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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 and south to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Most common in the Bahamas, off the coast of southern Florida and in the Caribbean.
  • Found in sandy areas near deep reefs at depths of 32 to 230 feet (10-70 m). Small adults tend to congregate over hard bottom habitats.
  • Once established, adults tend to remain in the same area for long periods of time; usually seen well above the substrate, swimming in small groups.
  • Juveniles utilize inshore sea grass beds as nurseries which offer protection from predation while they mature.

Physical Characteristics

  • Coloration is olive to bluish back with yellow spots on the upper sides. Lower sides and belly are whitish with narrow reddish and yellow stripes; the dorsal and caudal fins are yellow; the anal and pelvic fins are whitish.
  • Recognizable by the prominent bright yellow stripe running from the tip of the snout to the bright yellow and deeply forked caudal fin.
  • Maximum length of 30 inches (75 cm); maximum weight of 5 lbs. (2.3 kg).
  • Head is relatively small; lower jaw projects slightly beyond the upper jaw.
  • Lacks the dark lateral spot characteristic of many other snapper species.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of a combination of plankton and benthic animals including crustaceans, gastropods, cephalopods, worms and fishes.
  • Juveniles feed primarily on plankton.

Reproduction / Growth

  • Spawning occurs throughout the year, with peaks at different times depending on geographic area. 
  • Females release spherical eggs into open water; eggs contain an oil droplet, which provides buoyancy. Eggs hatch within 24 hours; larvae eventually settle out of the plankton onto a suitable substrate that offers protection from predators.
  • Sexual maturity occurs at lengths of 10 to 12 inches (25-30 cm.)

Conservation Status

  • “Not Evaluated” on the IUCN Red List. 

Additional Information

  • Feed primarily at night.
  • Natural predators include sharks and other large predatory fishes, including barracuda, mackerel and grouper in addition to other snapper species. Larvae and juveniles face a wide array of predators.
  • Species name is derived from the Greek "chryso," which is translated as “golden.”
  • Life expectancy is 6 to 14 years.

Peterson Field Guides, Atlantic Coast Fishes. Robinson, C.R., Carleton, R.G., Douglas, J., pg. 173.