Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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Maintenance on this system will make it temporarily unavailable for short periods of time between 8:00 and 10:00 AM EDT this Saturday, 06 June.

Search will be unavailable on Tuesday, 17 April, from 10 to 10:30 AM (EDT)

Fish Collections Data at NMNH

The online Fish Collection database includes all relevant information for each cataloged lot of specimens. Please note that slightly over 50% of our holdings are presently listed and we are constantly adding records. There are currently only a small number of images associated with catalog records. Approximately 95% of families with freshwater-dwelling species, but less than 50% of those of saltwater-dwelling species are entered into the database and available for online search. Data included in the Locality field are directly from a collector's field notes or from cruise logs. Geographic retrieval fields added by cataloging staff are based on internally defined criteria and may not be geographically accurate. If you spot an error in our data please use the Feedback tab to let us know.

Search the Fish Collections

We recommend that you use Search by Field for most queries (e.g. scientific name or specific locality) to achieve best search results. Keyword searches on the record's summary data field can be run from the Keywords Search. Don't know what to search for? Try one of the three sample searches in the Quick Browse panel below.

Common name search is currently unavailable.


See the Help tab to learn more about searching and then exploring your returned results (sorting, exporting, etc.).

Quick Browse Searches

Use the By Field search to find specimen data that match values in specific database fields. Enter a value or choose one from the dropdown lists.

Enter your keywords separated by spaces and click Search. Records that match your search terms will be returned.

Note that searching for common (vernacular) names may not yield the expected results. Associating common names with specimen records is a work in progress.

Keyword search example: ostracion cyanurus egypt

The results of your searches can be displayed in Grid (a sortable, customizable table) or Gallery View (best for reviewing images). Use the Switch button Change View to cycle between these views.

In Grid View:

In Gallery View:

See Exporting Results for information on downloading results to, for example, Excel or Google Earth.

Open the full collection record by clicking the expansion button (Expansion button) in Grid View, or anywhere within the image frame in Gallery View. Inverse expansion buttons (Collapse button) indicate records with multimedia (typically, images).

Sort results in Grid View by clicking the column header (or by choosing Sort from the column's dropdown menu).

Export all or selected results by clicking the Export Results as CSV button in the bottom toolbar in Grid or Gallery View.

You can also export all or selected results to a KML file for viewing with Google Earth or other KML viewers, by clicking the Export as KML button. This button is grayed when all or selected results lack latitude/longitude values.

Here are a few search tips:

To create a link to specific records at NMNH provide a querystring for:

where QUERYSTRING is (use a plus-sign to separate case-insensitive terms):

It is best to use only letters, numbers, pluses (+), dashes (-), and commas in your querystrings, and to avoid other characters.

Please use the Feedback page to report problems you find with the data, or with using these search pages.