Yellowstripe Goatfish, Mulloidichthys flavolineatus (Lacépède 1801)

Other Names: Gold-lined Goatfish, Pallid Goatfish, Samoan Goatfish, Slender Goldband Goatfish, Square-spot Goatfish, Yellow-lined Goatfish, Yellow-striped Goatfish

A Yellowstripe Goatfish, Mulloidichthys flavolineatus, at North Solitary Island, New South Wales. Source: Ian V. Shaw / Reef Life Survey. License: CC by Attribution

A silvery-white goatfish with a yellow stripe along the body at eye level, bordered by two pale bluish (sometimes whitish), narrow midlateral stripes, a dark oval or rectangular blotch on the yellow stripe below the first dorsal fin, additional yellow striping often on the cheek and along the abdomen, and yellowish fins (except the pectorals). The yellow stripe may be indistinct, and the blackish spot may be very faint in some fish.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Mulloidichthys flavolineatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024,

Yellowstripe Goatfish, Mulloidichthys flavolineatus (Lacépède 1801)

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Dampier Archipelago and offshore reefs of north Western Australia, Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea, and the far northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, and reefs in the Coral Sea, to Montague Island, southern New South Wales; also Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean, and Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific from the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and East Africa to Hawaii.
Inhabits sandy, silty and seagrass areas areas on sheltered reefs and outer reef slopes; juveniles may occur in estuaries and harbours.


Dorsal fin VIII, 9; Anal fin I, 7; Pectoral fin 15-18; Lateral line scales 33-36; Gill rakers 7-10 + 19-22; Lateral-line scales 34-38 . 
Body elongate, depth at first dorsal-fin origin 21-26% SL; head length 27-31% SL. 


Body silvery white, sometimes intermingled with yellow, darker above lateral line; head silvery white to yellowish, darker on dorsal part of snout and dorsally from midorbit; one straight yellow mid-lateral body stripe, its width subequal to pupil diameter, bordered by two pale bluish (sometimes whitish), narrow midlateral stripes; a dark oval to rectangular blotch at yellow mid-lateral body stripe below first dorsalfin base, sometimes only faintly visible due to color changes, often retained in preserved fi sh; dorsal and caudal fins white to yellowish, partly hyaline, pectoral fins pale rose, partly transparent, pelvic and anal fins whitish and partly transparent; barbels white; in preserved fish body generally pale brown or ventrally pale and dorsally darkened, head pale brown; recently collected material with a broad dark band laterally.


Feeds at night over open sandy areas, consuming a range of invertebrates including on crustaceans, molluscs, polychaete worms, heart urchins and foraminiferans - and sometimes small fishes. 

Similar Species

The similar Goldstripe Goatfish, Mulloidichthys vanicolensis, lacks the dark blotch on the mid-lateral stripe (although the blotch is not always present in M. flavolineatus).


The specific name flavolineatus is from the Latin flavus (= flaxen, yellow, golden), and lineatus (= lined), in reference to the yellow stripe along the side.

Species Citation

Mullus flavolineatus Lacepède, 1801, Hist. Nat. Poiss. 3: 384, 406. Type locality: Mauritius (as Isle de France).


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Yellowstripe Goatfish, Mulloidichthys flavolineatus (Lacépède 1801)


Allen, G.R. 1993. Fishes of Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 44: 67-91.

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

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

Allen, G.R. & Russell, B.C. 1986. Part VII Fishes. pp. 79-103 in Berry, P.F. (ed.) Faunal Surveys of the Rowley Shoals, Scott Reef and Seringapatam Reef, northwestern Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 25: 1-106 (as Mulloides flavolineatus)

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

Allen, G.R. & Steene, R.C. 1988. Fishes of Christmas Island Indian Ocean. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 197 pp.

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

Ben-Tuvia, A. & Kissil, G.W. 1988. Fishes of the family Mullidae in the Red Sea, with a key to the species in the Red sea and the eastern Mediterranean. Ichthyological Bulletin of the J.L.B. Smith Institute, Grahamstown 52: 1-16 figs 1-14

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De Vis, C.W. 1884. New Australian fishes in the Queensland Museum. Part II. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 9(3): 453-462 (as Mulloides armatus) See ref at BHL

Fernandez-Silva, I., Randall, J.E., Coleman, R.R., DiBattista, J.D., Rocha, L.A., Reimer, J.D., Meyer, C.G. & Bowen, B.W. 2015. Yellow tails in the Red Sea: phylogeography of the Indo-Pacific goatfish Mulloidichthys flavolineatus reveals isolation in peripheral provinces and cryptic evolutionary lineages. Journal of Biogeography.

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Günther, A. 1874. Andrew Garrett's Fische der Südsee. Heft 3. Journal des Museum Godeffroy, Hamburg 2(7): 49-96 pls 41-60 (described as Mulloidichthys samoensis, a junior synonym of M. flavolineatus)

Holland, K.N., Peterson, J.D., Lowe, C.G. & Wetherbee, B.M. 1993. Movements, distribution and growth rates of the white goatfish Mulloides flavolineatus in a fisheries conservation zone. Bulletin of Marine Science 53(3): 982-992.

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Lacepède, B.G. 1801. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : chez Plassan Vol. 3 558 pp. 34 pls.

Oxley, W.G., Ayling, A.M., Cheal, A.J. & Thompson, A.A. 2003. Marine surveys undertaken in the Coringa-Herald National Nature Reserve, March-April 2003. Townsville : Australian Institute of Marine Science 59 pp.

Oxley, W.G., Emslie, M., Muir, P. & Thompson, A.A. 2004. Marine surveys undertaken in the Lihou Reef National Nature Reserve, March 2004. Townsville : Australian Institute of Marine Science i-vii, 1-67 pp.

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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.

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Talbot, F.H., Russell, B.C. & Anderson, G.R.V. 1978. Coral reef fish communities unstable, high diversity systems? Ecological Monographs 48: 425-440 (as Mulloidichthys samoensis)

Uiblein, F. 2011. Taxonomic review of western Indian Ocean goatfishes of the genus Mulloidichthys (Family Mullidae), with description of a new species and remarks on colour and body form variation in Indo-West Pacific species.Smithiana, Publications in Aquatic Biodiversity, Bulletin 13: 51-73 See ref at BHL

Uiblein F., Gouws G., Johnson J.W., Lobel P.S. & Shaheen S. 2020. Junior synonymy of Mulloides armatus and intraspecific comparisons of the yellowstripe goatfish Mulloidichthys flavolineatus (Mullidae) using a comprehensive alpha-taxonomy approach. Cybium 44(2): 137-155,

Whitley, G.P. 1929. Studies in Ichthyology No. 3. Records of the Australian Museum 17(3): 101-143 figs 1-5 pls 30-34

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37355019

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:1-97 m

Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:43 cm TL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map