Red Emperor: Emperor Snapper, Government Bream or King Snapper

Red Emperor: Emperor Snapper, Government Bream or King Snapper

Red Emperor species resides in tropical marine waters from the Western Indian to Western Pacific regions. Southern Red Sea and East Africa to New Caledonia, north to southern Japan. South to Australia ranging from Shark Bay in Western Australia, through tropical waters and around to Moreton Bay in Queensland.

Scientific Name: Lutjanus Sebae

Red Emperor Alternate Common Names;

Bourgeois, Emperor Red Snapper, Emperor Snapper, Government Bream, King Snapper, Queenfish, Red Kelp, Redfish and Snapper Emperor.

Family Classification: Lutjanidae – Tropical Snappers and Seaperches

Red Emperors have the ability to charge colour by switching on pigment cells in their skin, when frightened. It often produces blotchy vertical brown bands across its body, when it is taken out of the water. It can have one colour pattern and change to a completely different colour within the next few minutes.

Little is known about the reproductive habits of Red Emperor. However, what is known they are extremely slow growing fish take up to 5 years before they can reproduce successfully. They mature 3 to 4 years of age around 50cm. Growing over a 1 metre in length and up to 33kg in weight.

Identification Characteristics:

The Red Emperor can be recognised by its distinctive colour pattern red to pinkish above and pale below.

Three dark red curvature vertically bands across their body. One of which runs from the front of the dorsal fin, through the eye and ends at the mouth. The second runs are from the middle of the dorsal fin. The crosses just behind the pectoral fin and ends on the pelvic fin.

The pelvic fin is the same colour as the band. The third band is position at the rear of the dorsal fin. Then crosses diagonally to the lower corner of the tail.

A small area on the upper tail is also marked with a band, or a spot in some individuals. In large adults the bands connect to become one, making the fish a brighter red colour.


Red Emperor juveniles and young adults are commonly found in shallow inshore reefs. Adults inhabit much deeper waters between 10m to 100m where the numbers are greater.

The Red Emperor generally congregate of similar sized fish in large schools. They are much more active at night than during the day. Prefer reef edges, coral bommies and low coral areas.

As mentioned they are very active at night and even more so on the full moon. If you want the chance to locate a school of these fish? Your best chance would be the narrow deep channels between reefs. This would lead you to an unforgettable fishing experience for any angler/s.

Red Emperor is carnivorous they are very active feeders compared to other demersal reef species. And they feed on crustaceans, molluscs and fish within the reef system. Including squid, octopus, crabs, shellfish, shrimp and small fish.


Mulies, Octopus, Scaly Mackerel, Squid or Tuna.


Demersal Jigs or Soft Plastics -Large.


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