The Tel Aviv Zoological Museum Fish Collection includes species from Israel and the surrounding area, collected since the1940s. The collection also holds species collected by Israeli and foreign scientists during Israeli research expeditions to the southern Red Sea area and the Seychelles. Several of the specimens were donated by scientists from distant countries. The purpose of this collection is to enable the study and documentation of fish species and the detection of direct and indirect changes that have occurred in our aquatic systems as a consequence of human activity. The collections holds over 14,000 samples encompassing more than 120,000 fish specimens, including type specimens, of marine and inland water species. The collection data are routinely updated in the computerized database, including systematics and collection information (site of collection, date etc.). 

Most of the species come from three biogeographical areas:

  • Inland water  collection – Tel-Aviv University holds the largest collection of inland water fish species from Israel and the surrounding area. The collection documents the changes that have taken place in Israel's aquatic habitats since the 1940s, such as the specimens of three now extinct fish species from the Hula Lake (one of which was described as new for science only after its extinction). In addition, the collection holds specimens of invasive species from various aquatic habitats.


  • Red Sea collection – this collection holds species from all areas of the Red Sea (Eritrea to Eilat). Our coral fish species from the northern Red Sea constitute one of the largest representations of this group in the world.
  • Mediterranean collection – most species in the collection are from the eastern coast of the Mediterranean and represent the world's most extensive collection of littoral and deep sea species (below 1,000m) found in the waters between Turkey and Libya.

The collection reflects the research of Israeli as well as foreign scientists, from countries such as Austria, Australia, Italy, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Canada, Russia and Sweden. These scientists either visit and use our facilities or we mail the specimens on loan to them in their own countries.

The Mediterranean Sea is undergoing fundamental changes in its biodiversity due to the warming of the waters and continuous penetration of invasive species from the Red Sea. A study conducted on this subject over the past few years has added many new samples to the collection and an increased insight into the process by which the Mediterranean Sea is slowly becoming a biogeographical extension of the Indian Ocean