O-fish-al Art Recap

The Fisheries Blog hasn’t posted a #SundayFishSketch art recap in quite a while. It is now 2021 and many things in the world and our daily lives have changed in 2020. Bringing to light the fantastic fish art of late 2020 and early 2021 will be a great way to round out January. Continue reading for an overview of some of the themes, art, and artists the #SundayFishSketch has enjoyed over the past few months. 

Filefishes and Triggerfishes

Although the #SundayFishSketch is open to all fish art every weekend, we usually post a weekly theme to give inspiration to those you may not currently have a fishy project. Some #SundayFishSketch theme categories are broader than others. This theme highlighted two closely related groups of marine fishes, the Balistidae (Triggerfishes ~ 40 spp.) and Monacanthidae (Filefishes ~ 102 spp.). Superficially similar, species in both have bodies that are rhomboid/oval in shape and many exhibit extreme patterns. The devil’s in the details while identifying individuals in these groups. Triggerfishes have an anterior dorsal fin with three spines and small but strong mouth used for eating things like hard-shelled mollusks, echinoderms, but also algae and zooplankton. Many also have enlarged scales above the pectoral fin forming a tympanum. Filefishes have an anterior dorsal fin with two spines (with the second spine greatly reduced) and specialized incisor teeth that have evolved for nibbling, feeding on benthic invertebrates with some species specializing on corals or zooplankton. Below are a few examples of what the #SundayFishSketch artists posted.

Fish & Lines illustrated six of the 40 species of triggerfish.

Kerry drew the Orange filefish (Aluterus schoepfii), the juveniles of which are known to be associated with free-floating sargassum.

Alex painted the Grey triggerfish (Balistes capriscus), the males of which are highly territorial in the summer during the breeding season.

Extinct Fishes of 2020

To remember some of the fish species we lost in 2020, the #SundayFishSketch decided to highlight fishes that were listed as extinct during the year. This theme was suggested by a frequent artist, Katie (@bufotwist). Although 2020 has been a tough year for us all, we should remember that we can do our part to protect habitats that house threatened and endangered species and to frequently encourage others to do so.

Ben, via ‘BetterKnowaFish,’ drew the recently labeled extinct, Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius). This species hasn’t been seen since 2003 and is thought to have gone extinct due to overfishing and the construction of multiple dams throughout their river drainage, fragmenting their populations. The only other living paddlefish species is the American paddlefish (Polyodon spathula).

Shamin sketched the Smooth handfish (Sympterichthys unipennis), another species labeled extinct in 2020. This species was once thought to be very common but is known only from a single specimen caught in 1802 in Australian waters. 

Mariah illustrated Barbodes lindog. Although not fully confirmed as extinct by the IUCN, the introduction of predatory fish and excessive over harvesting / destructive fishing methods is thought to be the cause of their extinction from their native Lake Lanao, Phillipines.


For the last three years, the #25DaysofFishmas and the #SundayFishSketch have been collaborating in the three weeks prior to Christmas. Hosted by @DrKatfish, the #25DaysofFishmas highlights freshwater fishes of the Great Lakes and their tributaries. Every Friday before Christmas in December, the #SundayFishSketch artists receive clues as to what fish will be highlighted on Sunday. Participants then sketch the fish they think these clues point to and post them on Sunday. Usually the guesses are spot-on. 

Week 1: Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula)

Hints included: 

  • Typically found in the southern US/Northern Mexico
  • Found in swamps, bayous, and slow-moving rivers
  • Shares its common name with another animal

Some great renditions included one of our newer artists, Bryce, who depicts his fish in pixel art!

Another, by Calla, is drawn in wrapping-paper style.

Week 2: Devil’s Hole Pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis)

Hints included:

  • Lives in the Mojave Desert
  • Listed as an Endangered species
  • Earthquakes thousands of miles away can affect this species’ spawning

Longtime #SundayFishSketcher Freshwatergirl sketched hers using a myriad of mediums, including watercolor, pencil, and marker.

Our resident young artist E correctly figured out the fish as well after doing some research.

Week 3: Olympic Mudminnow (Novumbra hubbsi)

Hints included:

  • Only found in Washington state
  • Loves wetlands
  • Despite its common name, it is not an award winning athlete

Nilo illustrated her Olympic mudminnow winning first place.

And Filipe is constantly bringing lifelike qualities to his drawings. 


What is it like to participate in the #SundayFishSketch? Just ask our artist of the month, Fabiana Ferracina (@fabstat), who’s #SundayFishSketch contributions bring much joy to our community.

How long have you been participating in the #SundayFishSketch?

Since April19th, 2020, so about 10 months.

Why did you decide to participate and has it been difficult to sketch on a semi-regular basis?

I had just joined Twitter at the end of March last year and was playing with free versions of drawing applications (sp. Concepts). I shared a couple of sharks I had drawn and someone pointed out the #SundayFishSketch tag. Since I was enjoying the therapeutic effects of art and becoming part of a social network, I decided to join the tag and share my art – I really love sharks and having a supportive community to share art regardless of skill level felt like something I wanted to be part of. 

Most of the time it is not difficult, we all need to take a break from the craziness of life and painting sharks (and other fishes) is my break. There are weeks that there is too much going on or I feel uninspired to take part, but I am happy to know that it is there and I at least take a break to like and retweet the art of others.

Do you believe your art has improved since joining the hashtag? 

Yes, I believe so. It improved and it transformed in other ways as well. I started trying different applications, then media. Currently I mostly work with watercolor, and I’m addicted to it. I have dabbled in color pencils and pens, but we didn’t get along.

What has been your favorite theme thus far and why? 

There have been many great ones, so it is hard to pick a favorite… I love learning, so any theme where I learn more about sharks and fishes is a good theme. Also, I am prone to silliness, so any theme that encourages silliness (puns, fish wearing clothes, etc.) is also a good theme. To pick one: I am biased to say the #SharkWeek #SundayFishSketch #FishyTheme of “lesser known sharks.” – did I mention I love sharks? 🙂

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