Cubera Snapper (Lutjanus cyanopterus)

The largest of all the snapper and a member of the Lutjanidae family, the cubera is a hard-fighting gamefish, as well as a fine food fish in smaller sizes.

Other Names

Cuban snapper; Spanish: cubera, guasinuco, pargo cabalo, pargo cubera.


The head, the body, and the fins of the cubera snapper are silver or steely gray to dark brown, with an occasional reddish tinge; the body is darker above than
below, sometimes with a purplish sheen.

Most young fish and some adults have irregular pale bands on their upper bodies. The cubera snapper has dark red eyes, thick lips, and a rounded anal fin. It also has connected dorsal fins that consist of 10 spines and 14 rays and pectoral fins that do not extend as far as the start of the anal fin.

The cubera snapper is often confused with the gray or "mangrove" snapper, although they can be differentiated by the number of gill rakers present on the lower limb of the first branchial arch; there are an average of seven to nine gill rakers on the gray snapper, in contrast to five to seven on the cubera snapper.

They can also be distinguished by the tooth patch on the roofs of their mouths; the gray snapper has an anchor-shaped patch, whereas the cubera snapper has a triangular one that does not extend back as the anchor-shaped one does. In general, the canine teeth of the cubera snapper are enlarged and noticeable even when the mouth is closed.


Although the cubera snapper commonly weighs up to 40 pounds, it can weigh more than 100 pounds and reach lengths of 4 or more feet. The all-tackle world record
is a 121-pound, 8-ounce Louisiana fish.

Spawning behavior

In the Florida Keys, cubera snapper spawn during the late summer and the early fall during full moon phases.


Cubera snapper feed primarily on fish, shrimp, and crabs.


In the western Atlantic, cubera snapper occur from Florida and Cuba southward to the mouth of the Amazon in Brazil. They are very occasionally found north of Florida to New Jersey, are rare in the Gulf of Mexico, and are generally scarce in most of their range.


Adult fish are found offshore over wrecks, reefs, ledges, and rocky bottoms; young fish sometimes enter freshwater or inhabit mangrove areas and grassbeds. Cubera snapper are solitary and are usually found in 60 feet of water or deeper.