Yellowtail snappers are recognizable by the bright yellow stripe running from the tip of their snout to their bright yellow and deeply forked tail fin.
  • Size

    Up to 30 inches (76 cm)
  • Diet

    Plankton, crustaceans, fish
  • Range

    Western Atlantic Ocean
  • Habitat

    Sandy areas near deep reefs

Physical Characteristics

  • Maximum length of 30 inches (76 cm); maximum weight of 5 lbs. (2.3 kg).
  • Recognizable by the prominent bright yellow stripe running from the tip of the snout to the bright yellow and deeply forked caudal fin.
  • The head is relatively small and the lower jaw projects slightly beyond the upper jaw.
  • Lacks the dark lateral spot characteristic of many other snapper species.
  • Coloration is olive to a bluish-black with yellow spots on the upper sides. The 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 white.


Animal Fact

The yellowtail snapper species name, chrysurus, is derived from the Greek "chryso," which is translated as “golden.”

Diet / Feeding

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

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the Western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Bermuda and 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 seagrass beds as nurseries which offer protection from predation while they mature.

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  substrate that offers protection from predators.
  • Sexual maturity occurs at lengths of 10-12 inches (25-30.5 cm).

Conservation Status

  • “Data Deficient” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Feeds 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.
  • The species’ name is derived from the Greek “chryso,” which is translated as “golden.”
  • Life expectancy is 6-14 years.


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