Latin name

Ocyrus chrysurus

Other names

Creole: colas; French: sarde queue jaune; Portuguese: cioba, mulata; Spanish: rabirrubia.


The body is short, the head is relatively small, the upper jaw slightly protrudes forward over the lower jaw. The jaws have small fang-like teeth. The bases of the soft parts of the dorsal and anal fins are covered with scales. The caudal fin is heavily carved. The yellowtail snapper has a streamlined body that is olive or bluish-gray on top and silvery-white on the bottom. There are thin yellowish stripes on the belly. Most striking is a prominent yellow stripe in the middle of the body, which runs from the tip of the snout through each eye to the tail, widening as it moves toward the dorsal fins. The tail is bright yellow and deeply forked, and the dorsal fins are mostly yellowish. There is no dark lateral spot, and the eyes are red.


In the tropical western Atlantic, yellowtail snapper are found from Massachusetts and Bermuda to southeastern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico. They are abundant in the Bahamas, southern Florida, and throughout the Caribbean, but rare north of the Caroline Islands.


A benthic marine shelf fish. Inhabits tropical coastal waters with depths from 10 to 300 feet. Juveniles live at depths of 0.5-10 m, prefer rocky areas overgrown with vegetation, found among corals, rocks, and mangroves. Adults prefer areas of coral and stones on the bottom, occur less frequently over sandy substrate with individual stones and reefs, even more rarely in mangroves. Occurs in near-bottom layers to a depth of 200 m, rising into the water column. Occasionally, it forms large shoals and moves away from the shore.


Yellowtail snapper typically grow 1 to 2 feet in length and usually weigh up to 3 pounds, though rarely exceed 5 pounds. It can reach 30 inches and 7 pounds, and a Florida fish weighing 8 pounds, 8 ounces are the world record for all snapper. Yellowtail snapper can live for 14 years.

Life history and Behavior

Some yellowtail snapper reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 years. All of them become sexually mature at the age of 4 years. Spawning occurs from April through August, with peak activity in June and July. The fish move to deeper waters, where each female produces 11,000 to more than 1.5 million pelagic eggs.

Food and feeding habits

Yellowtail snapper feed mainly at night on benthic and pelagic animals, including fish, crustaceans, and worms. Young fish feed mainly on plankton.


The spawning season lasts in the Gulf of Mexico off the island of Cuba from March to October, with peak spawning in April-June. On the banks off the island of Jamaica, it spawns year-round, with peak spawning in February and September-October. Fertility 100-1473 thousand eggs. It becomes sexually mature in the second year of life at 13-14 cm in length.


Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Perciformes
Family Lutjanidae
Genus Ocyurus
Species O. chrysurus
Conservation status Data Deficient
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years No information
Maximum body weight, kg 86.3
Maximum length, cm 40
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Snapper, Yellowtail

Tags: Snapper, Yellowtail