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Is It Possible To Taxidermy A Betta Fish?

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by Rtessy, Dec 31, 2018.

  1. Rtessy

    Rtessy New Member

    Hello everyone! I'm absolutely new to the site and taxidermy, so please bear with me if I mess up.
    I've been keeping fish for quite a while, and I'd like to preserve my pets once they die. I've only had one die in 4 years, but since their lifespans aren't much more than 4-5 years, I want to start planning taxidermy for my bettas.
    I've been searching around as best I can to find a solution, but it looks like it may be impossible to preserve such a small fish without losing the color. The only thing I've found that might work is freeze drying, but I'm not sure if there are any places for freeze drying in the Atlanta area.
    I know someone preserved theirs in hot glue, but I don't see that working out long term. I've seen several jarring methods, but they all lose their color, and the color is the main thing I want to keep.
    I have everything ready for gyotaku prints for some of my larger fish, but my bettas are so small I'm not sure it would work, and it definitely wouldn't preserve the color I want.
    So basically I'm looking to see if it's even possible to preserve such a small specimin and it's color. Thank you in advance for reading and any suggestions!
  2. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    I'm sure there's someone out there who has nothing better to do in life that sit down with one of these fragile little guys and prove what I'm about to say is wrong. Let me start with, "Are you out of your friggin mind?" Taxidermy depends on you taking the skin off of less than a thimble full of meat. Then those fins would have to be individually removed , spread out and carded, then the body skin will have to be mounted on a hand carved manikin and eyes put into it. From there, it's a bit easier sailing but certainly not on calm waters.

    I would suggest that you seek out a freeze-dry facility. Be warned, however, they may be unwilling to take on such a project themselves. Freeze dried fins are like cotton candy potato chips. I suppose you could try freeze drying it yourself by using a frost free freezer (or spending $10,000 on a small freeze dry unit).
    freeze_1 and rogerswildlife like this.

  3. Rtessy

    Rtessy New Member

    Haha, yeah I figured that would be the response. Thank you! I'll start looking for a good freeze drying company. I know it's a long shot, they're just so small!
  4. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    As George said, mounting such a small fish would be impossible. Consider making molds of the fish, casting it in resin and painting them. You'll have to manually reproduce the fancy fins. I had many rare fish in my aquarium days and kept them in alcohol as specimens after death. Couldn't bear to part with those expensive little carcasses but they do lose color. Fix them in formalin first and then transfer to alcohol to keep them. Best to follow what they do here http://research.amnh.org/vz/ichthyology/congo/other05.html . Maybe take good photographs to preserve the original color instead. Sunlight fades them quickly and all turn rather brownish in time. http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/fishes/technology/technology_specimen.html
    Multispeciestamer likes this.
  5. Perca

    Perca Well-Known Member

    I think "Swissmiss" is the tiny fish specialist you need to get advice from. The work he does with skin mounts of very small fish is really unique and exceptional. He posts his tiny fish on TMIFP and they are really amazing. Good luck.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
  6. Clew

    Clew Help a child, Build our future

    Dang George
    I thought you was going to challenge me
  7. Sotired

    Sotired Active Member

    It's Swissfish but he doesn't give up his secrets!

    Swissfish likes this.
  8. Can it be done? Well swissfish has proven that it most certainly can be done with micro fish.

    If it was me I'd consider getting a high end camera and one of those photo boxes to put the live fish in and take some amazing photos get them blown up and framed and call it good and be money and time ahead. But that's me.
    JL, msestak, Swissfish and 3 others like this.
  9. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    Ravenel Freeze Dry in Covington GA is not far from you. Call Adam at 770-262-4431.
    rogerswildlife likes this.
  10. Sotired

    Sotired Active Member

    I totally agree!!! Even if you could skin, or mold, or freeze dry such a tiny thing, getting the fins to follow such a fluid pose would be a MAGICIANS NIGHTMARE!!!

    I'm not saying it CAN'T be done, just asking HOW??? And would it be worth your time and sanity?

  11. Sotired

    Sotired Active Member

    Rtessy, in re-reading your original post, I see that it is the color that you wish to retain. Unfortunately, no matter what method is used, the color ALWAYS fades! Part of the taxidermists art is restoring the original colors the fish had in life.

    This is what drew me to taxidermy in the first place, as a child catching brightly colored and iridescent sunfish from local ponds and wanting to keep that beauty at home! I learned to mount them to find that they promptly fade to shades of grey!

    Best of luck on your quest, I hope you find a result that makes you happy! 3D printing???

  12. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Swissfish is also an active member on here. His amazing work can be seen in his posts. https://www.taxidermy.net/members/50110/

    One of several. a 2 inch bitterling. Possibly plasticized? Right click and view image to see the details which are pretty amazing.[​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
    Swissfish likes this.
  13. Art Macabre

    Art Macabre New Member

    Just mummify them...
    Holds color and preserves long term when done well
  14. Swissfish

    Swissfish Well-Known Member

    Dear Sea Wolf, Perca, Sotired and Multispeciestamer,
    Thanks a lot for the compliments and recognition!
    @Rtessy: Yes, it is possible to do small and "micro" fish as real skin mounts.
    But it is not so that I could write now a little tutorial to follow up for everybody and the results would be there. It needs an enormous amount of praxis, experience and know-how. It took me half of my life to get there.
    See below the manikin for an approx. 3 inches Minnow.
    I wish you all a Happy and Successful New Year! All best! IMG_0976_©.JPG
    Multispeciestamer, JL, OhDear and 6 others like this.
  15. Mudbat

    Mudbat Well-Known Member

    Pretty sure Mathis( swissfish) does pretty well for himself wasting his time on them
    Swissfish and Sotired like this.
  16. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    I have read that you were publishing a book. Would love to see it when it comes out. To get the detail that you do you must use some very good magnification equipment .. or be very nearsighted (like me) to be able to do such close work.
    rogerswildlife, Swissfish and Sotired like this.
  17. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Pretty sure that as long as big name artists buy your mounts to include in pricy artwork you'll do ok. I prefer the museum displays though. He did an incredible small koi that I would love to see where it ended up. https://www.artsy.net/artwork/carsten-holler-divisions-roach-and-surface
    George, Swissfish and Sotired like this.
  18. Swissfish

    Swissfish Well-Known Member

    Thank you guys!
    @Mudbat: Yes indeed, I'm meanwhile pretty successfully waisting my time....haha. Thanks!
    @Sea Wolf: You seem to know a lot about me and have the right sources, so I promise that you will not miss the outcome of the (...to many!) promised book. Please give me still some time, this is a lifework. Thanks for the compliment of the Koi. He is still sitting here in my studio...But it is a commission for Carsten Höller, too. So, as soon as it will be finally installed (planned for January 2019) and found its way into the galleries you will find the according pics under the same sources. If not, let me know and I will send you a pic. Thank you!
    rogerswildlife and Sotired like this.
  19. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    I have a special place in my heart for fishheads, but they tend to have the comprehension of taxidermists. As I said, it's not that I don't suspect someone would try it but like striking a safety match on a warm marshmallow, at some point the effort (regardless of the money you make) simply isn't worth wasting that much breathing time on. This site ihas many premium artisans that make enough money on to live on and if they can find that special niche in society, I'm delighted for them. HOWEVER, the Taxidermy Net is made up primarily of commercial taxidermists who tend to be more "craftsmen" than artisans, and certainly, for a beginner right out of the chute having this insatiable itch to take on the work of a seasoned artisan is simply unrealistic. Artist can never be taught anything but technique, it's a talent created within us. And even artists have their limits. Picasso made millions doing work you could find in preschool and I seriously doubt that he could have produced anything close to the great masters had he even tried. But he found the market and the market was good to him. Now what I want someone to do is to mount a beta in the details of that painting above. At that point, I'll agree it's not a waste of time.
    Multispeciestamer and JL like this.
  20. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Perca likes this.