Collections come from all over the world and include representatives of most of the currently recognised fish families. Important parts of the fish collection come from South American and South East Asian freshwaters, and we consequently concentrate fish research in those areas. Of course, we also have a fair representation of Swedish freshwater fish. Currently there are 11,037 catalogued lots with altogether 177,525 specimens from Swedish waters. The most common fish species in the collection are roach (Rutilus rutilus) in 886 jars jars (21,690 specimens), perch (Perca fluviatilis) in 883 jars with 11,098 specimens, three-spined stickleback (641 jars with 18,754 specimens), african lungfish (Protopterus annectens) in 502 jars (6,607 specimens) and trout (Salmo trutta) in 404 jars with 3043 specimens.
The Swedish Museum of Natural History and its fish collection both date from 1739 when the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences received its first items, among them the egg of a skate. Unfortunately, that specimen is no longer preserved, but the collection holds many other old specimens, dating from the 1740s. Images and information on the old collections are available at the museum's Linnaeus Web Server Today, we estimate that the collection includes more than 500,000 specimens in about 60,000 lots. More than 6,350 species are represented. Through the 1990s cataloguing proceeded using the MUSE collection management software on an MS-DOS platform. Since 2001 we use The Artedian, an application based on MS-Access 2000 for management of ichthyological collections developed at NRM. More than 50,000 lots, including 1,511 types, have been computer catalogued up till May 2011, with 463,652 specimens preserved in ethanol (including over 10,000 type specimens) and 1034 alizarin transparencies. We also have almost 3000 tissue samples, preserved in 95% ethanol and deep frozen.
Olavi Grönwall locating jars in the old compactors.
Almost all the collection is preserved in alcohol (75-80% pure ethanol in distilled water). There are a few mounted skeletons, occasional skins, many mounted fishes, alizarin transparencies for particular research projects and some otoliths. The type collection is fairly small. It includes species described mainly by C. Linnaeus, F.A. Smitt, E. Lönnberg, H. Rendahl and S.O. Kullander. The collection derives mostly from expeditions and similar directed collecting during the 20th century. The staff includes 3 permanent positions (senior curator, 2 senior assistants) . We have several office and lab spaces, with computers, printers, scanner, etc. We are short of microscopes, but can usually find facilities for visiting researchers. Guest rooms are available for a small fee. If you cannot visit us, we will be happy to send the fish on loan to you, but please consider the loan conditions before writing. We also have limited exchange with other institutions. During the 1990s, collections were moved out from crowded corridors in the main building into new quarters at the back of the musem. The new collection building includes an underground storage room providing 7 shelf km, shared with the Invertebrate Department, and above-ground facilities for collection management procedures, complete with alcohol from the tap.