A Field Guide to Common Marine Fishes of Singapore

Fish index (by name)
Fish families (by picture)
Parts of a fish
Kelvin K P Lim and Jeffrey K Y Low
Singapore lies in the central region of Southeast Asia and the Indo-west Pacific. The shallow seas and equatorial climate support a wide range of ecosystems like coral reefs and mangrove swamps. The island is flanked in the east by the South China Sea which has over 4,000 species of fish.
view of Singapore River
View of Singapore River
an artificial estuarine environment

photo: N Sivasothi
a selection of fishes
Sweetlips (Diagramma pictum),
rabbitfishes (Siganus guttatus) and snappers (Lutjanus carponotatus)
at an artificial reef in
the Singapore Straits

photo: REST
At the time of writing, at least 865 species of marine fish have been recorded from Singapore since the 1800's, but only about 400 of these are of confirmed occurrence.

The others consist mainly of species collected from markets and may not actually be found in local waters.
This book is not a comprehensive record of the coastal marine fishes of Singapore, but rather is intended more as an introductory guide for students and the nature enthusiast. We hope the reader will find this small and handy guide useful in helping to identify the more common species of fish. However, do not expect to be able to identify every and any fish with this book as only 200 of the more common species are illustrated. We also like to point out that Singapore's marine fish fauna is not well studied, and new records, and even new species of fish are still being discovered.
These cardinalfishes
(Apogon endekataenia) characterised by a large black blotch at the tail base and reddish stripes on the sides, were photographed in the Singapore Straits

photo: REST
The fishes covered in this guidebook spend most, if not all of their lives in brackish and saltwater. These are found either in coastal inland drainages or in the sea. There are fishes which can live in the sea, as well as in freshwater. They tend to frequent estuarine areas where the water is brackish, Many species can easily be observed in their natural habitat, especially in tide pools by the beachcomber, and on coral reefs, by the scuba diver or snorkeller. The latter may have a harder time appreciating fishes here as the visibility of local waters is often very poor. The angler sees the fishes that he or his companions catch. Fishes wastefully discarded by anglers on jetties are mostly of the shore-dwelling variety and many of these are illustrated here.
Coastal Marine Habitats
Fishy Trivia
Dangerous Fishes
Fishes and Man
About the guidebook
From A Guide to Common Marine Fishes of Singapore by Kelvin K P Lim and Jeffrey K Y Low
Published by the Singapore Science Centre and sponsored by BP

©Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and Singapore Science Centre