O-fish-al Art Recap

As always, the Fisheries Blog O-fish-al Art Recap highlights the themes, the artists, and the art of the #SundayFishSketch on Twitter. Over the last few months there have been a handful of holidays, and events that were celebrated in a fishy and artistic way. So, please read on for sketches of fishes pertaining to Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and more. 


There were many submissions for the #SundayFishSketch Father’s Day theme, celebrating either fishes that show paternal care or unique and interesting male fish behavior. Unlike humans, fish have a wide range of reproductive behaviors (from mouth brooding to nest guarding), and these behaviors were reflected in the multitude of different species art submissions by our artists.

Ligus painted a male seahorse. Females deposit fertilized eggs into a pouch the male has on his abdomen. The male will then incubate the eggs of the female, inevitably being called ‘pregnant.’ 

Katie went with a Pajama  Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematoptera). The males of this species are mouthbrooders, and protect their young by holding them in their mouths.

Tamara’s painting depicts a male sunfish. The males of many species of sunfish are known to make a spawning bed, or nest, and guard them studiously, chasing predators and other fishes away from their eggs.

Ben drew a Loricariichthys, one individual from a group of catfishes found in South America. Many of the males in this group keep their eggs safe by using carrying them under an enlarged lower lip while they’re developing.


A surprisingly difficult thing to draw when it comes to fishes are their skeletons. Whether or not it is the hundreds of fin rays, the dozens of vertebrae, or the confusing array of bones in their heads, fish skeletons can be hard to portray accurately. The #Fishytheme for this week’s #SundayFishSketch was skeletons, and our artists stepped up to the challenge.

Bryce rendered a marine sunfish (Mola mola) skeleton in his unique 8-bit style. Mola have unique skeletons even for fishes, as they use their dorsal and anal fins as their main fins for locomotion (whereas other fishes generally use their pectoral fins). This resulted the evolution of a unique skeletal morphology.

@coralreeftoad took more of an artistic flare with her #Sundayfishsketch of a triggerfish skeleton. The bright colors and unique style pair well together.

Although not a bony fish, Chris sketched a cartilaginous electric ray skeleton. Looking at all of those fin rays, one can see how difficult illustrating fish skeletons can really be. 


Similar to the Father’s Day theme, Mother’s Day was all about highlighting maternal fishes. Their reproductive behaviors are also as unique and widespread as those seen in different male fishes.

Sam painted a mouth brooding mother cichlid. Many cichlids evolved to hold broods in their mouths, preventing possible predation on their young, and increasing the survival of their fry.

Liana illustrated a female triggerfish. Similar to what we saw earlier in male freshwater sunfishes, these ladies are known to guard their nests full of fertilized eggs.

Olivier focused more on the biology of the egg itself. Laid by female fish, eggs are costly in terms of energy and production as opposed to the smaller and more abundant sperm produced by males. eggs also usually contain yolk for the young larvae to feed on for a small period of time as they grow. 


For the Earth Day theme, #SundayFishSketch artists were asked to sketch an imperiled fish species or one that has populations that have recovered.

Alejandra highlighted the Blue shark (Prionace glauca), a species that resides on tropical and temperate oceans worldwide. She even tweeted multiple facts about the species and their IUCN status. 

Hannah illustrated a Western Sand Darter (Ammocypra clara). This species is listed as vulnerable on a national level. Much of the reason behind their declining populations is due to habitat fragmentation along with pollution in the Mississippi River. 

Mitch sketched the Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus). Although this species is relatively widespread, some populations are considered threatened or have been driven to extinction in certain areas.

Are you interested in joining the #SundayFishSketch? It is free to participate and hosts an open and welcoming community. Don’t know how to start drawing? Check out our previous blogpost  on how to draw a fish. This post will give you step-by-step instructions and things to look for when illustrating fishes.


What is it like to participate in the #SundayFishSketch? Just ask our artist of the month, Taryn Murray (@murray_taryn), a scientist and artist that dabbles in many types of mediums.

How long have you been participating in the #SundayFishSketch?

I joined Twitter almost six (how has it been that long?!) years ago, and very quickly found #SundayFishSketch – largely thanks to Dr Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley (@ConnectedWaters) and Kaite O’Reilly (@DrKatfish). I’ve been participating extremely sporadically for roughly the past two years, but I’ve been following #SundayFishSketch for much longer than that.

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

I’m an ichthyologist but I‘ve always loved drawing – there’s something extremely pleasing and satisfying about drawing something that you’re passionate about (especially when it comes out the way you hope it does)! Once I saw the positive feedback from other fish artists, I didn’t hesitate. I eventually decided to contribute about two years ago for the first time (I think). As a full-time working mom of two children under 4, I find it quite difficult to draw regularly, but I’m trying to get back into it, slowly but surely.

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

I wouldn’t say my drawing skills have improved, but I’ve been completely inspired to try a different medium – watercolour – although I do still love my pen drawings. #SundayFishSketch provide weekly motivation to draw at least one thing!

What has been your favorite theme thus far and why? 

I really enjoyed the fish stamp theme, which I managed to take part in. I also found all the submissions for the firework frenzy theme to be so creative and fun! I also love seeing entries of fish that are completely new and unknown to me, so it’s a great learning tool too.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Jason Seitz says:

    I found the Finding Nemo review article interesting and entertaining. However, I found an error in the following sentence: “Nemo hatches as an undifferentiated hermaphrodite (as all clownfish are born) while his father transforms into a female now that his female mate is dead.” The term “born” refers to live birth and since clownfishes are oviparous, the term used should have been “hatched”. Thanks for a fun read.

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