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Commonly Asked Questions

Appears in Georgia Aquarium's:
  • Ocean Voyager

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the Western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Bermuda, southward to Brazil, including the West Indies, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. 
  • Primarily found in subtropical areas in marine, estuarine and fresh water at depths ranging from about 16 to 590 feet (5 - 180 m). Juvenile usually seen closer to shore than adult.
  • Inhabits coastal as well as offshore waters around coral reefs, rocky areas, estuaries, mangrove areas and, sometimes, in the lower reaches of rivers (especially the young).
  • Juvenile usually associates with Thalassia seagrass beds, mangrove roots, jetties     and pilings.  

Physical Characteristics

  • Variable in color from gray to coppery to reddish, often with a dark stripe through the eye.
  • Can reach 30 inches (76 cm) in total length. The largest individual caught weighed about 18 lbs. (8.2 kg). However, it rarely exceeds 8 lbs. (3.6 kg).
  • Juvenile has a dark stripe from snout through the eye to the upper operculum and a blue stripe on the cheek below the eye.

Diet / Feeding

  • Feeds at night on small fishes, shrimp, crabs, gastropods and some planktonic items.

Reproduction / Growth

  • Forms large aggregations when spawning.
  • Spawning occurs in open water from June to October. Individuals may spawn more than once per season. The pelagic eggs hatch in about 20 hours.

Conservation Status

  • “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Considered a good food fish and is exploited commercially and as a game fish, especially in Florida, where it is often called a “mangrove snapper."


Peterson Field Guides – Atlantic Coast Fishes. Robins, C.R. and Ray, G. C., pg. 172
Coral Reef Fishes. Lieske, E. and Myers, R., pg.156