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in all my life of fishing catching multiple types of fish, even when multiple types are caught at the same time i have never, ever used the word fishes. That's like calling 20 sheep, 20 sheeps. if i heard someone use the word fishes, i'd be inclined to correct them, than end up in a debate about it which i would eventually lose because google says fishes is a word. the end.
Yes. It is shorthand for saying "types of fish". In fact, in English many uncountable and/or unchangeable nouns take on a plural when you mean "types of" or "kinds of" in certain technical, occupational, mercantile situations. For example, there is the baker who may say, "We have three breads on special today".
And as InfiniteEngima points out, it is also literary, and as you say, archaic, used in older translations of the Bible, for instance.
@julian_buzz (in response to the first post)
You are probably right if you stay in a conversational register. However, "all the fish in the sea" is not equivalent to "all the fishes in the sea." The second phrase has the power to make you think of many different kinds of fish.
Similarly, "There are other fish in the sea," means that the one you did not catch is nothing special--there are many more (just like it) for the taking. "There are other fishes in the sea," means that even though you have seen one fish, you have not yet seen them all. There are many other interesting fish (I would say "fishes") to discover.
Somebody was stating that "fishes" would be the archaic form in English. I think "fish" is the archaic form. A lot of nouns that don´t follow the -s rule in English for plurals do so because the are remnants of Old English which was pretty much like German in terms of grammar. So, mouse - mice, fish - fish, goose - geese, man - men etc... Some even follow the "umlaut rule", meaning that they change a sound in the middle of the word.
Edit: in fact the form "fishes" seems to be older, see replies bellow
Funny, this might be true... It is usually the other way around :)) http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/fish "The older form fishes is still used, when referring to different kinds of fish (freshwater fishes of the British Isles)."
What's the rationale here: "Die Kinder haben Fische", but "Die Katzen essen Fisch". Is there something in particular about the German language that I'm to learn in this instance or do we simply have two inconsistent uses of the word fish? (which we all realize can be either singular or plural in English) I'm good either way - just curious if there's a legitimate German lesson to take from it.