Red Snapper is the country’s favorite food fish. It’s big, brightly-colored, and completely delicious. The problem is, there’s more than one Snapper that’s red. Enter Vermilion Snapper. Both fish live in the same place. Both come in a variety of shades of red. So how do you recognize Vermilion Snapper vs. Red Snapper? That’s what you’ll find out in this short guide.
Vermilion Snapper vs. Red Snapper Identification
At a glance, the biggest difference between the two Snappers is their size and overall shape. Vermilion Snapper are small and slender, while Red Snapper are more deep-bodied and generally much bigger. You may also notice that Vermilions have much more forked tails than Reds.
The next big giveaway is in the eyes. Vermilion Snapper have bloodshot eyes that look oversized compared to the rest of their head. Red Snapper have smaller eyes which are more of a pinkish red.
While you’re staring your fish in the face, take a look at its mouth. Vermilions are used to eating small fish and squid, and have tiny mouths as a result. Red Snapper will gobble up anything that comes their way. Because of this, they have big mouths with sharp teeth in them.
Red Snapper and Vermilion Snapper Habitat
Part of the confusion between these two species comes from the fact that they live in the same place. Climb aboard a reef fishing charter in the Gulf of Mexico or the southern Atlantic coast, and you’ve got a good chance of running into a variety of types of Snapper. However, Red and Vermilion Snapper have slightly different ideas of what makes the perfect home.
Vermilion Snapper live their lives hunting around reefs 80–350 feet down. The key word here is around. Vermilions spend most of their time in open water above or next to structure, not in it. They use their speed and precision to chase down small fish and other prey. This is how they got their nickname: Beeliners.
Red Snapper are the opposite. They lurk among reefs and wrecks, waiting to ambush their prey. They’re not as agile as Beeliners, but they’re much stronger. They’re also much less choosy about how deep the water is. Small, juvenile Red Snapper live in water as shallow as 30 feet, while adults show up over 600 feet down. The deeper the water, the bigger the fish.
For a full account of how to fish for Red Snappers, check out our guide.
Which Tastes Better?
Both Snappers are fun to catch, sure, but the main reason people catch them is for their meat. Red Snapper is famous for its soft, mild flesh. It’s one of the most premium food fish in North America. So how do their smaller, wide-eyed cousins compare?
Unsurprisingly, Vermilion Snapper taste quite similar. They have a sweet, mild meat that just melts in the mouth. Both species are perfect for people who don’t like fish that’s too oily or “fishy.” However, most people agree that Red Snapper is tastier. On top of that, it’s much bigger, so you’re in for a real feast when you catch one.
Red and Vermilion Snapper are fun to catch and great to eat. They’re perfect for beginner anglers who want a challenge and something tasty at the end of the day, but they’re still satisfying to fight even for seasoned sportfishing types. Hopefully, you’ll find it easier to identify Vermilion Snapper vs. Red Snapper next time you go fishing. If not, at least we’ve got you in the mood for some seafood!
How do you tell Reds apart from Beeliners? Which one do you think tastes better? Drop us your thoughts and recipes in the comments below!