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"Fish On"-Line: A Web-accessible Database of Aquatic Biological Data

About Fish Online


The USGS Idaho Water Science Center (WSC) has a large array of data collected from many aquatic locations throughout Idaho that describes algae, aquatic invertebrate, and fish populations and tissue samples. The large multi-site data sets are currently housed in separate Excel spreadsheets and being delivered through an Internet Map Service (ArcIMS) managed by ISC. In this format, the data is available but not particularly usable because the flat Excel files are not cross-referenced and data are only available in spatially restricted site-specific blocks.


  • To develop and populate a relational database, using a standard data dictionary, that functions as a stand-alone product and is cross compatible with a developing USGS database similar to the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) database.
  • To build a query tool allowing users to allowing users to search for and extract segments of the data for report generation and analysis.
  • To link this database to the NBII Great Basin Information Project with an associated query tool.

This data array is compatible with a developing USGS database similar to the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) database but because these data were not collected as an integral part of the NAWQA program it cannot be served with this national dataset. Additionally, WSC has a data dictionary backbone in use by other USGS Water Science Centers that defines a more useful data delivery format. They would like to migrate the flat files to this relational database format. Because the data is available on a USGS Water Resources site it is not easily locatable by biological scientists and managers who may effectively use the data.

Biologist holding a brown trout
Biologist holding a brown trout (Salmo trutta) on the Boise River.

History of data collection

Data for this site were obtained through cooperative projects between the USGS and the State of Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, City of Boise, Henry’s Fork Foundation, and the Nature Conservancy. The USGS National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program directly supported collection of aquatic community data to support water quality assessment. The objectives varied for each project but the sampling protocols were similar. See the list of publications for sampling protocols used.


Support for this web site has come from the Columbia River USGS Interdisciplinary Science Explorer (CRUISE) project and the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII). CRUISE's focus is on serving USGS data, science applications and real-time modeling analyses. NBII is a broad, collaborative program to provide increased access to data and information on the nation's biological resources.

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Page Last Modified: 1/5/2007