Red Emperor, Lutjanus sebae (Cuvier 1816)

Other Names: Emperor Red Snapper, Emperor Snapper, Government Bream, King Snapper, Queenfish, Red Kelp

A Red Emperor, Lutjanus sebae, at the Mackeral Islands, Western Australia. Source: Julie Shuttleworth. License: All rights reserved

A striking tropical snapper with a reddish to pink body and red fins. Large adults are overall red in colour. Juveniles and young adults have a dark red band from the snout tip through the eye to the first dorsal-fin spine, a broad band from the middle of the dorsal-fin spines to the pelvic fin, and a diagonal band from the end of the last dorsal spine to the lower lobe of the caudal fin.

Video of juvenile Red Emperors feeding in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia.
Video of juvenile Red Emperor (Lutjanus sebae), Long Spine Emperor (Lethrinus genivittatus), and Paradise Threadfin Bream (Pentapodus paradiseus) at a baited remote underwater video camera (BRUV).

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Lutjanus sebae in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 Jan 2020,

Red Emperor, Lutjanus sebae (Cuvier 1816)

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Recorded in Australia from Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, around the tropical north to Sydney, New South Wales. Elsewhere, widespread in the tropical, Indo-west Pacific.
Adults often inhabit sandy and rubble areas near coral and rocky reefs; also in deeper waters to 180 m. Small juveniles often shelter amongst sea urchin spines, before moving into nearshore waters, including mangroves as they grow.


Carnivore - feeds on fishes, crustaceans such as crabs, stomatopods and shrimps, and cephalopod molluscs.


Although commercially important in many parts of its range, large individuals are known to cause ciguatera poisoning in parts of the Indian Ocean. Small juveniles are popular in the aquarium industry.


Juveniles often shelter amongst sea urchin spines until large enough to venture out to feed out in the open.

Species Citation

Diacope sebae Cuvier, 1816, Règne Animal: 2:  275. Type locality: unknown.


Dianne J. Bray

Red Emperor, Lutjanus sebae (Cuvier 1816)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37346004

Danger:Reports of ciguatera poisoning

Depth:5-180 m

Fishing:Commercial, sports, aquarium fish

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:116 cm FL; 37 kg

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CAAB distribution map