Australian National Fish Collection (CSIRO)

Established 60 years ago, the Collection is one of the most comprehensive and important reference collections in Australia.

Judged by the diversity of species it holds, the Collection is among the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. All specialist collections strive for quality and diversity. The Collection’s focus on Indo—Pacific shark and ray, and temperate and Southern Ocean species gives it a pre-eminence among international collections.


The 135,000 specimens from 2,800 species (representing 300 fish families) include oceanic, deep-water, demersal, inshore, estuarine, river and lake fishes. Most are from Australian waters, but there are also collections from Papua New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands, as well as fish from New Zealand, the Antarctic continent and sub-Antarctic islands, Europe and South-east Asia, including Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Philippines and Japan.

The Collection holds 100 holotypes and 400 paratypes of 130 species new to science. It also contains a substantial amount of voucher material relating to published books and papers, illustrations and photographs. A valuable component of the Collection is the large Photographic Index of Australian Fishes (PIAF — see back page) and the radiographs, which are useful for detailed bone studies. The Collection also contains hundreds of jars of ichthyoplankton (fish eggs and larval fish), some of which are unsorted, and collections of otoliths (ear bones, for determining the age of fish).

A computerised index of the contents of the Collection has been developed using Texpress software designed by KE Software of Melbourne. This index will be linked up with other CSIRO collections and museum systems in the near future.

A substantial collection from the Tasmanian Department of Sea Fisheries, together with material from museums, professional fishermen and other Government organisations, has been incorporated into the Collection, which is managed by a staff of three people.