Red emperorLUB

Lutjanus sebae
27.4 cm TL

Characteristic features:

  • Body very deep
  • Anal fin with 10 soft rays
  • Dorsal fin with 11 spines and 15–16 soft rays
  • Preopercular notch well developed


Red or pinkish. Smaller individuals white with 3 dark-red bands.


Up to 116 cm FL.


Indo-West Pacific in tropical waters.


Adults found near coral or rocky reefs, and sometimes over adjacent gravel areas and sand flats. Juveniles less than 20 cm in length are found in near shore coastal, turbid waters and mangrove estuaries; and move to deeper waters with increasing size. Juveniles can also be found sheltering amongst sea urchin spines. Found from the surface to at least 150 m depth.


Feeds on fishes, benthic crustaceans and cephalopods. Red emperor form schools with similar sized individuals or are solitary. Red emperor are a slow growing species; in waters of the Seychelles, mean age of first maturity for both sexes was estimated at 9 years.1 Size at which 50% of individuals became mature was between 61–63 cm FL. The smallest spawning fish recorded was 51.2 cm FL.2 Once reaching maturity, females grow at a slower rate than males, and adult males attain a larger size than females.3 Red emperor form spawning aggregations and are broadcast spawners which occurs between October and April.4 Red emperor have a long life span, reaching a maximum age of up to 40 years.5


Caught with handlines, traps, and bottom trawls.

Similar species:

Lutjanus argentimaculatus
Mangrove jack
Lutjanus argentimaculatus
Lutjanus argentimaculatus differs in having scale rows above lateral line mostly horizontal, with some ascending obliquely (vs. obliquely positioned); and vomerine tooth patch with medial posterior extension (vs. without medial posterior extension).
Lutjanus bohar
Red snapper
Lutjanus bohar
Lutjanus bohar differs in having a dorsal fin with 11 spines and 13–14 soft rays, and an anal fin with 3 spines and 8 soft rays (vs. dorsal fin with 11 spines and 15–16 soft rays; anal fin with 3 spines and 10 soft rays); preopercular notch poorly developed (vs. moderately developed) and a prominent groove in front of eyes (vs. no groove).
Lutjanus malabaricus
Malabar snapper
Lutjanus Marabaricus
Lutjanus malabaricus differs in having a dorsal fin with 11 spines and 12–14 soft rays and an anal fin with 3 spines and 8–9 soft rays (vs. dorsal fin with 11 spines and 15–16 soft rays; andl fin with 3 spines and 10 soft rays) and adults overall reddish orange including fins, juveniles with a brown-black bar rising from upper jaw, through eye to dorsal fin origin and a black band or saddle on caudal peduncle, sometimes edged with white; reddish horizontal lines along body sometimes present (vs. adults entirely red to pinkish, juveniles and sub adults white with three red to brown bars).

External links:

The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM


  1. 1.
    Grandcourt E, Hecht T, Booth A, Robinson J. Retrospective stock assessment of the Emperor red snapper Lutjanus sebae on the Seychelles Bank between 1977 and 2006. ICES Journal of Marine Science [Internet]. 2008;65(6):889–98. Available from:
  2. 2.
    Mees C. Seychelles demersal fishery an analysis of data relating to four key demersal species [Internet]. 1992. Available from:
  3. 3.
    McPherson G, Squire L. Age and growth of three dominant Lutjanus species of the Great Barrier Reef inter reef fishery. Asian Fish Sci. 1992;5:25–36.
  4. 4.
    McPherson G, Squire L, O’Brien J. Reproduction of three dominant Lutjanus species of the Great Barrier Reef inter-reef fishery. Asian Fish Sci. 1992;5(1):15–24.
  5. 5.
    Newman S, Skepper C, Wakefield C. Age estimation and otolith characteristics of an unusually old, red emperor snapper Lutjanus sebae captured off the Kimberley coast of north‐western Australia. Journal of Applied Ichthyology [Internet]. 2010;26(1):120–2. Available from: