• In the Caribbean waters, there are fish of every hue.

Since one is talking about different kinds of fish, should fish be in marked plural form (fishes) here?

  • 3
    You can use either. They way you have it now is perfectly grammatical and idiomatic. As would using the plural be.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 23, 2022 at 12:22
  • 6
    In the above example "fish" is plural.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 23, 2022 at 12:39
  • 1
    Hot Licks is correct here. In the Amazonian skies, there are bird of every hue. is of course incorrect. ' ... there are ... ' requires a plural-form count noun usage. But unlike 'bird', the plural form of 'fish' is either 'fishes' or invariant 'fish'. General reference. Whether 'fish' is more common and 'fishes' preferred by some for 'different types of fish' is a different matter. Mar 23, 2022 at 15:02
  • 6
    My reading of this question is not that the poster is unaware that the plural of fish may in some cases be either fish or fishes, but that the poster wonders whether, in the particular case where multiple varieties of fish are being discussed, the plural must be fishes. I am not aware of a general-reference source that addresses this specific question, and, therefore, I think it is a legitimate question for EL&U .
    – Sven Yargs
    Mar 24, 2022 at 1:20
  • 1
    Sven has rightly understood my question. Anyway, other comments were also informative enough for me. Thanks Dan, Hot Licks and Edwin.
    – Ammamon
    Mar 24, 2022 at 5:55

2 Answers 2


The plural form of "fish" is "fish" ("fishes" is also an accepted plural, but it is less common). The same is true for

  • bison
  • sheep
  • deer
  • moose
  • aircraft

and a number of other words. You can find some more examples here: Nouns with the same plural and singular forms


Further to Sven Yargs's comment, to explain why many books have fishes rather than fish in their titles:

What is the plural of fish?

The word "fish" is singular and plural for a single species: one Green Sunfish, two Green Sunfish. Ichthyologists (people who study fishes) use "fishes" to refer to more than one species, four different species of sunfishes, fishes of the Gulf of Maine. G. Helfman and B. Collette; Fishes: The Animal Answer Guide (2011)

Fish versus fishes. By convention, "fish" refers to one or more individual of a single species. "Fishes" is used when discussing more than one species, regardless of the number of individuals involved. G. Helfman et al.; The Diversity of Fishes: Biology, Evolution, and Ecology (2009)

  • +1. To this useful and succinct answer I would add that fish as a plural also commonly appears in instances where undifferentiated members of the classification "fish" (that is, fish qua fish) are under discussion, whether they are all of the same species or not. Thus "There are many fish in the sea" refers (often figuratively) to the vast number of fish of all kinds that live in the sea, but "There are many fishes in the sea" is likelier to be used to refer to the many types of fish within the superclass Osteichthyes that live in large bodies of saltwater.
    – Sven Yargs
    Mar 24, 2022 at 17:50

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