The red drum is distinguished by a prominent black spot at the base of the caudal fin and, rarely, a few smaller spots anteriorly. The predorsal region is not extremely elevated, as on other drum species. The head is conical in shape; the large, inferior mouth lacks barbells. Body color of this species varies from a pale to shiny silver in young individuals, and to a brassy reddish or pinkish silver in older adults. Adult size 10 to 35 inches.