Following associations with the striped red mullet Mullus surmuletus Linnaeus, 1758 (Perciformes: Mullidae) from the Azores

Marta S. C. Soares and João P. Barreiros

aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, pp. 139-144, Volume 7, Issue 4 – November 2003

In this study we report Mullus surmuletus being followed intraspecifically and by individual fish of the following species: Thalassoma pavo, Coris julis, Diplodus sargus cadenati and Serranus atricauda. This study was carried out over a total of some thirtyfive hours between October 2001 and August 2002, in shallow water over sandy bottoms in the vicinity of the islands of Terceira and São Miguel, Azores (NE Atlantic). Red mullet search for benthic animals in the sand with their snout and barbels and feed on them. This behaviour attracts the attention of other species, which take advantage of the disturbance and capture prey themselves. Cleaning behaviour was also observed between M. surmuletus – “clients” and T. pavo and C. julis – “cleaners”. This cleaning behaviour occurs when the “cleaners” follow the red mullet.

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