Get Involved

Volunteer Time

Volunteers are a critical component of our workforce. If you'd like to assist in the collections contact the collection manager or curator.

Donate Financially

If you'd like to contribute financially to our fish collection and/or the Fishes of Texas Project please go to our donation page.

Donate Specimens

It is considered best scientific practice to deposit specimens used in scientific research to allow for data verification and reproducibility. Depositing specimens with us is an easy process for scientists or non-scientists that will result in the publication of the donor's specimen records in all of our online datasets. It will make specimen data citable and easy to reference in publications and allow researchers (including the donor) from all over the world to access the specimens in perpetuity. Once deposited, specimens could last hundreds of years or more if preserved properly.


Donors must provide copies of all documentation or permits authorizing the legal collection and importation (if applicable) of the specimens. The required documents differ depending on the species, where, and when the specimens were collected. In many cases, especially if collected in the US what is required may be nothing more than a state fishing license issued by the state from where the specimens came. Researchers usually need to provide a scientific collecting permit issued by the state. Specimens from outside the US require other permits. We may request that you provide a letter authorizing permission from a landowner if collected from privately owned water bodies. Contact the collection manager if you have any questions.

Deed of Gift form

We must receive a signed Deed of Gift form. This is a way for us to get legal custody of the specimens and gather additional relevant data about them. That form is here.

Specimen preparation

We accept various types of specimens (either whole or incomplete) including skeletons, cleared and stained, and tissue samples, but most donors provide fluid preserved specimens (formalin fixed and transferred to ethanol). Whatever the type, they must be labeled with rag paper using pencil or inks that do not smear or dissolve in ethanol. The labels should indicate where and when the specimens were collected at a minimum, but can also include field numbers, counts of specimens, lengths of specimens, taxonomic determinations, determiner names and determination dates. Labels should be inside the jars with well-sealed lids.

Ancillary data items

We ask that donors provide field notes, contemporaneously acquired environmental data, or images of the specimens or habitats taken at the time of collection, if such items exist. We will maintain those in our files and provide them via online data providers.

Data spreadsheet

It greatly speeds the processing of specimens into the collections if donors provide a spreadsheet of data relating to the specimens. The data we need include the following, but additional data can be included (dates and localities are required):

  • Specimen unique identifiers
  • Field numbers
  • Locality (*)
  • Higher geography (county, state, country)
  • Coordinates (decimal degrees preferred)
  • Spatial error estimate (as length of a radius originating from the coordinates)
  • Dates (*)
  • Taxonomic determination
  • Collector names

Here is an Excel file template, with even more fields, that can help donors to organize data to send us. Please contact the collection manager with questions.

Publications and specimen derivatives

Please let us know if any of the specimens being donated have been used in research so we can properly link the specimens to resources that have been derived from them. We can link to items such as publications, genetic sequences, and imagery so long as those items are findable online.


At this time specimen deposition, curation, species determinations, and perpetual housing are free services.