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Red Bass (Lutjanus bohar) – Reef Reality Episode 18

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Red Bass (Lutjanus bohar) – Reef Reality Episode 18

Reef Reality Episode Voice Over

The red bass, otherwise known as the two-spot red snapper, is a long-living fish found in Indo-Pacific regions. They normally live singly, but aggregate in large numbers at spawning times.  They are reef-dwellers, often living adjacent to steep reef slopes, and moving to deeper waters as they grow older.  Red bass is a popular game fish, but those living in Western Pacific areas are best avoided for human consumption as they are frequently ciguatoxic.


The red bass is a long, slim fish which is usually plain red in colour, with brownish shading along the dorsal side. Juveniles have two silver-white spots on their back. They have pointed snouts and a broad pre-orbital bone. A deep groove runs from the front of the eye to the nostrils. The scales of the red bass’s back rise in an oblique pattern above the lateral line. They can live for up to 56 years, and have been reported as growing up to 90 cm in length, although the average size for a mature adult is around 76 cm, with a weight of approximately 12.5 kg. Red bass are relatively slow to mature, although male fish mature more quickly than females.

Regions & Habitats

Red bass are found in tropical climates, along coral reefs.  They live in the Indo-Pacific region, between East Africa and the Line Islands. They can be found as far north as the Ryukuku Islands and as far south as Australia. The main concentrations are located around oceanic islands. They prefer to dwell in sheltered lagoons and outer reefs, often adjacent to steep reef slopes. They tend to migrate to deeper waters as they mature.

Feeding & Behavior

The red bass enjoys a varied diet.  They are carnivorous, and principally dine on other fish, although they also eat crabs, shrimps, amphipods, stomatopods, gastropods and urochordates.  Unfortunately, their diet has led to those in Western Pacific regions becoming infected with ciguatera poisoning (CFP), the most-frequently reported seafood-toxin illness in the world. Herbivorous fish become infected by eating toxic algae, which is then passed on when the bass consumes them.

Red bass are normally solitary, but do occasionally group together in deeper waters, and at spawning times, huge aggregations collect near the ocean surface. Females are reproductively active for several months of the year. Eggs are scattered in open water for fertilisation by the male, and the species does not protect them.

Vulnerability & Resilience

They are moderately vulnerable, due to fishing. Medium resilience.  Minimum population doubling time is 1.4 to 4.4 years.

Red List Status

Not included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


1)  This is a popular game fish, which could be in danger of over-fishing.  However, its reputation for being ciguatoxic gives it some degree of resistance.

2)  Pollution and destruction of habitat – coral reefs around the globe are endangered due to chemical pollution, damage caused by tropical storms and human littering. Loss of this habitat would endanger all species that depend on the reef eco-system.

How to help

1) Avoid using chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other toxic products which could enter the water table and contribute to poisoning the Earth’s oceans.

2) When fishing for red bass, follow the ethical policy of catch and release.

3) CLICK HERE for 40 Marine Conservation Tips - How YOU can Make a Difference!

Submitted by The Reef Reality Series on Nov 1, 2010