Snook Fish

Centropomus undecimalis

Last updated: April 24, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit CaptJason/Shutterstock.com

Males change into females after the spawning season

Snook Fish Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Actinopterygii
Order
Perciformes
Family
Centropomidae
Genus
Centropomus
Scientific Name
Centropomus undecimalis

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Snook Fish Conservation Status

Snook Fish Locations

Snook Fish Locations

Snook Fish Facts

Prey
Small fish, shrimp, crabs
Group Behavior
  • School
Fun Fact
Males change into females after the spawning season
Estimated Population Size
Unknown
Biggest Threat
Overfishing
Most Distinctive Feature
Lateral line black stripe
Other Name(s)
snoek, sergeant fish, robalo
Gestation Period
28 hours
Optimum pH Level
2
Predators
Humans, dolphins, osprey, heron
Diet
Carnivore
Type
Ray-finned
Common Name
Snook
Number Of Species
12

Snook Fish Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Grey
Skin Type
Scales
Lifespan
15-21 years
Weight
29 lbs.
Length
39-48 in.

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Snook, also known by the Dutch name snoek, which means “pike,” sergeant fish, or Spanish name robalo, is a fish commonly found off the Florida coast.

Although prohibited from commercial sale in Florida to help protect its population, the fish is popular with recreational anglers. One of the most unusual traits of this fish is its ability to change genders for reproductive purposes.

5 Snook Facts

  • Able to change gender during spawning season
  • All varieties feature a black lateral line
  • Unavailable commercially in Florida to protect its numbers
  • Its diet of bait species influences its flavor
  • Females lay as many as a million eggs at a time

Snook Classification and Scientific Name

The Snook’s scientific name is Centropomus undecimalis. Some other names for this fish include snoek, robalo, or sergeant fish. These fish are part of the Perciformes order consisting of the ray-finned fish. The family this fish belongs to is Centropomidae.

Snook Appearance

The Snook has a relatively dull appearance, with light gray scales. One standout feature is the black lateral line spanning the body length. However, the fish may have caudal and pelvic fins that turn bright yellow during the spawning season. The largest Snook caught on record, at 53 lbs., was caught in Costa Rica.

Snook Distribution, Population, and Habitat

Since 2012, research has uncovered a decline in carrying capacity among Snook populations in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Overfishing is a likely cause of some of the decline in numbers, despite Snook having Least Concern species status. Because these fish inhabit relatively shallow waters, they might suffer more effects from coastal pollution, one of the facts that concerns many researchers.

These fish sometimes vary their range based on the water temperature. Sometimes these fish will venture into rivers or lakes that feed into the ocean. One event that causes significant casualties among these fish is a rare winter storm that lowers water temperatures drastically.

Its conservation status is listed as Least Concern according to the IUCN Red List.

Where to find: Snook and How to Catch Them

Snook range as far south as the Atlantic Ocean waters off Rio de Janeiro and have, relatively rarely, been found as far north as New York. These fish prefer warmer water for the most part. Catching Snook is easy in areas with a depth of about 60 ft. using the correct type of bait.

Snook Predators and Prey

Snook are potentially vulnerable to the effects of climate change and overfishing. Unseasonably cold water during some storms stuns young fish. Oil drilling and other human activities in the Gulf of Mexico threaten this species’ healthy numbers.

What Eats Snook?

Humans are one of the most significant predators that feed on these fish. Dolphins also eat these fish. Larger fish species may also feed on Snook. Birds like Heron and Osprey may also eat these fish.

Snook fight when hooked on a fishing line and also fights off would-be predators fairly aggressively. This fish has coloring that allows it to blend in more effectively than some more colorful species.

What Do Snook Eat?

Snook eat a diet of smaller species like shrimp and baby crabs. This species may eat smaller types of pelagic fish when readily available.

Snook Reproduction and Lifespan

Snook go through spawning between April and October, with the peak occurring during June and July. One of the most interesting reproductive details about Snook is that they are protandrous hermaphrodites. A male can begin the spawning season as a male and then transition into a female.

When Snook spawn, they release about 1.5 million eggs every other day. These eggs hatch after 28 hours. Larvae find estuary areas that are nutrient-rich after hatching. Once the young Snook are about a year old, they are old enough to live with the adults.

These fish reach sexual maturity when they are between two and three years old. These fish have a long lifespan, often making it to 15-21 years old.

Snook in Fishing and Cooking

Snook is a popular recreational fish, although Florida has restricted commercial fishing to help keep the population numbers up. These fish are relatively easy to catch in canal areas close to piers. Casting out a long line is a good way to catch one of these fish.

The best times to catch Snook are during the winter months. These fish will move into shallower waters to find warmth. An estimated one million Snook are caught every year in the Gulf of Mexico and nearby waters.

Snook has a mild taste, and the meat is firm. However, this fish has an unpleasant soapy taste if cooked the skin on. Snook is most popular in the United States, although it is often prepared in the Caribbean, Central, and South America. Snook is a popular fish for people on diets, containing 27 calories, 18 g of protein, and 0 g of carbohydrates.

This fish, low in fat, is served in many different ways. Baked Snook, which may feature Italian and other herbs, is a popular way to prepare the fish without a lot of fat.

Pan-frying this fish in coconut broth is a popular Asian-influenced recipe. Another popular way to serve this fish is barbequed.

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About the Author

Growing up in rural New England on a small scale farm gave me a lifelong passion for animals. I love learning about new wild animal species, habitats, animal evolutions, dogs, cats, and more. I've always been surrounded by pets and believe the best dog and best cat products are important to keeping our animals happy and healthy. It's my mission to help you learn more about wild animals, and how to care for your pets better with carefully reviewed products.

Snook Fish FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is snook a good fish to eat?

Snook is a good fish to eat due to its low fat content and its consumption of shrimp and crustaceans, providing a more delicate flavor.

What does snook taste like?

Snook has a delicate flavor compared to most fish, which means that the amount of spice you use should be minimal.

What kind of a fish is a snook?

A Snook is part of the Centropomidae family and Perciformes order.

Is a snook a freshwater or saltwater fish?

Snook can be found in either environment but is a saltwater species that lives in freshwater environments temporarily instead of permanently, one of the lesser-known facts about this fish for many.

How big are snook fish?

Snook may measure up to 48 in. long and weigh up to 29 lbs.

How do you fish for snook?

You fish for Snook using a long line with bait like shrimp that these fish regularly feed on in the wild.

Sources
  1. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Available here: https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/saltwater/snook/snook/
  2. Encyclopedia of Life, Available here: http://eol.org/pages/205157/details#diagnostic_description
  3. IFGA, Available here: http://wrec.igfa.org/WRecordsList.aspx?lc=AllTackle&cn=Snook,%20common
  4. University of South Florida, Available here: https://digitalcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4844&context=ujmm
  5. Texas Parks & Wildlife, Available here: https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/species/snook/
  6. Orvis, Available here: https://news.orvis.com/fly-fishing/fishi-facts-common-snook-centropomus-undecimalis
  7. Florida Museum, Available here: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/centropomus-undecimalis/
  8. Florida Go Fishing, Available here: https://www.floridagofishing.com/species/snook.html
  9. Animal Diversity Web, Available here: https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Centropomus_undecimalis/
  10. University of Florida, Available here: https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/charlotteco/2019/06/14/the-life-cycle-of-common-snook
  11. Bass Online, Available here: https://bassonline.com/freshwater-species/snook/
  12. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Available here: https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/saltwater/snook/snook/
  13. The Atlantic, Available here: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/11/snook-a-prized-but-protected-fish/29522/

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