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yellowFinGoatfishYellowfin Goatfish
Yellowfin Goatfish
Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Class:
Actinopterygii Order: Perciformes Family: Mullidae Genus: Mulloidichthys
Species: vanicolensis
Scientific name: Mulloidichthys vanicolensis
Common name: Yellowfin Goatfish
Hawaiian name: Weke, weke’ula,

Yellowfin goatfish are found from the Red Sea in the west across the Indo-Pacific ocean to the Tuamotus in the east and as far south as Lord Howe Island and northwards to Hawaii. They are commonly associated with coral reefs usually in shallow water lagoons and sheltered bays and reportedly also to a depth of more than 300 feet.

Yellowfin goatfish are a nocturnal species that mill around in tight schools during the day and in Hawaii are often associated with schools of another nocturnal (but introduced) species, the blue-striped snapper. In fact, the two compete for suitable schooling locations during the day.

Goatfish derive their name from the barbels attached to their chin just behind their lower lip. It turns out these structures are apparent very early in the planktonic phase of a goatfish’s life and develop in leaps and bounds once they have settled on a reef. The structures are both muscular as well as sensory and are used to dig in sand, mud and rubble to expose worms and benthic crustaceans upon which they feed. The barbels are covered in taste buds that originate from embryonic gustatory sources, so as they dig they are, literally, tasting the substrate to locate their burrowing prey. At night the schools disperse and as individuals they forage on their own over the seafloor close to reefs.

[Back to Reef Species Guide]