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Oedalechilus labeo (Cuvier, 1829)

Photos & text by John Reclos / Andreas Iliopoulos. Top: Aegean Sea, Serifos island, August 2004, bottom: Saronic gulf, August 2004.

Original drawing in "Guid d'identification des poissons marins Europe et Mediterranee" by Patrick Louisy

Family:MUGILIDAE

Genus:Oedalechilus

Species:Labeo

Natural Habitat: these fishes live over all kinds of habitats and substrates like rock, sand, mud, algae, poseidonia etc.

Depth: From 0-25 meters, but usually near the surface. I find them in depths from 0 to 8 meters.

Size: to 25 cm.

Food: They scrape with their thick and strong lips over any substrate ,and, like a vacuum-cleaner, ingest the fine layer of debris on top of it.

Distribution: Mediterranean Sea. Atlantic coast from Gibraltar to Morocco

Common name: Boxlip mullet

Breeding: I have seen them breed from March to April. During spawning season they find a cave big enough to house the pair and they move around each other in circles while spawning. If no cave is available then they find a round stone with a diameter bigger than 60cm. and they run around it spawning.

General Information: This is the commonest and more important mullet used for food in the area. They live in shallow (up to 25 m) waters and river mouths and estuaries, but almost never enter brackish and fresh waters.

The animals may grow up to 25 cm of (TL) length and in summer months are observed feeding near the surface in small schools. Due to the constant move the distinctive golden brownish lateral lines they carry are not easily noticed. It is also difficult even for specialists to distinguish them from their relatives.

It is regarded as a medium valued fish and it is harvested seasonally with several methods.

You may also see photos and information of keeping this species in captivity at: http://www.malawicichlidhomepage.com/aquainfo/marinetank40.html, located at this very website.

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