Getting Started

FishBase runs on all recent Windows platforms

To be able to run FishBase 2000, you need a computer capable of running Microsoft Windows 95, 98, Me, Windows NT or Windows 2000. For an adequate performance, we recommend a Pentium processor with at least 200 MHz processing speed and at least 64 megabytes of RAM. You will also need a CD-ROM with at least 36X speed drive and a mouse. Picture quality will benefit from a VGA monitor and video card capable of displaying at least 256, better 65,000 colors. FishBase forms are designed for standard VGA resolution, i.e., 640 x 480 pixels. If you use higher resolutions, FishBase will occupy only part of your screen.

For FishBase to run properly, several files have to be installed on your computer’s harddisk. The FishBase Setup program will do this for you.

Follow these steps to install FishBase 2000:

  1. If you had a previous version of FishBase installed, use the ‘Add/Remove Programs’ routine of Windows to uninstall it.

  2. Make sure your CD-ROM player is properly installed;

  3. Put the FishBase Database CD-ROM disc 1 into your CD-ROM player;

  4. Click on the Start button and select Run. The Run command dialog box will appear; enter X:\setup.exe, where X is the letter assigned to your CD-ROM drive; press Enter;

  5. The FishBase Setup window will appear and guide you through the installation process;

  6. Initially, you will be asked to check if there are applications currently open. If this is the case, you have to exit Setup and close all running applications, including virus protection software. The Setup routine will be installing and updating shared files. Other open applications may prevent Setup from installing FishBase properly.

  7. The FishBase Setup software gives you four installation options:

    1. Full Installation: to install everything on your harddisk (about 2,275 megabytes). FishBase may run slower on a compressed drive regardless of compression utility used. Disk compression degrades performance with Access 2000.

    2. LAN Installation Workstation: to install the minimum requirements on the workstation and access data and pictures from the LAN server.

    3. Read from CD-ROM: to install a minimum of files (about 165 megabytes) on your harddisk and run FishBase from the CD-ROM. This, however, will be relatively slow, with no maps, no Fish Quiz and no pictures;

    4. Run database from harddisk: to install FishBase software and data on your harddisk (about 590 megabytes). The speed of the application is affected by the speed of the CD-ROM when using the OCCURRENCES table.

  1. FishBase Setup will create a C:\FISHBASE directory on your C: drive to store temporary files. Note that you will need at least 49 megabytes free space on your C: drive for FishBase to work properly.

  2. FishBase setup will load the FishBase tools installer. You have the option to install Auxim and Yield (with Popdyn, Keyfacts, Fish on Line and Troph database) and FB advanced, or, install all tools or none. This will require a maximum of 18 MB.

FishBase Registration

Please register your copy of FishBase by providing us with the following information:




Please register E-mail:

FishBase version:

Approximate number of users:


Registration will entitle you to receive future updates of FishBase for US$50, including airmail. It also helps us to know who our users are (see Fig. 1) and what you think about our product. Send your registration and any comment you may have to the following address:

The FishBase Project
MCPO Box 2631
0718 Makati City
Fax No. (63-49) 536-0202


You can also photocopy the registration form on page xiv of this manual and mail or fax it to us.

FishBase on a LAN

Multiple users can access FishBase on a LAN

You can install FishBase 2000 on a Local Area Network (LAN) to allow several users to access FishBase at the same time from their individual desktop computers. To do so, you have to create a virtual drive on the server harddisk (e.g., H:\) and copy all files and directories from CD1 to CD4 to the virtual drive. To avoid locking problems make sure the file attributes are Read, Write and Share. Users can install FishBase from the LAN by following the installation procedure discussed under the topic Getting Started, with Option for minimum installation and specifying the LAN drive (e.g., H:\) instead of the CD-ROM drive. Note that it may not be possible to run FishBase or the pictures from a LAN CD-ROM server.

Rainer Froese and Meynard Gilhang

FishBase and Microsoft Access

FishBase was originally created under DOS with DataEase (see ‘The Making of FishBase’, this vol.)

Windows is slow

We always knew it would be difficult to move a large application such as FishBase from DataEase to another database software. We knew that we would have to recreate all forms and tables and rewrite the more than 200 procedures of FishBase 1.0. One of us (Portia Bonilla) was a database programmer familiar with DataEase and enthusiastic about Microsoft Access. And we started 10 months before the first planned release date. Still we nearly failed to make it in time.

Also, we were not happy with a number of features of MS Access 1.1 and even Access 2000. Several of our disappointments with Microsoft Access resulted from its limited or awkward use of Windows’ graphic capabilities:

Slow pictures
  • One of our reasons to move to Windows was the assumption that it would be easy to incorporate thousands of pictures. However, a picture that occupied 30 kilobytes under DOS suddenly grew to 300 kilobytes under Windows and to even more when attached to Microsoft Access. The time to load and display a picture also increased 10-fold and we had to use tricks to include pictures in printouts;

No italics
  • Another assumption was that we would be able to display species names in italics, both on screen and in printouts. However, this cannot be done if the name appears in a text string such as a reference title or a remarks field (it is all or nothing in italics). This is the reason for our use of the <i></i> sign before and after words that should have been italicized (see Fig. 37).

Demanding layout
  • Also, the countless options for screen layout and the high expectations raised by professional multimedia applications make this side of software development much more important and demanding than it used to be, even more so since we have to cater to inexperienced users and cannot just use the Windows standard interface;

  • The Query-by-example module that would allow users to create their own queries within FishBase is not contained in the Microsoft Access run-time module. Users have to purchase Microsoft Access to avail of these capabilities.

The Setup blues

Windows has introduced the concept of dynamic link libraries (DLL) supposedly so that different programs can share the same libraries. However, from Windows 95 onward these libraries have to be registered, and newer versions might not work with older programs. This has made proper installation of software a nightmare, because the success of an installation largely depends on which programs and DLLs are already installed. We have tested the current setup on fresh installations of Windows 95, 98, NT4.0, Me and Windows 2000. We also have tested it on a variety of machines with MS Office and other software installed. We have fixed all problems we came across, but we still cannot guarantee that FishBase 2000, and particularly its yield and auxim routines, will install properly on all existing configurations.

The bright side

There is also a bright side: a graphical interface is user-friendlier. Windows relieves us of the burden to worry about user hardware (printer, monitor, mouse, etc.). The Windows help system allows us to put this whole manual on disk where it can be accessed from anywhere within FishBase. The continuing development of faster hardware will eventually solve the speed problem; and the availability of Windows on Macintosh, Power PCs and Unix systems will bring FishBase to all of these platforms.

Make it faster

Here are tips to make FishBase (and Microsoft Access in general) perform better with limited RAM:

  • close other applications when running FishBase;

  • defragment your harddisk.

If you have Microsoft Access
With MS Access, you can create your own reports

FishBase has grown and now comes in eight databases. The main database is split into four files: FBUSER.MDB, FBAPP.MDB, FBOCCUR.MDB and FBAD.MDB. FBUSER.MDB contains the forms, reports, queries and user-defined functions. FBAPP.MDB contains all main data tables except for the OCCURRENCES table that is contained in FBOCCUR.MDB. FBAD.MDB contains several routines for advanced users, such as the ‘Check Names’ routine. The FBWRITE.MDB contains tables used for temporary reports and resides in C:\FISHBASE. The USER.MDB contains the FishWatcher table, the NAMES.MDB contains the Local Knowledge tables, and the COUNTRY.MDB contains the National Checklist table. All these databases reside in C:\FishBase. Moreover, the interface for these tables is in FBAD.MDB. If you have a licensed copy of Microsoft Access, you can open the databases and, e.g., create your own queries to combine or extract information.

The Internet tools available with Access 2000 are meant for Intranets and are too slow to make sense on the Internet. Thus, while we still use the MS Access Jet database engine for data tables and queries, we had to create a completely new user interface in the Internet, using Cold Fusion as database web server. As the usage of FishBase on the Internet (over 600,000 hits per month in November 2000) continues to increase, we plan to move to a more stable database backend such as MS SQL server.

Rainer Froese, Portia Bonilla, Alice Laborte and Ma. Josephine France Rius