Collection of Fishes

The Collection of Fishes serves as the official repository for specimens generated via research by faculty, students, and staff of the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology at Texas A&M University. Our holdings may be searched by clicking here. Specimens in the Collection of Fishes are the result of expeditions and environmental surveys conducted by faculty, students, and biologists since 1937. The geographic coverage of specimens in the Collection of Fishes is impressive and includes 71 countries, and all 7 continents. Currently, the Collection of Fishes contains approximately over 892,120 distributed across 62,558 individual lots. Our collection now represents 4,113 species of fishes, from 1,608 genera and 372 families, representing 54 of the 57 recognized orders of fishes.

Seining for fishes in the Rio Grande, Big Bend National Park.

Fluid-preserved fishes at the TCWC.

Fluid-preserved fishes at the BRTC.

The majority of specimens are fluid preserved and stored in glass jars, but over-sized specimens up to 12 feet are stored in larger tanks. Cleared and double stained specimens, dry skeleton preparations, otoliths, field notes, x-rays and illustrations make up some of the additional ichthyological resources available through the collection. The Collection of Fishes also curates tissue samples (suitable for DNA extraction) obtained from voucher specimens housed within the collection.  Voucher specimens and tissues are available to researchers at other institutions by request (our loan policy can be accessed here). The genetic material for our specimens is curated in parallel and stored in ultra-cold freezers and is also available to researchers by request. To search for specimens with associated tissues, visit the Global Genomic Biodiversity Network site. Specimen images and x-rays hosted by the TAMU Libraries can be accessed here.

Contrast enhanced CT scan of whale shark Rhincodon typus) specimen TCWC 6895.01. Image credit Zach Randall, University of Florida.

As part of the NSF funded Digitization TCN: Collaborative Research: oVert: Open Exploration of Vertebrate Diversity in 3D (award #17014020) 218 specimens from the Collection of Fishes have been CT scanned. Included in the suite of specimens currently available are contrast enhanced scans. Datasets for these specimens are available via Morphosource.

Students examining specimens during Ichthyology lab at the BRTC.

Students examining specimens during Ichthyology lab at the BRTC.




Students from the University benefit from the collection in many ways. Courses in Ichthyology and Vertebrate Natural History utilize specimens for teaching. Students may also volunteer or complete their professional internship in the collection in order to receive experience and training in museum curation.


Fluid preserved (top) and cleared and stained (bottom) flatfishes. (photographed by Gary W. Lange, St. Louis)

The Collection of Fishes has received financial support from the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Sea Grant Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and others.






Recent Publications

Britz, R., G.M.T. Mattox & K.W. Conway (2023). The quadrate-metapterygoid fenestra of otophysan fishes, its development and homology. Vertebrate Zoology 73:35-55.

Campbell, M.A., E. Habibi, G.M. Auringer, M. Stephens, J. Rodzen, K.W. Conway & A.J. Finger. (2023). Molecular Systematics of Redband Trout from Genome-Wide DNA Sequencing Substantiates the Description of a New Taxon (Salmonidae: Oncorhynchus mykiss calisulat) from the McCloud River. Zootaxa 5254:1-29.

Conway, K. W., & Kottelat, M. (2023). Physoschistura mango, a new miniature species of loach from Myanmar (Teleostei: Nemacheilidae). Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 71.

Hunt, E., S.C. Willis, K.W. Conway & D.S. Portnoy. (2023). Interrelationships and Biogeography of the New World pufferfish genus Sphoeroides (Tetraodontiformes: Tetraodontidae) inferred using ultra-conserved DNA elements. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

Pinion, A.K., R. Britz, D.S. Siegel, K. Kubicek & K.W. Conway. (2023). The larval attachment organ of the Bowfin Amia calva (Amiiformes: Amiidae). Journal of Fish Biology.


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