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ichthyology specimen research and collections department

The Natural History Museum's fish collection is one of ten internationally recognized ichthyological collections in the United States. The collection contains nearly three million catalogued specimens, including representatives of most fish families.  We also hold special collections of fish eggs and larvae, otoliths, frozen tissues, skeletons, cleared and stained specimens, and radiographs, in addition to an extensive book and reprint library.

Taxonomic strengths of the collection include deepsea, luminescent Stomiiformes (dragonfishes, viperfishes) and Myctophiformes (lanternfishes); freshwater Ostariophysi, particularly Siluriformes (catfish), Cypriniformes (carp), and Characiformes (characins); Anguilliformes (eels); Scorpaeniformes (scorpionfishes, lionfishes and stonefishes); and extensive holdings of Perciformes, particularly Gobiidae (gobies), Apogonidae (cardinalfishes), Blenniidae, Clinidae and Labrisomidae (blennies), Exocoetidae (flyingfishes), Labridae (wrasses), Pomacentridae (damselfishes), Scienidae (croakers), and Serranidae (basses).  

Our geographic emphasis is the Pacific Rim, with particular strengths in fishes from the Eastern Pacific, Galapagos, Hawaiian, and Philippine islands, the Antarctic, and the freshwaters of North, Central, and South America. 


Our collection has been used to study the systematics and taxonomy of many groups of fishes and to describe new species.  We have many records and collections of rare, non-native, and introduced species, including new additions to the California fauna due to El Niño and other global events. 


The collection is available in VertNet, iDigBio, and GBIF.  Our institution code is LACM and our collection code is Fish.

Fishes on Display

A coelacanth, megamouth, and oarfish from our collection are on display around the Museum's grand foyer on the first floor. Read more here.


Our Staff

Bill Ludt, Ph.D.
Assistant Curator, Ichthyology

Dr. Bill Ludt is the Assistant Curator of Ichthyology. His research aims to understand how Earth’s history and variation in global climate conditions have influenced the diversity and distribution of fishes on our planet.

Todd Clardy, Ph.D.
Collections Manager, Ichthyology

Dr. Todd Clardy is the Collections Manager of Ichthyology. His research focuses on the taxonomy and ecology of the early life history stages of marine fishes, fish systematics and evolutionary processes.

Christine Thacker, Ph.D.
Curator Emerita, Ichthyology

Curator Emerita Dr. Christine Thacker joined the Natural History Museum in 1998 after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Dr. Thacker’s research concerns the evolution, systematics, and biogeography of gobies and cardinalfishes.


Questions? Contact us at fishes@nhm.org or call 213.763.3374