Lutjanidae


Snappers
Characteristic features:
Keys:

All keys adapted from Anderson & Allen, 2001.1

Lutjanidae genera
    1. Dorsal fin with 10 spines and 11 (rarely 10) soft rays; last soft ray of both dorsal and anal fins longer than second last soft ray 2
    2. Dorsal fin with 10 spines and 10 soft rays; last soft ray of both dorsal and anal fins shorter than second last soft ray 8
    1. Maxilla with scales 3
    2. Maxilla without scales 4
    1. Spinous portion of dorsal fin deeply incised at its junction with soft portion; dorsal fin with 10 spines and 11 (rarely 10) soft rays Etelis species
    2. Spinous portion of dorsal fin not deeply incised at its junction with soft portion; dorsal fin with 10 spines and 10 soft rays Paracaesio species
    1. Premaxillae essentially not protrusible, attached to snout at symphysis by a frenum Aphareus species
    2. Premaxillae protrusible, not attached to snout by frenum 5
    1. Dorsal fin with 10 spines and 11 (rarely 10) soft rays; last soft ray of both dorsal and anal fins longer than second last soft ray 6
    2. Dorsal fin with 10 spines and 10 soft rays; last soft ray of both dorsal and anal fins shorter than second last soft ray 7
    1. Groove present on snout below nostrils; pectoral fins less than ½ length of head Aprion virescens
    2. No groove on snout; pectoral fins a little shorter than head to somewhat longer than head Pristipomoides species
    1. Upper lip with a median fleshy protrusion, well developed in adults; spines of dorsal and anal fins strong, very robust in large adults Lipocheilus carnolabrum
    2. Upper lip without a median fleshy protrusion Paracaesio species
    1. Vomer without teeth; dorsal fin with 10 spines and 14–19 soft rays; 1 or more anterior soft dorsal-fin rays produced as filaments (at least in juveniles) 9
    2. Vomer with teeth; dorsal fin with 10–12 spines and 11–16 soft rays; none of anterior soft dorsal-fin rays produced as filaments 10
    1. Anterior profile quite steep; dorsal fin with 10 spines and 17–19 soft rays; upper and lower pharyngeals enlarged and bearing large molariform teeth Symphorichthys spilurus
    2. Anterior profile sloping more gently; dorsal fin with 10 spines and 14–17 soft rays; upper and lower pharyngeals not particularly enlarged, not bearing molariform teeth Symphorus nematophorus
    1. First gill arch with 60 or more gill rakers on lower limb Macolor species
    2. First gill arch with 20 or fewer gill rakers on lower limb 11
    1. Upper and lower profiles of head equally rounded; eye set toward middle of head; mouth rather small, somewhat upturned; no fang-like canines at anterior ends of jaws Pinjalo species
    2. Upper and lower profiles of head not equally rounded, upper profile evenly rounded to steeply sloped, and lower profile flattened; eye closer to upper profile of head than to lower; mouth larger, usually not upturned; some fang-like canines usually present at anterior ends of jaws Lutjanus species
Aphareus species
    1. First gill arch with 6–12 gill rakers on upper limb and 15–18 on lower limb (total 22–28 including rudiments, if present); body steel blue to purplish brown Aphareus furca
    2. First gill arch with 16–19 gill rakers on upper limb and 32–35 on lower limb (total 49–52 including rudiments, if present); body blue-grey to reddish Aphareus rutilans
Etelis species
    1. Total gill rakers on first gill arch 17–22, including rudiments; upper lobe of caudal fin short (26–30% of SL in specimens >120 mm SL) Etelis carbunculus
    2. Total gill rakers on first gill arch 32–36, including rudiments; upper lobe of caudal fin slightly longer (30–34% of SL in specimens >130 mm SL) Etelis radiosus
    3. Total gill rakers on first gill arch 23–28, including rudiments; upper lobe of caudal fin very long (33–75% SL) Etelis coruscans
Lutjanus species
    1. Preorbital (suborbital) space (distance between upper jaw and eye) very narrow, 9.2–16.3 times in head length; body slender, usually 3 or more times in standard length; soft dorsal-fin rays 12 2
    2. Preorbital (suborbital) space (distance between upper jaw and eye) wider, 3.3–8.9 times in head length; body deeper, 2.1–3.1 times (but usually <3 times) in standard length; soft dorsal-fin rays usually 13 more (occasionally 12) 3
    1. A dark lateral band from snout to caudal-fin base and 2 pearly white spots above lateral line (1 below spinous portion and other below soft portion of dorsal fin); body depth 3.5–3.8 times in SL; tongue usually smooth, without teeth Lutjanus biguttatus
    2. Silvery white with a broad yellow lateral stripe and narrow yellowish lines corresponding with longitudinal scale rows; body depth 2.9–3.3 times in SL; tongue with a patch of fine granular teeth Lutjanus lutjanus
    1. Background colour pale (mainly yellow in life) with a series of 4 or 5 longitudinal blue stripes on sides 4
    2. Colour not as above 6
    1. Dorsal-fin spines 11 or 12 Lutjanus bengalensis
    2. Dorsal-fin spines 10 5
    1. Four stripes on sides; belly usually abruptly whitish, often with thin grey lines; scale rows on cheek 5 or 6; upper pectoral-fin rays darkish Lutjanus kasmira
    2. Five stripes on sides; belly not abruptly whitish and without thin lines; scale rows on cheek 10 or 11; upper pectoral-fin rays pale Lutjanus quinquelineatus
    1. Longitudinal scale rows above lateral line obliquely positioned (angled) 7
    2. Longitudinal scale rows above lateral line entirely horizontal or some rows rising obliquely from below middle of dorsal fin 29
    1. Vomerine tooth patch triangular or diamond-shaped with a medial posterior extension 8
    2. Vomerine tooth patch crescentic to triangular without a posterior extension 13
    1. Vomer without teeth; dorsal fin with 10 spines and 14–19 soft rays; 1 or more anterior soft dorsal-fin rays produced as filaments (at least in juveniles) 9
    2. Vomer with teeth; dorsal fin with 10–12 spines and 11–16 soft rays; none of anterior soft dorsal-fin rays produced as filaments 10
    1. Axil of pectoral fins with a distinct black spot on upper portion; a series of 8 or 9 relatively broad orange of yellow stripes on sides; soft dorsal-fin rays usually 15 (occasionally 14, rarely 16); soft anal-fin rays 9 Lutjanus carponotatus
    2. Axil of pectoral fins without a black spot; colour not as above; soft dorsal-fin rays usually 13 or 14 (rarely 12); soft anal-fin rays 8 (rarely 9) 9
    1. A large black spot usually present on upper sides, juveniles sometimes with an ocellated spot and/or series of 4–7 broad dark stripes on side (adults of L. fulviflamma with yellow stripes) 10
    2. No black spot present on sides; a series of narrow, yellowish longitudinal lines on side, those on upper back slanting upward toward dorsal-fin base, sometimes an enlarged darker stripe from eye to middle of caudal-fin 11
    1. Soft dorsal-fin rays usually 14; a relatively wide gap between temporal scale bands on each side; black spot on upper side located mainly above lateral line; juveniles with a series of 4–7 broad stripes (blackish to orange or yellow-brown in life) on sides Lutjanus russellii
    2. Soft dorsal-fin rays usually 13; little or no gap between temporal scale bands on each side; black spot on upper side located mostly below lateral line or bisected by it, sometimes very elongate; juveniles without a series of broad stripes on sides Lutjanus fulviflamma
    1. Midlateral stripe usually broader and darker than other stripes on sides; transverse scale rows on cheek 7–10 Lutjanus vitta
    2. Midlateral stripe not broader or darker than other stripes on sides; transverse scale rows on cheek usually 6 or 7 (occasionally 8) 12
    1. Predorsal scales extending to mid-interorbital level; a blunt, flattened spine on upper margin of opercle, above the main centrally located spine; interorbital width 4.4–6.5 times in head length; total gill rakers on first gill arch (including rudiments) 18–21 Lutjanus xanthopinnis
    2. Predorsal scales extending to level of rear part of orbit; no blunt spine on upper margin of opercle; interorbital width 6.5–6.9 times in head length; total gill rakers on first gill arch (including rudiments) 15 or 16 Lutjanus mizenkoi
    1. Total gill rakers on first gill arch 25–30 (including rudiments); caudal fin distinctly forked with rounded lobes Lutjanus gibbus
    2. Total gill rakers on first gill arch 14–23 (including rudiments); caudal fin emarginate, without rounded lobes 14
    1. Soft anal-fin rays 10; dorsal fin with 11 spines and 16 (rarely 15) rays; colour pattern of 3 dark brown to red transverse bars (sometimes indistinct in large adults) Lutjanus sebae
    2. Soft anal-fin rays 8 or 9; dorsal fin elements variable, with 10 or 11 spines and 12–16 soft rays; colour not as above 15
    1. Preopercular notch distinct (relatively well to well developed) 16
    2. Preopercular notch indistinct (shallow or absent) 19
    1. Soft dorsal-fin rays 15 or 16; body relatively deep, 2.1–2.4 times in SL; head usually with numerous wavy bluish lines; a white spot often present below junction of spinous and soft parts of dorsal fin (bordered with black in juveniles); lips thick in large adults Lutjanus rivulatus
    2. Soft dorsal fin rays 13 or 14; body usually more slender, 2.3–2.8 times in SL; colour not as above; lips not thick in adults 17
    1. Caudal fin and outer third of dorsal fin blackish or dusky brown with a narrow white margin Lutjanus fulvus
    2. Caudal fin yellow or grey basally and yellow distally without narrow white margin; outer third of dorsal fin not distinctly darker than remainder of fin 18
    1. Dorsal-fin spines 10; no yellow stripes on body Lutjanus boutton
    2. Dorsal-fin spines 11; 10–12 faint yellow stripes on sides Lutjanus rufolineatus
    1. Colour pattern of 8 broad transverse bands or saddles on upper half of body and large black blotch in centre of caudal peduncle Lutjanus semicinctus
    2. Colour pattern consisting of 5 dark stripes on whitish ground colour; 2 or 3 uppermost stripes crossed by dark vertical bars forming a network of light and dark squares; a larger dark spot at base of caudal fin Lutjanus decussatus
    3. Colour pattern not as above 20
    1. Nostrils set in a prominent groove running forward of eye in specimens >200 mm SL; colour generally dark brown on upper back grading to tan or light brownish ventrally; dorsal and caudal fins dusky; outer portions of anal and pelvic fins blackish; juveniles <200 mm TL with usually with 2 whitish spots on upper back Lutjanus bohar
    2. Nostrils not set in groove at any size; colour pattern not as above 21
    1. Caudal fin with a distinctive crescentic black marking, remainder of body and fins uniformly yellowish with a silvery sheen on lower sides Lutjanus lunulatus
    2. Caudal fin without a distinctive black marking; colour of body and fins variable 22
    1. A black spot on upper side at level of lateral line below soft dorsal fin (faint or absent in large adults); remainder of body and fins mainly pale; tongue with a patch of fine granular teeth (sometimes absent in juveniles) Lutjanus monostigma
    2. Black spot on upper side of body absent, although a saddle or spot sometimes present on upper portion of caudal peduncle; tongue smooth 23
    1. Dorsal-fin spines 12; a series of 5 or 6 dusky yellow stripes on sides; longitudinal rows of scales below lateral line rising obliquely Lutjanus dodecacanthoides
    2. Dorsal-fin spines 10 or 11; colour not as above; longitudinal rows of scales below lateral line parallel to axis of body or rising obliquely 24
    1. Axil of pectoral fins black; colour overall deep red; posterior dorsal-fin and anal-fin rays elongated to form pointed fins; soft anal-fin rays 8 Lutjanus timoriensis
    2. Axil of pectoral fins without a black marking; colour variable, but often red; posterior dorsal-fin and anal-fin rays low and rounded or tall and pointed, but if tall and pointed specimens usually with 9 soft anal-fin rays 25
    1. Dorsal-fin spines 10; soft anal-fin rays usually 8 (rarely 9); tongue with a patch of fine granular teeth; colour variable, pink to greyish brown; juveniles without a black saddle on upper caudal peduncle 26
    2. Dorsal-fin spines 11 (rarely 10); soft anal-fin rays usually 9 (occasionally 8); tongue smooth; colour largely reddish; juveniles usually with a black saddle on upper caudal peduncle 28
    1. Interorbital width 4.9–5.2 times in head length; body relatively deep, 2.3–2.5 times in SL; snout-forehead profile flat or slightly convex Lutjanus bitaeniatus
    2. Interorbital width 5.5–7.6 times in head length; body relatively deep, 2.4–2.8 times in SL; snout-forehead profile slightly concave 27
    1. Lower body and pelvic and anal fins yellow; pectoral-fin rays 17 Lutjanus papuensis
    2. Body and fins not yellow; pectoral-fin rays 16 Lutjanus lemniscatus
    1. Mouth relatively small, maxilla length much less than distance between bases of last dorsal- and anal-fin rays; interorbital width 3.5–4.8 times in head length (in specimens >150 mm SL); some longitudinal scale rows below lateral line slanting obliquely in posterior direction towards dorsal profile; head profile convex (in specimens >150 mm SL) Lutjanus erythropterus
    2. Mouth larger, maxilla length about equal to distance between bases of last dorsal- and anal-fin rays; interorbital width 5.1–6.6 times in head length (in specimens >120 mm SL); some longitudinal scale rows below lateral line horizontal (although some rows may slant obliquely in juveniles <100 mm SL); head profile straight or slightly concave Lutjanus malabaricus
    1. Colour pattern consisting of 4 relatively wide dusky brown or blackish stripes on pale ground colour (only known from juveniles <15 cm SL) Lutjanus maxweberi
    2. Colour pattern not as above 30
    1. Vomerine tooth patch triangular with medial posterior extension; preorbital space narrow, 8.6–10.3 times in head length; a prominent black spot bisected by lateral line below spinous dorsal fin Lutjanus ehrenbergii
    2. Vomerine tooth patch crescentic to triangular without a medial posterior extension; preorbital space wider, 4.7–4.9 times in head length; black spot on back present or absent 31
    1. A large black spot on upper back usually present; colour pale with each scale on side with a brownish spot forming longitudinal rows Lutjanus johnii
    2. Black spot on upper back absent, colour dark Lutjanus argentimaculatus
Macolor species
    1. First gill arch (including rudiments) with 37–42 gill rakers on upper limb and 71–81 on lower limb (total 110–122); anal fin with 3 spines and usually 10 (occasionally 11) soft rays; pelvic fins very long and pointed in young, but short and rounded in adults Macolor macularis
    2. First gill arch (including rudiments) with 26–38 gill rakers on upper limb and 60–71 on lower limb (total 89–107); anal fin with 3 spines and usually 11 (occasionally 10) soft rays; pelvic fins short and rounded at all sizes Macolor niger
Paracaesio species
    1. Lateral-line scales (tubed) 68–73; caudal fin deeply forked 2
    2. Lateral-line scales (tubed) 47–50; caudal fin emarginate to moderately forked 4
    1. Teeth very small, without enlarged canines Paracaesio brevidentata
    2. Teeth larger, with enlarged canines 3
    1. Body colour dark grey, dark purplish brown or bluish; preopercle with 1 to 3 rows of scales peripheral to and usually distinctly separated from main group of cheek scales Paracaesio sordida
    2. Caudal fin, upper part of caudal peduncle, and upper side of body to anterior end of dorsal fin yellow; remainder of body mostly blue; preopercle almost always without scales peripheral to main group of cheek scales Paracaesio xanthura
    1. Upper sides with 4 brownish bars; maxilla scaled Paracaesio kusakarii
    2. Upper sides uniform blue, without vertical bars; maxilla without scales Paracaesio caerulea
Pinjalo species
    1. Dorsal fin with 11 spines and 14 or 15 soft rays; anal fin with 3 spines and 9 or (usually) 10 soft rays; longest anal-fin spine 2.1–2.65 times in head length; pectoral-fin length 3.05–3.9 times in standard length; pelvic-fin length 1.4–1.65 times in head length; caudal fin deeply emarginate, caudal concavity 2.1–3.6 times in head length; diagonal dark lines following scale rows on nape and upper half to two-thirds of body Pinjalo pinjalo
    2. Dorsal fin with 12 spines and 13 soft rays; anal fin with 3 spines and 8 or 9 soft rays; longest anal-fin spine 2.7–3.2 times in head length; pectoral-fin length 2.5–3.05 times in standard length; pelvic-fin length 1.65–1.8 times in head length; caudal fin slightly emarginate, caudal concavity 3.55–5.45 times in head length; no diagonal dark lines on nape and body Pinjalo lewisi
Pristipomoides species
    1. Lateral-line scales (tubed) 48–50; caudal fin deeply forked 2
    2. Lateral-line scales (tubed) 57–74; caudal fin emarginate to moderately forked 3
    1. Two golden stripes bordered with blue on snout and cheek; transverse vermiculations on top of head; suborbital wide, its width 7 times in head length at 15 cm standard length, 5.5 times at 25 cm, 4 times at 40 cm Pristipomoides multidens
    2. No golden stripes on snout and cheek; longitudinal vermiculations on top of head; suborbital narrow, its width 8.4 times in head length at 15 cm standard length, 7.3 times at 25 cm, 5.8 times at 40 cm Pristipomoides typus
    1. Total gill rakers (including rudiments) on first gill arch 27–33; lateral-line scales (tubed) 67–74 4
    2. Total gill rakers (including rudiments) on first gill arch 17–27; lateral-line scales (tubed) 57–67 5
    1. Vomerine tooth patch with medial posterior extension (vomerine tooth patch sometimes diamond-shaped); patch of teeth on tongue Pristipomoides sieboldii
    2. Vomerine tooth patch triangular in shape, without medial posterior extension; no teeth on tongue Pristipomoides auricilla
    1. Sides with alternating oblique red and yellow bars; lateral-line scales (tubed) 63–67 Pristipomoides zonatus
    2. Sides without red and yellow bars; lateral-line scales (tubed) 57–63 6
    1. Sides with numerous irregular dark markings, including zigzag line that runs at about level of lateral line anteriorly and then onto dorsolateral part of caudal peduncle posteriorly; total gill rakers (including rudiments) on first gill arch 17–21; depth of body 2.8–3.1 times in SL Pristipomoides argyrogrammicus
    2. Sides without irregular dark markings; total gill rakers (including rudiments) on first gill arch 22–27; depth of body 3–3.8 times in SL 7
    1. Length of upper jaw 2.4–2.7 times in head length; caniniform teeth at anterior ends of jaws not appreciably enlarged Pristipomoides filamentosus
    2. Length of upper jaw 2.1–2.4 times in head length; canine teeth at anterior ends of both jaws usually enlarged Pristipomoides flavipinnis
Similar families:

Caesionidae
Fusiliers

Caesionidae differ in having a mouth small (vs. fairly large); premaxillae extremely protrusible (vs. premaxillae moderately protrusible or fixed); teeth in jaws small or minute (vs. usually distinct); premaxilla, vomer, and palatine teeth usually absent (vs. premaxilla, vomer, and palatine teeth typically well developed); caudal fin deeply forked, with pointed lobes (vs. caudal-fin frequently truncate, emarginate, or lunate).

Lethrinidae
Emperors

Lethrinidae feature

Lethrinidae differ in having a preopercular margin usually smooth (vs. usually serrate); branchiostegal rays 6 (vs. 7); dorsal-fin soft rays 9 or 10 (vs. usually 11 or more); no teeth on vomer (vs. teeth usually present); cheek scales lacking (vs. present) and lips frequently fleshy (vs. usually not fleshy).

Nemipteridae
Threadfin bream

Nemipteridae feature

Nemipteridae differ in having a preopercular margin usually smooth (vs. usually serrate); dorsal-fin soft rays 9 (vs. usually 10 or more); anal-fin soft rays usually 7, rarely 8 (vs. usually 8 or more); branchiostegal rays 6 (vs. 7) and no teeth on vomer or palatines (vs. teeth present).

Sparidae
Sea bream

Sparidae differ in having a preopercular margin usually smooth (vs. usually serrate); branchiostegal rays 6 (vs. 7) and teeth in jaws variable - conical, incisiform, or molariform (vs. no incisiform teeth).

Haemulidae
Grunts, sweetlips

Haemulidae

Haemulidae differ in having pores on chin (vs. pores absent); teeth conical, no canines (vs. canine teeth usually present) and second anal-fin spine very strong (vs. weak).

Species:
Aphareus furca Small-toothed jobfish
Aprion virescens Green jobfish
Etelis carbunculus Pacific ruby snapper
Etelis coruscans Flame snapper
Etelis radiosus Pale Snapper
Lutjanus biguttatus Twospot snapper
Lutjanus bitaeniatus Indonesian snapper
Lutjanus boutton Button snapper
Lutjanus decussatus Chequered snapper
Lutjanus ehrenbergii Ehrenberg's snapper
Lutjanus fulviflamma Blackspot snapper
Lutjanus fulvus Blacktail snapper
Lutjanus gibbus Paddletail snapper
Lutjanus johnii Golden snapper
Lutjanus kasmira Common bluestripe snapper
Lutjanus lemniscatus Darktail snapper
Lutjanus lunulatus Lunartail snapper
Lutjanus lutjanus Bigeye snapper
Lutjanus mizenkoi Mizenko's snapper
Lutjanus monostigma Onespot snapper
Lutjanus papuensis Papuan snapper
Lutjanus rivulatus Speckled snapper
Lutjanus rufolineatus Goldenlined snapper
Lutjanus russellii Russell's snapper
Lutjanus semicinctus Black-banded snapper
Lutjanus vitta Brownstripe snapper
Lutjanus xanthopinnis Yellowfin snapper
Macolor macularis Midnight snapper
Macolor niger Black and white snapper
Paracaesio brevidentata Smallmouth snapper
Paracaesio caerulea Japanese snapper
Paracaesio kusakarii Saddleback snapper
Paracaesio sordida Smallscale snapper
Paracaesio xanthura Yellowtail blue snapper
Pinjalo lewisi Slender pinjalo
Pinjalo pinjalo Pinjalo snapper
Pristipomoides typus Sharptooth jobfish
Pristipomoides zonatus Oblique-banded snapper
References:
  1. Anderson, W.D. and Allen, G.R. Lutjanidae in: Carpenter, K, Niem, V. FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 5. Bony fishes part 3 (Menidae to Pomacentridae).. Rome: FAO; 2001; Volume 5; 2791-3380.