Silk Snapper Fish

The Silk Snapper Fish – Lutjanus vivanus – also known as the Silky Snapper or the Yellows Eyed Snapper, is a close relative of both the Red Snapper and the Black Fin Snapper.


The name Yellow Eyed Snapper often given to the Silk Snapper is due to the yellow iris of the fish. The overall color of the Silk Snapper is red, dark above and lighter below, with fine wavy yellow lines running the length of the fish. The caudal fin is trimmed with a dusky coloration. The fins are mostly light yellow and reddish.


The streamlined body and the deeply forked tail also set the Silk Snapper apart from other Snappers.

The Silk Snapper boasts –

  • 10 to 11 Dorsal spines
  • 13 to 14 Dorsal soft rays
  • 3 Anal spines
  • 7 to 8 Anal soft rays


The Silk Snapper is found in the western Atlantic from northern South America to North Carolina and around the waters of the Caribbean and Bermuda. In the waters around Bermuda the Silk Snapper is found at depths of 400 to 500 feet during the day, but in shallower water at night. The Gulf Stream off the shores of the Bahamas at depths of 500 to 800 feet is the best place to find Silk Snappers, while in the Carolinas Silk Snappers will be found at 200 to 400 feet.


Silk Snappers spawn from late spring throughout summer. They mature quickly yet have a moderate rate of growth and can live for over 30 years.


Silk Snapper tend to move to shallower waters at night, it is presumed in order to feed on crabs, shovel nose lobsters, smaller fish and shrimp, which they find around the reefs and rocky outcrops.


Silk Snapper generally weigh in at 3 to 5 pounds, although the world record for a Silk Snapper stands at a massive 18 pounds 5 ounces (IGFA)!


The fish are most usually caught using fish traps, although the traps can cause damage to the sea floor. In the Caribbean hook and line gear is most commonly used. A favorite with both sports fishermen and commercial enterprises. The meat of the Silk Snapper is a firm favorite, although there have been reports of ciguatera poisoning.

The ciguatera toxin can build up in the Silk Snapper from eating prey which has been feasting on dead or dying reefs and coral. This toxin can then be passed on the humans when they eat the meat of the Snapper, although ciguatera poisoning is uncommon symptoms can be unpleasant with weakness of the limbs and gastrointestinal upset, which can last several days.

Although the Silk Snapper is a popular fish with both amateur and professional fishermen, there is very little known about this fish’s life cycle or habits, but research is ongoing in order to understand more about this beautiful and very popular member of the Snapper family.