Identifying Red Snapper:
The Red Snapper found in the Gulf of Mexico is also know as the Northern Red Snapper. They are pink in color. Their color is brighter, closer to a red, on the back, fading to a pale white-ish color on their underside. Their eyes are red. They have sharp little teeth on their bottom jaw and none on the top. They have a spiny dorsal fin with ten spines. The anal fin contains three spines and is shaped kind of like a leaf with a pointed tip.
Juvenile Red Snapper will have a dark spot near the tail. This spot fades with age. After about two years, a Red Snapper reaches sexual maturity. At this point, they are usually 15 inches long. A mature adult is around 24 inches in length.
Red Snapper can be found along rocky ledges, ridges, pots, artificial reefs and drilling rigs in 30 feet to 200 feet of water. They spend most of their lives near the bottom. They school with other fish their size. Their dwelling preferences change as they age.
Their dwelling preferences change as they age. As young hatchlings, they prefer larger areas of open bottoms. To sustain their dietary needs as they grow, juveniles will move into oyster beds. Then, before growing into sexual maturity, the Red Snapper will move to a reef habitat. Older mature fish of the species can spread out into reefs as wells as open areas.
Red Snapper Fun Facts:
- Their lifespan is somewhere between 20 - 50 years, but individual fish of the species have been reported living over 100 years.
- In regard to the water column of offshore oil rigs, younger fish will stay toward the top while older and larger fish can be found deeper in the column.
- Stocking experiments have been conducted successfully when populating artificial reefs.
- Juveniles prefer to feed on and around oyster beds, while an adult's diet is primarily crustaceans and other fish.
- There are many different types of fish that are sold as Red Snapper. The best way to avoid this is to know where your fish comes from.