Fishing is a FUN and exciting sport because you literally PLAY with your food before it ever lands on your dining room table!

Now you can even play with fresh-caught fish (the skeleton, anyway) AFTER it's been eaten!

This pseudo-taxidermy Instructable will show you how easy it is to preserve and dry a fish skeleton... then turn that skeleton into a whimsical Work of ART! 

The simple, straightforward technique is demonstrated with a Triggerfish but it can also be applied to many species of fish. Experiment with whatever fresh fish you catch.

Hang your fanciful Fish Art from the eaves of your porch or patio for a few months. When the odor dissipates, enjoy these colorful creations anywhere INSIDE your home!

Let's get started with a complete Project Overview for the the things you'll need, beginning with:

STEP 1: Clean and fillet
  • A Triggerfish or?
  • A sharp fillet knife
STEP 2: Drying procedure
  • Aluminum Foil
  • A flat drying surface
  • Rocks
  • A cardboard box or plastic crate
STEP 3: Painting
  • A dremel tool or drill with small bit
  • Assorted acrylic paints
  • Assorted paint brushes
  • Clear gloss spray paint
  • 2 Seashells (or buttons) for the eyes
  • White Glue
  • Glitter
  • A Lure for hanging (optional)
  • A Hanging cord, string or fishing line.
  • A single earring or bead to hang from the tummy. (optional)
STEP 4: Gallery of Fish
  • Picture Gallery of my Triggerfish herd.
  • More instructions on detailed painting.

Step 1: Fillet and clean the Triggerfish

You'll need a Fish and a sharp fillet knife.

Before you start filleting, it's important for you to remember the fish needs a solid "Frame" of skin to hold it's shape. Don't cut through or compromise the "frame."
The second picture in this step illustrates (in white) where to cut.

The next several pictures demonstrate the actual filleting and cleaning of the stomach cavity. Like all fish-cleaning, it gets a little messy.... Guts Happen. ;-)

When your fish is filleted on both sides, clean out the stomach/gut cavity, cutting away all of the organ tissues. Work your fingers into the head cavity and pull out any residual tissue there also. The eyes are pretty slimy at this point. You can cut them out now or wait until the fish is dry.

Rinse the fillets well and refrigerate for dinner. ;-)

Rinse the fish skeleton well in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Proceed to Step 2-->
I just threw away about 20 trigger fish carcasses, but I won't do that again
I AM HOOKED BY THIS 'IBLE (don't pardon the pun)! I love this so much! I live on the gulf coast and this is the kind of art you see in the restaurants here. I AM GOING TO DO THIS! It also helps that my husband LOVES to fish and now I will "force" him to go more often. He sends his gratitude! lol. Thanks for being so awesome!
lol, TabbyDeAnne... just tell me how you really feel. ;-D<br><br>This is such a FUN project. OMG... you just reminded me I have a Halibut skeleton drying in an old ice chest. He's been there about 6 weeks... brb!<br><br>hahaha... here's a pic of the skeleton now. You won't recognize him when I'm done! <br><br>I'm thinking he'll look best hanging vertically. What do you think?<br><br>I'm looking forward to seeing your FINished Fish!!! ;-D
Oooh! Nice! He looks just about perfect! And MEAN! lol. I'm so glad I could help remind you of important art waiting to be....FINished! Hahhaa! Great humor and wonderful art!<br><br>I can't wait to see this when you're done! <br><br>Thanks again and I agree that vertically is the way to go with this bad boy!
Wow, I'm just seeing this now. I think it would be great for hot, dry climates. In this area (the Northeast), we have clever raccoons, coyotes, and lots of other critters that would *find a way* to get to the drying fish! Maybe even vultures!<br><br>Not to mention the humidity.. it would take much longer for the fish to dry here, I think.<br><br>Hmm. I wonder if using a dehydrator outdoors would work?
Don't feel bad... I'm just now seeing your comment, Susan. Forgive me? ;-)<br> <br> A dehydrator would work, I suppose. I don't have one... except for the cargo section of my SUV and no way would I dry a fish&nbsp;<em>there</em>. ;-D<br> <br> Thank you for your comment!<br> <br> &nbsp;&nbsp;
Very ugh... nice.<br>Trigger fish grind live coral, which is passed out as sand, with their beak,<br>I'm interested if the beak survives your drying method without shrinking ?
I think you're thinking about Parrot fish, Alex. <br><br>Trigger fish have teeth... mean teeth... sharp teeth... really mean, sharp teeth! ;-D<br>But the teeth remain intact after drying.<br><br>I apologize for the tardy reply. I don't know how I missed this. 8-/
Wow. That's so awesome! I like the play on colors.
Thank you so much!
How did I miss this! Awesome! Thanks for sharing!<br>Sunshiine
Thanks girlfriend!!!
Still admiring them! So beautiful!<br>Sunshiine
Well, those voices are telling you the right thing. I'm glad I'm not the only one willing to deal with <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Alternative-Heat-from-Pond-Scum/">bad odor</a> to make an instructable. :)<br> Love the gallery!
lol, puppy... we MUST endure for the greater good!!! ;-D
that is brilliantly odd.
lol... I LOVE &quot;odd&quot;.<br><br>The best part about this &quot;Art&quot; is that it doesn't take an Artist to create something unique, eye-catching and cool. ;-)<br><br>Thanks, my gnomish friend! ;-D
I am amazed. <br><br>I need to go fishing.
Glad you like it... go catch a big one and give this a try!<br><br>Thanks for commenting!
I was not into instructables via my phone till I started fallowing you. The title of your instructables just suck me in! Love the fish. :)
BYW..... your intro photo made a great wallpaper on my phone!
Cool Beans!!! ;-D
That's one of the NICEST things (Instructible-wise) anyone has ever said to me!<br><br>Thank you!!!

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Bio: ♫ Basking in sunshine ☼, creating new dishes... growing zucchini and swimming with fishes. Rattlesnake hunting the desert in Spring; these are are a few of my ... More »
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