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Field guide to marine inhabitants - Fishes

Family: Lutjanidae

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Photo Courtesy of Chad MacFie

Red Snapper
Prepared by Jessica K. Tokarz

Lutjanus campechanus 

RangeThe Red Snapper ranges from North Carolina to the Florida Keys and throughout the Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatan. They are commonly found in waters of 30 to 200ft (10 to 60m) in depth. Adult members of this species inhabit rocky hard-bottom substrates, ledges, ridges, and artificial reefs, including offshore oil rigs and shipwrecks. Juveniles on the other hand inhabit shallow waters over sandy or muddy bottom habitat.
Similar SpeciesThe Vermilion Snapper (Rhomboplites aurorubens) is similar in appearance to the Red Snapper. While both species exhibit red coloration, the Vermilion Snapper have a pale ventral surface with yellow lines running down the length of their body. The Vermilion Snapper has a squared-off anal fin compared to the pointed anal fin of the Red Snapper.

Vermilion Snapper

IdentificationThe Red Snapper exhibits a sloped profile that is laterally compressed and a spiny dorsal fin. Its anal fin is pointed. As its name suggests, the Red Snapper is reddish in coloration with a greater intensity of pigment on its dorsal surface. Juveniles have a dark spot below the spiny/soft dorsal fin interface which fades with age.

Juvenile Red Snapper

NoteJuvenile Red Snappers have been released on artificial reef habitats off the coast of Sarasota, FL to conduct investigations into the use of hatchery-reared juveniles to supplement native populations in the Gulf of Mexico. Data is continuing to be gathered.

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