The northern red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) is a species of snapper native to the western Atlantic Ocean including the Gulf of Mexico, where it inhabits environments associated with reefs. This species is commercially important and is also sought-after as a game fish.
The northern red snapper’s body is very similar in shape to other snappers, such as the mangrove snapper, mutton snapper, lane snapper, and dog snapper. All feature a sloped profile, medium-to-large scales, a spiny dorsal fin, and a laterally compressed body. Northern red snapper have short, sharp, needle-like teeth, but they lack the prominent upper canine teeth found on the mutton, dog, and mangrove snappers.
This snapper reaches maturity at a length of about 15 in (39 cm). The common adult length is 24 in (60 cm) but may reach 39 in (100 cm). The maximum published weight is 84 lb (38 kg), and the oldest reported age is 100+ years.
Coloration of the northern red snapper is light red, with more intense pigment on the back. It has 10 dorsal spines, 14 soft dorsal rays, three anal spines and eight to 9 anal soft rays. Juvenile fish can also have a dark spot on their sides, below the anterior soft dorsal rays, which fades with age.
Northern red snapper are a prized food fish, caught commercially, as well as recreationally.