the coasts at 7-8oC in the spring, after that at 15-16oC they sink again in deeper waters. Reproduction takes place in the June-September period, at 9-23oC. First reproduction at 1 year old (8-11 cm). Females longer than males; pelagic eggs.

Population trends: Generally, the catches were small during recent decades on the Romanian littoral; the catches in stake nets were of 5 t (1989), 8 t (1990), 25 t (1991); the catches in Turkey waters were 5,641 t (1989), 2,344 t (1990), 2,712 t (1991), for US 384 t (1989), 236 (1990), 255 t (1991).

Threats: Hypoxia in the near-bottom layer and pollution of the surface microlayer of water.

Conservation measures taken: None.

Conservation measures proposed: Reduce eutrophication; prohibit dredging/trawling.


  1. FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Mediterranean and Black Sea, fishing area 37. FAO Rome, 1973.
  2. Radu, Gh., E.Leonte, Gina Butoi, Florica verioti, Elena Radu, 1996 - Principalele specii de pesti si mamifere din Marea Neagra (Determinator) (Fish and mammal species of the Black Sea) (identification sheets). (In Rom.; in press).
  3. Svetovidov A. N. Ryby Chernogo morya (Fishes of the Black Sea). Moscow-Leningrad: Nauka Publ., pp. 551, (in Russian).
  4. Fauna Ukraini (Fauna of Ukraine). V.8, Publ. 5, Kiev, Naukova Dumka Publ., pp. 320, (in Russian).

Compiled by: G.Radu, F.Verioti, S.Khutornoy.