"Snapper fish" is a general term for fish from the family Lutjanidae and mostly from the genus Lutjanus, found in coastal tropical locations. They are common game fish, which are caught by private fishermen and commercial fishing organizations alike, harvested for food and sport. They travel in schools and are identified by their distinct coloring, long bodies, blunt or forked tails as well as their large mouths with sharp teeth.
Snapper Fish Species
More than 100 species of snappers exist throughout the world, in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The most common species of snapper found in North American waters include:
- the Blackfin
Snappers are found in tropical waters sometimes in rocky areas or near coral reefs. Some species like the popular Red snapper prefers reef and rocky bottom habitats over smoother bottom locations. By contrast the Yellowtail snapper, which is found in the same geographic region as the Red, lives in deeper, sand-covered locales. Its young prefer the deeper, rockier areas.
Snappers are carnivorous fish. The young often begin feeding on plankton but soon grow into hunters. Their primary diet consists of crustaceans, mollusks and smaller fishes. Their hunting locations near rocky areas and coral reefs offer a variety of food sources for the various species.
Like many fish in the sea, snappers become the prey of larger fish in their respective habitats. Larger predatory fish like sharks and barracuda prey on the relatively smaller snapper. The snappers' larvae and young are also targets of smaller predatory fish until they become large predators themselves.
Food for Humans
In addition to sharks and other predatory fish, humans consume large amounts of snappers throughout the world. In North America the Red snapper is a common entree at the seafood table. In fact, more than 8 million pounds of Red snapper are caught each year from American waters.
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