<i>Lutjanus gibbous </i> Click to enlarge image
A Humpback Snapper at a depth of 15m, Great Detached Reef, Great Barrier Reef, November 2001. Image: Erik Schlögl
© Erik Schlögl

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    The species grows to 50 cm in length.


The Paddletail has a forked caudal fin with rounded lobes. It has a pinkish-grey to red body. Adults inhabit deep lagoons and seaward reefs.


The Paddletail has a forked caudal fin with rounded lobes. It has a pinkish-grey to red body. The fins are red to dark brown. The soft dorsal, anal and caudal fins have white margins. The iris of the eye is red. Juveniles look similar to the adults, but are dark brown to black on the soft portion of the dorsal fin, the caudal peduncle and the caudal fin. In very small individuals, there is a dark stripe below the soft portion of the dorsal fin and a black spot on the caudal peduncle.


Adult Paddletail inhabit deep lagoons and seaward reefs. During the day they form large aggregations. Juveniles are commonly seen in seagrass beds and shallow sheltered reefs. The species is usually found at depths from 6 m to 30 m. Adults have been recorded down to 150 m.


The species occurs in tropical marine waters of the Indo-Pacific, from the Red Sea, throughout Micronesia, north to Japan, south to Australia, and east to the Tuamoto Islands. In Australia it is known from the north-western coast of Western Australia, and from the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Juveniles are found south to the central coast of New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Feeding and diet

The Paddletail feeds at night on shrimps, crabs, lobsters, stomatopods, worms, octopuses, gastropods, sea urchins, sand dollars and small fishes. It spawns at night during the full moon.

Economic impacts

Adult Paddletail have caused ciguatera poisoning in the Pacific Islands.


  1. Allen, G.R. 1985. Snappers of the World. An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Lutjanid Species known to Date. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 6. FAO. Rome. Pp. 208, Pl. I-XXVII.
  2. Allen, G.R. & Talbot, F.H. 1985. Review of the snappers of the genus Lutjanus(Pisces: Lutjanidae) from the Indo-Pacific, with the description of a new species. Indo-Pacific Fishes 11: 1-87 [39].
  3. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 220.
  4. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  5. Isbister, G.K. & M.C. Kiernan. 2005. Neurotoxic marine poisoning. The Lancet Neurology. 4(4): 219 - 228.
  6. Myers, R.F. 1999. Micronesian Reef Fishes. Coral Graphics. Pp. 330.
  7. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 251.