Fish ID Tips

Fish Detective/TIPS

For many divers the thrill of spotting and identifying a new fish is one of the reasons they love to dive.

But identifying a new fish is never that easy, especially considering the sheer abundance of different species that make their home in Asia’s incredible reefs.

So we’ve put together some tips to help you to improve your identification skills and get more out of your diving.

Top Identification Tips

  • Get familiar with the common reef fish families (or just your favorites) and find out about their appearance and behavior. Underwater Asia’s fish family pages are a great place to start. With a bit of knowledge it’s easy to correctly identify most fishes families and it is much easier to ID a fish if you know which family it is from.
  • Carry a slate underwater and make a quick drawing of the fish when you see it. Don’t worry about artistic perfection – just make a quick note of the shape, fins, markings and coloration of the fish.
  • Don’t just look at the fishes’ appearance, note it’s behavior as well. What the fish is doing can be just as helpful as what it looks like when you are trying to identify it. Is it on the bottom or hovering above the reef? Is it on its own or in a group? How does it swim and which fins does it use?
  • The slate below gives you an idea of what to look out for to help you identify a fish more easily.
  • Try and look for your fish in a fish book as soon after the dive as possible. Memories fade fast, especially when confronted with a page of 10 very similar looking reef fish.
  • Don’t place too much importance on common names. If you look a fish up in two different books, the chances are it will have different names, so if you want to compare between books – use the latin name instead.