The red snapper is native to the western Atlantic Ocean including the Gulf of Mexico, where it inhabits environments associated with reefs. This species is commercially important and is also sought-after as a game fish. The northern red snapper’s body is very similar in shape to other snappers, such as the mangrove snapper, mutton snapper, lane snapper, and dog snapper.
This species commonly inhabits waters from 9–60 m (30–200 ft), but can be caught as deep as 90 m (300 ft) on occasion. They stay relatively close to the bottom, and inhabit rocky bottoms, ledges, ridges, and artificial reefs, including offshore oil rigs and shipwrecks. Like most other snappers, northern red snapper are gregarious and form large schools around wrecks and reefs. These schools are usually made up of fish of very similar size.