The mutton snapper is a member of the Lutjanidae family of snapper. It is an excellent food fish, often marketed as "red snapper".
Other NamesPortuguese: cioba; Spanish: pargo cebalo, pargo cebal, pargo colorado, pargo criollo, pargo mulato.
IdentificationThe mutton snapper can be striking in appearance, varying from orangish to reddish-yellow or reddish-brown, or from silver-gray to olive green on the back and the upper sides. All fins below the lateral line have a reddish cast, and larger mutton snapper take on an overall reddish color, which causes them to be confused with red snapper.
Young fish are often olive colored and may display dark bars. There is a distinct black spot about the size of the eye on the mid-body line below the rear dorsal fin, and of all the snapper with this type of dark spot, the mutton is the only one with a V-shaped tooth patch in the roof of the mouth, rather than an anchor-shaped one.
There are also small blue lines below and near each eye, and the dorsal fin has 10 spines and 14 rays. Adults tend to develop high backs, and all fish have pointed anal fins.
The lane snapper is somewhat similar in coloring, except that it has yellow streaks. It also has squarish or even rounded anal and dorsal fins, whereas the mutton snapper has pointed anal and dorsal fins.