Colorado Snapper

Colorado Snapper, Lutjanus colorado

The Colorado Snapper, Lutjanus colorado  whose common Spanish and local name is pargo colorado, is a member of the Snapper or Lutjanidae Family, known collectively as pargos in Mexico. Globally, there are sixty-seven species in the genus Lutjanus, nineteen of which are found in Mexican waters, ten in the Atlantic and nine in the Pacific.

The Colorado Snappers have moderately deep elongated bodies with a dark red color that gradually transitions to pink ventrally. Their fins are also dark red. Juveniles have dusky bars on their sides. They have a large mouth and modest-sized eyes. Their anal fin is pointed and has three spines and eight rays; their caudal fin has a straight or slightly concave edge; and their dorsal fin is continuous with a pointed end and ten spines. Their body is covered with large scales and the rows on their upper back run parallel to the lateral line.

The Colorado Snappers are found adjacent rocky reefs at depths up to 300 feet. Juveniles are known to enter estuaries. They reach a maximum length of 1.07 meters (3 feet 6 inches). They are typically solitary fish and feed on crabs, mollusks, octopus, shrimp, and small fish. They are a very rare species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Colorado Snappers are found in all waters of the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from the northern half of the Sea of Cortez.

The Colorado Snapper can be confused with juvenile Pacific Dog Snappers, Lutjanus novemfasciatus (large canines; eight to nine dark bars on sides; rounded anal fin; scales above the lateral line are oblique), the Pacific Red Snapper, Lutjanus peru (silvery pink), and the Whipper Snapper, Lutjanus jordani (grayish red; rounded anal fin with nine rays).

The Colorado Snappers are quality food but exceedingly rare and therefore not a significant food fish.

Colorado Snapper, Lutjanus colorado. Fish caught off the beach at Km 21, Cabo Real, Baja California Sur, August 2006. Length: 40 cm (16 inches).

Colorado Snapper, Lutjanus colorado. Fish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, October 2017. Length: 42 cm (17 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Kenneth Tse, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Colorado Snapper, Lutjanus colorado.  Fish caught off a dock in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, March 2010. Length: 46 cm (18 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Colorado Snapper, Lutjanus colorado. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, August 2008. Length: 51 cm (20 inches).

Colorado Snapper, Lutjanus colorado. Fish caught from coastal waters off  Mazatlán, Sinaloa, October 2014. Length: 51 cm (20 inches). Weight: 2.7 kg (6 pounds 0 oz). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.