Online Version, Updated 8 February 2016


Catalog of Fishes
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Catalog of Fishes - version of 8 February 2016 (Continuously updated since the early 1980s.)

Richard van der Laan is now a co-author of the Catalog of Fishes. This becomes Eschmeyer, W. N., R. Fricke, and R. van der Laan.

In this edition, we provide 25 new species in 2016.

Bill Eschmeyer, Florida Museum of Natural History, 1659 Museum Road, Gainesville, FL 32611 USA and California Academy of Sciences.

We are making additions to:

Van der Laan, R., W. N. Eschmeyer & R. Fricke (2014) (11 Nov.), Family-group names of Recent fishes. Zootaxa Monograph 3882 (1), 1-230. DOI 10.11646/zootaxa.3882.1.1

Download the addenda to the family-group list as a PDF.

See Family Group Names for future updates by R. van der Laan.

By default, search results will not include item 3 names -- unavailable names that detract from the main list of available names. These are mostly names mentioned in synonymy, names in lists, etc. They are still in the database, so if you want to see them, check the box labeled Include unavailable names before searching.

Citing the Catalog of Fishes

Eschmeyer, W. N. and R. Fricke, and R. van der Laan (eds).  CATALOG OF FISHES: GENERA, SPECIES, REFERENCES. ( Electronic version accessed dd mmm 2016. [This version was edited by Bill Eschmeyer.]

Fricke, R. (ed).  REFERENCES. ( Electronic version accessed dd mmm 2016. [Ron Fricke devoted much time to improving references and journals, many of which had not been examined in 15 to 25 years. Please remember that the title of a paper often differs in three places: the title on the paper itself, the contents listed by the journal, and in the PDF provided by the journal. Ron tends to follow the title on the pdf for recent papers and the title on the original for earlier publications. Many of our dates of publication are documented for priority purposes. Some current journals have a target date, but actual publication is often delayed. For nomenclatural date problems, we will help if we can.]

van der Laan, R., W. N. Eschmeyer and R. Fricke.  FAMILY-GROUP NAMES. ( Electronic version accessed dd mmm 2016.

Fricke, R. & Eschmeyer, W. N.  JOURNALS. ( Electronic version accessed dd mmm 2016. [Includes all journals appearing in the Catalog, including publication information and ISSN numbers.]

Fricke, R. & Eschmeyer, W. N.  GUIDE TO FISH COLLECTIONS. ( Electronic version accessed dd mmm 2016. [Arranged by museum abbreviation and by country, includes type catalogs and historical publications and www sites where available.]

Eschmeyer, W. N. & Fong, J. D.  SPECIES BY FAMILY/SUBFAMILY. ( Electronic version accessed dd mmm 2016. [Recalculated with each new version; based on current literature, this provides all available species names, valid species, and species described in the last 10 years by family/subfamily.]

Please remember that if you got to the Catalog of Fishes from Fishbase, you are NOT in Fishbase. Fishbase is a more comprehensive database for a different audience, but they use Catalog of Fishes information in their authority file.

Some other useful sites for fishes are (1) Fishbase [Fishbase team, Manila]; (2) -- A comprehensive database on Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific (and of the eastern Atlantic) [Ross Robertson]; (3) -- A database on elasmobranchs, with over 13,000 references, information on taxa, type specimens, etc. [Jürgen Pollerspöck]; (4) -- a comprehensive relational database of more than 99,350 scientific species name combinations and over 34,300 well-identified (mostly marine) fish pictures [Dennis Polack]; (5) Freshwater Fish List, 17th edition 2016; (6) ETYFish Project (derivations of Fish Names) by Christopher Scharpf; and (7) BioStor, for Biodiversity Heritage Library references. A very useful site is [not associated with Fishbase or Worldfish]. Maintained by Michal Mikšik and Erwin Schraml. They post new fish taxa and references as they are published.

An important work was produced by Maurice Kottelat in late 2013: "The fishes of the inland waters of southeast Asia: a catalogue and core bibliography of the fishes known to occur in freshwaters, mangroves and estuaries." [ref. 32989]

Kottelat treats 3108 valid and named fish species (and 7047 named species). It is an important area, with many species described in early literature.

The Catalog went through a similar long history. It was published in 3 volumes in 1990, and added to with updates about every month on the Internet. This amounts to 60,000 names of fishes and 34,000 references -- nearly all seen by Eschmeyer and/or assistants. Perhaps he did not know that Eschmeyer visited most major museums around the world (gathering information on types -- with bottles examined for smaller collections). This is why I am cited for BMNH specimens, although I checked specimens or records at other museums, and looked at nearly all major type catalogs. For localities, I just used what was found in the current literature (with modifications). Kottelat has on-the-ground experience in the localities described, and some of his localities are more accurate. And he was able to allocate earlier synonymous names more accurately.

We agree on nearly all primary type specimens (but I also give additional types), and we agree on the spelling of nearly all names.

Where do we differ? I am missing some information on old synonyms, and I should have paid closer attention to early works (mostly freshwater, and those appearing in journals not in a language I was familiar with). So Kottelat found a few additional synonyms and more unavailable names. We are nearly in agreement on dates of publication (except for a few Bleeker dates, which have been changed)..

But here are differences:

  1. Bloch and Schneider. Kottelat treats this as Schneider in Bloch & Schneider. His statement that the text was written by Schneider has been questioned. Some names are clearly Schneider's, but others are not. Most workers treat this as Bloch and Schneider.
  2. 2. Spelling of names. We both treat one person as an author, differing from the publication in some cases. We do differ on Rafinesque and Rafinesque-Schmaltz, both referring to the same person. This reaches an extreme for South American authors. I wrote some living ones and asked how they wanted to be cited in international journals. One person said she found her name appeared in 14 ways (including initials). But we differ on Lacepède versus La cepède -- The former was used by North American authors and the authors of the many catalogs by Bauchot and coworkers for catalogs at the MNHN in Paris. How the name is spelled in other disciplines would be helpful.

He also does not follow the Code in at least 2 cases. One allows use of common spellings, such as Engraulidae, instead of Engraulididae). The second says that names that have not been used as valid in fishes since 1900 can be eliminated. Another effort has been made by Kottelat to find other names that are not available -- I have about a third of them as type 3 names. These are names mentioned in passing, names in synonymies without a description, etc. that should be eliminated. I propose that these names be moved to a separate database. Kottelat is on the Commission, but doesn't follow the Code; I too was on the Commission, and I try to follow the code. An interpretation of the Code was published by Eschmeyer (1990) for the 1985 edition.

A few more questions: Kottelat retains the original spelling with a capital letter for species when it occurs. We automatically change species names to begin with a lower case letter (as it is known by systematists). Kottelat does not show a lower case in his synonyms. This causes confusion. Also, when the spelling has diacritical markings, we correct the spelling in remarks, but he includes this in the original spelling -- this suggesting is automatic.

The spelling of Bănărescu is shown as Bănărescu in Eschmeyer but as Banarescu in Kottelat. Some spelling errors of scientific names were found.

Kottelat goes out of his way to cite unavailable names -- names which were never available, such as names in synonymies, names appearing without a description, published manuscript names. We include only a few of these, but we exclude most of them. Eventually these unavailable names will be placed in a separate database (type 3 names). These names can be used by later authors.

The RMNH museum has two systems, a "D" series, as in D1234 and a regular overlapping series, 1234; Kottelat removes the "D" yielding two identical series without a distinction (and I usually indicate if the specimen is dry). I was told that the comma in names such as ZMA 111,345 is only a comma, so I have deleted it to agree with other systems that include 4 or more numbers; it is given as 111345; but in the ZMA series the numbering does not start until 1000 (that comma can be reinserted easily).

Some corrections mentioned by Kottelat were corrected in on-line editions that appeared after he checked them. There are mistakes in Kottelat (2013) that he could have solved. Some mistakes by Eschmeyer date to 2010 and even to the genera (1990); he could have marked these and taken care of them in one morning -- many were corrected in earlier editions of the online Catalog. This is what happens with a manuscript evolved over several years. I also find that he missed some synonyms that should have been in the text -- perhaps because he has overlooked them. Also, he does not give ranges for species.

There are hundreds of genera and species (including synonyms) that were included by Kottelat in this work that are based on old records that say, "Inland record by Fowler, ....." or Fowler & Bean. I do not believe these were checked. Other old records are by Herre. Some have catalog numbers, others do not. Fowler received specimens from many sources, and the localities and identifications need checking. Fowler was not very reliable.

This completes another update, courtesy of Jon Fong. I have worked on this database for the last ten years without a salary. But my typing (at 76) is getting worse, despite the updates of literature by Ron Fricke and by proofers. I have re-proofed many references in 2014, so be sure to use the latest version. The genera and species are correctly spelled. I hopefully will be adding new workers this coming year.

I still have not included typographical errors in Kottelat 2013. I have changed my mind (currently underway) and am using current workers for status of species rather than following Kottelat 2013 (where he is in the extreme minority).

I have found many errors in my typing from Kottelat. Some of these were found by Christopher Scharpf, others by me. These will continue.


A summary paper was published in 2010 from the Catalog of Fishes database that might be of interest to users of the Catalog. "Marine fish diversity: history of knowledge and discovery (Pisces)." By William N. Eschmeyer, Ronald Fricke, Jon D. Fong & Dennis A. Polack. Zootaxa, no. 2525:19-50 (2 July 2010, open access, click title to download).

As always, notifying us of missed original descriptions and errors in the database or providing PDFs of recent papers is most welcome.

Bill Eschmeyer edited type localities and standardized many place names. Our style is to use current place names found on an English map (or from Wikipedia and Google sites). Should you need original localities, they can be found in the original descriptions or from particular museum holdings (often online).

Many scientific names of fish species are based on personal names; some were found to be incorrect. For example, Jordan and co-workers spelled Japanese names ending in "a" with a terminal "e" as in matsubarae; that is acceptable, with the name Latinized first. So those names do not end in "i". Remarks are provided by Eschmeyer in this version for most species based on personal names. For a review of this very technical subject, see Dubois 2007: Zootaxa No. 1550:49-68.

New treatment of synonyms: Often an author revises a genus and treats a species in detail but does not mention the species synonyms (if any). If he/she does not mention the synonyms (rather common in recent treatments) and moves the valid “parent” species to a different genus, do we move the synonyms automatically, although the revising author may not have studied or assessed the synonyms? In the past, we did not move the synonyms. Typically, this often resulted in the synonyms being in a different current genus than the valid parent species. We now move the synonyms to the genus of the valid parent species, but no “status reference” showing the new generic placement is found with the synonym. Some synonyms will be moved incorrectly, but it is considered more desirable to have the potential synonyms in the same current genus as the valid parent species.

Some conventions used in the Catalog

Author plus date and a species code: The code of Zoological Nomenclature does not require a comma between the author and date, only a suggestion. In fact, we consider that confusing as that is traditionally used to show a cited reference in journal publications and not a species authorship and date. Genus+species+author+date (with parentheses as needed) is a (nearly) unique code or formula to define every species [2 known exceptions]. So you will find no comma between the author and date. Some journals are now treating species in this way.

Figures: Under a new species heading, some journals list (a) only the major figure, some list (b) all figures (including maps, habitats and graphs), and (c) some give figures showing the full view and any illustrated parts of the species. We give all figures that show a full view and any anatomical part of the species, so our listing of figures often differs from the treatment by a journal in the original description (as listed in the species heading).

Type localities: We give a current place name that one will find on a Google search or in an ‘English’ atlas. For some species described many years ago, one may find both the original locality and in parentheses a modern name for that locality. Many collections now have their holdings on-line, and it is there one can usually find the actual original locality if needed. Current localities are often augmented by additional information, such as coordinates.

Authors: We have added initials in brackets to distinguish all individual authors of genera and species.

Other sections

Species of Fishes by Family/Subfamily -- Total valid taxa reflect new taxa added minus taxa moved into synonymy plus taxa newly moved to valid. The classification is as used in the Catalog of Fishes. Prepared by Bill Eschmeyer and Jon Fong.

Family-Group Names -- Priority applies to Family-group names. It did not in early years. As classifications are refined with use of more subfamilies and tribes, it is required to use the oldest available family-group name for these new taxa. Early authors did not provide authorships and dates for families, and it is very difficult to find them. A third preliminary list of available family-group names of fishes is included in this version. Prepared by Richard van der Laan, Ron Fricke, and Bill Eschmeyer.

Ichthyological Collections -- Presented are those specimen collections mentioned in the main Catalog of Fishes database, especially as repositories of type specimens. Besides museum names and abbreviations, this includes WWW sites, cross-referencing of abbreviations, and selection of museums by country, along with type catalogs, historical articles, name changes, transfers, and other items for individual collections. Prepared by Ron Fricke and Bill Eschmeyer.

Ichthyological Journals -- There are nearly 2600 individual journals or monograph series in the Catalog of Fishes database. We provide full citations, and other information such as changes in titles, published duration, ISSN numbers, WWW sites, etc. Prepared by Ron Fricke and Bill Eschmeyer.


Thanks to Thomaz Litz for help with Aquarium literature, and to Christopher Scharpf, Dan Zimberlin and Dennis Polack for proofing. Michael Miksik and Erwin Schraml provided literature. Jon Fong prepared the new version. Thanks to Sherry Bostick for entering and proofing Eschmeyer's typing.

Bill Eschmeyer acknowledgments for 2016: K.V. Akhilesh, Marcelo Andrade, William Anderson, Philippe Béarez, Sherry Bostick, Emily Capuli, William Crampton, Karsten Hartel, Byron Hosking, Shahadat Hossain, Howard Jelks, Sven Kullander, Ruldeap K. Lal, Thomas Litz, Hamed Maysavi, Thomas Munroe, Larry Page, Mark Sabaj Perez, John Randall, Rob Robins, Ross Robertson, Ronald de Ruiter, Ray Schmidt, Erwin Schraml, Richard van der Laan, Katerina Vasil'eva and Benjamin Victor.

Acknowledgments for Ron Fricke (2016): László Antal, Andrey Balanov, Sergey Bogorodsky, David Boseto, Pedro Bragança, Wei-Jen Chen, Erdoğan Çiçek, Giuliano Doria, Du Li-Na, Marco Endruweit, Hamid Reza Esmaeili, Stephen Gaimari, Daniel Golani, Laith Jawad, Oliver Jewell, Murat Kaya, Alexander Kotlyar, Friedhelm Krupp, Kuldeep Lal, Thomas Litz, Adriana López-Arbarello, Carlos de Lucena, James Maclaine, Heok Hee Ng, Dalton Nielsen, Willian Ohara, Alla Oleinik, Francesc Ordines, Mathews Plamoottil, Artem Prokofiev, Peter Psomadakis, Jack Randall, Tyson Roberts, Barry Russell, Christopher Scharpf, Stefano Valdesalici, Katerina Vasil'eva, Olga Voskoboinikova, William White, Peter Wirtz, Cláudio Zawadzki.

Bill Eschmeyer
California Academy of Sciences

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