The Lutjanidae family is comprised of the Snappers, a class of fish belonging to the order Perciformes. Indigenous to tropical and subtropical waters, they can reach a length of approximately 1 m (3 ft).
At present, there are around 100 recognized snapper species split among roughly 16 genera, the majority of them in the genus Lutjanus. Among these is the Mangrove Snapper (Lutjanus griseus), which is also known by other names such as Black Snapper or Gray Snapper, although it usually has a grayish-red hue and can even change its color from bright to copper red. It ranges in weight from 1-3 kg (2-6 lbs), though there are reports of a snapper weighing 13.4 kg (29.5 lbs) caught along the Lousiana coast.
The Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) has a light red color and is similar in body structure to the Mangrove Snapper as well as other snapper species. Occurring in the Gulf of Mexico and the United States’ southeastern Atlantic coast, it is typically caught up to a size of 50 cm long (20 in) and 4.5 kg (10 lbs) in weight, though some weighing above 18 kg (40 lbs) are also taken.
The Schoolmaster Snapper (Lutjanus adopus) occurs in waters ranging from those along the U.S. states Massachusetts and southern Florida to the waters of Brazil and the Caribbean, and has a length of 24 in. The Two-Spot Red Snapper (Lutjanus bohar) is so-named for the 2 white spots on its dorsal fins and measures up to 80 cm long. The Bluestripe Snapper or Bluestripe Sea Perch (Lutjanus kasmira) is named for the blue horizontal stripes lining its bright yellow body. The adults of this species can reach up to 40 cm in size.
The Bigeye Snapper (Lutjanus lutjanus) is silver white in color and has a yellow stripe running from its eye to the base of its yellow fin. It can grow up to 35 cm in length. Ranging in color from a silvery-pink to a reddish hue, the Lane Snapper (Lutjanus synagris) becomes sexually mature at a length of 15 cm (6 in) and has a record weight of 2.9 kg (6 lbs 6 oz).
Belonging to the genus Macolor, the Black and White Snapper (Macolor niger) inhabits the Indo-Pacific Oceans. Though also called the Black Snapper, it is not to be confused with other species by that name. It can grow up to 75 cm in size. From the genus Pristipomoides, the Crimson Snapper (Pristipomoides filamentosus) is a tropical species found in the Pacific. Also referred to as Hawaiian Pink Snapper, Crimson Jobfish and Opakapaka, it typically weighs around 12-18 lbs. The Sailfin Snapper (Symphorichthys) of the genus Symphorichthys swims along the western Pacific and ranges in size from 50-60 cm.
There are also 2 species of fish commonly known by the name Golden Snapper, but neither actually belongs to the proper snapper family Lutjanidae. One of these is the Eastern Nannygai (Centroberyx affinis) from the genus Centroberyx of the Berycidae family. Also called Red Snapper (again unrelated to the other fish of that name), Redfish, and Koarea, its size ranges from 30-40 cm. The other is the Australian Snapper or Squirefish (Pagrus auratus), occurring in the waters of Australia and New Zealand. Also known as the Pink Snapper, this species sexually matures at a length of roughly 30 cm.
While most snapper species are usually caught commercially for food, some are also kept as aquarium fish. They are not too popular in this capacity, though, due to the fact that they grow too quickly. In that case at least, it appears size really does matter.