Dot-and-Dash Goatfish (species: Parupeneus barberinus) in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Parupeneus barberinus
Dot-and-Dash Goatfish

©Andy Lewis: An adult female Dot-and-Dash Goatfish

©Andy Lewis: An terminal phase male Dot-and-Dash Goatfish

©Andy Lewis: A juvenile Dot-and-Dash Goatfish
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Order Perciformes
Family Mullidae
Genus Parupeneus
Species Parupeneus barberinus



Distinguishing features

A medium sized whitish fish with a distinct stripe along the side and a dot on the base of the tail. The small juveniles and the young adults have a yellow patch above the lateral stripe. This fades in the larger specimens, and these large fish have blue highlights on the scales and blue lines around the eye. The pair of sensory whiskers or barbels that hang beneath the lower jaw are used to detect food.


  • Up to 50 cm (Standard length)

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Usually found along the sandy borders of coral reef areas, and will also move into the intertidal to feed over areas of coral rubble.

Can be found in most locations around the island.


The Dot-and-Dash Goatfish is an active diurnal feeder, burying its snout into sandy patches along rubble beds and reef flats and using the sensory barbels to detect small invertebrate prey, creating large clouds of sediment in the process. They frequently forage in small schools with other fishes, and wrasses such as the Moon wrasse and Maori wrasse will often attend the goatfish closely, waiting to pick up small invertebrates disturbed by the goatfishes active feeding behaviour. Goatfishes mature at about 2 years of age as females and then change to males at larger sizes; they can live up to 11 years.

Web resources


  • Caley, M.J. (1991). Mechanisms of coexistence in communities of coral-reef fishes, Ph.D. thesis, University of Sydney. LIRS catalog number 307.
  • Caley, M.J. (1995). Reef fish community structure and dynamics: in interaction between local and larger-scale processes? Marine Ecology Progress Series, 129: 19-29. LIRS catalog number 448.
  • Caley, M.J. (1995). Community dynamics of tropical reef fishes: local patterns between latitudes, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 129: 7-18. LIRS catalog number 447.
  • View all references