Snapper: Larvae

Snapper eggs hatch into larvae and then transition through a number of stages that see them grow from around 2 mm to 12 mm over a period of up to 28 days.

Initially, snapper larvae rely on a yolk sack for their nourishment, but after about three days they begin to feed on larval crustaceans.

The abundance of their food source is likely influenced by the climate over the summer period. In years when winds cause water mixing (easterlies for the Hauraki Gulf) this results in higher production of the food of snapper larvae, and lower mortality of snapper larvae as a result. Predation is also likely to be an important factor for snapper larvae.

As snapper larvae grow they eventually reach a size where their swimming ability allows them to move inshore and respond to environmental cues such as the smell of certain habitats, before they settle to the bottom and take on a juvenile form and habit.