20 photos - 12 species


There are over 80 species, including around 30 species in Indonesia alone.

The barb-like beard that gives them their name is something like an external tongue.

The two whiskers are packed with sensory cells.

They use them to "sniff" through the sand in search of food.

They grow between 7 and 60 cm long, depending on the species.

Mulloidichthys flavolineatus

Yellowstripe goatfish

Maximum length: 43 cm

Depth: 1 - 35 m

Dark spot on the yellow stripe.

Found in shallow sandy areas of lagoons and outer reefs.

During the day they can often be seen hovering inactive

in the open water in shoals of up to 1000 animals. 

Searches for food at night.

Photo 1 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Mulloidichthys martinicus

Yellow goatfish or Yellowsaddle

Maximum length: 39 cm

Depth: 2 - 70 m

There are two barbels below the tip of the chin.

The caudal fin and the yellow stripe in the centre of the body are yellow.

White body, with the upper half of the body showing olive to red shades.

The barbels are used to search for food in the sand.

Photo 1 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Photo 2 Astrid: Bonaire Caribbean

Mulloidichthys vanicolensis

Yellofin goatfish

Maximum length: 38 cm

Depth: 2- 25 m

Tail fin and centre stripe are yellow and it has two barbels below the tip of the chin.

Eats alone or joins together in small groups.

Swims in large shoals over the reefs when not feeding.

Not shy, only swim away when harassed.

Photo 1 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Parupeneus barberinoides

Bicolor goatfish

Maximum length: 20 cm

Depth: 3 - 40 m

Smallest species of this genus, solitary.

They can be found on rocky slopes with corals and algae.

Photo 1 Johnny: Moalboal Philippines

Parupeneus barberinus

Dash-and-dot goatfish

Maximum length: 60 cm

Depth: 1 - 100 m

Large black spot at the base of the tail.

It is the largest of the barbels.

During the day it searches for bottom-dwelling invertebrates individually

or in small groups, at night it rests individually on the bottom.

Photo 1 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Parupeneus cyclostomus

Gold-saddle goatfish, Blue goatfish or Yellowsaddle goatfish

Maximum length: 50 cm

Depth: 1 - 95 m

Yellow body or blue-grey with yellow saddle.

On sand, rubble and over coral. 

Feeds mainly on fish, which it seeks out with its barbels.

Photo 1 Astrid: Hurghada Egypt

Photos 2 - 3 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Parupeneus forsskali

Red sea goatfish

Maximum length: 28 cm

Depth - 1 - 30 m

Black spot on the base of the tail.

Very similar to the barbel, but only half the size.

Not shy.

Photo 1 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Parupeneus macronemus ( Kurzstreifen - Meerbarbe )

Long-barbel goatfish


Maximum length: 30 cm

Depth: 1 - 35 m

The base of the second dorsal fin is black.

Lives on sand or rubble in bays, lagoons and outer reefs.

Not very shy.

Photos 1 - 2 Johnny: Hurghada Egypt

Parupeneus multifasciatus

Manybar goatfish

Maximum length: 35 cm

Depth: 2 - 35 m

Photo 1 Johnny: Bali Indonesia

Parupeneus trifasciatus

Doublebar goatfish

Maximum length: 35 cm

Depth: 1 - 80 m

Often observed in larger schools.

This species, which occurs in the Indian Ocean, has two distinct dark spots.

Photos 1 - 2 Johnny: Bangka Island North Sulawesi

Pseudupeneus maculatus

Spotted goatfish

Maximum length: 28 cm

Depth: 2 - 20 metres

When they are active, 3 dark rectangular spots are normally visible,

during the resting phase their colouring changes very quickly

to a mottled or speckled reddish-brown, see the barbel on the right.

This species also only swims away when harassed.

Photos 1 - 3 Johnny: Bonaire Caribbean

Upeneus tragula

Freckled goatfish

Maximum length: 30 cm

Depth: 3 - 30 m

Nearshore reef slopes and lagoons.

It can quickly change its colouring by showing a dark longitudinal stripe.

Adults normally travel in small groups.

Photos 1 - 2 Johnny: Lembeh Strait North Sulawesi