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WFC 50: Natural History of California Wild Vertebrates

Fish Resources

Fish Identification Guides

The majority of field or identification guides to fishes are only in print with just a few available for online licensing.   Below are a few of the online options.   For locating the print field guides, search the UC Davis Library Catalog using the following useful subject headings:

  • Fishes - California
  • Marine fishes - identification
  • Freshwater fishes - identification
  • Rays (fishes) - identification
  • (Subject) Fishes AND (Subject) Field Guides

As is seen above, field guides often have the Subject subheading/subcategory of “identification” which can be combined with a subject term you are interested in such as “fish*”.

An excellent field guide series for California is published by the University of California Press and called the “California Natural History Guides” series.

Search by title for “California Natural History Guides” to view this series in the UC Davis Library Catalog:

Additional Key Fish Resources

Fish-related Databases

Use FishBase to help determine the scientific name of your organism or to explore a family of fishes to pick a particular species. Library literature databases for fish biology/conservation range from databases strictly about fish/aquatic animals (ASFA, Fish/Fisheries & Aquatic Biodiversity), to very broad databases which include ecological or animal behavior literature (BIOSIS Previews & PsycINFO), to specialized databases concerning wildlife (Zoological Record and Wildlife & Ecology Studies Worldwide).

Searching for a fish species requires that one use both the common name and the scientific name.  It is possible that the genus may have changed so keep in mind that the same animal may have a different genus name in the older literature.

For example, the best search for coho would be the following:

“Coho Salmon*” OR “Oncorhynchus kisutch*”