Lutjanus malabaricus

Malabar snapper MAL
Characteristic features:

Adults overall pinkish red. Juveniles with broad oblique brown black stripe from upper jaw, passing through eye to dorsal-fin origin, and black band across caudal peduncle sometimes edged with white (saddle-like in larger juveniles); reddish horizontal lines along body sometimes present.


Up to 100 cm TL.


Indo-West Pacific in tropical waters.


Coastal and offshore coral reefs and rocky reefs, from 10 to 100 m depth. Juveniles inhabit shallow inshore waters while adults are usually found further offshore in deeper waters.


Feeds primarily on fishes, but also on benthic crustaceans, cephalopods and other benthic invertebrates. Forms mixed shoals with other snapper species. Malabar snapper are a large, slow growing species. Beyond 9 years of age, males have been observed to grow larger than females of the same age.1 Mean maturity estimates for this species are 3.5 years corresponding to 42.0 cm TL.2 In the Great Barrier Reef, females reach a length where 50% of ovaries are mature at 57.6 cm FL, and reach first maturity at 54.0 cm FL.3 Malabar snapper have a low reproductive potential. In the Great Barrier Reef Malabar snapper spawn for approximately 5 months, peaking in November to January.3 Malabar snapper are a long lived species, in Australian waters maximum age is estimated to be at least 31 years.1

Indonesian fisheries:

Caught mainly with handlines, bottom longlines, and bottom trawls.

Similar species:

Lutjanus bitaeniatus
Indonesian snapper

Lutjanus bitaeniatus

Lutjanus bitaeniatus differ in having a dorsal fin with 10 spines and 13 to 14 soft rays (vs. 11 spines and 13 or 14 soft rays); preorbital bone narrower than eye diameter (vs. much broader than eye diameter) and tongue with teeth (vs. tongue smooth, teeth absent).

Lutjanus erythropterus
Crimson snapper

Lutjanus erythropterus

Lutjanus erythropterus differ in having a smaller mouth – maxilla length less than distance between bases of last dorsal- and anal-fin rays (vs. large, maxilla length about equal to distance between bases of last dorsal- and anal-fin rays).

Lutjanus sebae
Red emperor

Lutjanus sebae

Lutjanus sebae differs in having a dorsal fin with 11 spines and 15–16 soft rays, and an anal fin with 3 spines and 10 soft rays (vs. 11,12–14 and 3,8–9); juveniles and sub adults white with three red to brown bars (vs. juveniles with a brown black bar rising from upper jaw, through eye to dorsal fin origin and a black band on caudal peduncle, sometimes edged with white; reddish horizontal lines along body sometimes present) and adults entirely red to pinkish (vs. adults overall reddish orange including fins)

Lutjanus timoriensis
Timor snapper

Lutjanus timoriensis differs from juvenile Lutjanus malabaricus (under 10 cm SL) in having a black spot at axil of pectoral fin (vs. no black spot).

Internal links:
External links:
  1. Newman S. Growth rate, age determination, natural mortality and production potential of the scarlet seaperch, Lutjanus malabaricus Schneider 1801, off the Pilbara coast of north-western Australia. Fisheries Research. 2002;58(2):215–25.
  2. Martinez-Andrade F. A comparison of life histories and ecological aspects among snappers (Pisces: Lutjanidae). 2003;
  3. McPherson G, Squire L, O’Brien J. Reproduction of three dominant Lutjanus species of the Great Barrier Reef inter-reef fishery. Asian Fish Sci. 1992;5(1):15–24.