How does WhatFish work?

Searching species on WhatFish can be easily done with tags that are mainly physical characteristics that can be seen. Amongst them are the group in which the species belongs, its shape, colors, caudal fin, patterns displayed, size, social behavior, habitats, sexual dimorphism, conservation status or other additional characteristics.

The more tags you select, the less species will be displayed. Nevertheless, it is recommended not to use too many tags at once, especially that the designation of tags may be subjective or dependant on the pictures (white balance, contrast etc.) or your observation (the way you perceive the species underwater).

To increase the chance to find the species you are looking for, choose the most obvious or visible characteristics first. If you are undecided about 2 tags (e.g. size, color etc.) use them both or try them separately.

  • Groups

    Species are sorted into 16 major groups.
  • fish

    FISHES

    sharks

    SHARKS

    rays

    RAYS

    mammals

    MAMMALS

    reptile

    REPTILES

    flatworm

    FLATWORMS

    molluscs

    MOLLUSCS

    crustaceans

    CRUSTACEANS

    cnidarians

    CNIDARIANS

    echinoderm

    ECHINODERMS

    sponges

    SPONGES

    worms

    WORMS

    tunicates

    TUNICATES

    algae

    ALGAES

    birds

    SEA BIRDS

    briozoarians

    BRYOZOARIANS

  • Shape of the fish (Fish only)

    Most fish look like fish! To be more precise, try to separate them into one of the typical shapes. Don’t only look at fish from the side, try looking at them face on.
  • standard

    STANDARD

    compressed

    COMPRESSED

    globelike

    GLOBELIKE

    Rectangular

    RECTANGULAR

    Anguiliform

    ANGUILIFORM

    Elongated

    ELONGATED

    Flat

    FLAT

    Other

    OTHER

  • Colors

    There is a large variation in color and here we have selected most of the colors which you can see. Choose all the colors which you see on the species, but always start with the main or most visible color. Because yellow and orange or pink and purple can look very similar, try with one then another and see what comes up.
  • black

    BLACK

    white

    WHITE

    yellow

    YELLOW

    transparent

    TRANSPARENT

    pink

    PINK

    purple

    PURPLE

    blue

    BLUE

    brown

    BROWN

    red

    RED

    orange

    ORANGE

    grey

    GREY/SILVER

    green

    GREEN

  • Caudal fins (Fish only)

    There are more types of caudal fins than the selection below, but we have used the more common types which can be applied to most species.
  • forked

    FORKED

    lunate

    LUNATE

    truncated

    TRUNCATED

    pointed

    POINTED

    rounded

    ROUNDED

  • Patterns

    A species’ visible pattern helps you get a more accurate identification. Remember, the designation can be subjective so use the most visible or obvious patterns first for better results.
  • banded

    BANDED

    chevrons

    CHEVRON

    dots

    DOTS / BLOTCHES

    grid

    GRID

    horizontal markings

    HORIZONTAL
    MARKING

    oblique markings

    OBLIQUE MARKING

    vertical markings

    VERTICAL MARKING

    reticulations

    RETICULATION

    spine

    SPINE

    streaks

    STREAKS

    tubercle

    TUBERCLES

    barbels

    BARBELS

    camouflage

    CAMOUFLAGE

  • Size of the species

    The size displayed with the pictures is not necessarily the maximum size of the species but the size of the species in the picture. More details about the average and maximum size is available on the Species Information section.
  • xs

    < 5 CM

    s

    5 - 20 CM

    m

    20 - 100 CM

    l

    1 - 3 M

    xl

    3 - 5 M

    xxl

    > 5 M

  • Social behavior

    Generally, species have unique social habits which can be used for identification. The tag "Association" relates to all species living together through symbiosis, commensalism or parasitism.
  • solitary

    SOLITARY

    couple

    COUPLE

    group

    GROUP

    association

    ASSOCIATION

  • Habitats

    A benthic species will remain on the bottom where they feed while pelagic will feed mainly in open water. A pelagic fish can also be seen on the reef even though they are considered pelagic fish, such as Fusiliers. Always choose the habitat which seems obvious to you.
  • coral_reef

    CORAL REEF

    mud_sand

    MUD/SAND

    benthic

    BENTHIC

    pelagic

    PELAGIC

  • Sexual dimorphism

    "Sexual dimorphism is a phenotypic difference between males and females of the same species, meaning that there are obvious differences between the male and female of the species. Examples include differences in morphology, size, ornamentation and behavior." (source: Wikipedia)
  • male

    MALE

    female

    FEMALE

  • Conservation status

    "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species. From its small beginning, The IUCN Red List has grown in size and complexity and now plays an increasingly prominent role in guiding conservation activities of governments, NGOs and scientific institutions." (from IUCN RED LIST)
  • solitary

    CRITICALLY
    ENDANGERED

    couple

    ENDANGERED

    group

    VULNERABLE

    association

    NEAR THREATHENED

    association

    LEAST CONCERNED

  • Other characteristics

    There are a few other characteristics which you can use to identify the species displayed. "Juvenile" is used for all species not being at the adult stage. "Danger" refers to species with any potentially harmful defence system such as poison, sharp blade, spines or potentially aggressive behaviour. “Night” is for images taken at night and/or species with nocturnal activity.
  • juvenile

    JUVENILE

    danger

    DANGER

    night

    NIGHT

Contact us

If you have any questions regarding WhatFish or if you wish to share some of your photos, drop us a message and we will contact you shortly.

info@what-fish.com