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Watch for this colorful school on your next underwater adventure.

Blackfin snapper

Posted April 4, 2013. Photo by Amy Landers/ABQ BioPark.

Common throughout the Gulf of Mexico, blackfin snappers (Lutjanus buccanella) grow up to 20 inches by feeding on smaller animals. Their sizable fangs and a tooth patch on the roof of their mouths are perfect for preying on shrimp, worms and small finfish.

They aren’t the biggest predators in the ocean, though. Sharks, barracudas, groupers, eels and sport fishermen feast on these excellent food fish. Some types of snapper are overfished, so be sure to check your Sustainable Seafood pocket guide before you purchase snapper to eat.

Blackfins are easy to spot in the Aquarium’s Gulf Coast Gallery. Look for red and yellow fish with a black, comma-shaped mark at the base of their pectoral fins. Then meet more colorful fish at the opening of the Pacific Coral Reef exhibit on Friday, April 12.

What are your favorite schooling fish? Join the conversation on Facebook.

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