Snapper Family
Pacific Red Snapper [family Lutjanidae (Snappers)]

Snappers, particularly the Pacific and Northern Red Snapper, are very highly regarded as food fish and demand a premium price. For this reason, various other fish, many not even in the Snapper family, are marketed as "Snapper" and even as "Red Snapper". If you buy "Red Snapper" as fillets, there's no telling what you're getting, and in fancy restaurants you're even less likely to get the real thing - "substitution" is rampant.

More on Varieties of Fish (very large page).


New Zealand Snapper - Pink Snapper
Fish

Often marketed as "Snapper from New Zealand", this fish is not really a Snapper at all, but a Porgy - see Squirefish.

Pacific Red Snapper   -   [Lutjanus peru]
Fresh Fish

This true Red Snapper is found from Mexico to Peru in the Eastern Pacific. It can get up to 37 inches long and up to almost 13 pounds but the photo specimen was 15-1/4 inches and weighed 1 pound 14 ounces, a bit larger than average market size. This snapper is a premium fish and fetches a premium price. Pacific Red Snapper is IUCN rated NE (Not Evaluated) and is not considered threatened.   Details and Cooking.

Silk Snapper   -   [Lutjanus vivanus]
Fresh Fish

This Snapper is found along the coast of the Western Atlantic, from North Carolina to São Paulo, Brazil, but is most common around the Antilles and Bahamas. It can get up to almost 33 inches long and 18 pounds but the photo specimen was 12-3/4 inches and weighed 1 pound 1-7/8 ounces. It looks almost identical to the Pacific Red Snapper but its cooking properties are a little different. There have been reports of ciguatera poisoning from eating this fish from tropical reef environments. Silk Snapper is Red List rated NE (Not Evaluated) but is not considered threatened.   Details and Cooking.

Northern Red Snapper   -   [Lutjanus campechanus]
Fish Drawing

This popular fish is found in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Western Atlantic coast to Massachusetts but is rare above North Carolina. It can grow to 39 inches and 48 pounds. There have been reports of ciguatera poisoning from eating this fish from tropical reef environments. The body of this fish is deeper than the Pacific Red Snapper and the face more tapered to a point. This fish was badly over-fished, but the fishery is now better managed and populations have been recovering. We presume the culinary characteristics of this fish are very similar to its close relative, the Pacific Red Snapper, so refer to Details and Cooking for that fish.   Drawing by U.S. Federal Government (NOAA Fishwatch) = public domain.

Yellowtail Snapper   -   [Ocyurus chrysurus]
Fresh Fish

This true Snapper is found from Massachusetts (rarely) through the Caribbean and along the northeastern coast of South America as far south as northern Brazil. It can get up to nearly 34 inches long and 9 pounds, but is commonly around 16 inches. The photo specimen was 16 inches and weighed 1 pound 6-3/4 ounces. This snapper is a premium fish and fetches a premium price. Yellowtail Snapper is not considered threatened, IUCN Red List rated NE (Not Evaluated). Some fish are now being farmed. There have been reports of ciguatera poisoning from fish caught in a tropical reef environment.   Details and Cooking.

Bluestripe Snapper   -   [Lutjanus kasmira]
Fresh Fish

This true Snapper is native to the Indo-Pacific region, from the east coast of Africa to Hawaii. It can get up to nearly almost 16 inches long and 9 pounds, but is commonly around 10 inches. The photo specimen was 10 inches long and weighed 8-1/4 ounces. This snapper is a premium fish and fetches a premium price, but not as high as some other snappers. Bluestripe Snapper is not considered threatened, IUCN Red List rated NE (Not Evaluated).   Details and Cooking.

Yellow Snapper   -   [Yellow Pargo (Sports fishing); Pargo amarillo, Huachinango (Spanish); Lutjanus argentiventris]
Fresh Fish

This true Snapper is found in the Eastern Pacific, from Southern California (just a little above the Mexican border), south to Peru. It can grow to 28 inches and 28 pounds, but the photo specimen was 18-1/2 inches and weighed 3 pound 8-3/4 ounces. Yellow Snapper is IUCN Red List rated LC (Least Concern). Aquaculture is in experimental stages.

  Details and Cooking.

Lane Snapper   -   [Lutjanus peru]
Fresh Fish This true Snapper is found in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and West Atlantic from North Carolina to southern Brazil. It can grow to 24 and nearly 8 pounds but is commonly around 10 inches. The photo specimen was 13 inches and weighed 14-5/8 ounces. This snapper is less well known than the Pacific Red Snapper so sells at a significantly lower price (in this case US $3.99 vs $6.49). There have been some reports of ciguatera poisoning from eating this fish caught in tropical reef environments. This fish.is IUCN rated NE (Not Evaluated) and is not considered threatened.   Details and Cooking.

Cardinal Snapper   -   [Pristipomoides macrophthalmus?]
Fresh whole Fish

This true Snapper is found all around the Caribbean, from Yucatan along the north coast of South America, off the tip of Florida and along the Caribbean island chain. It can get up to 20 inches long, but the photo specimen was 15-3/4 inches long and weighed 1 pound 15-1/4 ounces, a bit larger than average market size. This snapper is an excellent eating fish, but at my local Philippine fish market it was selling at 2013 US $2.99/pound, while the better known "True Red Snapper" was selling at $6.99/pound. Cardinal Snapper is IUCN rated NE (Not Evaluated) and is not considered threatened.   Details and Cooking.

Southern Red Snapper   -   [Lutjanus purpureus]
Fish Drawing

This snapper is native to the Caribbean to as far south as northern Brazil but doesn't extend north into the Gulf of Mexico. It can grow to about 39 inches 22 pounds. In appearance it is similar to the Northern Red Snapper but has an oval darker spot on the lateral line near the tail, which may fade in maturity. There have been reports of ciguatera poisoning from eating this fish from tropical reef environments Not considered threatened. Drawing by U.S. Federal Government = public domain.

Crimson Snapper   -   [Lutjanus erythropterus]
Fish Drawing

This is what an Australian would probably have in mind as a Red Snapper. This species inhabits the Indo-Pacific region and is both caught wild and farmed. It can grow to 32 inches long but is commonly around 17 inches and farmed fish will be smaller. Not considered threatened.   Drawing by Sir Francis Day, copyright expired.

Jordan's Snapper   -   [Lutjanus jordani]
Fish Drawing
This fish is native from the southern tip of Baja, Mexico down the coast to Peru and the Galapagos Islands. The grow to 23 inches and are commercially fished. Not considered threatened, Red List status LC (Least Concern).   Illustration by G.R.Allen from FAO Species Catalog Vol.6 distributed under license Attribution-NonCommercial v3.0 Unported

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