Marked with a steep forehead and signature black spot on its tail, the Sailfin Snapper is a shy, solitary creature that cruises the waters of the Great Barrier Reef at night, hunting for fish, crustaceans and molluscs.

sailfin snapper great barrier reef
Above: This Sailfin Snapper was photographed at Opal Reef, The Great Barrier Reef – Australia.

It prefers to swim over sandy bottom areas of coral reefs at depths of 5 – 60 metres, where its turquoise undulating lines and wispy dorsal fin make it a particularly attractive environmental addition.

This carnivorous loner can also be found in various parts of the Western Pacific, such as Ryukyu Islands, New Caledonia, Admiralty Islands, Palau, Philippines, New Guinea, Sulawesi, and Tonga. It has also been spotted off Broome, in Western Australia.

Especially attractive as a juvenile, the Sailfin Snapper has been targeted by the aquarium trade, as its bright colours and length of 50 – 60cm unfortunately make it an ideal fish tank addition. In Papua New Guinea, the fish suffers at the hands of local spear fisherman, who catch up to 20 of its kind in an afternoon.

During adulthood, the Sailfin Snapper goes through a distinct change, notably with its body shape and colouration. However, despite this, little is known of its biology.