Pacific Cubera Snapper (Lutjanus novemfasciatus)

The Pacific cubera snapper closely resembles the cubera snapper, the "river" or "mangrove red" snapper, and an African snapper; this resemblance involves habitat and behavior but extends as well to a similar appearance; they each have a deep reddish body, four large canine teeth, stubby gill rakers, and almost identical body and fin shapes.

This seems to suggest that large cubera-type snappers may be more closely related to each other than are other members of the Lutjanidae (snapper) family. Marketed fresh and frozen, the Pacific cubera snapper is an excellent food fish and is greatly prized as a sport catch.

Other Names

dog snapper, Pacific dog snapper; Spanish: boca fuerte, huachinango, panza prieta, pargo jilguero, pargo moreno, pargo negro.


The young Pacific cubera snapper is purplish-brown with a light spot in the center of each scale, whereas adults and older fish are almost a deep red. Occasionally, a blue streak is evident under each eye, as are roughly nine shaded bars on the flanks.

The tail is very slightly forked or lunate (crescent shaped), the dorsal fin is made up of 10 spines and 14 soft rays, and the anal fin is rounded and has 3 spines and 8 rays. The pectoral fins do not extend to the anal fin or even as far as the vent in adults.

The most distinctive feature of the Pacific cubera snapper is four uncommonly large canine teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower, which are somewhat larger than the pupil of the eye. There is also a crescent-shaped tooth patch in the roof of the mouth.


The Pacific cubera snapper is the largest of nine snapper occurring in its range, growing to at least 80 pounds. The all-tackle world record is a 78-pound, 12-ounce fish taken off Costa Rica.

Food and feeding habits

Carnivorous, Pacific cubera snapper prey at night on big invertebrates such as crabs, prawns, and shrimp, as well as fish.


Pacific cubera inhabit the eastern Pacific from northern Mexico to northern Peru.


Pacific cubera snapper are an inshore species, preferring rocky and coral reefs and caves in shallow waters with depths of 100 feet and possibly deeper. Young fish are found in estuaries near mangroves and the mouths of rivers.