Fivebar Flagtail, Kuhlia mugil (Bloch & Schneider 1801)

Other Names: Barred flagtail, Fiveband Flagtail, Five-bar Flagtail, Ocean Flagfish

Fivebar Flagtails, Kuhlia mugil, at Guam. Source: David Burdick / License: All rights reserved

A silvery flagtail with the front of snout and chin blackish, and a black and white banded tail. Fivebar Flagtails are often seen schools along the surge zone.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Kuhlia mugil in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jul 2020,

Fivebar Flagtail, Kuhlia mugil (Bloch & Schneider 1801)

More Info


Recorded in Australia from the Torres Straits, Queensland, to Seal Rocks, New South Wales; also at Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) islands in the Indian Ocean, and Lord Howe and Norfolk islands in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the Red Sea and Indo-west Pacific, and also in the East-Pacific.
Mostly found around coral and rocky reefs, and also enters estuaries and the lower reaches of freshwater streams. Juveniles often occur in tide pools. 


Feeds mostly at night on zooplankton and small fishes.


Fished for food, bait, and taken for the aquarium trade. It is caught in seines, gill nets and by hook and line.

Species Citation

Sciaena mugil Bloch & Schneider, 1801, Systema Ichthyol.: 541. Type locality: Tahiti, Society Islands.


Dianne J. Bray

Fivebar Flagtail, Kuhlia mugil (Bloch & Schneider 1801)


Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R., Hoese, D.F., Paxton, J.R., Randall, J.E., Russell, B.C., Starck, W.A., Talbot, F.H. & Whitley, G.P. 1976. Annotated checklist of the fishes of Lord Howe Island. Records of the Australian Museum 30(15): 365-454 figs 1-2

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 1-21.

Bloch, M.E. & Schneider, J.G. 1801. Systema Ichthyologiae Iconibus ex Illustratum. Berlin 584 pp. 110 pls.

Carpenter, K.E. 2001. Family Kuhliidae. pp. 3317-3320 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 5 2791-3379 pp.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2

Francis, M.P., R.V. Grace & C.D. Paulin. 1987. Coastal fishes of the Kermadec Islands. N.Z. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 21(1): 1-13.

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp.

Hoese, D. & Mailautoka, K. 2012. Kuhlia mugil. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. . Downloaded on 03 October 2014.

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E. & Randall, H.A. 2001. Review of the fishes of the genus Kuhlia (Perciformes: Kuhliidae) of the Central Pacific. Pacific Science 55(3): 227-256.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37323005

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-10 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational, aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated, mostly marine

Max Size:32 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map