Lane Snapper (Lutjanus synagris)


The lane snapper is a member of the Lutjanidae family of snapper and highly regarded as a food fish.

Other Names

Portuguese: areocó; Spanish: bia-jaiba, chino, machego, pargo biajaiba, pargo guanapo, rayado, villajaiba.

Identification

The lane snapper is silvery pink to reddish, with short, somewhat parallel pink and yellow stripes on its sides; there is often a faint greenish cast to the back and the upper sides, which sometimes highlights a few light olive bands.

The pectoral, the pelvic, and the anal fins are often yellowish, and the dorsal and the tail fins are often reddish. The outer margin of the tail is black, particularly toward the center. A black spot about as large as the eye is present just below the rear dorsal fin and just above the lateral line, although it may be missing in rare cases; this spot is what distinguishes the lane from other snapper, in addition to an anchor-shaped tooth patch on the roof of the mouth, 18 to 22 gill rakers on the first arch, and a round anal fin.

Size

Usually weighing less than a pound, the lane snapper is ordinarily 8 to 12 inches long, sometimes reaching a maximum of 15 inches. The all-tackle world record is an 8-pound, 3-ounce Mississippi fish.

Spawning behavior

Becoming sexually mature when they are 1 year old and 6 to 7 inches long, lane snapper spawn from March through September. Spawning activity peaks from June through August. Young fish stay in grassbeds in estuaries, which serve as nursery areas until they reach 5 or 6 inches in length, when they migrate offshore.

Food and feeding habits

Lane snapper are opportunistic carnivores and primarily consume forage that is near or on the bottom, including anchovies and other small fish, crabs, shrimp, worms, and mollusks. They are fast enough to pursue and capture their prey, and they feed at night, moving off reefs and onto grassbeds.

Distribution

In the tropical western Atlantic, lane snapper range from North Carolina to southeastern Brazil, including the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. They are commonly found in Florida and only occasionally inhabit waters of the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Habitat

Ranging from depths of 5 to 130 feet, lane snapper are found over all types of bottoms, although they prefer coral reefs and sandy areas with vegetation; young fish stay inshore over grassbeds or shallow reefs, whereas adults move offshore, where they explore deeper reefs. Occurring in turbid, as well as clear, water, lane snapper often drift in schools, especially during the breeding season.
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