FishBase is a comprehensive database
A database is an organized collection of data for one or more purposes, usually in digital form. The data are typically organized to model relevant aspects of reality , in a way that supports processes requiring this information...

 of information about fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 species (specifically finfish). It is the largest and most extensively accessed online database on adult finfish on the web. Over time it has "evolved into a dynamic and versatile ecological tool", widely cited in scholarly publications.

FishBase provides comprehensive species data, including information on taxonomy, geographical distribution, biometrics and morphology, behaviour and habitats, ecology and population dynamics as well as reproductive, metabolic and genetic data. There is access to tools such as trophic pyramids, identification key
Identification key
In biology, an identification key is a printed or computer-aided device that aids the identification of biological entities, such as plants, animals, fossils, microorganisms, and pollen grains...

s, biogeographical
Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species , organisms, and ecosystems in space and through geological time. Organisms and biological communities vary in a highly regular fashion along geographic gradients of latitude, elevation, isolation and habitat area...

 modelling and fishery statistics and there are direct species level links to information in other databases such as LarvalBase
LarvalBase is a global online database of information about fish eggs, larvae and fry. It includes detailed data on the identification of very young fish and the rearing of fish species important for fisheries and aquaculture. , it included descriptions of 2,228 species, 4,229 pictures, and...

, GenBank
The GenBank sequence database is an open access, annotated collection of all publicly available nucleotide sequences and their protein translations. This database is produced and maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information as part of the International Nucleotide Sequence...

, the IUCN Red List
IUCN Red List
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species , founded in 1963, is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature is the world's main authority on the conservation status of species...

 and the Catalog of Fishes.

, FishBase included descriptions of 32,100 species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 and subspecies, 292,500 common name
Common name
A common name of a taxon or organism is a name in general use within a community; it is often contrasted with the scientific name for the same organism...

s in almost 300 language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

s, 50,500 pictures, and references to 46,000 works in the scientific literature
Scientific literature
Scientific literature comprises scientific publications that report original empirical and theoretical work in the natural and social sciences, and within a scientific field is often abbreviated as the literature. Academic publishing is the process of placing the results of one's research into the...

. The site receives about 30 million hits per month.


The origins of FishBase go back to the 1970s, when the fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly is a French-born marine biologist, well-known for his work in studying human impacts on global fisheries. He is a professor and the project leader of the Sea Around Us Project at the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia. He also served as Director of the Fisheries...

 found himself struggling to test a hypothesis on how the growing ability of fish was affected by the size of their gills. Hypotheses, such as this one, could be tested only if large amounts of empirical data were available. At the time, fisheries management
Fisheries management
Fisheries management draws on fisheries science in order to find ways to protect fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible. Modern fisheries management is often referred to as a governmental system of appropriate management rules based on defined objectives and a mix of management...

 used analytical models which required estimates for fish growth and mortality
Fish mortality
Fish mortality is a term widely used in fisheries science that denotes the loss of fish from a stock through death. The term is also commonly used in British English as a synonym for fish kill. Fish mortality can be divided into two types:...

. It can be difficult for fishery scientists and managers to get the information they need on the species that concern them, because the relevant facts can be scattered across and buried in numerous journal articles, reports, newsletters and other sources. It can be particularly difficult for people in developing countries who need such information. Pauly believed that the only practical way fisheries managers could access the volume of data they needed was to assemble and consolidate all the data available in the published literature into some central and easily accessed repository. Such a database would be particularly useful if the data has also been standardised and validated. This would mean that when scientists or managers need to test a new hypothesis, the available data will already be there in a validated and accessible form, and there will be no need to create a new dataset and then have to validate it.

Pauly recruited Rainer Froese
Rainer Froese
Rainer Froese, born 25 August 1950, is a senior scientist at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences in Kiel and a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation. He obtained an MSc in Biology in 1985 at the University of Kiel and a PhD in Biology in 1990 from the University of Hamburg...

, and the beginnings of a software database along these lines was encoded in 1988. This database, initially confined to tropical fish, became the prototype for FishBase. FishBase was subsequently extended to cover all finfish, and was launched on the Web
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet...

 in August 1996. It is now the largest and most accessed online database for fish in the world. In 1995 the first CD-ROM
A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed compact disc that contains data accessible to, but not writable by, a computer for data storage and music playback. The 1985 “Yellow Book” standard developed by Sony and Philips adapted the format to hold any form of binary data....

 was released as "FishBase 100". Subsequent CDs have been released annually. The software runs on Microsoft Access
Microsoft Access
Microsoft Office Access, previously known as Microsoft Access, is a relational database management system from Microsoft that combines the relational Microsoft Jet Database Engine with a graphical user interface and software-development tools. It is a member of the Microsoft Office suite of...

 which operates only on Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...


FishBase covers adult finfish, but does not detail the early and juvenile stages of fish. In 1999 a complimentary database, called LarvalBase
LarvalBase is a global online database of information about fish eggs, larvae and fry. It includes detailed data on the identification of very young fish and the rearing of fish species important for fisheries and aquaculture. , it included descriptions of 2,228 species, 4,229 pictures, and...

, went online under the supervision of Bernd Ueberschär. It covers ichthyoplankton
Ichthyoplankton are the eggs and larvae of fish. They are usually found in the sunlit zone of the water column, less than 200 metres deep, which is sometimes called the epipelagic or photic zone...

 and the juvenile stage of fishes, with detailed data on fish eggs and larvae
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle...

, fish identification
Identification (biology)
Identification in biology is the process of assigning a pre-existing individual or class name to an individual organism. Identification of organisms to individual names may be based on individualistic natural body features Identification in biology is the process of assigning a pre-existing...

, as well as data relevant to the rearing of young fish in aquaculture
Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the...

. Given FishBase's success, there was a demand for a database covering forms of aquatic life other than finfish. This resulted, in 2006, in the birth of SeaLifeBase
SeaLifeBase is a global online database of information about marine life. It aims to provide key information on the taxonomy, distribution and ecology of all marine species in the world apart from finfish. SeaLifeBase is in partnership with the WorldFish Center in Malaysia and the Fisheries Centre...

. The long-term goal of SeaLifeBase is to develop an information system modelled on FishBase, but including all forms of aquatic life, both marine and freshwater, apart from the finfish which FishBase specialises in. Altogether, there are about are 300,000 known species in this category.

Current organization

As awareness of FishBase has grown among fish specialists, it has attracted over 1,700 contributors and collaborators. Since the year 2000, FishBase has been supervised by a consortium. The consortium currently consists of nine international institutions, with the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences
Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences
The Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences is a research institute in Kiel, Germany. It was formed in 2004 by merging the Institute for Marine Science with the Research Center for Marine Geosciences and is co-funded by both federal and provincial governments...

 (IFM-GEOMAR) functioning as the coordinating body.
{| class="wikitable" style="border:0.5px solid black; margin: 1em auto 1em auto; float:left; vertical-align:text-top; background-color: #F2F2F2; font-size:11px;"

| colspan="2" |
The FishBase Consortium
| rowspan="9" |
| |Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is the largest Greek university, and the largest university in the Balkans. It was named after the philosopher Aristotle, who was born in Stageira, Chalcidice, about 55 km east of Thessaloniki, in Central Macedonia...

, Thessaloniki, Greece
| |Chinese Academy of Fishery Science, Beijing, China
| | Fisheries Centre
Fisheries Centre
The Fisheries Centre, located at the University of British Columbia, promotes multidisciplinary study of aquatic ecosystems and broad-based collaboration with maritime communities, government, NGOs and other partners...

, University of British Columbia
University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia is a public research university. UBC’s two main campuses are situated in Vancouver and in Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley...

, Vancouver, British Columbia
| | Food and Agriculture Organization
Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and...

, Rome, Italy
| | Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
Muséum national d'histoire naturelle
The Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle is the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France.- History :The museum was formally founded on 10 June 1793, during the French Revolution...

, Paris, France
| | Royal Museum for Central Africa
Royal Museum for Central Africa
The Royal Museum for Central Africa is an ethnographical and natural history museum in Tervuren, just outside Brussels, Belgium. It was first built to show off King Leopold II's Congo Free State for the 1897 World Exhibition. It focuses mainly on Congo, Belgium's former colony...

, Tervuren, Belgium
| | Swedish Museum of Natural History
Swedish Museum of Natural History
The Swedish Museum of Natural History , in Stockholm, is one of two major museums of natural history in Sweden, the other one being located in Gothenburg....

, Stockholm, Sweden
| | WorldFish Center
WorldFish Center
The WorldFish Center an organization dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger by improving fisheries and aquaculture. It is an international, non-profit research organization that focuses on the opportunities provided by fisheries and aquaculture to reduce poverty, hunger and vulnerability in...

, Penang, Malaysia

External links

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