Preserving Fish Specimens

Specimens from any field collection should be deposited in a reference collection in an institutional for the long-term maintenance and access for the future. The animals should therefore be preserved in the best possible condition and where possible, ensure that the natural colour is retained, their external appendages (e.g. fins) are erected and stomach contents intact. Care should be taken to ensure that specimens are undamaged. Features important in the taxonomic study of fish are easily damaged with contact even after preservation.

Preparation of preserving fish specimens in liquid preservatives 1. Take 5 specimens / group.
2. Identify the external morphology and meristic count for each specimen. 3. Determine the main characteristic of each specimen.
4. Lay the fish on white Styrofoam board and spread-out all the fins using pin. 5. Apply Formalin on top of the fins (both sides) and let the formalin dry. 6. Record the specimen ID and write the required information on a data sheet (use pencil).

7. Tie label to each specimen using thread.
8. Capture good quality photograph for each specimen.
9. Prepare 10% Formalin. Put specimens in an appropriate container containing 10% Formalin for a week. (Never mix specimens from two different localities/species in the same bottle. Always use a fresh bottle for each site/species). Always make sure to mark or insert a data sheet into the bottle for every site collected. A data sheet is extremely important for it records the place where the specimens were collected and the date of collection. 10. After one week, soak specimens in freshwater for 1 - 2 days (leach out the formalin).

11. Prepare 70% Ethanol. Transfer specimens in an appropriate specimen bottle containing 70% Ethanol for long-term preservation.
12. Store the specimen bottles in dry place and avoid sunlight.
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