Lutjanus Campechanus (Northern Red Snapper)

Lutjanus campechanus

Last updated on July 2nd, 2022 at 10:12 pm

Lutjanus campechanus, more commonly known as the Northern red snapper, belongs to the Lutjanidae family of fish, which also includes species such as groupers and sea basses. While generally smaller than most fish in this family, the Northern red snapper can still grow to be up to 24 inches long, depending on its location of residence and food availability.

Lutjanus campechanus makes an excellent choice for anyone looking to add an active, vibrant fish to their home aquarium. However, before you buy one of these beauties, it’s important to do your research and make sure that you have everything you need to properly care for your new addition from the very beginning!

Origin and descriptions

Northern red snappers are found in shallow marine waters, estuaries, bays, and lagoons. These fish tend to favor rocky bottoms and coral reefs; they may be found in groups or alone, at depths of up to 300 feet. They typically reach a length of 18 inches, but have been known to grow as large as 24 inches. The average life span is 50 years.

They can be found all over Mexico’s Pacific coast, from Baja California to Panama’s border with Colombia. The northern red snapper is also sometimes referred to as campeche snapper or red seabream. It is closely related to other species such as roosterfish and mangrove snapper.

Species profile

Lutjanus campechanus

Lutjanus campechanus belong to the family of Lutjanidae. They are commonly known as Northern Red Snappers and are found in tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and the Mediterranean Sea. These fish have a maximum length of 40 inches. They are also called Red Snappers, Bay Snappers, or just Snappers. In Spain, they are referred to as Vermilion Fish.

The flesh is white with pinkish-red color due to the presence of carotenoids which can be seen only when fillets are cooked properly.  This fish has small scales and large eyes. Juveniles are brown-colored on their back while adults turn reddish color on their back. This species spends most of its time near the seafloor but it may swim at depths up to 300 feet below the surface.

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It feeds on crustaceans, mollusks, worms, and other fishes by sucking them into its mouth using its large mouth equipped with sharp teeth. Its diet changes with age from carnivorous to omnivorous as it grows older.


The northern red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, is a large-to-massive saltwater fish that lives in reefs at all depths. This habitat means it can adapt to warm waters, so you can expect to find them in Mexico and parts of Central America and South America.

However, if your aquarium water is not very warm, you may need to purchase a heater to maintain its optimal temperature range. They are also found in offshore waters around islands such as Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other Caribbean islands.

Lutjanus campechanus size

The average size of this snapper is 24 inches (60 cm) in length, but they have a maximum total size of 39 inches (100 cm).

Tank size

Due to their large size, the minimum recommended tank size is 300 gallons (1,136 liters).

Tank requirements

When setting up a tank for lutjanus campechanus, remember that fish are highly sensitive to ammonia and nitrites. Keep your levels below 0.1 ppm if possible. Once you have established a cycled tank, adding them is fairly straightforward.

You can keep them in a fully mature reef system but they need to be kept separate from other snappers as they will fight with each other and other fish. The most important thing to consider when keeping these fish is their diet; it must include plenty of algae-based foods such as spirulina flakes or seaweed sheets.

They also enjoy meaty foods such as shrimp pellets or marine-based flake food so make sure these are included in their diet too.

Lutjanus campechanus tank mates

Snappers can be aggressive and will sometimes target more passive species, so choose your fish wisely. Bottom-dwelling shoaling fish such as Tetras, Dwarf Gouramis, and Glassfish are great tank mates for a Red Snapper. For larger fish with different diets, a good option is to house your Northern Red Snapper with large Cichlids or other predatory fish.

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Several female northern red snappers release their eggs at the same time, while several males release sperm into the water column above the seafloor. This phenomenon is known as broadcast spawning.

As a result, fertilized eggs are less likely to be eaten by predators near the seafloor and are instead carried away by currents.

A northern red snapper reaches sexual maturity at about two years of age, though it is known that older females produce higher-quality eggs.

Juveniles of this species are caught accidentally, in very large numbers, by bottom trawlers targeting other species as they live in the same habitat as commercially valuable and extremely valuable shrimp. Northern red snapper populations are threatened by this activity.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Red Snappers tend to be a bit territorial around their homes, but are not overly aggressive towards other fish. They will display fighting behavior if they are placed in an environment with fish that have very different temperaments. This is more of a warning sign than an attack, as they rarely bite each other during these displays.

Lutjanus campechanus care

Lutjanus campechanus

Keeping Red Snappers happy and healthy is very easy, as long as you keep a few things in mind. Lutjanus campechanus is a great fish for beginners.

These omnivores adapt well to aquarium life and are relatively easy to care for.  They’re also very hardy fish that will eat just about anything you offer them. Here’s how to keep your Northern red snapper healthy and happy.

Lutjanus campechanus diet

The diet of lutjanus campechanus is omnivorous, which means they eat both plants and animals. They are primarily carnivores, but they will also consume plant matter when they can get it. To keep your fish in top shape, feed a quality balanced diet with plenty of protein and live food whenever possible.

When raising your own, be sure to have shrimp or a similar treat on hand for special occasions. If you want to make your own, frozen baby brine shrimp work great! Just thaw them out before feeding.

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Lutjanus campechanus lifespan

Lutjanus campechanus live a very long life, they have been known to live as long as 50 years.

Parasites and diseases

Most Lutjanus campechanus fish available in stores are wild-caught, so they may be exposed to various external parasites. You should immediately quarantine them for a few weeks to make sure they are healthy and free of diseases. Parasites can be treated with aquarium salt and freshwater dips. If you notice any lesions or white spots on your fish, it could indicate an infection caused by bacteria or fungi that can also be treated with antibiotics.

Northern red snapper facts

Lutjanus campechanus

We’ve compiled some unique facts about the northern red snapper that you can share with your family during your next family gathering.

  • Their territoriality makes them rarely stray from their chosen area, unless a hurricane blows through.
  • Ideally, their water temperature should be between 50 and 70 degrees F. As a result, you are unlikely to find a Northern red snapper north of the Carolinas.
  • Due to their need for buoyancy, newly hatched northern red snappers stay near the surface of the water.
  • They’re prize fish in sports fishing, and they have a nutty flavor.

From an ecological and human perspective, the northern red snapper is an important species. As well as providing food and income for people who live near coastal waters, they also help keep other fish species in check.