With more than 2.4 million cataloged specimens of about 9,000 species, the Florida Museum Ichthyology Collection is one of the largest in the world.* Though worldwide in scope, the collections contain specimens from Florida, the Southeast U.S., South America and Southeast Asia, and a variety from the western Atlantic.

Exhibit Objects



The collection is established with a small variety of freshwater and shallow-water marine fishes.

Late 1950s

Valuable collections are acquired from the Bahamas, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Southeast U.S.


Researchers start an osteological collection of disarticulated skeletons.


The Museum receives about 75% of the National Marine Fisheries Service Tropical Atlantic Biological Laboratory collection from Miami.


A National Science Foundation grant helps transfer the Florida State University fish collection of about 273,000 cataloged and many uncataloged specimens to UF.


Around this time, digitization efforts to enter data from hand-written ledgers to collection database software begins.


The University of Miami Marine Lab’s 350,000 cataloged and about 400,000 uncataloged specimens are integrated, helping make UF’s one of North America’s most important fish collections.


Working with University of Central Florida scientists, annual trawl surveys near the Dry Tortugas and Florida Keys add thousands of specimens to UF’s collection.


The Museum assimilates the University of West Florida’s collection of about 70,000 specimens, thousands of specimens from Florida Atlantic University, as well as elasmobranch and other large fishes from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.


Acquired with NSF support, a new high-density storage system allows the Museum to integrate specimens located off campus into the collection. An effort to “catalog the backlog” results in more than 200,000 specimens added to the database.


The NSF-funded All Catfish (2003-09) and All Cypriniformes (2010-15) species Inventories are conducted, with Museum scientists traveling around the world to collect understudied freshwater fishes.


Participating in an NSF-funded Collaborative Georeferencing Project led by Tulane University, UF improves its georeferenced specimen records from 65% to 98%.


The Ichthyology Collection becomes the Museum’s first to transition to the Specify database platform.

Expected in 2018

Museum staff publish “Fishes in the Fresh Waters of Florida” based largely on information in the UF collection.

*Collection numbers were accurate at the time the exhibit was on display in 2017. Please visit the collection website or collection database for updated holdings information.