O-fish-al Art Recap

This month on the #SundayFishSketch art recap we are highlighting three galvanizing #FishyThemes that inspired sketches, paintings, and drawings a variety of unique fish species. Continue reading for select posts from a range of #SundayFishSketch artists.


For this first theme I asked our community to sketch fishes seen in movies. These fish could be main characters or just tangentially associated. As many movie lovers may know, there are a wide range of movie fishes to choose from, and our artists picked fish from films covering over five decades.

Bruce produced an illustration of Mr. Limpet from The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964). In this film, a bookkeeper named Henry Limpet, turns into a fish and helps the United States Navy defeat Nazi submarines. The fish species Mr. Limpet turns into isn’t one we know in science, but he looks vaguely like a tilefish (Malacanthidae)

Sam drew the Moray eels (Muraenidae) Flotsam and Jetsam from The Little Mermaid (1989). These two eels are Ursula’s minions which she uses to keep tabs on the going-ons around the ocean. Unlike almost every other fish, moray eels possess the ability to extend their pharyngeal jaws outward towards the mouth cavity to grasp prey.

Cara painted the Spotted Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari) Mr. Ray from Finding Nemo (2003). Mr. Ray is Nemo’s marine science teacher and is an advocate for in-the-field learning. Spotted eagle rays are known to leap out of the water!


Midwater fishes are those that live in the deep-sea of the open ocean. Most exist in a world of darkness and twilight, produce bioluminescence, and are quite abundant. The midwater is usually cold, has little-to-no light, and contains large portions of low oxygen zones, creating a unique habitat seen almost nowhere else on earth.

Shana illustrated a Barbeled dragonfish (Stomias). A relatively abundant midwater predator that possesses bioluminescent photophores. The barbel on their chin glows and is thought to be used in luring in prey items.

Adam rendered the White-spotted lanternfish (Diaphus rafinesquii). Lanternfishes are thought to be the second most abundant vertebrate group on the planet. Most perform diel vertical migrations to the ocean surface at night to feed on zooplankton. They are prey for a wide variety of organisms and are an integral part of the open-ocean ecosystem.

Sarah drew a Deep-sea hatchetfish (Sternoptychinae), also very abundant and bioluminescent, deep-sea hatchetfishes are laterally compressed and silvery and true to their name look like little hatchets. 


The theme this week focused on fishes that thrive in warm waters. This could mean tropical near-shore/surface waters, hot desert pools, or those in the deep sea near hydrothermal vents. Regardless, there were a wide variety of fishes to choose from.

Sam, our artist of the month, sketched a royal gramma (Gramma loreto). Royal gramma’s are brightly colored coral-reef dwelling fish that live in warm tropical waters. Commonly seen in the aquarium trade, these fish eat small zooplankton and ectoparasites on other fishes and loves warm waters in the mid 70’s.

Filipe illustrated the pink vent fish (Thermarces cerberus), so named because it is found near hydrothermal vents, which emit water and other fluid at temperatures up to 572 degrees. This extremophile fish eats molluscs and amphipods and are and extreme species from a larger group called the eelpouts.

Justin went with the White Sands pupfish (Cyprinodon tularosa) one of a handful of species that is endemic to only a few small streams and pools of extremely warm water in New Mexico. Pupfish generally don’t live much more than a year and breed at a relatively young age. 


What is it like to participate in the #SundayFishSketch? Just ask our artist of the month, Ben (@BetterKnowaFish), who’s colorful crayon palette brings fishes to life.

How long have you been participating in the #SundayFishSketch?

My first sketch was January 5th, 2020, the first prompt of that year! I drew an industrious little Otocinclus catfish to go with a new year’s resolution (that week’s theme) of consistency.

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

I had been aware of the hashtag and admired all the amazing art for many years, but for some reason always held back. I loved art growing up and doodled and sketched everywhere, but the practice faded with adult life (and certainly after graduate school). 

That new year, I had been looking for some kind of manual, creative outlet to get back into with some ease and consistency to balance out my work life. I think sometimes, we are daunted by art (especially when others create such breathtaking works) and the activation energy seemingly required. So, I started with the smallest sketchbook I had around and committed to only using crayons as I jumped into #SundayFishSketch. I figured the small page size and the gentle, nostalgic simplicity of crayons would be helpful ways to keep up the new habit.

I think it worked! It’s now 135 weeks later and I haven’t missed one week! And I’m still using the same old box of crayons. (Looking forward to the prompt each week, I might add, has also been a wonderful mental guiderail to hold onto as we navigate this pandemic.)

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

For sure! The coarse strokes of crayons help keep things fun without sweating the details, but I’ve found that you can still do quite a bit. I love challenging myself to get the eyes just right, to breathe life into the animal. (But you can tell I’m still being pretty casual about fin rays and scales…)

One fun part about the weekly community is seeing how everyone has their own style and medium they prefer and cultivate — while taking artistic detours to play and experiment. The prompts, after all, merely call for a fish, leaving the rest up to us. I’ve certainly done the same, and I can’t wait to see where else my moods, inspirations, and intentions take me.

What has been your favorite theme thus far and why? 

There have been so many favorites! A few that come to mind include the stamps theme, where we had to create a postage stamp around a species. For that one I imagined a Kingdom of Hawai’i stamp featuring one of its endemic waterfall gobies. Another favorite was the “which pandemic fish are you” prompt — that was a needed laugh early into the ordeal. And of course there was the “moving parts” prompt inspired by our young Irish colleague, @drawanotherfish. That one allowed me to play with stop-motion art again, to my delight. (Oh and there was the Getty Museum prompt too…)

I feel like the common thread throughout is that of imagination and play, nudging us to have a little extra fun. Really, though, each week is a joy to look forward to — meeting people around the world, enjoying one another’s creations, and sharing compliments. And escaping for an hour into the focus of artistic strokes and natural lines of organic forms. 

You can find Ben at @BetterKnowaFish / @younglandis on Twitter, and at betterknowafish.com.

Please leave a thought provoking reply. We reserve the right to remove comments deemed inappropriate.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.