Lutjanus Jocu – Dogtooth Snapper Fish

lutjanus jocu

Last updated on August 21st, 2022 at 10:45 am

The lutjanus jocu, also known as the dogtooth snapper fish, dog snapper, dog tooth snapper fish, pargue, or snuggletooth snapper, is native to the Indo-Pacific area and can be found in coral reefs at depths of up to 300 feet below sea level. There are several different species of the lutjanus jocu, with the yellowtail snapper being one of the most well-known ones. The yellowtail snapper usually has black spots on its gill cover and its pectoral fins. It also has distinctively light-colored fins.

Dogtooth snapper fish are large reef fish that inhabit the waters of the Indo-Pacific region, from the Red Sea and East Africa to Hawaii and the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. The family Lutjanus is distinguished by two bony canine teeth located just in front of their mouth, which earned them their name. Despite this distinct characteristic, dogtooth snapper can be easily confused with other types of snapper fish, including the mangrove snapper and red snapper.

What is dog snapper fish?

A dog snapper fish is a species of snapper that live in coral reefs. They are known as dog snappers because of their large, sharp canine teeth. There are four lutjanidae family members, but they can be found in all tropical waters around the world except for Antarctica.

Origin and descriptions

lutjanus jocu

Originally hailing from Australia, as well as many Pacific islands including Indonesia and Fiji, lutjanus jocu (the dogtooth snapper fish) is one of many species of snappers that are often eaten. They have many names depending on where they’re caught, which include Australian red grouper, coral cod, New Guinea coral grouper. Lutjanus jocu is prized for its meaty and firm texture.

It is one of the most common reef fish found in the warmer waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. While they may not be as colorful or large as other fish, they are just as interesting and make great aquarium pets.

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Species profile

Well, Lutjanus jocu is a part of the Lutjanidae family, which contains more than 130 species of snappers. These fish inhabit both fresh and saltwater environments across tropical regions. Despite their size (they can reach up to 50 inches in length), they are carnivorous predators that feed on mollusks, crustaceans, and smaller fish.

They are found in tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and the Red Sea. The dogtooth snapper fish is a large species of sea bass which belongs to Lutjanus genus. It has a long body with an oval shape and a forked tail fin. These fishes have bony plates called scutes on their skin which protect them from predators.

It also helps them survive in rough conditions like strong currents or attacks by other larger fishes. There are many different species of dogtooth snapper fish that live all over the world but they share some common characteristics such as dark brown or black coloration on their back and silvery-white coloration on their underside. Their mouth is small and curved upwards which makes it easy for them to catch prey such as squid, small crustaceans, worms, and smaller fishes.

Common names

Lutjanus jocu are known by many other names, some of which are dogtooth snapper fish, dog snapper, dog tooth snapper fish, pargue, or snuggletooth snapper.


Lutjanus jocu is found in tropical, marine waters of lagoons and reef areas of both the eastern and western Pacific Oceans, including Hawaii. It is also commonly spotted near Papua New Guinea and northern Australia. The dogtooth snapper fish can be easily identified by its long, narrow body and smallmouth with large canine-like teeth.


This snapper fish can attain a maximum size of 50 inches (128 cm) in length and weighs 9.1 kg (20 pounds), although, sexual maturity is reached at around 12-16 inches (30-40 cm). The maximum recorded weight is 28.6 kg (63 pounds).

Tank size

Due to their big size, the minimum recommended tank size for lutjanus jocu is 300 gallons (1,136 liters)

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Tank requirements

A tank should be set up with plenty of hiding places to help shy dog snapper fish feel safe. These fish are nocturnal and tend to sleep in caves during daylight hours, making them ideal candidates for a planted aquarium, because they will spend most of their time under rocks and wood. Most dog snapper fish prefer hard water with temperatures around 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

For survival, PH levels should lie between 8.1 and 8.4 – a slightly alkaline range. Water hardness of between 8 and 12 is ideal.

They do not require strong filtration but do need weekly partial water changes.  Tankmates must be chosen carefully, as dog snapper fish have been known to nip at larger tankmates.

Tank mates

In the wild, Lutjanus jocu, the dog snapper, is a solitary creature who lives in secluded parts of coral reefs. On the other hand, they are typically placed in huge tanks with their school of fish in aquariums.

Dog snappers can be kept in pairs and small groups, with caution, this is because they are aggressive towards tank mates that get in their way. Dog snappers do best when housed with other dog snappers of similar size, but can also be kept in a community aquarium.

Some other good tank mates are wrasses, tangs, goatfish, and butterflyfish. They can be housed with invertebrates such as sea urchins and starfish, but care should be taken to ensure that these animals aren’t eaten. Dog snappers will also eat crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp.

Avoid housing them with other fish that have long fins or protruding eyes (such as angelfish) because they will become a target for bullying.


lutjanus jocu - lutjanus jocu

The spawning season of the lutjanus jocu occurs in March, primarily near Jamaica and the northern Caribbean. The eggs and sperm of snapper fish are laid in their habitat range. Snapper fish are fecund fishes, which means that they lay eggs in large quantities, sometimes thousands of eggs.

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The larvae are dispersed by ocean currents. Little is known about the larval development of these fish. Juveniles have reddish or brownish coloration with yellow fins. Until they become adults, juveniles prefer coral reefs or rocky bottoms.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Lutjanus jocu are naturally very aggressive fish, but will generally only attack humans if provoked. Be careful with your hands and fingers around this snapper, and be especially careful when you are removing them from nets. They are equipped with several long sharp spines on their dorsal fins that can give a very nasty wound if they decide to use them as weapons.

Lutjanus jocu care

lutjanus jocu

When caring for your fish, you’ll want to make sure they have plenty of rockwork and hiding places. You can even create caves by hollowing out some live rock, but be sure to provide a lot of surface area and holes so that your fish’s gills don’t get clogged up with detritus. These fish are also very shy, so it is important to keep an eye on them at all times. If they feel threatened or scared, they will quickly dart into their hiding place—and if something blocks their way in or out of that spot, it could be disastrous!

What they eat

Lutjanus jocu are primarily carnivorous and live in coastal waters, where they can be found at depths of up to 100 meters. These fish feed on a variety of small creatures like shrimp, squid, bony fish, and crabs. When food is scarce, they have also been known to consume larger prey such as other kinds of fish. On average, Lutjanus jocu can eat about 70% of their body weight in food each day.


Depending on the region, Lutjanus jocu, has a shorter or longer lifespan. For instance, the Cuban dog snapper lives for around 9-16 years. In Brazil, the fish can live up to 20-29 years. It is an extremely hardy species of fish.

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Parasites and diseases

Parasites are fairly common on Lutjanus jocu, and a number of diseases can also take out your pet fish. Keep an eye out for scales that come off easily; inflamed gills; white dots around the fish’s anus or mouth; and erratic swimming. If you see anything like these symptoms, visit your vet before it’s too late!


Sharks and groupers hunt dog snappers as adults, and smaller fish are eaten by a variety of marine animals.

Are they poisonous?

Despite their commercial importance, these fish are notorious for causing ciguatera poisoning. Therefore, they are poisonous but not dangerous. Ciguatera is a toxin produced by dinoflagellates. Fishes with herbivorous diets consume all these algae that grow on dead corals, which in turn are consumed by snapper fishes.

It can cause poisoning in humans if these toxins accumulate in the body of the dog snapper and are passed on to the consumer. In addition to causing illnesses, it can cause weakness of the limbs as well as stomach discomfort. Ciguatera poisoning may cause unpleasant symptoms that last for a few days, and it is rare to find any other severity associated with it.

Do they make good pets?

If you’re a hobbyist looking for something new to explore, you may have wondered if dogtooth snappers make good pets. While they do make wonderful fish, they can be very difficult to work with in a home aquarium environment.

In captivity, dog snappers grow to considerable sizes and live with a large school of fish. Because of their size and the grouping requirements, house aquariums are not the best option for them. They are not for beginner aquarists.