National Fish Collection

SAIAB is the custodian of the National Fish Collection of South Africa. The size of the collection consists of approximately 122 466 lots of fish specimens (containing at least 1 012 552 individual fish specimens) which includes 2 444 types, 436 families, 2 250 genera, 5 987 species, and over 60 000 associated tissue samples from southern Africa and its surrounding oceans, and elsewhere in the world.

Specimens held in our collection are indicative of SAIAB’s aquatic research spanning over 50 years and it is the world’s largest collection of southern African fishes, with a small growing collection of amphibians, tunicates (sea squirts) and cephalopods (squids and octopuses). SAIAB is also home to the National Diatom Collection held at the North West University in Potchefstroom.

Socio-economic implications
  • Sustainable development tools such as environmental impact assessments, water use licenses and biodiversity management require data based on natural history collections
  • Biosecurity and invasive species management
  • Extensive use by global taxonomic community
  • Universities, non-government organisations and private consultants
Development of CT scanning capabilities
  • Globally recognised repository for sub-Saharan freshwater fish, and marine fish from the Indian, Atlantic and Southern Oceans
  • State-of-the-art curatorial infrastructure
  • Fully databased collections management system
  • Visitors facilities
Transformation & Capacity Development
  • Postgraduate research
  • Development of next generation curatorial technical staff

The Team