Latin name

Lutjanus sebae

Other names

Emperor red snapper, emperor snapper, government bream, king snapper, queenfish, red kelp.


Body very tall, maximum height 2.1-2.4 times the standard body length, covered with fine ctenoid scales. The head is large, its length is 2.3-2.5 times the standard body length, the dorsal profile of the head is oblique. The profile of the snout is straight or slightly convex. The mouth is large and pointed. The eyes are small. Each jaw has narrow rows of bristle-like teeth. There are two fang-like teeth on the upper jaw. The teeth on the lower jaw are arranged in a crescent or triangular shape. The tongue is smooth and toothless. There are 46-50 scales on the lateral line. The lower part of the first gill arch has 10-12 gill stamens (including rudimentary ones), the total number of gill stamens on the first gill arch is 16-19.

Features of fish fins

The dorsal fin has 11 spiny rays and 15-16 soft rays. The anal fin has 3 hard and 10 soft rays. The posterior part of the dorsal and anal fins are pointed. The pectoral fins are long, with the ends extending behind the anus. The caudal fin is slightly serrate. 

Fish colouring

The body colour of adults is uniformly red or pink. In juveniles and immature individuals, three broad bands of red or pink colour run down the body and head. The first band runs from the beginning of the dorsal fin through the eye to the end of the snout; the second band runs from the middle of the barb of the dorsal fin through the body and pelvic fins and then to the belly; the third band runs from the base of the last barb of the dorsal fin obliquely downwards and then through the caudal peduncle and along the lower part of the caudal fin. There is also a red stripe across the top of the soft part of the dorsal fin.


Widespread in the Indian and Western Pacific (coastal waters of Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Madagascar, Seychelles, Red and Arabian Seas, west and east coasts of Hindustan, Bay of Bengal, Indonesia, New Guinea, Philippines, South China Sea, coastal waters of Taiwan and southern Japan, west and north coast of Australia).


Tropical marine species. They live near coral and rocky reefs, often visiting leveled areas with sandy, pebble and shell substrates close to reefs. They sometimes migrate from the shore to open water.


Maximum length: 116 cm. Normal length: 60.0 cm. Maximum declared weight: 32.7 kg. Maximum declared age: 40 years.


They form schools of individuals of similar size or live alone. Juveniles less than 20 cm long are often found in muddy coastal waters, in mangroves or between nearshore and deep-water offshore reefs. They can also be found swimming between the spines of sea urchins in shallow coastal bays. As they mature, they move into deeper waters, where larger fish often go shallow during the winter months. 

Food and feeding habits

They feed on small fish, crabs, shrimps, mantis shrimps, worms, gastropods and serhalorods. As they grow, the proportion of fish in their diet increases.


They reach maturity at a length of about 50 cm. They spawn in spring and summer (December-March) off New Caledonia and from September to March off East Africa. 


Fishing is of commercial importance only in the Seychelles, the northeastern part of the Bay of Bengal and off Vietnam. It is caught using trawls, traps and hook and line. It is a popular sport fish. 

Relationship with a person

The flesh of this fish is white, flaky and tasty. It is sold fresh, chilled and frozen. Cases of ciguatera disease have been reported after consumption. It is kept in some public aquariums.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Perciformes
Family Lutjanidae
Genus Lutjanus
Species L. sebae
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years 40
Maximum body weight, kg 32,7
Maximum length, cm 116
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Red emperor

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