Reproduction and growth of the Red Sea goatfish Parupeneus forsskali in its new environment (Cyprus, eastern Mediterranean Sea)




alien, gonads, histology, maturity phases, reproductive cycle, growth


In the Mediterranean Sea, six species of Mullidae have been recorded, four of them being alien to the area. The most recent arrival in the Mediterranean is the Red Sea goatfish (Parupeneus forsskali), which was first spotted there in the year 2000. Although P. forsskali is endemic to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, it has recently expanded its distribution; it was confirmed in Cyprus in 2014. Since then, it has established a thriving population around the island, and is now commercially important. In the present study, the spawning season and gonad development of P. forsskali off the coast of Cyprus were studied, along with important biological parameters. Macroscopic and histological analyses of the gonads indicated five maturity phases for both ovaries and testes. The gonadal maturity phases and the gonadosomatic index indicated that P. forsskali spawns in the summer months, with the peak of the spawning season in July. Males were bigger, heavier, and more abundant than females, and the length-weight relationship was found to be TW=0.0065 TL3.17 for males and TW=0.0086 TL3.07 for females, both indicating positive allometric growth. The size at first sexual maturity (LM) was 14.2 cm for males and 11.8 cm for females. Five age groups were identified from the length-frequency distribution (0-4 years old). Age group 1 was the most dominant one, containing almost 60% of the sampled individuals. Natural mortality (M) declined with age, and the mean natural mortality coefficient across ages was 0.563 year-1. Overall, this is the first study that provides important information on the spawning season of the Red Sea goatfish and other estimations on various biological traits in its non-native habitat that can be of great importance for fisheries management.


Download data is not yet available.


Amin A., Madkour F., Abu El-Regal M., Moustafa A. 2016. Reproductive biology of Mullus surmuletus (Linnaeus, 1758) from the Egyptian Mediterranean Sea (Port Said). Int. J. Environ. Eng. 7: 1-10.

Ben-Tuvia A. 1966. Red Sea fishes recently found in the Mediterranean. Copeia 2: 254-275.

Bhattacharya C.G. 1967. A Simple Method of Resolution of a Distribution into Gaussian Components. Biometrics 23: 115-135.

Brown-Peterson N.J., Wyanski D.M., Saborido-Rey F., et al. 2011. A standardized terminology for describing reproductive development in fishes. Mar. Coast. Fish. 3: 52-70.

Capapé C., Zaouali J., Ounifi-Ben Amor K., Ben Amor M.M. 2018. First record of Red Sea goatfish Parupeneus forsskali (Osteichthyes: Mullidae) from Tunisian waters (central Mediterranean Sea). Ann. Ser. Hist. 28: 107-110.

Chartosia N., Michailidis N. 2016. First confirmed presence of the Red Sea goatfish Parupeneus forsskali (Fourmanoir & Guézé, 1976) from Cyprus. Mar. Biodivers. Rec. 9: 33.

Chen S., Watanabe S. 1989. Age dependence of natural mortality coefficient in fish population dynamics. Nippon Suisan Gakk 55: 205-208.

Çinar M.E., Bilecenoglu M., Öztürk B., Can A. 2006. New records of alien species on the Levantine coast of Turkey. Aquat. Invasions1: 84-90.

Daskalaki E., Koufalis E., Dimarchopoulou D., Tsikliras A.C. 2022. Scientific progress made towards bridging the knowledge gap in the biology of Mediterranean marine fishes. PLoS ONE 17:e0277383.

Echeverria T.W. 1987. Thirty-four species of California rockfishes: Maturity and seasonality of reproduction. Fish. Bull. 85: 22.

Evagelopoulos A., Nikolaou A., Michailidis N., et al. 2020. Progress of the dispersal of the alien goatfish Parupeneus forsskali (Fourmanoir & Guézé, 1976) in the Mediterranean, with preliminary information on its diet composition in Cyprus. BioInvasions Rec. 9: 209-222.

Farrag M.M.O., Mehanna S., Ahmed Osman Y. 2018. Fisheries status of the common species of family Mullidae in the Southern Red Sea, Egypt. Egypt. J. Aquat. Biol. Fish 22: 249-265.

FiSAT II - FAO-ICLARM stock assessment tools II: user’s guide 2005, WorldFish Center, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in English - Rev. version.

Froese R. 2006. Cube law, condition factor and weight-length relationships: History, meta-analysis and recommendations. J. App. Ichth. 22: 241-253.

Froese R., Pauly D. 2022. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication., version (02/2022).

Geraci M.L., Scannella D., Falsone F., et al. 2018. Preliminary study on the biological traits of the Por’s goatfish Upeneus pori (Chordata: Actinopterygii) off the southern coast of Lampedusa Island (Central Mediterranean). Eur. Zool. J. 85: 231-241.

Hunter J.R., Macewicz B.J., Lo N.C., Kimbrell C.A. 1992. Fecundity, spawning, and maturity of female Dover sole Microstomus pacificus, with an evaluation of assumptions and precision. Fish. Bull. 90: 101-128.

Kaya M., Benli H., Katagan T., Ozaydin O. 1999. Age, growth, sex-ratio, spawning season and food of golden banded goatfish, Upeneus moluccensis Bleeker (1855) from the Mediterranean and south Aegean Sea coasts of Turkey. Fish. Res. 41: 317-328.

Kokokiris L., Stamoulis A., Monokrousos N., Doulgeraki S. 2014. Oocytes development, maturity classification, maturity size and spawning season of the red mullet (Mullus barbatus barbatus Linnaeus, 1758). J. Appl. Ichthyol. 30

Le Cren E.D. 1951. The length-weight relationship and seasonal cycle in gonad weight and condition in the perch (Perca fluviatilis). J. Anim. Ecol. 20: 201-219.

Longenecker K., Langston R., Bolick H., et al. 2017. Rapid reproductive analysis and length-weight relations for five species of coral-reef fishes (Actinopterygii) from Papua New Guinea: Nemipterus isacanthus, Parupeneus barberinus, Kyphosus cinerascens, Ctenochaetus striatus (Perciformes), and Balistapus undulatus (Tetraodontiformes). Acta Ichthyol. Piscat. 47: 107-124.

Mehanna S.F., Osman A.G.M., Farrag M.M.S., Osman Y.A.A. 2018. Age and growth of three common species of goatfish exploited by artisanal fishery in Hurghada fishing area, Egypt. J. Appl. Ichthyol. 34: 917-921.

Michailidis N., Corrales X., Karachle P.K., et al. 2019. Modelling the role of alien species and fisheries in an Eastern Mediterranean insular shelf ecosystem. Ocean Coast. Manag. 175: 152-171.

Michailidis N., Chartosia N., Katsanevakis S., 2022. Exploring the role of fishing in a heavily bioinvaded shelf ecosystem. Fish. Res. 259:

Nelson J.S., Grande T.C., Wilson M.V. 2016. Fishes of the World (5th ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2016, 752 pp.

Pauly D. 1980. On the interrelationships between natural mortality, growth parameters, and mean environmental temperature in 175 fish stocks. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 39: 175-192.

Pauly D. 2019. Female fish grow bigger-Let’s deal with It. Trends Ecol. Evol. 34: 181-182.

Quinn T.J. II, R.B. Deriso, 1999. Quantitative Fish Dynamics. Oxford University Press.

Ramadan A.M., El-Halfawy M.M. 2014. Ovarian maturation and spawning season of Por’s goatfish Upeneus pori (Mullidae) from Mediterranean Sea, Egypt. J. Ichthyol. 54: 905-912.

Randall J.E. 1983. Red Sea Reef Fishes. Immel Publishing, 192 pp

Randall J. E. 2004. Revision of the goatfish genus Parupeneus (Perciformes: Mullidae) with descriptions of two new species. Indo-Pac. Fishes 36: 1-64.

R Core Team 2016. A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.

Sabrah M.M. 2015. Fisheries biology of the Red Sea goatfish Parupeneus forsskali (Fourmanoir & Guézé, 1976) from the northern Red Sea, Hurghada, Egypt. Egypt. J. Aquat. Res. 41: 111-117.

Sabrah M.M., Heneish R.A., Alwany M.E., Ahmad M.I. 2017. Sexual maturity, spawning activity, sex ratio and fecundity of two Mullidae species dwelling the Gulf of Suez, Red Sea. Egypt. J. Aquat. Res. 43: 83-91.

Sieli G., Badalucco C., Di Stefano G., et al. 2011. Biology of red mullet, Mullus barbatus (L. 1758), in the Gulf of Castellammare (NW Sicily, Mediterranean Sea) subject to a trawling ban: Biology of red mullet in a no trawled area. J. Appl. Ichthyol. 27: 1218-1225.

Tsikliras A.C., Stergiou K.I. 2014. Size at maturity of Mediterranean marine fishes. Rev. Fish Biol. Fish 24: 219-268.

Tsikliras A.C., Antonopoulou E., Stergiou K.I. 2010. Spawning period of Mediterranean marine fishes. Rev. Fish Biol. Fish 20: 499-538.

Tsikliras A.C., Stergiou K.I., Froese R. 2013. Editorial note on reproductive biology of fishes. Acta Ichthyol Piscat. 43: 1-5.

Uiblein F. 2007. Goatfishes (Mullidae) as indicators in tropical and temperate coastal habitat monitoring and management. Mar. Biol. Res. 3: 275-288.

von Bertalanffy L 1938. A quantitative theory of organic growth. Human Biology 10: 181-213.

Whitehead P.J.P., Baucho, M.L., Hurea, J-C., et al. (eds) 1984. Fishes of the North-Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean (Vols. 1-3). UNESCO.

Wootton R.J., Smith C. 2015. Reproductive biology of teleost fishes (1st ed.). John Wiley and Sons.



How to Cite

Saemundsson S, Tsikliras AC, Chartosia N. Reproduction and growth of the Red Sea goatfish Parupeneus forsskali in its new environment (Cyprus, eastern Mediterranean Sea). scimar [Internet]. 2023Jul.4 [cited 2023Oct.4];87(2):e064. Available from: