Snappers species identification guide

The snapper, a common fish throughout the tropical seas

Snappers are part of the Lutjanidae family, which comprises more than a hundred species. These fish can be easily spotted at reefs, alone or in large schools. Snappers are generally carnivorous, feeding on small fish, shrimps, and crabs.

Most snapper species do not exceed 50 to 60cm at the adult stage, but some, such as the cubera snapper, can reach 1-meter long. Snappers’ coloration is is variable, ranging from dull gray to blue or fluorescent yellow stripes.

Change of coloration of Macolor niger
The patterns and colors of the black and white snapper undergo a major transformation from juvenile (left, spotted in Bunaken, Indonesia) to adult forms (right, noted at Ras Um Sid reef drop off, Egypt).

For some species, such as the midnight snapper and the black and white snapper, the coloration of the juveniles and adults is very different.

Which are the most easily spotted snappers at snorkeling depths?

Snappers are easy to spot in all tropical and subtropical seas. In the Caribbean, the most common species are the yellowtail snapper and the schoolmaster snapper. Juveniles are often seen in schools, mixed with grunts.

Bengal snappers shoaling at Coco Island, Seychelles
Some snappers are very colorful. Here, Bengal snappers shoaling at Coco Island, Seychelles.

In the Indo-Pacific, snappers often have very wide distribution ranges. The two-spot red snapper is easy to see in protected areas, such as the drop-offs of the Great Barrier Reef, while the blackspot snapper is very common in the Red Sea.

Caribbean & Western Atlantic snappers

Indian & Pacific Oceans snappers

Eastern Pacific Ocean snappers

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