Four Philippine fringing reefs were surveyed, each along eight transects, which compose a continuum of an average of 47, 2 m x 2m quadrats. Fishes were censused and substrate characteristics surveyed in each quadrat Data were analyzed using rank, multiple, and canonical correlations. Fish abundance was increasingly correlated with greater complexity of susbstrate type. Strong consistent positive correlations were evident in fish abudance and diversity with living coral cover and, in fish biomass, with an index of surface complexity. An analysis of substrate correlations with fish abundance in different activity-range categories lends quantitative evidence to the hypothesis that shelter space is more important than food availability in determining abundance of reef fishes.