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Rhodes University Ichthyology Department

Rhodes University Ichthyology Department

The Rhodes University Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science (DIFS) is a leading African academic institution supporting the sustainable utilisation and study of fish and fisheries through teaching and training of students, conducting research and providing service support.

The DIFS was founded in 1981 when the former JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology (now South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity – SAIAB), became a National Museum. It is the only department of its kind on the Southern Hemisphere.

Since then, DIFS has graduated more than 150 Honours, Masters and PhD students. In 1998 the DIFS began offering a two year major in Ichthyology which students may read as part of the BSc degree.

87% of our graduates are employed or self employed in the fields in which they gained expertise at Rhodes University – in academia, research, aquaculture, fisheries management, stock assessment, conservation or sport fisheries management. Nationally and internationally our graduates are highly competitive and may be found in Canada, the USA, Europe, Australia, China and throughout Africa and South Africa.

Increasingly, the Departments activities and projects are becoming multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional and the participation of the DIFS is sought in most major fisheries and aquaculture development initiatives in the SADC region

Undergraduate Courses

Postgraduate Courses



The Margaret Smith Library at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) is a valuable national and international resource for the study of both marine and freshwater fishes, and fisheries and aquaculture. There is a strong focus on Africa. The library resources and services, shared with Rhodes University Library, primarily support research and teaching at both SAIAB and the University. The Library is also open for research to staff, students and visitors from similar university departments and ichthyology and fisheries institutes worldwide.
  • Brochure
  • Margaret Smith Library Libguide

Fish collection

The fish collection, housed in the SAIAB, represents the largest collection of southern African fish anywhere in the world. It is the largest fish collection in Africa and the second largest in the southern hemisphere.

Experimental Facilities

The Department has a fully operational freshwater recirculating fish farm and a marine fish hatchery on its premises. The Department has six temperature-controlled labs, five of which are used for marine and freshwater fish culture, and one for the production of rotifers and Artemia.

Port Alfred Marine Laboratory

The facility consists of a series of recirculating systems. The Port Alfred lab is used for our work on the south east coast line fisheries and for marine fish culture. These are occupied and run by students on a full time basis.


The Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science has two 4X4 and two 4X2 vehicles, 60 HP fibreglass and inflatable boats, and various laboratory equipment (e.g. microKjeldahl, muffle furnace, drying ovens). More sophisticated equipment such as flame spectrophotometers, HPLC, electron microscopes (SEM and TEM) is shared by several departments within the Faculty of Science and Pharmacy.
Molecular Research
Molecular research is carried out in partnership with SAIAB who run a fully equipped genetics research laboratory. Read more about this here.



Enquiries about the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science can be sent to:

PO Box 94, Grahamstown, 6140, RSA
Tel: +27-(0)46-603-8415/6
Fax: +27-(0)46-622-4827

Or contact our Adminstrative Assistant:

Yvain Erasmus

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