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Dark fish

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by eagleriver, Mar 2, 2018.

  1. Anyone have a good way to lighten up fish before mounting? I get some dark bluegills and it'd be a lot easier to paint if I had a lighter fish to work with. Again, before mounting, I'm not looking to white out or lighten a mounted fish here.
  2. Richs Taxidermy

    Richs Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    Cole has one way to do it,look in the tutorials on painti g a largemouth bass.
    eagleriver likes this.

  3. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    For me there are two options:

    1. Mix bleach 50/50 with water and apply with a rag dipped into the solution. Wear rubber gloves! They should lighten up before your eyes. I actually do this after the fish is mounted before carding. Then rinse well. The fish will go from a black to a light brown. Don't allow the solution to stay on the skin and fins too long before rinsing as it could pop some scales. Make sure you rinse well! The bleach residue can play havoc with your painting!

    2. White the fish out ( I use a white lacquer aerosol can from Ace Hardware) and then seal with a good sealer. I use two or three coats of sealer. Then antique like you would a reproduction with black or dark brown and fine steel wool and paint like a reproduction.

    I use method number 2 on all the mounts I get in that need to be repainted. Gave up stripping years ago as it wasn't worth the effort and damaged the skin and fins. And if you don't get 100 percent of the stripper off you could have issues with painting.
  4. Thanks Cecil, I've tried soaking in bleach water but wasn't happy with what it did to the fins. I will try the rag method.
  5. I'll have to pick up some of those pencils, I can see using them in other ways too
  6. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    You don't soak in bleach water! You brush on the skin and it only takes a few minutes!
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
  7. den007

    den007 Active Member

    Krylon white primer........light mist.
    Bill Dishman likes this.
  8. Cory

    Cory Keep an eye on quality!

    Finger rub scale tip silver on each scale (quick and easy, gives reflective base; similar to Coles method) and then you can spray silver lightly over this before painting.
    FishArt likes this.
  9. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Mist the entire fish with bass belly white. Bluegills are way too dark after mounting. They must be lightened before painting, by whatever means.
  10. Bleach with peroxide.
  11. hambone

    hambone Well-Known Member

    I turn the water on in the laundry tub mix bleach with water mostly bleach and using a tooth brush start dipping into bleach/water and start brushing let it set just a little and rinse, keep repeating till satisfied, sometimes you have to increase the amount of bleach, make sure you give a good final rinse and use a clean brush to help, pat dry and do the fin carding, be careful not to get a lot of water under carding.
  12. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    I know people do it and supposedly no ill effects. But, I have to wonder what the original skin looks like before/after under a microscope after the bleach is used??? I won't even try bleach because it is SO harsh on clothes! I cannot imagine what it can do or is doing to the skins! JMO of course, but I use Cory's method usually and if not either a thinned white air brush paint or silver pearl or both built up to taste. I don't "white out" a skin unless it's a repaint. Each dark species can be different (sometimes I use gold pearl to lighten too on Smallies especially). Just my way of tackling the problem!
    Brian W, Sotired and Cory like this.
  13. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Marty at least with me, I cut the bleach in half with water which seems to make a difference. It's also important not to use the bleach solution too long. Did that once and had scales literally popping out of their sockets. Literally with a popping sound!

    The way I do it with the 50/50 solution I've never noticed any damage and the fish are sealed well with sealer anyway. That said the bleach is not my favorite method. I prefer to white out, seal, antique and paint like a replica.
    FishArt likes this.
  14. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Ok and this is how I feel about bleaching. Your not going to get it out of the skin after you did these methods.
    In time and luckily the fish is sealed and holds the skin together it will break down and can fall apart. In today’s world there is no need to bleach and having a dark fish is an advantage to getting depth in my work. Any painter ( artist)should know this. I use it to my advantage and highlight the scales with metallic paint . Dark skin is gone and start painting. The heck with bleach!! JMO
    Cory and FishArt like this.
  15. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Can't sleep either Frank? LOL. I ruined some clothes years ago by putting a tad too much bleach in the washer and that was a small fraction of what we're talking about here! It ate some of the material! Any bleach cannot be good for a fish skin imo. Like I said a microscope before/after would be nice to see. The way I see it, you gotta paint em anyway. Some more than others. I like the crappies or walleyes that dry nice and light and you can leave some of the more subtle, original markings to show through. Especially near the belly/transition area as these markings are tough to pull off (especially on a walleye) when using the complete white-out method. Never really thought about whether drying dark is an advantage in the long run. For me, I just look at what I have and try my best to get it to match my photos. Sometimes I do better than other times. How I get there, who knows? I don't do paint schedules and I don't take notes. I think that confidence forces you to figure things out. I can see why some folks prefer a nice, white canvas to start from. But, IMO that is such a waste! I usually do the metallics/finger rubs like Cory mentioned if I need to lighten things a bit. It all depends on the specie and how dark it dried and how you plan to get to the end result. On a case by case basis. JMO and the way I do things!
    Frank E. Kotula and Cory like this.
  16. I've tried bleach on skins left over from cleaning fish, it doesn't work. I was just hoping that maybe someone had a way that I was unaware of is all. Dark bluegills, spawning crappies, and what I call cooler fish ( almost white in spots and dark in others from sitting in a cooler with other fish), was hoping to find alternatives to just whiting out a fish is all, I shall continue to experiment and see if I discover something that works on the "throw away" skins. Thanks for your input all.
  17. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    If a fish dries out dark it's saving you the "antiquing" step since the scale pockets are already dark. Lightly spray silver or white pearl...seal and paint what you want for the rest of the coloring process.Works for me,JL
    FishArt likes this.