Northern Red Snapper

Northern red snappers, also known as genuine red snappers, are marine fish.

These fish inhabit the reefs of the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico.

They usually dwell at depths of around 30 to 200 feet (9 to 60 m).

You can find them swimming in schools around reefs and shipwrecks.

As they grow, their choice of habitat changes because of the change in their dietary preference and need for more cover.

Newly hatched northern red snappers prefer to live in benthic habitats.

While they are under one year of age, they move to low-relief habitats like oyster shell beds for food and cover.

At the age of around one year, they move to intermediate-relief habitats.

Eventually, as these fish become two years old, they move to high-relief habitats like reefs.


Given below is the scientific classification of the northern red snapper:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Perciformes

Family: Lutjanidae

Genus: Lutjanus

Species Scientific Name: Lutjanus campechanus

Northern Red Snapper Appearance

Northern red snappers are light red in color overall, but the red color is pronounced on their back.

The northern red snappers found in deep waters are usually more reddish in color than the ones found in shallow waters.

Some young northern red snappers have a dark spot on their sides, which fades as they grow.

These fish have 10 spiny dorsal fins, 14 soft dorsal rays, 8 to 9 anal soft rays, and 3 anal spines.

Northern red snappers are large in size. They have a laterally compressed body with medium-to-large scales.

The jaws of these fish are equal. However, the lower jaw sometimes projects slightly.

Their jaws have sharp and needle-like teeth.

These fish grow up to 24 inches (60 cm) in length. However, some of them can also grow up to 39 inches (100 cm).

Here’s what a northern red snapper looks like in real life…

Northern Red Snapper

Northern Red Snapper Reproduction

Northern red snappers mature once they are around 2 to 5 years of age and 15 inches (39 cm) in length.

They reproduce using a process called “broadcast spawning.”

During this reproduction process, many female and male northern red snappers release their eggs and sperm into the water at the same time.

These fish usually spawn from May to October, peaking in June to August.

Northern Red Snapper Lifespan

Northern red snappers can live for more than 50 years.

The oldest northern red snapper reported to the date of this writing is 100+ years. Isn’t that fascinating?

Northern Red Snapper Feeding Habits

Northern red snappers eat almost anything that fits in their mouth. However, they are more fond of small fish and crustaceans.

These fish also eat shrimp, octopuses, crabs, worms, squids, gastropods, etc.

Northern Red Snappers in Aquarium Trade

Northern red snappers aren’t found in the aquarium trade.

Maybe because of their popularity in the fishing and seafood industry.

In the continental USA, these fish account for almost 50% of the total snapper catch.

Northern Red Snapper Temperament

Not much is known about the temperament of the northern red snappers.

Interesting Facts About Northern Red Snapper

Northern red snappers can grow so large that they can weigh more than 50 lb (22+ kg).

Interestingly, many fish that are sold in the USA as northern red snappers are actually other fish species from their family.

The most commonly mistaken fish species for the northern red snappers are:

  • Rockfish, also called the Red Snapper or the Pacific Red Snapper,
  • Blackfin snappers,
  • Lane snappers, and
  • Many species that belong to the Bigeye family.

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