Vermilion Snapper, Rhomboplites aurorubens: The Vermilion Snapper is distinguished by a slender body with a vivid red color that has a series of short, irregular, diagonal blue lines formed by spots on the scales above the lateral line.
Sometimes the Vermilion Snapper has a yellow appearance below the lateral line. It has a small head with a small mouth with a projecting lower jaw, short snout, and large eyes that project upwards.
The soft rays of the dorsal fin appear yellowish. The anal fin is white and the pectoral fins are short. The Vermillion Snapper reaches a maximum of 24 inches in length and six pounds in weight, but is common at less than 1 pound.
The Vermilion Snapper is a carnivorous bottom feeder consuming small fish, shrimp, cephalopods, mollusks and plankton. It can be confused with the Atlantic Red Snapper, Lutjanus campechanus (triangular anal fin).
In Mexican fishing waters the Vermillion Snapper is found in large schools throughout the Gulf of Mexico close to the continental shelves around underwater structures such as reefs, shipwrecks, and oil rigs at depths of between 600 and 1,000 feet.
The Vermilion Snapper reproduces by releasing pelagic eggs to the ocean between April and September. Although it is a scrappy fighter, it is are not a target of recreational fishermen due to its relative small size and deep habitate.
However, the Vermilion Snapper is a significant target of commercial fishermen, generating $2 to $4 million per year in the United States. It is considered to be excellent table fare. Interestingly, commercial fishermen send down large amounts of bait to the bottom and then slowly bring it back toward the surface which gives them access to this species at more reasonable depths.
The Vermilion Snapper is a member of the Lutjanidae or Snapper Family, which are known as snappers and in Mexico as pargos.