Red Snapper
Red Snapper














L. campechanus

Binomial name:

Lutjanus campechanus

The red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, is a fish found in the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States. In Latin American Spanish it is known as huachinango or pargo.

The red snapper commonly inhabits waters from 30–200 feet (9.1–61 m), but can be caught as deep as 300 ft (91 m) on occasion. They stay relatively close to the bottom, and inhabit rocky bottom, ledges, ridges, and artificial reefs, including offshore oil rigs and shipwrecks.

The red snapper's body is very similar in shape to other snappers, such as the mangrove snapper, mutton snapper, lane snapper, and dog snapper. All feature a sloped profile, medium-to-large scales, a spiny dorsal fin and a laterally compressed body. Red snappers have short, sharp, needle-like teeth, however they lack the prominent uppercanine teeth found on the mutton, dog, and mangrove snappers.

Coloration of the red snapper is light red, with more intense pigment on the back. Juvenile fish can also have a dark spot on their side which fades with age.

Like most other snappers, red snappers are gregarious and will form large schools around wrecks and reefs. These schools are usually made up of fish of very similar size.

Red snapper are a prized food fish,caught commercially, as well as recreationally. Commercially, they are caught on multi-hook gear with electric reels. Fishing for Red Snapper has been a major industry in the Gulf of Mexico, however, permit restrictions and changes in the quota system for commercial Snapper fishermen in the Gulf have made the fish less commercially available. [1]

Genetic studies have shown, however, that many fish sold as red snapper in the USA are not actually L. campechanus, but other species in the family.[2][3] Substition of other snapper species for Red Snapper is typically a result of large chain restaurants who serve a common menu nationwide. In these cases, suppliers provide a least costly substitute (usually imported) for Red Snapper.

Juvenile red snapper have been released on artificial reef habitats off the coast ofSarasota, Florida, to conduct investigations into the use of hatchery reared juveniles to supplement native populations in the Gulf of Mexico.[4]

Red snapper will eat almost anything, but prefer small fish and crustaceans. They can be caught on live bait as well as cut bait, and will also take artificial lures, but with less vigor. They are commonly caught up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) and 20 inches (510 mm) in length, however there have been fish taken over 40 lb (18 kg).

A red snapper attains sexual maturity at 2–5 years old and an adult snapper can live for more than 50 years.[citation needed] The vibrant red color of these fish comes from high levels of carotenoid pigments, largely astaxanthin, coming from shrimp in their natural diet.[citation needed]

Other species mistaken for red snapperEdit

  • Sebastes, rockfish, are called red snapper or Pacific red snapper.
  • Several species of bigeye (Priacanthidae)


  1. ^ Hoyt Childers. "IFQ’s first year raises ex-vessel prices, but quota cut leaves room for imports". National Fisherman. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  2. ^ E. Weise (July 14, 2004). "Bait and switch: study finds red snapper mislabeled". USA Today. Retrieved June 18, 2008.
  3. ^ J. R. Fuller (May 10, 2007). "Fish fraud: The menus said snapper, but it wasn't!". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved June 18, 2008.
  4. ^ Brett Ramey Blackburn, Nathan Brennan & Ken Leber (2003). In situ scuba diver identification of hatchery released red snapper,Lutjanus campechanus, using visual implant elastomer tags in the Gulf of Mexico. In S. F. Norton. "Diving for Science...2003".Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (22nd annual Scientific Diving Symposium): 19.