Ichthyology Section

The Ichthyology section was established in 1997 with a vision to develop and curate substantial reference collections East African fish through region-wide fish diversity survey and monitoring work. Collection and information of fish support research in taxonomy, phylogeny, bio-geography, ecology, biodiversity conservation and aquaculture. Studies of fishes involve morphology (traditional morphometrics and geomorphometric) osteolgy and molecular studies in collaboration with the Molecular Genetics department and several collaborators.

The Ichthyology Collection is the largest collection of freshwater, brackish and marine fishes of East and Central Africa located within the continent. The section currently houses over 50,000 specimens of whom approximately 35,000 are fresh and brackish water while 15,000 are marine (Indian Ocean).

The collection contains the type material of three freshwater species described by staff of the section and a variety of unique collections including: Two-headed juvenile shark (Alopius superciliosus), Rare and endemic Pancake-headed catfish (Clarotestarabinii), Rediscovered Coelacanth (Latimeria chilumnae), Yellowfin Tuna which Islamic communities in the coast claim has Qoranic inscription, and the rare Sea Horse (Hippocampus capensis).

Research Theme
Auto-ecological studies on target or indicator fish species (feeding habits, ecology,spatial distribution etc.), Phylogeny and evolutionary bioinformatics and GIS.

The section offers the following services


  • Specialized library focusing on ichthyology and African fishes.


  • Public exhibition of freshwater and marine fish of East Africa in the Nairobi Museum gallery
  • Awareness creation on fishes of Kenya through participation in open day and supporting fisheries department of Kenya in exhibition at the annual Nairobi Agricultural Show.
  • Specimen identification
  • Information on fisheries and aquaculture
  • Technical advice on aquarium development and fish
  • Fish field equipment
  • Support for Samaki Working Group of Kenya (Nature Kenya)
  • Training for colleges and university students on taxonomy and classification and fish curation methods

Ongoing Research Projects

    • Biodiversity Management Program in the Horn of Africa EUROPEAID-IGAD (Inter Governmental Authority on Development).


  • USAID Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER); Capacity Building in Fish Biodiversity Discovery in Kenya.
  • Kenya Wetlands Biodiversity Research Group (KENWEB)


  • Laikipia Wetlands Monitoring Program.
  • Socio-economics Impacts of Agro-fuels in the Tana Delta (PACTER Project)
  • Bar-code for Wildlife Project
  • Lake Baringo Biodiversity Ecosystem Project
  • Mapping of Wetlands- D-R-S-R
  • Northern Rangeland Biodiversity Survey (Water Quality and Fish)
  • Lionffish Project (Collaboration with the university of Copenhagen)

Collaborators and Affiliates

  • Dr. Antonia Ford, University College London
  • Dr. Dirk Verschuren, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Dr. Doug McCauley, University of Santa Barbara, California
  • Dr. Inger Winklemann, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Dr. Modecai Ogada, Conservation Solutions Afrika, Kenya
  • Dr. Olivier Hamerlynck, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK
  • Dr. Stephanie Duvail, French Institute of Research for Development, France
  • Fisheries Department of Kenya
  • Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute
  • Prof. Hank Bart, Tulane University, New Orleans
  • Prof. Jean Francois Agnese, University of Montpellier II, France
  • Prof. Jos Snoeks, Royal Museum of Central Africa, Belgium
  • Prof. Tuur Moalants, Royal Museum of Central Africa, Belgium

Staff members

  1. Dr. Wanja Dorothy Nyingi- Freshwater fish boidiversity; wetlands ecology
  2. Dr. Elizabeth Akinyi Odhiambo- Freshwater fish (Taxonomy, systematic and Ecology (molecular and morphological)
  3. Mr. Edward Njagi Linus- Marine fisheries
  4. Mr. Julius Kioko Nguku- Freshwater and estuarine fish (Taxonomy, systematic and fish-base)
  5. Mr. Cornelius Mwongela Matingi- Freshwater fish biodiversity (Taxonomy and Ecology)
  6. Mr. Tom Akelo- Marine fisheries (molecular systematic, conservation and bio-geography)