Fish identification 

Some references you may want to try

New Zealand Fish. A Complete Guide. Paulin C, Stewart A, Robert C, McMillan P. 2001. Te Papa Press.

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Ask us for an identification

If you find an unusual or rare fish, or simply one you would like to have identified, the fishes team is happy to do this for you. If the specimen is important, we will give you a copy of one of our books in exchange for it.

We prefer to receive frozen specimens so we can record important information on colours before the fish is preserved.

Before sending anything, please contact us by:

1. Container

The fish should be placed in a container that is large enough to allow the specimen to be laid flat, without bending the tail, to ensure that delicate fins do not get broken. The fish then needs to be carefully packed to prevent it being damaged in transit - filling the container with water and freezing it solid is a good way to do this.

2. Information

For each specimen, please include information on where the fish was caught or found; the depth, date, method of capture; and the collector. Please write this in pencil on strong paper - don’t use a ballpoint, as the ink dissolves in liquid. Notes on colour or a photograph are useful, but not essential. A label containing the information should be included with the specimen, ideally placed in the mouth or tied on! It’s useful to keep a second record of this information, in case the label disintegrates. The fishes team can supply waterproof labels if required.

3. Freight

Once frozen, specimens can be sent via Halls Refrigerated Freight to our collection area in Tory Street, Wellington. Wrap the fish, first in wet newspaper or cloth, then in several layers of dry newspaper, and seal it inside two or three plastic bags. Place this parcel inside a cardboard box filled with crumpled newspaper.

Label the box with the words ‘Keep Frozen’, and send it to:
The Fishes Team
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
169 Tory Street / PO Box 467
Wellington 6140

Very large specimens (longer than two metres) or bulk collections can also be sent frozen - but please contact us first so we can prepare for their arrival and storage. Please don’t use couriers or standard mail.

Halls do not service all parts of New Zealand and use local compamies to get material to their depots. If you are unsure of how to contact the transport company, please get in touch with us and we can organise it from Wellington.

We have an account with Halls, so you will not have to pay transport costs.

4. Identifications

Please include your name and address with specimens so that we can send you the identifications.

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