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Fish Articulation: Glue and Whitening guestion

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Bunchofbones, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. Bunchofbones

    Bunchofbones New Member

    Hey everyone,

    I've recently tried my hand at articulating some fish skulls and well, really like it....

    I've completed a mutton snapper and a wahoo, both were manually cleaned, degreased (acetone) and thrown in peroxide and then slowly dried.

    I've been using hot glue for reassembly because keeping these suckers square can be quite the task and find myself making adjustments here and there. My Question to you y'all: What other adhesives do you guys use??? I know Jean-Christophe uses a lot of wire which I would love to understand how that is accomplished....

    Also on a side note I've been coming across Alcohol in added to peroxide helps keep still articulated pieces together??? What concentration/ratio is used??

    Attached are the mutton and wahoo.

    mutton.jpg wwahoo.jpg

  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Nicely done. Fish are oily and a pain to get white. You did well. Jean-Christophe is one of the pros on here when it comes to fish. Perhaps he will add to this and help you. The alcohol actually firms up any remaining tissue and helps to solidify it as it were. Also helps to kill off any bacteria in it and prevents it from decomposing.

  3. Bunchofbones

    Bunchofbones New Member

    Thanks, they were in acetone for about 4 weeks, the mutton could have used another week or so....

    I'm currently working on the head of a 65lb Black grouper, I'll post pictures when it's out of acetone. Should be done in about a month or so.
  4. Wouter

    Wouter Member

    Hi Bob,

    Nice work, your fish look really nice. I've done several fish skulls recently, but I cannot answer your question about the bleaching without letting the skull fall apart, because I macerate my skulls, so they always disarticulate completely.
    For putting them back together I use white wood glue, which I prefer because it dries up transparent and colourless, and it does not get brittle. I use the water-soluble version of this glue, so if I mess up I can put it in water, brush off the old glue and start over again.
    In larger skulls I use some metal wire to connect the bigger parts like the lower jaws and the hyomandibular to the cranium. I prefer the wire to be as invisible as possible so I put it inside the bones. For this I put a tiny drop of glue on one bone surface and put the other bone to it in the right position. Now both bones have a spot of glue in exactly the place where they meet. I drill both bones with a dremel and connect them with a piece of wire which will hardly be visible from the outside. I also use metal wire to connect the various bones of the gills, because there is usually a lot of cartilage in between the bone elements so many bones do not meet directly.
    In very difficult skulls like swordfish or pike and in my first full fish skeleton I also used a bit of two component epoxy putty to connect some of the bones.
    Skulls that contain so much cartilage that they cannot be macerated (like salmonids) I put in hot water and hand-clean the cranium. I cleaned two salmon skulls this way recently but they are not finished yet because the craniums cannot be air-dried. I tried this once and they shrunk so badly that they were too much deformed to be rearticulated. The new ones I'll freeze-dry to prevent the shrinking, but that takes a lot of time so I cannot be sure yet this will actually work.

    Keep up the good work,

    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  5. Bunchofbones

    Bunchofbones New Member


    Thanks! I've seen a lot of your work, you've done some really cooly pieces.

    I like your wiring method, I'll have to give it a try.

    I guess i'll be trying Elmers glue then, I just really like how fast the hot glue sets.
  6. Hello,

    Couldn't resist when I see something about fish :) Nice work ! I love working on snapper !

    Yes, I do like wires in fish skull depending on size of the head or bone thickness mainly for strength purpose, long live of the mount, bone adjustment, less time waiting for the glue, and sometimes for esthetic too (when some are external) but I mostly tend to hide it now.
    Minimal wires are just like Wouter said, between neurocranium and hyomandibular plus between quadrate and lower jaw. If size allow it I put wire inside the infra-orbital bones (a lot stronger this way) ; between dentary, premaxilla, premaxilla and maxilla, yomandibular and operculum, the different bones of the operculum, to connect hyobranchial apparatus to the skull...
    I also use white wood glue, it allow you to take some time the place the bone, and dry almost invisible.
    For gills and smaller fish I don't macerate them, I hand-clean and whiten in a mix of H2O2 and alcohol. Not sure about the concentration but alcohol has to be the main component by far for bones to not separate.

    Groupers are extremely greasy, expect a long time degreasing it, and the larger the worse.

    Wouter, interested about your salmonids, those are fish I avoided for a long time and I have few in the freezer waiting for motivation.
  7. Bunchofbones

    Bunchofbones New Member


    Thank you!

    Wow that sounds very intricate! I've been hesitant to try my hand at wiring but it seems like it will be the best option for the larger specimens especially in terms of longevity.

    The grouper has been in acetone for about 7 weeks so far, hopefully i'll be able to take it out in another 7/8 weeks or so.