Both the mangrove snapper and red snapper are impressive fish in their own ways. While some snappers are known for being excellent table fare than the others, all snappers taste great and certainly have a place on the table. So, what’s the difference between these two?
Physical appearance and some slight variations in flavor separate the two snapper species. Below are some interesting facts about mangrove snapper and red snapper to help you differentiate the two.
What is Mangrove Snapper?
The Mangrove Snapper, also known as mango or gray snapper, is a fish with dark brown or gray skin with red-orange spots in bars along its sides. This fish lives mostly in coastal waters near reefs, seagrass, and mangroves. Juvenile mangrove snapper have also been seen in freshwater. The average size of mangrove snapper is between 10 to 14 inches, but some can reach up to 24 inches. Although not as common, Mangrove Snapper are also found in the deep waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.
Among the snapper species, mangrove snappers are one of the most abundant. They can be found in the southern half of the United State’s eastern coast. They are also known to inhabit the waters of Bermuda south to Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, the Caribbean as well as the entire Gulf of Mexico.
When fishing for mangrove snapper, following the regulations is a must. Though fishing for this snapper species is open year-round for both recreational and commercial, fishing will be prohibited for the rest of the year once the stock limit has been reached. The current harvest limit for mangrove snapper is 2,230,000 pounds as of December 2021.
The minimum size limit for mangos is 12 inches in total length for both commercial and recreational fishing. There is no trip limit for commercial fishing but there is a 10-snapper aggregate bag limit for recreational fishing. This counts all snappers including the mangos. *Note: These figures and regulations are time-sensitive and subject to change.
What is Red Snapper?
The Red Snapper is probably the most popular among all the snapper species. And why not? It is considered to be one of the tastiest fish on the planet. As such, this snapper is extremely popular among recreational fishermen. The red snapper is also a very popular offering at seafood markets and restaurants.
Schools of red snapper are usually found near underwater structures like reefs and rocks. They live in waters with depths that are greater than 50 feet. Some red snappers have been known to live for more than 50 years and grow to up to 50 pounds and 40 inches in length.
Due to popularity, red snappers have been overfished in the past so strict regulations were implemented. There is now a total annual catch limit of 15,100,000 pounds across all fishing types – recreational and commercial. Private anglers and federal for-hire fishers in Florida have a bag limit of 2 per person. The minimum size limit for commercial fishing of red snappers is 13 inches in total length. For federal for-hire fishers, the minimum size limit is 16 inches of total length.
Both the red snapper and mangrove snapper feature a great culinary flavor profile. They both have a mild, sweet, and nutty flavor as well as a lean and moist texture.
Though not much differs in their flavor profiles, many consider the red snapper to be far more superior among all snappers. But don’t underestimate the mangrove snapper. It is also considered to be one of the most delicious white fish meats.
Most chefs prefer red snapper for grilling whole or broiling. This snapper is also best to use as an ingredient for fish tacos. Whole red snappers are commonly cooked by deep-frying, baking, grilling, broiling, steaming, and pan-frying. Fillets are perfect for pan-frying or steaming especially with lots of herbs and seasonings.
The sweet and juicy flavor of the mangrove snapper, meanwhile, goes well with baking, frying, and broiling. However, this fish goes well with various cooking methods. Try adding fresh chili peppers, lemon, and butter and you’re good to go.
What’s the World Record for Mangrove Snapper?
The world record for the biggest mangrove snapper was caught by Tim Champagne. It was an 18.63-pounder and caught off Cocodrie, Louisiana in July 22, 2015. The International Game Fish Association certified it in October of the same year.
Before that, the world record was at 7.71 kilograms (17 pounds) set by Steve Maddox in June 1992. It was caught near Port Canaveral in Florida. It is still the state’s all-tackle record holder to this day.
What’s the World Record for Red Snapper?
The all-tackle world record for red snapper was set by Doc Kennedy in June 23, 1996. It weighed 22.79 kg or 50 pounds and 4 ounces. He caught the fish off the Gulf of Mexico near Belle Pass Marina in Louisiana.
Where to buy fresh Mangrove and Red Snapper
Please shop wisely, and with fish conservation in mind. Buy from suppliers who feature the Gulf Wild tracking system. Since you’re already on WildSeafoodMarket.com, you may have to have a look and see if we have either of these fish in stock. There’s a fairly good chance we have Red Snapper, but about 50/50 chance we will have Mangrove Snapper in stock.
Snapper vs. Grouper, What’s The Difference?
May seem like a ‘no brainer’ to some, but for others (including myself about seven years back), the difference between snapper and grouper is not so obvious. We go into detail here so check it out if you need some help in deciphering between these two delicious species of fish; Snapper vs. Grouper, What’s The Difference?