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. Our artists continue to post amazing illustrations associated with different holidays and events. Continue reading for information and sketches of fishes pertaining to Valentine’s Day, the Super Bowl, and more.


A tried and true theme, fish reproduction for Valentine’s Day, is always a crowd pleaser. With over 30,000 described species of fish, they have evolved a myriad of reproductive behaviors.

Tamara painted a Common Sturgeon (Acipenser sturio). This is a critically endangered species since these fish are harvested extensively for their caviar (eggs). A. sturio has an anadromous reproductive strategy where adults reproduce freshwater in rivers.

Mariah illustrated a splash tetra, (Copella arnoldi) which has a very unusual reproductive strategy. Males attract females to a specific spot. There, during mating, they leap out of the water and grasp a leaf, hanging for almost 10 seconds. During their time out of water the female lays her eggs which the male then fertilizes.

Rosie posted a salmon (Salmonidae). Illustrations aren’t our only submissions, just take a look at this stained glass salmon. These fish, similar to sturgeon, are anadromous and hatch in freshwater, live out much of their life in the ocean, then return to freshwater to spawn. They are also semelparous, spawning once and then dying.

Annkathrin drew manta rays (Manta). The mating ritual of these rays can be quite a sight. Possibly triggered by the presence of a full moon in the sky, males follow closely behind a female while she swims. This has been called a mating ‘train,’ and the successful male will grasp the female’s pectoral fin with his mouth and proceed to fertilize her eggs internally.


The United States is host to a yearly showdown between two of the best teams in (our version) of football. Competition can also be fierce in the aquatic world, and I asked our artists to sketch what they thought might be interesting head-to-head battles between fishes.

Mitch sketched his rendition of a German Blue Ram Cichlid (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) and a “Bengal” Tiger Barb (Puntigus pentazona) literally going head to head. Both are small freshwater fishes that are commonly kept in aquariums. Blue ram males are known to be aggressive to other males during spawning whereas tiger barbs are known to eat many of their eggs after spawning. Which of these fishes do you think would win in a head-to-head battle?

Sam, in an illustrative twist, sketched octopuses riding their domesticated sailfish and marlin (Istiophoridae). Two of the fastest fishes on earth, istiophorids live in the open ocean and I would be hard pressed to decide the winner of this hypothetical battle. 

Adam illustrated a competition of a different source. Stonefishes (left: Synanceia) and Lionfishes (right: Pterois) are both hard hitters when it comes to venom. The stonefish may win this battle in regards to their harm to humans, as although lionfish venom packs a punch, lionfish are brightly colored, easy to see, and humans rarely die from their venom. Stonefishes on the other hand are camouflaged and get stepped on frequently, but with the introduction of antivenom to their stings, likelihood of human survival after envenomation is high.

@Cheetahtrout emulated one particularly well-known video game franchise and battled a sawfish (Pristis) against a swordfish (Xiphias). Although the swordfish is the faster of the two, the sawfish can rival a swordfish in length (up to 25 ft) and its rostrum is littered with sharp teeth which have historically been used by various cultures as weapons and in rituals.


You never need a reason to have sharks as a theme. They are a charismatic group that constantly needs people to advocate for them. 

Katie drew the prickly dogfish (Oxynotus bruniensis). All species within Oxynotidae are relatively unique-looking sharks that possess rotund bodies and elaborate dorsal fins. Additionally, the size of their dermal denticles give them a rough-like appearance. 

Shana went with the leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata). These fish have distinctive saddle-like markings on their backs and similar to many shark species, leopard sharks are viviparous. Baby leopard sharks hatch inside the mother who, after a period of time, gives birth to the live young.

Thomas illustrated a Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). Individuals of this species can reach 20ft long and are one of the world’s top marine predatory fish. The latin name Caracharodon means ‘jagged tooth,’ and larger individuals have a bite force hypothesized to be higher than 3,000 lbs.

Interested in participating in the #SundayFishSketch? Just post some fish art on Twitter with the hashtag! If you’re unsure how to draw a fish and want to start, check out my previous post on ‘How to draw a fish.’ I look forward to seeing your art!


What is it like to participate in the #SundayFishSketch? Just ask our artist of the month, Sam Julian (@myopiad), who takes illustrating fishes to a whole other level.

How long have you been participating in the #SundayFishSketch?

A little over two years. December 2019 I was doing #Artober and I found that the accountability of a hashtag was really good for building my consistency. I was looking for something similar that also matched my interests of what I wanted to be drawing. Through my Twitter list I found #25DaysofFishmas, and through that #SundayFishSketch.

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

I chose #SundayFishSketch because I felt really welcomed by the community of ichthyologists, and also because I specifically wanted to improve my skill at drawing fish and underwater subject matter in service of a comic book I wanted to make.

Participating in #SundayFishSketch has gotten easier over time, because developing a regular drawing habit has spurred me to draw even more. I’ve started working on my comic, Octopolis, full-time. I’m now drawing more than at other time in my life. 

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

Oh, absolutely. You can see it visibly in my instagram/twitter history that my technique and confidence has improved a lot. I think I’ve gotten a little less experimental in recent weeks, as I have been narrowing in on the particular visual style I want to use for my comic.

What has been your favorite theme thus far and why? 

My favorite theme by far was the recent ‘fish fight’, because it fit right into my comic’s action-oriented subject matter. I drew an action shot of my characters jousting on the backs of domesticated sailfish! That was really fun to draw and share.

You can find Sam at @myopiad on Twitter, @ssjulian on Instagram. You can follow my comic @octopolis_comic on both Twitter and Instagram

One Comment Add yours

  1. Jim says:

    Love the work of these artists!

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