Snappers

Blackfin Snapper

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Family Lutjanidae, SNAPPERS
Lutjanus buccanella


Description: color generally red, with yellowish caudal, anal, and pelvic fins; distinctive and prominent dark comma-shaped blotch at the base of the pectoral fins, which gives the fish its common name; anal fin rounded; no black spot on side underneath dorsal fin.

Similar Fish: other snappers.

Where found: adults OFFSHORE near continental shelf. East of Cape Canaveral

Size: common to 20 inches, larger adults seeking deeper waters.

*Florida Record: n/a

Remarks: sometimes marketed as red snapper; feeds on smaller fishes.

Cubera Snapper

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Family Lutjanidae, SNAPPERS
Lutjanus cyanopterus


Description: color dark brown or gray, may have a reddish tinge; broad-based triangular tooth patch on roof of mouth with a posterior extension; despite its specific name, which translates to “blue-fin,” the fins have only a slight tinge of blue; canine teeth in both jaws very strong; one pair of canines enlarged and visible even when mouth is closed.

Similar Fish: gray snapper.

Where found: juveniles INSHORE in grass beds; adults OFFSHORE or NEAR SHORE over wrecks, reefs, and ledges. East of Cape Canaveral

Size: common to 40 pounds.

*Florida Record: 116 lbs.

Remarks: the largest of the snappers, ranging to 125 pounds; not common anywhere in its range; feeds on fishes and larger crustaceans; in the Keys, spawns during later summer.

Dog Snapper

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Family Lutjanidae, SNAPPERS
Lutjanus jocu


Description: color brown with a bronze tinge, lighter on sides; canine teeth very sharp, one pair notably enlarged, visible even when mouth is closed; in adults, pale triangle and a light blue interrupted line below the eye; no dark spot on body underneath dorsal fin.

Similar Fish: schoolmaster, L. apodus (no white triangle under eye and fins are more yellow); other snappers.

Where found: large adults OFFSHORE over coral and rocky reefs; juveniles associated with estuaries. East of Cape Canaveral

Size: large snapper, attaining 30 pounds.

*Florida Record: n/a

Remarks: spawns from spring through fall; known as night feeder; taking fishes, mollusks, and crustaceans.

Gray Snapper (mangrove snapper)

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Family Lutjanidae, SNAPPERS
Lutjanus griseus


Description: color dark brown or gray with reddish or orange spots in rows along the sides; dark horizontal band from snout through eye (young only); two conspicuous canine teeth at front of upper jaw; dorsal fins have dark or reddish borders; no dark spot on side underneath dorsal fin.

Similar Fish: cubera snapper, L. cyanopterus.

Where found: juveniles INSHORE in tidal creeks, mangroves, and grass beds; adults generally NEARSHORE or OFFSHORE on coral or rocky reefs. East of Cape Canaveral

Size: offshore catches common 8 to 10 pounds.

*Florida Record: 16 lbs., 8 ozs.

Remarks: spawns June through August; feeds on crustaceans and small fish.

Lane Snapper

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Family Lutjanidae, SNAPPERS
Lutjanus synagris


Description: color silvery-pink to reddish with short, irregular pink and yellow lines on its sides; diffuse black spot, about as large as the eye; the dorsal fin centered above the lateral line; outer margin of caudal fin blackish.

Similar Fish: mutton snapper, L. analis (anal fin rounded in lane snapper, pointed in mutton).

Where found: juveniles INSHORE over grass beds or shallow reefs; adults OFFSHORE; most common in south Florida. South of Cape Canaveral.

Size: usually less than 1 pound.

*Florida Record: 6 lbs., 6 ozs.

Remarks: spawns March through September; sexually mature at 6 inches; feeds on bottom, taking crustaceans, mollusks, and fish.

Mahogany Snapper

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Family Lutjanidae, SNAPPERS
Lutjanus mahogoni


Description: color graysh-olive with a reddish tinge; conspicuous dark spot, about the size of the eye, below the soft dorsal fin, 1/4 to 1/2 of it below the lateral line; the large eye and caudal fin are bright red; lower margin of the preopercle has prominent spur with strong and sharp serrations.

Similar Fish: lane snapper, L. synagris (also with dark spot below soft dorsal, the blotch placed higher in relation to the lateral line).

Where found: NEARSHORE or OFFSHORE in clear, highly saline water, usually over reefs. East of Cape Canaveral

Size: relatively small snapper, common to 15 inches.

*Florida Record: n/a

Remarks: the Spanish name, ojanco, refers to its large eyes; a night feeder, with diet of smaller fishes.

Mutton Snapper

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Family Lutjanidae, SNAPPERS
Lutjanus analis


Description: color olive green on back and upper sides, all fins below the lateral line having reddish tinge; bright blue line below eye, following contour of operculum; anal fin pointed; small black spot below dorsal fin; V-shaped tooth patch on

Similar Fish: lane snapper, L. synagris (anal fin pointed in mutton snapper, rounded in lane).

Where found: an INSHORE species associated with grassbeds, mangroves, and canals; larger adults occasionally found on OFFSHORE reefs. East of Cape Canaveral

Size: common to 15 pounds.

*Florida Record: 27 lbs., 6 ozs.

Remarks: spawns in July and August; feeds on fish, crustaceans, and snails.

Red Snapper

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Family Lutjanidae, SNAPPERS
Lutjanus campechanus


Description: color pinkish red over entire body, whitish below; long triangular snout; anal fin sharply pointed; no dark lateral spot.

Similar Fish: vermilion snapper, R. aurorubens.

Where found: OFFSHORE on the continental shelf, more plentiful off the panhandle than in south or middle Florida. East of Cape Canaveral

Size: to 20 pounds.

*Florida Record: 46 lbs., 8 ozs.

Remarks: juveniles occur over sandy or mud bottoms and are often taken in shrimp trawls; adults may live more than 20 years, and attain 35 pounds or more; sexual maturity attained at age 2; spawns June to October; feeds on crustaceans and fish.

Vermilion Snapper

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Family Lutjanidae, SNAPPERS
Rhomboplites aurorubens


Description: color of entire body reddish, with a series of short, irregular lines on its sides, diagonal blue lines formed by spots on the scales above the lateral line; sometimes with yellow streaks below the lateral line; large canine teeth absent; orientation of mouth and eye give it the appearance of looking upward; no dark lateral spot.

Similar Fish: red snapper, L. campechanus (anal fin of red snapper has midpoint like a triangle).

Where found: suspends at mid-depths over rocky reefs OFFSHORE. East of Cape Canaveral

Size: usually less than 1 pound.

*Florida Record: n/a

Remarks: spawns April to September, females maturing at 3 to 4 years of age; grows slowly; attains weight of 6 pounds and length of 24 inches; feeds on small, swimming crustaceans and mollusks.

Yellowtail Snapper

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Family Lutjanidae, SNAPPERS
Ocyurus chrysurus


Description: back and upper sides olive to bluish with yellow spots; lower sides and belly with alternating narrow, longitudinal pink and yellow stripes; prominent midlateral yellow stripe begins at mouth and runs to tail, broadening as it passes the dorsal fins; caudal fin yellow and deeply forked; no dark lateral spot.

Similar Fish: none.

Where found: juveniles INSHORE on grassbeds and back reefs; adults NEARSHORE or OFFSHORE over sandy areas near reefs. East of Cape Canaveral

Size: common to 3 pounds.

*Florida Record: 7 lbs., 5 ozs.

Remarks: found mainly in tropical waters; spawns in midsummer; rarely exceeds 30 inches and 5 pounds in size; feeds on small fish and invertebrates.

Schoolmaster

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Family Lutjanidae, SNAPPERS
Lutjanus apodus


Description: color olive gray on upper sides with yellow tinge, sometimes with reddish tinge around head; long triangular snout; eight pale vertical bars on the side of the body; yellow fins; blue stripe below eye, becoming interrupted in adults; no dark lateral spot.

Similar Fish: dog snapper, L. jocu.

Where found: juveniles in grassy flats; adults NEARSHORE especially around elkhorn coral reefs; large adults sometimes found on continental shelf. East of Cape Canaveral

Size: usually less than 1 pound.

*Florida Record: n/a

Remarks: spawns in July and August; attain sizes of 8 pounds and 24 inches; slow grower; feeds on crustaceans, small fishes, and gastropods.