Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Chelon labrosus

Thick lipped grey mullet

Chelon labrosusChelon labrosus
Photos by Andy Rapson


Chelon: Greek, chelone = turtle

General Notes:

Juvenile grey mullet are great fish for the aquarium, how ever they do grow very big and they grow quickly. I have noticed that this species doesn't travel very well immediately after capture and they always seem very frail on introduction to the aquaria but if left alone for an hour or so they always rally round. Ironically once settled they become very accustomed to life in the aquarium. They are active swimmers and need a lot of open spaces for swimming, they rarely hide and they are very bold feeders which will even readily accept flake food. In nature thick lipped grey mullet are extremely adaptable and can adjust to a wide range of salinities and temperatures. Although they aren't a resident of the intertidal zone no cooler is required for their care. Juvenile mullet are very common in rock pools of the lower to middle shoreline.


Thick lipped grey mullet are very peaceful with each other and with other fish which are too big to eat. They will however prey on small species of fish if given the chance.

Food and feeding:

In nature thick lipped grey mullets feed on algae, vegetal detritus and sediment. In captivity they will take everything on offer but don't over do meaty food because it isn't their natural diet even though they seem to relish it. Algae based flake food, algae pellets, nori, fresh green sea weed if that is an option a mixed vegetable diet is also available frozen for marine fish.


The juvenile fish kept in the aquarium cannot be reliably sexed. When adult the females are larger than the males.


Not possible in the home aquaria. Chelon labrosus spawn in winter out at sea.

Wild status:

The IUCN Red List of endangered species lists Chelon labrosus as 'Least Concern'.
Chelon labrosus is an abundant species across a very wide range and is not facing any immediate threats.

Further Information:


Information at a glance

pH: 8.2 - 8.4
dGH: 8 - 12
Salinity: 1.021 - 1.025
Temperature: 15 - 22°C (59 - 72°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 70cm (28in)
Min tank size: 250 litres
Juveniles fish only.
Difficulty level: Easy
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: All levels

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Chelon labrosus

Origin: Eastern Atlantic: Scandinavia and Iceland south to Senegal and Cape Verde. Also Mediterranean Sea; south-western Black Sea

Habitat: Adults are found inshore in schools, frequently entering brackish lagoons and freshwater. They migrate occasionally tending to move northward in summer-time as temperatures rise.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Mugiliformes
Family: Mugilidae
SpeciesC. labrosus, (Risso, 1827)

Mugil labrosus,
Crenimugil labrosus,
Mugil chelo,
Chelon chelo,
Liza chelo,
Mugil curtus,
Mugil corrugatus,
Mugil buosega,
Mugil septentrionalis,
Mugil provensalis