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Fish and their families

Fishes have a range of body sizes from the massive whale shark down to the smallest fish under a centimetre in length. Despite this diversity, all fish have a backbone or a notochord, and all breathe using gills. Worldwide there are over 32,000 described species of fish, with over 4,400 from Australia.

Fish are classified into two groups: cartilaginous fish or bony fish. Cartilaginous fish are characterised by their bones made of cartilage, this include sharks and rays. The majority of fish are considered bony fish, it is a much more diverse group with over 28,000 species. Bony fish include the Mackerel tuna and Eastern Australian salmon.

Explore some of the most familiar and iconic fishes of Sydney Harbour. Learn more about the unexpected discovery of the Sydney Scorpionfish and how it differs from other scorpionfish outside Australia. Find out what a tiger shark eats for dinner and why the Bluestriped Goatfish can glow in the dark.

Species such as the Common Seadragon and the Eastern Blue Groper (the fish emblem for New South Wales) are well known, but numerous cryptic species and vagrants such as tropical juveniles sometimes call the Harbour home. The Sydney Harbour has 588 species of fish from over 160 families and we expect the number to continue to climb!

Fish Factsheets

1143 Fact Sheets in this section

Parts, dissection and identification

Deep sea fishes

People often think of deepsea fishes as having large teeth and light organs. Some deepsea fishes, like the fish in 'Finding Nemo' are indeed like that, but others are very different. This gallery shows just a few of them.

Colourful fish images

This gallery contains a small selection of interesting images that have been recently added to the site. The images have been sent from a wonderful community of keen divers, snorkelers, anglers, aquarists and fish enthusiasts. Thank you one and all!