Project Description

Short Bigeye

Pristigenys alta

Aquarium Location



Adult short bigeyes are most commonly found on deep rocky bottoms (100-200m), usually around rocky reef areas. Young bigeyes are common in the Sargasso Sea and in the waters of the Gulf Stream.


Short bigeyes range from Maine south along the Atlantic coast to Bermuda, the northern Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and northern South America.


Short bigeyes are a nocturnal predator that preys mainly on smaller fish found around rocky reef areas.

Fun Facts

This species’ red or rose coloration makes it invisible in the deep ocean because the red portion of the light spectrum does not penetrate that deep with the absence of light.
The short bigeyes’ large eyes allow it to see in darkness because they maximize the amount of light that enters the eye.

Cool Adaptation

Short bigeyes are highly nocturnal. They exist at deep depths where they may be in total darkness for most of the day. During the day they stay hidden under rocky ledges, coming out at night to go down to depths of 300-400 feet. This species is highly adapted to a nocturnal lifestyle with large eyes to capture as much light as possible at these depths. In addition, their red coloration makes them hard to spot at great depths. Red is the first color of the light spectrum to be absorbed by water, thus a red fish appears black to another fish in deep water. This coloration helps the nocturnal fish to become “invisible” to potential predators.

Conservation Connection

None of the species of bigeyes are considered important economically, although individuals are occasionally either mistakenly or intentionally marketed as “Red Snapper.” Bigeyes, especially young short bigeyes, are commonly collected for, and exhibited in, aquaria. The impacts of this harvesting on short bigeye populations seems to be low because bigeyes are considered a fast-reproducing species that is highly resilient to harvest and environmental disturbance/change. There currently is no special concern/status for the conservation of this species.

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