Monday, September 22, 2014





Fish Picture Format and Requirements

FishWise uses JPG or GIF format files. The pictures should be 720 pixels wide with a height of 400 pixels and generally have a file size of between 40 and 120 Kilo Bytes. Conventionally the fish is displayed horizontally with its tail on the right hand side and head at the left. This is true for all types of fish except for the Left Eye Soles which are shown with the head
at the right hand side of the picture.

If you send pictures to FishWise, please include the following information with the picture:

  1. Scientific name of the fish

  2. Estimated size of fish in millimetres

  3. Name of the photographer

  4. Place and country where the picture was taken

  5. Any other information which you feel would be of interest such as camera and lens used and the depth at which the picture was taken..

The easiest way is to include the information in the name of the file, see example below:

“Pomacanthus imperator juv ~100mm John Smith South Africa Shark Rock St Lucia Nikon D2X.JPG”

If you are concerned about your pictures being downloaded and printed, it is wise to select a quality level of about 6 to 8 when saving the JPG file. Play around a bit and decide on a quality level that looks good on the screen but which is not suitable for printing.

Black & White Drawings


These are often referred to as scientific illustrations. An example below is a drawing of a Scorpion Fish done by Elaine Heemstra during a visit to the Azores.

Colour Paintings

The quality of these can be exceptional as is shown in the page of wrasses created by Elaine Heemstra of the SAIAB South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity.

Below the picture of the wrasses is a painting of a Yellowfin Tuna by L.A. Cada who has kindly donated the use of all his pictures to mankind.

Painting of Wrasses by Elaine Heemstra

Painting of a Yellowfin Tuna by L.A. Cada

Anamses caeruleopunctatus
painted by Elaine Heemstra

Ptereleotris zebra painted by Elaine Heemstra

Nemateleotris decora
painted by Elaine Heemstra



Photos Taken on Land

Typically the freshly captured fish would be placed on a flat surface or held up vertically and then photographed.

The picture of the longtail silver biddy shown horizontally was taken by G.V. Hermosa, Jr and that of the giant brindlebass being held vertically was taken by Jack Randall.

Gerres longirostris
- Longtail silver biddy

Epinephelus lanceolatus
- Brindlebass

Tank Photos

Typically the fish has been collected by an individual or by a collection team. It is identified and then pinned out on a board of some sort. The pinning process involves carefully pulling the various fins out to display them and pinning them in this position. Once all the fins have been pinned out, the base of the fins (median fins) are then painted with formalin. This causes the muscles to go rigid. The pins are then removed and the specimen with rigid fins is gently clamped between 2 flat pieces of glass. This assembly is then lowered into a tank of water and the picture is taken through the front of the tank. The glass being transparent is not visible and there is no indication that the specimen is in water.

The quality of tank photos can be surprisingly good as is shown below by the two pictures "A" and "B" taken by Dr. Richard Winterbottom on the left hand side. The pictures on the right hand side "C" taken by Dennis Polack and "D" by Sally Polack were taken underwater. If you compare "A" with "C" and "B" with "D" You can immediately see how much more useful the tank picture would be for someone that is trying to identify the fish on the basis of the number of spines in the dorsal or one of the other fins.

All tank photos are not always as good as these examples. Often the fish are left for a long time before being photographed allowing the color to disappear or to even turn black. It is also difficult to avoid getting bad reflections from the glass of the tank and a lot of experimentation is necessary before successfully taking this type of picture.


Tank Photo "A"


Underwater Photo "C"


Tank Photo "B"


Underwater Photo "D"

Aquarium Photos 

These are pictures of fish in an aquarium taken from outside. The aquarium can either be a small home aquarium or a large public aquarium. Extremely good pictures can be obtained when photographing fish in aquariums. The pictures shown below were taken by Dennis Polack of fish in a hotel aquarium in Cape Town.

Hotel Aquarium

Hotel Aquarium

Hotel Aquarium

Hotel Aquarium

Hotel Aquarium

Two Oceans Aquarium - Cape Town

The pictures shown below were taken by Dennis Polack while diving in the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town

Diplodus hottentotus

Chrysoblephus laticeps


Underwater Photography

The photographer is underwater with the camera. This is where most pictures are obtained. With the advent of digital cameras and cheaper underwater housings, many more people are taking pictures underwater and probably millions of pictures are taken daily. It is entirely different and much harder to take pictures underwater than it is above the water. Special equipment is needed and new techniques have to be learned. The effort is well worth it and it can become a most rewarding and enjoyable pursuit. Below are three examples of typical underwater fish pictures.

Rhinopias eschmeyeri
Barry Skinstad
Oxymonocanthus longirostris
Sally Polack
Nemateleotris decora
Dennis Polack

Pictures Wanted

If you have pictures of fish and would like to share them with other interested divers and fish watchers please let us know by clicking on 'contact us'. Please read the FishWise Picture Specification regarding the format required for adding pictures to the FishWise website. You will be credited for the picture so please ensure that you include your full name and contact details. If possible please also give the scientific name of the fish as it is extremely difficult and time consuming to identify large numbers of fish images.

Laboratory of Ichthyology  Swedish Museum of Natural History   California Academy of Sciences   Fishbase      Census of Marine Life      Fisheries Center - Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory    World Fish Centre
       Leibniz-Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University      Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences   The Future Ocean