Texts about fish



If you know more titles which should be added to this lists below, please feel free to add them in the comment field. They will be included in the next update of this lists.

Recent texts and research about fish 

Snippet from the 19th century:

A quote, which I recently discovered gives some more hints where to look for specific information about aquatic life. In the Cyclopaedia; Or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences and Literature” (1819), Abraham Rees provided a list of classic and early modern Ichthyologist:

“ICHTHYOLOGISTS, authors who have written concerning fishes. The authors who have left us treaties on this subject are very numerous; and are ranged by Artedi into there several proper classes, with great care and candour.

The systematical ichthyologists are Aristotle, Isidore, Albertus Magnus, Gaza, the interpreter of Aristotle, Marschall, Wootton, Bellonius, Rondeletius, Salvian, Gesner, Aldrovand, Johnston, Charlton,Willughby, Ray, Artedi, and Linnaeus.

The ichthyologists who have written of the fishes only of some particular places are these: Oivid, of fishes of the Euxine, Oppian, of those of the Adriatic ; Ausonnius, of those of the Mosella; Mangolt, of those of the Podunie lake; Paulus Jovius, of those of the Tyrrhene sea; Bened. Jovius, of those 0f the lake Larius; Petrus Gillius, of those of the Massilian sea; Figulus, of those of the Moselle; Salvian, of those of the Tyrrhene sea ; Schwenkfeldt, of those of Silefia; Schonefeldt, of those of Hamburgh; Margrave, of the Brasilian fishes; Ruysel, of those of Amboyna; and Francis Valentine, of those of the same place. Of these authors, Ovid, Ausonius, Oppian, and Bened. Jovius, wrote in verse, the rest in prose.

The ichthyologists, who have copied they have written from the works of other writers, and therefore least deserve the name, are the following : Pliny, AElian, Athaeneus, Isidore, the author of the “Libri De Natura Rerum,” Albertus Magnus, Johannes Cuba, Marschall, Gesner in great part, Aldrovand in great part, Johnston, Charlton, and perhaps some others.” (Rees, 1819, vol. 18, ‘ICH’ )


New Science From Old news

In her book “New Science From Old News” (Lisbon 2016) Cristina Brito from the CHAM – Portuguese Center for Global History in Lisbon discusses the role of sea monsters with regard to the transfer of knowledge  about the natural world in the early modern period.  “Capture, trade and collection of marine animals – specimens, remains and products, stories and illustrations – has a documented history that changed dramatically with the European Overseas expansion. Since the 15th and 16th century many exotic animals and several accounts, descriptions and representations, were brought to Europe opening up a new period in the global economy of Nature and in the making of the natural history. Most European naturalists, and practitioners, showed an ability to observe and comprehend the new (local and distant) natural world. Naturalists n their cabinets, through their connections or local journeys, greatly enlarged the knowledge about Nature. But the accounts from pilots, travellers, traders, missionaries and other, offered a significant contribute to the writing of a new Natural History.” The book is available on ISSUU . More texts by the author can be found on ResearchGate. (October 2016)

more about Recent Research and other news







15th century books about fish:



Jacob Meydenbach, Hortus Sanitatis, Mainz 1485. The ‘Tractatus De Piscibus‘ is richly illustrated with woodcuts like the rest this encyclopaedia.   https://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/view/PR-INC-00003-A-00001-00008-00037/675

Johannes Rittershofen, Dis büchlin sagt wie man Fisch Vnd vogel fahen soll, Erlangen 1498

16th century books about fish

Paolo Giovio, De Romanis piscibus libellus ad Ludouicum Borbonium Cardinalem amplissimum, Rom (Calvo) 1524. The book has no illustrations.  (https://archive.org/details/pauliiouiinouoco00giov)

Paolo Giovio, De Romanis piscibus libellus ad Ludouicum Borbonium Cardinalem amplissimum, Basel (Froben) 1531 The book has no illustrations. (https://archive.org/details/pauliiouiinouoco00giov)

Wie man allerley Fisch fahen soll, auch Enten und Vögel mit den Händen ergreiffen kann, (???), 1550 (https://books.google.be/books?id=xPxUAAAAcAAJ&dq)

Hyppolyto Salviana, Aquatilium animalium historiae, liber primus: cum eorumdem formis, aere excusis,  Rom (Salviana) 1553. The book is illustrated. (http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/82337#/summary)



Gulielmus Rondelet, Libri de piscibus marinis, in quibus verae piscium effigies expressae sunt,  Lyon (Bonhomme) 1554. The book is illustrated. (http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/82337#/summary)


Newe Fisch Ordnung der Stat Wienn, Wien (Hanns Singriener) 1557 (https://books.google.be/books?id=_U1fAAAAcAAJ&dq)





Gregor Mangolt, Fischbuch, Fischbüch Von der natur und eigenschafft der vischen insonderheit deren so gefangen werdend im Bodensee und gemeinlich auch in anderen seen und wasseren durch den wolgeleerten Gregorium Mangolt beschriben vormals nie gesaehen,  Zürich (Gessner) 1557 (http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/0002/bsb00027043/images/ )

Conrad Gessner, Historia animalium: Qui est de Piscium & Aquatilium animantium natura: cum iconibus singulorum ad vivum expressis fere omnib, Zürich (Christoph Froschovius) 1558 (https://books.google.be/books?id=Ew9kXouC0YMC)




Conrad Gessner and Conrad Forer, Fischbuch, Das ist eine kurze, doch vollkommene Beschreibung aller Fische so in dem Meer und süssen Wassern, Seen, Flüssen, oder anderen Bächen ihrr wohnung haben, Zürich (Christoph Froschauer) 1575 (https://books.google.be/books?id=Peb5STPK2Q0C&dq)

Jan Dubravius (Conrad Gessner), De piscinis et piscium qui in eis aluntur naturis libri quinque … Item Xenocratis De alimento ex aquatilibus Graece & Latine nunc primum aeditus, cum scholiis Conradi GesneriZürich 1559. “Gessner’s great zoological work, Historiae animalium, is a 4,500-page encyclopedia of animals that appeared in Zürich in 4 volumes between 1551 and 1558: quadrupeds, amphibians, birds, and fishes. A fifth folio on snakes was issued in 1587.”(Wikipedia) The edition from 1559 does not have any illustrations.  (http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/6309; https://books.google.be/books?id=pMc7AAAAcAAJ)

Adriaen Coenen, Visboock, Scheveningen 1577-79, handwritten book

Adriaen Coenen, Walvisboock, Scheveningen1583-84, handwritten book

Conrad Gessner and Conrad Forer, Thierbuch Das ist ein kurtze beschreybung aller vierfüssigen Thieren, so auff der erde[n] vn[d] in wassern wonend, sampt jrer waren conterfactur: alles zu nutz vn[d] gutem allen liebhabern der künsten … gestelt, Zürich (Christoffel Froschower) 1583 (https://books.google.be/books?id=wXpkcMxCn3IC&dq) . The book covers in the last part amphibians and turtles.

17th century books about fish

Caspar Schwenckfeld, Therio-Tropheum Silesiae: in quo animalium, hoc est quadrupedum, reptilium, avium, piscium, insectorum natura, vis et usus sex libris perstringuntur, Liegnitz (Albert) 1603 (https://books.google.be/books?id=iclfAAAAcAAJ)

Medici Ichtyophagia

Luis Núñez, Ludovici Nonni medici Ichtyophagia sive de piscium esv commentarius, Antwerp (Petrus en Joannes Bellerus) 1616. The  book describes 37 species of fish, according to their value for a healthy diet. The book has the format of 16,7 x 10 cm and does not contain any illustrations in the edition of 1616. Additional information about the author can be found on: Luis Nunes, de Antuérpia (1553 – 1645) ou Ludovicus Nonnius. (https://books.google.be/books?id=jEt6X-cHi8MC)




Isaac Lamotius, Zee Tooneel, verbeeldende en wonderbare verscheidenheit van zwemmende en kruipende Zee-Dieren, behorende tot de Geslachten der Visschen, Kreeften, Krabben en andere Water-Schepselen, earlier than 1716, – collection of paintings earlier wrongly attributed to Cornelis de Vlamingh, manuscript held by the Muséum d’Histoire naturelle, Paris. [CB. Holthuis, Theodore W. Pietsch, Les Planches inédites de poissons et autres animaux marins de l’Indo-Ouest Pacifique d’ Isaac Johannes Lamotius, Paris 2006]  Lamotius (born around 1650 – died between 1710 and 1720) was governor of Mauritius from 1677 to 1692. Lamotius was interested in arts and knowledge and became an ichthyologist. (Wikipedia)


Pike, in The Complete Angler, London 1653


Izaak Walton, The complete angler: or The contemplative man’s recreation, London 1653. “First published in 1653, this literary and nature classic was created by a Londoner with a passion for rustic life. (…) it celebrates the art and spirit of fishing with verse, song and folklore, moral reflections, and timeless wisdom. Cast in the form of a dialogue between the veteran angler Piscator and his pupil Viator, it both informs and delights (…).” [Cover of the the reprint by the Courier Corporation, Mineola, New York 2012] (https://books.google.be/books?id=-24VAAAAYAAJ)


Aldrovani 2


Ulisse Aldrovandi, Johannes Cornelius Uterverius, Girolamo Tamburini, De piscibus libri V, et de cetis liber I, Frankfurt a.M. 1623 (https://books.google.be/books?id=gIJDAAAAcAAJ)






Andrea Cirino, Liber secundus de natura piscium, Palermo (Joseph Bisagni) 1653 (https://books.google.be/books?id=jepAAAAAcAAJ)




Johannes Jonston, Historiae naturalis de piscibus et cetis libri 5, Amsterdam (Ioannes Schipper) 1657


Gessner, Frankfurt 1670


Conrad Gessner, Conrad Forer, Georg Horst, Gesnerus redivivus auctus & emendatus, oder: Allgemeines Thier-Buch: Gesneri redivivi aucti et emendati … oder Vollkommenes Fisch-Buch, Volume 4, Frankfurt a.M. 1670 (https://books.google.be/books?id=X81YAAAAcAAJ)




Agostino Scilla, La Vana speculazione disingannata dal senso, lettera risponsiva circa i corpi marini, che petrificati si trovano in varii luoghi terrestri, Naples (Colicchia) 1670. Agostino Scilla (August 10, 1629 – May 31, 1700) was an Italian painter, paleontologist, geologist, and pioneer in the study of fossils. Scilla began to study fossils found in the hills of Sicily, sometimes accompanied by botanist Paolo Boccone. His only written scientific work is La vana speculazione disingannata dal senso. In this work he argues for a scientific explanation for fossils, as opposed to them being of fantastic origin or a test of faith from God. He also correctly identified the supposedly magical objects that were called glossopetrae, or “tongue stones”, as the teeth of sharks. (Wikipedia) (https://books.google.be/books?id=x6NfGLBiCigC&dq)

Boccone, Recherches

Paolo Boccone, Recherches et observations naturelles, de Monsieur Boccone: touchant le corail, la pierre etoilée, les pierres de figure de coquilles, la corne d’ammon, l’astroïte undulatus, les dents de poissons pétrifiées, les herissons alterez, l’embrasement du mont Etna, la sangsüe du Xiphias, l’alcyonium, Amsterdam (J. Jansson à Waesberge) 1674. Paolo Silvio Boccone (24 April 1633 – 22 December 1704) was an Italian botanist from Sicily, whose interest in plants had been sparked at a young age. In 1682, Boccone entered the order of the Cistercians and took the name Silvio. Boccone had been widely regarded by the scientific community, and was in contact with many European naturalists. The French botanist Charles Plumier studied under him at Rome. (https://books.google.be/books?id=D2TzWqSMkPMC)

Francis Willughby, De Historia piscium libri quatuor jussu et sumptibus Societatis regiae Londinensis editi, in quibus non tantum de piscibus in genere agitur, sed et species omnes… naturae ductum servante methodo dispositae accurate describuntur, Oxford (Theator Sheldoniano) 1686. Francis Willughby (1635-1672) was an English ornithologist and ichthyologist. He was a student, friend and colleague of the naturalist John Ray at Cambridge University.( https://books.google.be/books?id=WKjEa8B-evMC)

Baccone, Museo


Paolo Boccone, Museo di fisica e di esperienze variato e decorato di osservazioni naturali (etc.), Venice, (Joan. Bapt. Zucato) 1697.  (https://books.google.be/books?id=VzlgAAAAcAAJ&dq)


Some (early) 18th century books about fish

G.E. Rumphius, D’ Amboinsche Rariteitenkamer, behelzende een beschreyvinge van allerhand zoo weeke als harde schaalvisschen (…), Amsterdam 1705

Placaet (der Staten van Utrecht) op het vissen, in de rivieren, meeren ende binne-wateren. Gearresteert den 8 maert 1708, Utrecht (van Paddenburg) 1708.

G.E. Rumphius,Thesaurus imaginum piscium testaceorum… ut et cochlearum, Leiden  (Peter vander Aa) 1711

John Ray, Synopsis methodica avium et piscium, London ( William Innys) 1713

L. Renard , Poissons, Ècrivisses et Crabes de diverse couleurs et figures extraordinaires, que l’on trouve autour des Isles Moluques, et sur les côtes des Terres Aiustrales, (2 vol.) Amsterdam 1719




H. Reusch, Collectio Nova Piscium Amboinensium, Amsterdam 1718

Henricus Ryusch, Theatrum Universale Omnium Animalium, Piscium, Avium Quadrupedum, Amsterdam (Wetstenios) 1718.




Pieter Bruegel the ElderBig Fish Eat Little Fish, 1556 –  29.5 x 22.6 cm,  drawing, quill pen and brush in grey and black, with transferral lines, Albertina, Vienna (link)



Adriaen Collaert, Claes Jansz Visscher (der Jüngere), Piscium vivae icones, Collection of engravibgs, 12,4 x 19,0 cm, Amsterdam 1634.  Set of twenty engravings showing fishes after Adriaen Collaert (New Hollstein 1436-1461). (https://books.google.be/books?id=5uRAAAAAcAAJ)

2 thoughts on “Texts about fish

  1. Werner Thomas

    Another seventeenth century scientific publication on (exotic) fishes, written by a Portuguese physician living in Antwerp:
    Luis Núñez, Ludovici Nonni medici Ichtyophagia sive de piscium esv commentarius texto impreso, Antwerpen: Petrus en Joannes Bellerus, 1616.
    Exemplaar: Antwerpen, Stadsbibliotheek, J 5907 [C2-539 e]
    16,7 x 10 x 2 open: 16,7 x 20 x 1

    1. Ulrike Fuss Post author

      Thanks a lot, Werner, I am going to add this.
      Sorry for the delay. I hope to maintain a be-weekly update, however, sometimes, this does not work out as expected.


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