Northern Madtom by M. Thomas


The INHS fish collection contains more than 890,000 catalogued specimens and over 110,000 lots, which makes it about the 15th largest collection of preserved fishes, and the 6th largest collection of Neotropical fishes in North America.

Represented are about 170 families and over 2,500 species. The value of the collection is greatly enhanced by the large number of old specimens, many of which were collected in the late 1800’s from areas where they no longer occur. The type collection contains 1220 specimens representing 93 nominal species. Name-bearing type material consists of 31 holotypes (37 species), 5 lectotypes, and 7 series of syntypes (39 specimens). Additional type material includes paratypes of 125 nominal species (1,198 specimens).

We also maintain a tissue collection that contains over 1000 high quality tissues from a portion of our vouchered specimens. Detailed data about our holdings may be obtained by contacting the curator,  Dr. Chris Taylor.



S.A. Forbes

A large part of the Illinois Natural History Fish Collection comes from specimens collected from 1880 to 1905 for S.A. Forbes and R.E. Richardson’s “The Fishes of Illinois” published in 1908 and from specimens collected from 1950 to 1978 for P.W. Smith’s “The Fishes of Illinois” published in 1979. Thousands of specimens have been added from other areas of North and South America in the past few decades. The collection contains representatives from 48 of the 50 states and many countries including: Angola, Antigua, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, England, Guyana, Indonesia, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Thailand, Trinidad Venezuela, and Yugoslavia. The geographic scope of the collection is about 58% from Illinois, 28% from elsewhere in North America, 13% from South America, and 1% from the rest of the world, including Antarctica.

Location and Access

The collection is housed on the basement floor of the Natural Resources Building on the campus of the University of Illinois.

Access to the collection by qualified researchers, normally available from 8:30am–5pm M–F may be arranged by contacting the collection manager, Dan Wylie or curator, Dr. Chris Taylor.

Specimen loans and data requests

Specimen loans are available to qualified researchers.  Loans are generally made for a period of one year, renewable upon request. To request a loan or data please contact Dr. Chris Taylor or Dan Wylie.

Limited data for the entire collection holdings are accessible via online database.  For complete locality data, contact the curator, Dr. Chris Taylor.

Taillight Shiner by M. Thomas