Check out my YouTube video with easy visualization of the lesson.

Do I say fishes or fish?

This is a common question in the realm of fishes. And here are some generalities and examples to consider before I fully explain.

  • fish can be both plural and singular
    • Singular Example: I saw a fish jump out of the water.
    • Plural Example: I saw fish jump out of the water.
  • fishes can be both plural and singular
    • Singular Example: The fishes is the most diverse group of vertebrates.
    • Plural Example: There are over 33,000 species of fishes.
  • fish can be both a noun and a verb.
    • Noun Example: The biggest fish I ever caught had my heart pounding. (Also see above in the singular and plural examples)
    • Verb Example: I enjoy any chance I get to fish with my father.
  • fishes can be both a noun and a verb.
    • Noun Example: Normally when there are more fishes in an ecosystem, the overall biodiversity is high. (Also see above in the singular and plural examples)
    • Verb Example: She fishes with a unique style.

So, it if firstly important to know if the fish or fishes you wish to use is a noun or a verb.

The Rule to Remember for 'Fish' or 'Fishes' in the Noun Form:

  1. Use "fish" when referring to a single species and use "fishes" when referring to more than one species.

Fish is also used when referring to a number of specimens greater than 1, collectively.

  • Example: Say you were snorkeling and you saw 3 giant oceanic manta rays, 2 blacktip reef sharks, and 2 West Australian seahorses. Then you could say that you saw 7 fish. 3 + 2 + 2 = 7.
  • Example: By that same witnessing, you could say that you saw 3 fishes because the giant oceanic manta ray is a single species, the blacktip reef shark is a single species and the same is true for the West Australian seahorse. 3 species = 3 fishes no matter the # of specimens.
  • Example: Even if there were 500 blacktip reef sharks instead of the 2 in the previous examples, there would be 505 fish and still 3 fishes

This video explains as well with some visual examples.

Table of Contents - The Fishes