A Quick Tour through FishBase

FishBase 2000

The following section will guide you through FishBase, which we assume has been successfully installed in your computer. Click the FishBase icon to start FishBase.

Let us assume that you want information on one of your favorite fishes, the leopard coralgrouper Plectropomus leopardus. Click the Species button. The Search by ... dialog box will pop up on your screen. You are offered the options to search by scientific name, common name, family, country, and topic; to use our ‘Quick Identification’ routine; or search in Eschmeyer’s GENERA or SPECIES databases.

Click on the Scientific name button. Click on the little arrow on the right side of the Genus field and type plectrop; you will notice that FishBase displays an alphabetic list of available generic names, jumping to the next best match as you continue typing, until it reaches Plectropomus. Press Enter to select that genus and get to the species field. If you click on the little arrow at the right end of the species field, FishBase displays an alphabetic list of all Plectropomus species. Select leopardus and click on the Find button.

FishBase now opens the SPECIES table, with the following information:

  • the scientific name of the species, i.e., Plectropomus leopardus;

  • the author who first described the species; in this case, (Lacepède 1802);

  • the FishBase common name as suggested by FAO, i.e., leopard coralgrouper;

  • the FishBase reference number of the main source used for the species, here 005222;

  • the family (Serranidae) and subfamily (Epinephelinae); and

  • the order (Perciformes) and class (Actinopterygii) to which the species belongs.

If you double-click on any reference number, the complete reference will pop up

If you double-click on the reference number, the complete reference will pop up on the screen displaying the author, year of publication, the title and source. Go back to the SPECIES window by clicking on the Close button.

Click on the button with the fish icon to display a full screen picture of Plectropomus leopardus. The picture caption includes the scientific name, the filename of the picture in brackets and the number of pictures available for this species. The lower left hand corner gives information on the length of the fish in the picture and the type of length used for measurement, the locality where the picture was taken and the photographer’s name. Click on the right arrow button to see more pictures, or click on the Exit button to return to the SPECIES window. Click on the button with the Globe and then the Show button in the resulting SPECIES OCCURRENCE window and on the Continue button in the MAP INFORMATION window to display a FishBase map that marks countries and localities where the leopard coralgrouper occurs. Switch off the zoom function by clicking on the QueryON option of the menu bar on the upper left hand corner of the WinMap32 window. Then double-click on one of the dots to open a small window with information on this record. Click on the Close button in the menu bar to return to the SPECIES OCCURRENCE window, then the Close button to return to the SPECIES window.

The Biology button shows what we know about a species

In the center of the SPECIES window, there are several buttons which call the different FishBase forms containing information on the leopard coralgrouper. Supposing that you are interested in knowing more about the life history of the leopard coralgrouper, click on the Biology button and wait for the BIOLOGY window to appear. This will give you access to what is known about the leopard coralgrouper. All black buttons indicate available information. Conversely, the gray buttons indicate knowledge gaps.

Click on the Reproduction button to get information on reproductive biology of the leopard coralgrouper. Click on any of the available buttons in the REPRODUCTION window to view detailed information.

Click on the Spawning button from the REPRODUCTION sub-menu. This calls a list of localities for which information on annual spawning activity is available. Click on the Graph button on the upper right corner of the SPAWNING SPREADSHEET window. A line graph of the monthly reproductive activity aggregated over the number of samples available is shown.

Close the REPRODUCTION and BIOLOGY windows to get back to the SPECIES window. Click on the References button to display a list of all the references that we have used so far, for Plectropomus leopardus. You can go to the next, the previous, the first and the last reference by using the recorder buttons at the bottom of the screen. Double-click on any reference and the REFERENCE USED window will pop up with all the details of that source.

Note that the FB button in the upper right corner of the SPECIES window will connect you to the ‘Species Summary’ page of Plectropomus leopardus where you may find updated information on this species.

Go back to the Main Menu by closing all the windows so far opened. You can now play with the other buttons, e.g., find a term in the glossary, look at a slide show of fish pictures, or search the references used for a family, a genus or a species.

You can also try the Fish Quiz and test how good you know your fish. Enjoy FishBase.

Maria Lourdes D. Palomares