Snappers (Lutjaninae)


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Snappers are found in tropical and subtropical waters of all oceans. They are excellent food fish. Some species of snappers can grow to about a meter in length. They are predatory fish with sharp, conical teeth and often with canine teeth. Snappers get their name from their tendency to snap or bite swiftly at food. Most of snappers will run with the food before eating it.

Most snappers form large schools that swim close to the bottom over reef or rocky ground. Certain species of snapper sometimes foray into freshwater in search of food. Snapper commonly feeds on fishes, crustaceans and molluscs, particularly squids. Some species also eat plankton.

There are about 110 species of snappers that make up the Lutjanidae family worldwide. The Lutjanidae family are further break down into 4 subfamily which are the Lutjaninae, Etelinae, Apsilinae and Paradicichthyinae. There are 77 species under Lutjaninae which are the typical snappers, 19 species under Etelinae that are sometimes referred to as jobfishes, 12 species under Apsilinae that have a close resemblance to the fusiliers and 2 species under Paradicichthyinae that have long anterior dorsal soft ray.

Malaysia is represented by 10 genera and about 49 species of snappers. There are 33 species under Lutjaninae, 11 species under Etelinae, 3 species under Apsilinae and 2 species under Paradicichthyinae. This page shows the Lutjaninae.


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Scientific Name: Lutjanus argentimaculatus  (Forsskål, 1775)
English Name: Mangrove Jack, Mangrove Red Snapper
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 赤鰽 (Chì qiú), 红家定 (Hóng jiā dìng)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Merah, Ikan Kambing, Kakap Merah, Siakap Merah
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงสีเลือด (Plā kaphng s̄ī leụ̄xd), ปลากะพงแดงป่าชายเลน (Plā kaphng dæng p̀āchāylen)
Local Hokkien: Ciak Zho
Local Cantonese Name: Hung Yau (紅𩵼)
Main Identification Features: Large canine teeth. Truncated caudal fin. Back and sides greenish brown to reddish. Belly silvery or whitish. Specimens from deep water frequently overall reddish. Juveniles with a series of about 8 whitish bars crossing sides, and 1 or 2 blue lines across cheek.
Size: Maximum total length about 120 cm, commonly to 80 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Estuaries to deep reefs, to 120 m depth. Juveniles and young adults are found in mangrove estuaries to the lower reaches of freshwater streams. Adults are often found in groups around coral reefs that eventually migrate offshore to deeper reef areas. Nocturnal, feed mostly on fishes and crustaceans.





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Scientific Name: Lutjanus boutton  (Lacepède, 1802)
English Name: Button Snapper, Moluccan Snapper
Local Malay Name: Ikan Merah, Merah Maluku
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพง (Plā kaphng)
Main Identification Features: Head and breast dusky reddish brown. Back salmon pink and lower half of side metallic yellow.
Size: Maximum total length about 30 cm, commonly to 20 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Juveniles inhabit shallow algae reef while adults inhabit coral reefs, 3 to 50 m depth. Adults often seen in schools of 20 to 30 individuals, close to the bottom during the day. Feed on fishes, shrimps, crabs, other crustaceans, cephalopods and some planktonic items.






Scientific Name: Lutjanus carponotatus  (Richardson, 1842)
English Name: Spanish Flag Snapper
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 赤笔仔 (Chì bǐ zǐ)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Timun
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงข้างทอง (Plā kaphng k̄ĥāng thxng), ปลากะพงแถบเหลืองทอง (Plā kaphng t̄hæb h̄elụ̄xng thxng)
Local Hokkien: Tee Boon
Main Identification Features: A series of 8 or 9 yellowish to brownish stripes on sides. A distinct black spot at base of pectoral fin.
Size: Maximum total length about 40 cm, commonly to 30 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral reefs, 2 to 80 m depth. Adults occur in schools of 15 to 40 individuals. Feed on fishes, crustaceans and cephalopods.








Scientific Name: Lutjanus ehrenbergii  (Peters, 1869)
English Name: Blackspot Snapper, Ehrenberg's Snapper
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 火点 (Huǒ diǎn)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Timun Tanda, Kunyit Tanda, Kunyit Tompok
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพง (Plā kaphng)
Main Identification Features: A prominent round, black spot on back below posterior part of spinous portion of dorsal fin. Scale rows on back parallel to lateral line.
Size: Maximum total length of about 35 cm, commonly to 20 cm. Matures at about 12 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral reefs and estuaries, 1 to 20 m depth. Often occur in large schools. Feed on fishes and crustaceans.






Scientific Name: Lutjanus erythropterus  Bloch, 1790
English Name: Crimson Snapper
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 红鸡 (Hóng jī)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Merah, Merah Pucat
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงแดงเล็ก (Plā kaphng dæng lĕk), ปลากะพงสันหางปาน (Plā kaphng s̄ạn h̄āng pān)
Local Hokkien: Ang Koi
Main Identification Features: Dorsal profile of head sloped and mouth relatively small. Overall body including fins pink or red in colour. Dark to black margin on soft dorsal, anal and caudal fins.
Size: Maximum total length about 60 cm, commonly to 45 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral and rocky reefs, to 100 m depth. Usually occur in groups. Mostly feed at night for fishes and smaller amounts of crustaceans, cephalopods and other benthic invertebrates.






Scientific Name: Lutjanus fulviflamma  (Forsskål, 1775)
English Name: Dory Snapper, Blackspot Snapper
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 火点 (Huǒ diǎn)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Kunyit Dori, Kunyit Tanda, Kunyit Tompok
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงเหลืองข้างปาน (Plā kaphng h̄elụ̄xng k̄ĥāng pān)
Main Identification Features: A black spot on upper side situated mostly below lateral line or bisected by it. A series of 6 or 7 yellow stripes on sides. Scale rows on back rising obliquely above lateral line.
Size: Maximum total length of about 35 cm, commonly to 25 cm. Matures at about 20 to 25 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral reefs, 0.5 to 35 m depth. Usually in schools and with other small snapper species. Juveniles sometimes found in brackish water or mangrove estuaries or in the lower reaches of fresh-water streams. Feeds mainly on fishes, shrimps, crabs, and other crustaceans. Those in the 9 to 12 cm total length range fed exclusively on crustaceans, while those in the 27-30 cm range preferred fishes. Feeds primarily during twilight.






Scientific Name: Lutjanus gibbus  (Forsskål, 1775)
English Name: Humpback Red Snapper, Paddletail
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 红鸡 (Hóng jī), 紅魚 (Hóng yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Merah, Jenahak, Merah Barahan
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงแดงหางมน (Plā kaphng dæng h̄āng mun)
Main Identification Features: Concave head profile. Caudal fin distinctly forked with rounded lobes. Soft part of dorsal fin, anal and caudal fins with a narrow white margin. An orange hue on lower part of opercle and in pectoral fin axil.
Size: Maximum total length about 50 cm, commonly to 35 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral reefs, 1 to 150 m depth, usually 6 to 30 m depth. Sometimes forming large aggregations, which are mostly stationary during daylight hours. Large individuals are found along coastal slopes at moderate depths. Feeds at night on shrimps, crabs, lobsters, stomatopods, worms, octopuses, gastropods, sea urchins, sand dollars and small fishes. Spawns at night during the full moon.






Scientific Name: Lutjanus indicus  Allen, White & Erdmann, 2013
English Name: Snapper
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 紅鰽痣(Hóng qiú zhì), 红皂记 (Hóng zào jì)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Tanda
Local Hokkien: Ang Zho Kee, Orr Tiam
Local Teochew: Ang Zhor Kee
Main Identification Features: Scale rows above lateral line rising obliquely toward dorsal profile. Caudal fin truncate. Body colour pale grey, grading to silvery white on cheek, opercle, and lower side of body with series of 7 dark brown to yellow stripes on posterior head and side. Prominent black spot on the back. Small brown spot at base of uppermost pectoral-fin ray.
Size: Maximum standard length 29.6 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral reefs, 5 to 50 m depth, generally found at 5 to 15 m depth. Occurs solitary or in small groups.
Remarks: Prior to 2013 the species was thought to be juvenile of L. Russelli.






Scientific Name: Lutjanus johnii  (Bloch, 1792)
English Name: John’s Snapper, Golden Snapper
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 紅鰽(Hóng qiú), 红皂 (Hóng zào), 红潮 (Hóng cháo)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Jenahak, Ungah
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงข้างปาน (Plā kaphng k̄ĥāng pān), ปลากะพงแดง (Plā kaphng dæng), ปลากะพงทอง (Plā kaphng thong)
Local Hokkien: Ang Zho
Local Teochew: Ang Zhor
Local Cantonese: Hong Lap, Ngaa Dim
Main Identification Features: Centre of each scale often with a reddish brown spot, giving an overall appearance of series of horizontal lines on side of body. Mostly with a round black spot on back.
Size: Maximum total length about 70 cm, commonly to 50 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral and rocky reefs and estuaries, to 80 m depth. Juveniles inhabit mangrove estuaries, maily feeding on crustacean. They migrate to coastal and offshore reefs as they mature. Adults are abundant over deep reefs than over shallow reefs. At night they will move inshore to feed. Adults feed on fishes and benthic invertebrates including shrimps, crabs and cephalopods.



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Scientific Name: Lutjanus lemniscatus  (Valenciennes, 1828)
English Name: Yellow Streaked Snapper, Darktail Snapper, Dark-tailed Sea Perch
Local Malay Name: Ikan Merah, Kunyit, Jenahak Jalur Kuning
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงน้ำตาลแดง (Plā kaphng n̂ảtāl dæng)
Main Identification Features: Body colour olive and without black spot. Orange spots on cheek. Irregular thin brown-yellowish stripes along body. Fins reddish with darker margin for caudal and dorsal fins. Dorsal fin tip white.
Size: Maximum total length about 65 cm, commonly to 35 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral and rocky reefs, to 110 m depth, most commonly at 70 to 80 m depth. Occur solitary or in small groups. Feed on fishes and a variety of benthic invertebrates. Juveniles sometimes encountered in the vicinity of coral reefs close to the shore.






Scientific Name: Lutjanus lutjanus  Bloch, 1790
English Name: Bigeye Snapper
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 黄笛鲷 (Huáng dí diāo)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Kunyit, Remong, Kunyit-kunyit
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงข้างเหลือง (Plā kaphng k̄ĥāng h̄elụ̄xng)
Local Hokkien: Kee Hu, Chiew Heiok
Main Identification Features: A broad yellow to brownish stripe from eye to caudal-fin base. A series of yellow horizontal lines on lower half of body. Yellow oblique lines above lateral line. Fins pale yellow to whitish. Often difficult to differentiate L. madras, L. xanthopinnis and L. lutjanus. The space between the eye and upper jaw is smaller for L. lutjanus compared to the other 2 species.
Size: Maximum total length about 30 cm, commonly to 20 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral reefs, 1 to 96 m depth. Frequently encountered in large schools of more than 100 individuals and with other small snapper species. Feed on fishes and crustaceans.








Scientific Name: Lutjanus madras  (Valenciennes, 1831)
English Name: Indian Snapper
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 前鳞笛鲷 (Qián lín dí diāo)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Kunyit, Remong, Kunyit Madras
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงเหลือง (Plā kaphng h̄elụ̄xng)
Local Hokkien: Kee Hu, Chiew Heiok
Main Identification Features: A broad brownish stripe from eye to caudal-fin base. A series of brownish horizontal lines on lower half of body. Brownish oblique lines above lateral line. Fins pale yellow to whitish. Often difficult to differentiate L. madras, L. xanthopinnis and L. lutjanus. The space between the eye and upper jaw is smaller for L. lutjanus. L. madras has no scales on the preopercular flange while L. xanthopinnis have several embedded scales on the preopercular flange. L. madras has a rounded posterior nostril while L. xanthopinnis has an elliptical posterior nostril. L. madras predorsal scales extends to about the level of the posterior edge of the orbit while L. xanthopinnis predorsal scales extends further to about the middle of the interorbital space.
Size: Maximum total length about 30 cm, commonly to 20 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral and rocky reefs, 5 to 90 m depth. Form small to large aggregations. Feed during day time.
Remarks: Prior to 2015, L. xanthopinnis was thought to be L. madras.








Scientific Name: Lutjanus malabaricus  (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)
English Name: Malabar Blood Snapper
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 红鱼 (Hóng yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Merah Tanda Hitam, Merah, Merah Mata Hitam
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงแดง (Plā kaphng dæng), ปลากะพงแดงสั้นหางปาน (Plā kaphng dæng s̄ận h̄āng pān)
Main Identification Features: Snout profile straight or slightly concave. Large mouth. Back and sides red or red-orange, lighter on lower parts. Fins reddish. Juveniles with a broad, oblique band of brown or black from upper jaw to beginning of dorsal fin, and a prominent black band across caudal peduncle with a pearly white anterior border. No black to dark-greenish spot at base of pectoral fin.
Size: Maximum total length about 100 cm, commonly to 50 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral and rocky reefs, 10 to 140 m depth. Juveniles tend to inhabit shallow inshore waters and seagrass beds while adults live in deeper waters. Frequently forms mixed shoals with L. erythropterus. Forages at night and feeds mainly on fish and small amounts of benthic crustaceans, cephalopods and other benthic invertebrates.





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Scientific Name: Lutjanus quinquelineatus  (Bloch, 1790)
English Name: Five-lined Snapper, Blue-banded Sea-perch
Local Malay Name: Ikan Kunyit, Remong, Tanda Jalur, Kunyit Lima Garis
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงเหลืองห้าเส้น (Plā kaphng h̄elụ̄xng h̄̂ā s̄ên), ปลากะพงแถบน้ำเงิน (Plā kaphng t̄hæb n̂ảngein)
Local Hokkien: Kee Hu
Main Identification Features: A round black spot, about the size of the eye or larger. A series of blue stripes on the side.
Size: Maximum total length about 38 cm, commonly to 30 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral reefs, to 40 m depth. Juveniles are solitary and inhabit shallow areas in protected bays with algae and rubble substrates. Frequently encountered in large aggregations including 100 or more individuals. Feed mainly on fishes and crustaceans.






Scientific Name: Lutjanus rivulatus  (Cuvier, 1828)
English Name: Blubberlip Snapper
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 海底鸡 (Hǎi dǐ jī), 海鸡母 (Hǎi jī mǔ)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Jenahak Konai
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงจุดขาว (Plā kaphng cud k̄hāw), ปลากะพงหน้าลาย (Plā kaphng h̄n̂ā lāy)
Main Identification Features: Body brown with a reddish tinge. Lips greatly thickened in adults. Head with numerous undulating blue lines. Scale on side with a pale brown border and small bluish white spots.
Size: Maximum total length about 65 cm, commonly to 35 cm. Matures at about 50 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral reefs, to 100 m depth. Adults are found on deep coastal slopes, juveniles on shallow algae-reef flats, often near freshwater run-offs. Found solitarily or in small groups of up to 15 to 20 fish. Feed on fishes, cephalopods and benthic crustaceans.






Scientific Name: Lutjanus russelli  (Bleeker, 1849)
English Name: Russel’s Snapper
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 紅鰽痣(Hóng qiú zhì), 红皂记 (Hóng zào jì)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Tanda
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงแดงข้างปาน (Plā kaphng dæng k̄ĥāng pān)
Local Hokkien: Ang Zho Kee, Orr Tiam
Local Teochew: Ang Zhor Kee
Main Identification Features: Back and upper side brownish. Lower sides and belly pink to whitish with a silvery sheen. A black spot below anterior rays of soft dorsal fin. A distinct black spot at base of pectoral fin. Juveniles from the western Pacific whitish with four black stripes on sides.
Size: Maximum total length about 45 cm, commonly to 30 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral and rocky reefs, to 80 m depth. Juveniles frequent brackish mangrove estuaries and lower reaches of fresh-water streams. Adults can be found on clear outer reefs usually over 20 m depth. Large adults are caught offshore in depths to about 70 to 80 m. Feed on benthic invertebrates and fishes.






Scientific Name: Lutjanus sebae  (Cuvier, 1816)
English Name: Emperor Red Snapper
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 红狮 (Hóng shī), 红狮鱼 (Hóng shī yú), 紅魚 (Hóng yú), 关刀红 (Guān dāo hóng), 红三刀 (Hóng sān dāo)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Merah Coreng, Merah Boring
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงแดงหน้าตั้ง (Plā kaphng dæng h̄n̂ā tậng), ปลากะพงแดงแถบแดง (Plā kaphng dæng t̄hæb dæng)
Local Hokkien/Teochew: Ang Sai
Main Identification Features: Dorsal fin with 11 spines and 15 or 16 soft rays. Anal fin with 3 spines and 10 soft rays. Body and fins red or pink. Juveniles with 3 dark red bands that will disappear in adult. Dorsal, anal and caudal fins edges dark, with narrow white margin.
Size: Maximum total length to at least 100 cm, commonly to 60 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Estuaries to coral reefs, to 180 m depth. Juveniles from mangrove area move to deeper waters as they grow larger. Occur solitary or in schools. Feed on fishes, crabs, stomatopods, other benthic crustaceans and cephalopods.






Scientific Name: Lutjanus vitta  (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824)
English Name: Brownstripe Snapper
Local Malay Name: Ikan Kunyit, Remong, Kunyit Remong
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงเหลืองขมิ้น (Plā kaphng h̄elụ̄xng k̄hmîn)
Local Hokkien: Kee Hu
Main Identification Features: A dark brown to blackish stripe along middle of side from eye to upper half of caudal peduncle.
Size: Maximum total length about 40 cm, commonly to 25 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral reefs, 10 to 70 m depth. Occur solitarily or in groups of up to about 30 individuals. Feed on fishes, shrimps, crabs and other benthic invertebrates.






Scientific Name: Lutjanus xanthopinnis  Iwatsuki, Tanaka & Allen, 2015
English Name: Yellowfin Snapper
Local Malay Name: Ikan Kunyit, Remong
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากะพงเหลือง (Plā kaphng h̄elụ̄xng)
Local Hokkien: Kee Hu, Chiew Heiok
Main Identification Features: Series of narrow yellow horizontal stripes on lower sides of body below the lateral line. Thin yellow to brownish yellow lines above lateral line running obliquely upward and along oblique scale rows. Often difficult to differentiate L. madras, L. xanthopinnis and L. lutjanus. The space between the eye and upper jaw is smaller for L. lutjanus. L. madras has no scales on the preopercular flange while L. xanthopinnis have several embedded scales on the preopercular flange. L. madras has a rounded posterior nostril while L. xanthopinnis has an elliptical posterior nostril. L. madras predorsal scales extends to about the level of the posterior edge of the orbit while L. xanthopinnis predorsal scales extends further to about the middle of the interorbital space.
Size: Maximum total length about 30 cm, commonly to about 20 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral and rocky reefs, probably to about 90 m depth. Form small to large aggregations.







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