Chouguiyu, or stinky mandarinfish, is a traditional Chinese fermented fish product made of mandarinfish by spontaneous fermentation at the anaerobic condition with low-salt concentration. In order to get a primary understanding of the microbial community presenting in the Chouguiyu fermentation, 61 cultures of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) from various fermentation period were isolated using MRS agar plates and characterized based on a combination of phenotypic and genotypic approaches including amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis (ARDRA) and 16S rRNA partial gene sequencing analysis. Eight distinct bacterial species belonging to 6 genera were identified in total. Among them, Lactobacillus sakei was the dominant species (63%) during the fermentation, which exhibited great variety in phenotypic tests but unique genotypic characters. Meanwhile, the other LAB species including Lactococcus (Lc.) garvieae, Lc. lactis, Lc. raffinolactis, Vagococcus sp., Enterococcus hermanniensis, Macrococcus caseolyticus as well as Streptococcus parauberis were also recovered from the different fermentation periods, especially at the initial point of the fermentation. This seems to be the 1st report investigating the LAB composition involved in Chouguiyu fermentation and the data obtained in this study may be valuable for selecting starter culture for Chouguiyu industrial-scale production.