The Department of Ichthyology is home to one of the largest, most significant collections of fishes in the world, and is one of eight International Centers for Ichthyology in North America.

With 1.2 million fish specimens from around the world, our collection represents a significant cross-section of aquatic life. The strengths of our holdings lie principally in marine fishes of the western and central Pacific, especially California, as well as freshwater fishes from South America and southeastern Asia. To further support marine research and the wider ichthyology community, we also house older historic collections from North America and a large number of type specimens.



Our team of scientists includes curators, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, interns, volunteers, and research associates from institutions such as Pacific Shark Research Center, Conservation International, Indonesia Marine Program, and UC Santa Cruz.

Fish speicmen in a jar and a shark jaw.


Our collection houses 200,000 cataloged lots—jars containing one or more specimens of a single species from one locality. With 11,000 nominal species, we have representatives of more than a third of all species known to science.

Photos and radiographs of fish specimens


To create an accessible, easily searchable library of fish drawn from its specimen collection, the National Science Foundation helped fund the Academy's ambitious and ongoing imaging project, the Primary Types Imagebase.

A diver on the 2014 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition.


Researchers in the Department of Ichthyology recently participated in the Academy's multidisciplinary Philippines Biodiversity Expedition where they explored both shallow reefs and the deep mesophotic zone and discovered many new species.


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Catalog of Fishes

Catalog of Fishes

The Catalog of Fishes is the authoritative reference for taxonomic fish names and features a searchable online database.

Picture of the Catalog of Fishes book

Ichthyology FAQs RR

Frequently Asked Questions

Whom do I contact about visiting the collection for research, getting a loan, or requesting data or images?