Online Version, Updated 3 February 2015


Catalog of Fishes
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Catalog of Fishes - version of 3 February 2015 (Continuously updated since the early 1980s.)

Ron Fricke and others have been adding modifications and references throughout the database. Fishbase does not make these changes. We have examined nearly all of the genera and species of fishes in the last 30 years; Fishbase has not done that. We produce a new version every month. But you may want to examine Fishbase for other items as their focus differs. For example, their higher classification is more up-to-date than ours.

I am up to page 386 in ref. 33547, Parin, Evseenko & Vasil’eva, Fishes of Russian Seas. I am entering a status reference for each species.

I moved back to Florida: Bill Eschmeyer, Florida Museum of Natural History, 1659 Museum Road, Gainesville, FL 32611 USA.

We are pleased to announce the new publication:

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 the Family Group Names page for future updates.

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.

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), and I need to go through each one, just as he went through the entered or assessed information in the "Catalog of Fishes" database. 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 six or eight weeks 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 will be 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. 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.

His work is exceptional, but he does not always agree with current usage. But I still must check references through page 110 and check the remainder of his work. This will take several months.

[Note for Feb. 3, 2014]

I am now up to page 140. 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 Kottelet were corrected in on-line editions that appeared after he checked them.

[Note for Mar. 10, 2014]

I am now up to page 282. I also went back over some pages up to 282 (disregard earlier pages to 282). 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.

[Note for June 18, 2014]. I am now up to page 388 in Kottelat 2013. 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.

[Note for July 23, 2014]. I have now completed Kottelat (2013) through the text statements listed (but not yet all the extra-limited examples). Kottelat proofed over 7000 original description but he failed to note that we proofed 60,000 original descriptions. He also failed to give ranges for these species . He also failed to list the many museums worldwide that I visited to check examples or records. For example, I checked the records for all CAS and CAS-SU records at my home institution, and visited most major museums worldwide. Still, there are mistakes because of trying to assemble records for 7000 species in short order -- please note that the page numbers are fairly accurate; keep a copy to check his references.

[Note for August 27, 2014] I have finished Kottelat (2013), with over 7000 available species. I probably will go through parts of it a second time. Many corrections were made by me; many of which are corrected. Use the latest on-line version.

[Note for October 31, 2014] 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 75) 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.
Currently I am entering “Fishes of Russian Seas” by Parin, Evseenko & Vasil’eva 2014. 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).
The next issue may be a little late as I am moving back to Florida.

Citing the Catalog of Fishes

Eschmeyer, W. N. (ed).  CATALOG OF FISHES: GENERA, SPECIES, REFERENCES. ( Electronic version accessed dd mmm 2015. [This version was edited by Bill Eschmeyer.]

Fricke, R. (ed).  REFERENCES. ( Electronic version accessed dd mmm 2015. [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., Fricke, R. and W. N. Eschmeyer.  FAMILY-GROUP NAMES. ( Electronic version accessed dd mmm 2015.

Fricke, R. & Eschmeyer, W. N.  JOURNALS. ( Electronic version accessed dd mmm 2015. [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 2015. [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 2015. [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.]

Other participants are Dennis Polack (Data Analyst), Nicolas Bailly (Data Analyst), Richard van der Laan (Freshwater Fishes Specialist), Thomas Litz (Aquarium Species/Literature Specialist), and Dan Zimberlin (Data Analyst). Jon Fong prepares the online versions and does other programming tasks.

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, 11th edition 2015; and (6) ETYFish Project (derivations of Fish Names) by Christopher Scharpf. 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.


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).

About 393 new species were described in 2014. 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 Nicolas Bailly (Fishbase) and Dennis Polack for continuing to find errors, discrepancies, and inconsistencies, to Thomas Litz for work with aquarium literature, and to Michal Mikšik and Erwin Schraml who continue to find and forward publications. Thanks for help with this version to Christopher Scharpf. Jon Fong prepared the new version for www presentation.

We thank the following for their help in 2014:
K. Akhilesh, Gerry Allen, Tilman Alpermann, Kunio Amaoka, Shabir Amir, William Anderson, Jr., Jonathan Armbruster, Nicolas Bailly, Carole Baldwin, Sujor Banerjee, Willy Bemis, Vinicius Bertaco, Pier Bianco, Roger Bills, Stan Blum, Sergey Bogorodsky, David Boyd, John Briggs, Marcelo Britto, John Bruner, Paulo Buckup, Rudolf Caers, Barbara Calegari, Percila Camelier, Jim Carlton, Fernanda Carvalho, David Catania, Gustavo Chiarmonte, Kendel Clements, William Coetzer, Kevin Conway, Neelesh Dananukar, Andreas Dang, David De Weidt, Nguyen Huu Duc, Andreas Dunz, Yuri Dyldin, Dave Ebert, Marco Endruweit, Hamid Reza Esmaeili, Hector Espinosa, Sergei Evseenko, Herbert Federhen, Cristina Cox Fernandes, Ilana Fichberg, Lee Findley, Tia Fisher, Sergio Floeter, Andrea Folanco, Matt Ford, Tom Fraser, Rui Freitas, Ron Fricke, Carter Gilbert, Anthony Gill, Christofer Girel, Ofer Gon, Menachem Goren, Steve Grant, David Greenfield, R. K. Hadiaty, Karsten Hartel, Phil Hastings, Amanda Hay, Elaine Heemstra, Phil Heemstra, Gene Hellfman, Hans Ho, Mysi Hoang, Doug Hoese, Wouter Holleman, Bryan Hosking, I. H. J. Isbrücker, Tomio Iwamoto, Laith Jawad, Howard Jelks, Dave Johnson, Jeff Johnson, Yoshiake Kai, Max Kasparek, Moazzam Khan, Seishi Kimura, Steen Knudsen, Keita Koeda, Salme Kortet, Bernd Kramer, Sebastien Lavaoé, Peter Last, Robert Lea, Roni amin Leckur, Jeff Leis, Al Leviton, Flavio Lima, Nathan Lujan, John Lundberg, James Maclaine, Ken Maeda, Rico Margenstern, Manoela Maria Ferreira Marinho, Fernanda Martins, Eddie Matheson, Keiichi Matsuura, George Mendes T. Mattox, Richard Mayden, John McCosker, Catherine Mecklenburg, Sancia van der Meij, Marina Barreira Mendoca, Farhan Mhaisen, Ernst Mikschi, Michal Miksik, Michael Mincarone, Masaki Miya, Entica Daniel Lazz Moncayo, Rarina Mondonca, Rebecca Morin, Hiroyuki Motomura, Chris Mull, Thomas Munroe, Prachya Musikasinthorn, Dirk Neumann, Heok Hee Ng, David Nicolson, Makoto Okamoto, Larry Page, Maria Palomares, Paolo Parenti, Mark Sabaj Pérez, Ron Peters, Rohan Pethiagoda, Ted Pietsch. Jiří Plíštil, Jurgen Pollerspock, William Poly, Stuart Poss, Heather Prestridge, Graham Proudlove, Peter Psomadakis, Richard Pyle, Tarmo Raadik, John Randall, Zackary Randall, Laurent Raty, Sally Reader, Roberto E. Reis, Bill Richards, Adela Roa-Varon, Tyson Roberts, Ross Robertson, Rob Robins, Luiz Rocha, César Román-Valencia, Ronald de Ruiter, Barry Russell, Pasakorn Sanjun, Keiichi Sakai, Ingo Schindler, Ulrich Schliewen, Erwin Schraml, Sally Schramm, Werner Schwarzhans, Janet Scott, Boris Sheiko, Gento Shinohara, Randall Singer, David G. Smith, Bill Smith-Vaniz, Stephen Spotte, Hank Stam, David Stein, Duane Stevenson, Melanie Stiassny, Carl Struthers, John P. Sullivan, Matthias Svojtka, Anurkana Tejavej, Armi Torres, Denis Tweddle, Jim Tyler, Franz Uiblein, Peter Unmack, Stefanio Valdesalici, Jouke Van der Zee, James Anyelo Vanegas-Rios, James van Tassell, Richard Vari, Leo Venerus, Ben Victor, Steven Walsh, Simon Weigmann, Charles Wentzel, David Werneke, William White, Erica Wilber, Rudd Wildekamp, Jeff Williams, Rick Winterbottom, Peter Wirtz, Axel Zarske. Thanks to others whom we may have missed.

Acknowledgements for 2015: Erik Ahlander, David Catania, Tia Fisher, Don Fricke, Phil Hastings, Thomas Litz, Fernando Martins, Mizuki Matsunuma, Isyas Moukhawseter, Dirk Neumann, Makoto Okamoto, Andy Padilla, Larry Page, Rob Robins, Ulrich Schliewen, Nandeiban Samarjit Singh, Victor Springer, Bill Smith-Vaniz, Elena Voronia.

Persons helping with proofing in 2015: Thomas Litz and Dan Zimberlin. Jon Fong prepared the text for the online version.

Bill Eschmeyer
California Academy of Sciences

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