Snappers are found in the family Lutjanidae in the order Perciformes. Fishbase currently lists over 100 species divided into 17 genera. It should be noted that quite a few fishes have the word “snapper” in their common name without being a part of the family Lutjanidae. Several snappers, including the Red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus), are appreciated as food fish.

Snappers in the aquarium

Before you get a snapper for your aquarium it is very important to find out its maximal size because snappers can grow really fast and the largest species can reach a length of 100 cm (3.3 feet). The aquarium must be large enough for the snapper to swim around in and must include suitable hiding space. Provide your snapper with at least one cave. Since the snapper produces quite a lot of waste products, powerful filtration is recommended. It is also important to keep the oxygen level up in the aquarium when keeping snappers.

This is just a few examples of snappers that have been successfully kept by aquarists: 

Lutjanus jocuc - Dog Snapper
Lutjanus mahogoni - Mahogany Snapper
Lutjanus sebae - Emperor Snapper
Ocyurus chrysurus - Yellow-tailed snapper
Symphorus nematophorus - Blue-Lined Snapper
Symphorichthys spilurus - Majestic Snapper

A few species in the family Lutjanidae can live in both marine and brackish conditions, and some will even tolerate hard, alkaline freshwater. Two examples of such species are the Schoolmaster Snapper (Lutjanus apodus) and the Mangrove Snapper (Lutjanus argentimaculatus). These two should ideally be kept in a brackish aquarium. There are also freshwater snappers, such as the Freshwater snapper (Lutjanus fuscescens) and the Pygmy snapper (Lutjanus maxweberi). (The Pygmy snapper is also found in brackish environments.) 

Geographical range, habitat and habits

Snappers inhabit tropical and subtropical parts of the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. They are generally demersal (i.e. they live on or near the bottom) and have been found down to a depth of 450 meters (1475 feet). As mentioned above, some species live in freshwater and/or brackish environments. Some species will venture into freshwater only to feed.

Feeding snappers

A majority of the snappers feed chiefly on crustaceans and fish, but there are also quite a few planktivore species.

Getting a snapper to eat in the aquarium is usually not very tricky, but they can refrain from eating for a while after being moved to a new aquarium. It is important to provide your snappers with a varied diet, e.g. fish, crustaceans, squid, shellfish etcetera.

Snapper Articles:

Bluelined Snapper – Lutjanus kasmira


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