The red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, is a fish found in the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States and, much less commonly, northward as far as Massachusetts. In Latin American Spanish it is known as huachinango or pargo. The red snapper commonly inhabits waters thirty to two hundred feet deep, but some are reported to be caught at three hundred feet deep. All feature a sloped profile, medium-to-large scales, a spiny dorsal fin and a laterally compressed body. The maximum published age of a caught red snapper was reported to be fifty-seven years old. Coloration of the red snapper is light red, with more intense pigment on the back. A red snapper attains sexual maturity at 2â€“5 years old. An adult snapper can live for more than 50 years and weigh 50 pounds. Red snapper are a prized food fish, caught commercially, as well as recreationally. Red snapper is the most commonly caught snapper in the continental USA (almost 50% of the total catch), with similar species being more common elsewhere. When “red snapper” is sold in restaurants, it may be one of similar snapper species or rockfish in order to meet demand or reduce costs.
Red Snapper from the Gulf of Mexico, about 20 miles south of Port Fourchon, LA, USA
The 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. Red snappers have short, sharp, needle-like teeth, however they lack the prominent upper canine teeth found on the mutton, dog, and mangrove snappers.
The red snapper reaches maturity at a length of about 39 cm. The common adult length is 60 cm but may reach 100 cm. The maximum published weight is 22.8 kg, and the oldest reported age is 57 years.
Coloration of the red snapper is light red, with more intense pigment on the back. It has 10 dorsal spines, 14 soft dorsal rays, 3 anal spines and 8-9 anal soft rays. Juvenile fish (shorter than 30-35 cm) can also have a dark spot on their side, below the anterior soft dorsal rays, which fades with age.
The red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, is a fish found in the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States and much less commonly northward as far as Massachusetts. In Latin American Spanish it is known as huachinango or pargo.
The red snapper commonly inhabits waters from 30â€“200 feet (9.1â€“61 m), but can be caught as deep as 300Â ft (91Â m) on occasion. They stay relatively close to the bottom, and inhabit rocky bottom, ledges, ridges, and artificial reefs, including offshore oil rigs and shipwrecks. Like most other snappers, red snappers are gregarious and will form large schools around wrecks and reefs. These schools are usually made up of fish of very similar size.
The preferred habitat of red snapper changes as it grows and matures due to increased need for cover and changing food habits.  Newly hatched red snapper spread out over large areas of open benthic habitat, then move to low-relief habitats, such as oyster beds. As they near one year of age, they move to intermediate-relief habitats as the previous year’s fish move on to high relief reefs with room for more individuals. Around artificial reefs such as oil platforms, smaller fish spend time in the upper part of the water column while more mature (and larger) adults live in deeper areas. These larger fish do not allow smaller individuals to share this territory. The largest red snapper spread out over open habitats as well as reefs.