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I had a red get eaten about three weeks ago, and I'd like to skeletonize her. It really sucked cause thousands of little, orange eggs were showing through her ripped-open stomach. If anyone knows a way to successfully do this, I would very much like to learn it. Thanks.

god damnit-I just realized I put this in the wrong forum.
 

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They bones are too "soft" but you can try bleach. Diluted 2/3 bleach with 1/3 water and it should remove all the flesh. But watch it doing it or it will dissolve the bones too.
 

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RedShoal Posted on May 13 2003, 08:42 PM
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They bones are too "soft" but you can try bleach. Diluted 2/3 bleach with 1/3 water and it should remove all the flesh. But watch it doing it or it will dissolve the bones too.
Agreed, but I also put them in hot water with the bleach. Talk about foam soup. Best alternative is get flesh eating beetles (I'm getting brain-dead here, long day with to much humor) forgot the common name, but that takes a few weeks.

Here is a method off the internet......

The protocol is as follows:

1. Place the fish, either fresh or thawed (not preserved), into a plastic ziplock bag with a small amount of water (again, this varies, depending on the size of the fish... the idea is to steam the flesh off the specimen; the water also protects the fin rays from curling from the heat... try to position the specimen so that some of the fins are in the small pool of water in the bag).

2. Microwave the specimen in the bag (leaving a small opening for steam to escape) for several minutes, the timing of which depends on the size of the specimen (~3-10 minutes).

3. Remove the specimen from the bag and place on a tray when it is steamed completely (if the caudal fin is falling off, and the skin will pull away from the head, the specimen is "done").

4. Pull the loose muscle tissue and skin from the specimen, getting it as clean as possible (the more flesh that is removed, the less trypsin will be needed). As the tissue is removed, be careful to not lose any bones in the process. The paired fines and median fines will probably fall off, or be easily pulled off. Put all the bones in a large jar, and the muscle, gut, and anything else that is expendable in a pile to be discarded later. Try to get the head into several pieces by removing the gill arches or pulling any dermal bones away from the neurocranium if possible.

5. Mix a trypsin solution, using a similar ratio of ingredients as one would use for clearing a specimen in the traditional clearing and staining protocol, i.e., %70 distilled or filtered water + %30 supersaturated aqueous sodium borate ("borax") + trypsin powder. For each 100ml of solution, mix in approximately 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of trypsin. The solution should be yellowish and opaque.

6. Leave in trypsin overnight (if the specimen is put into trypsin in the morning, check to see if it is "done" at the end of the day. In the morning (if it is left overnight), check to see if the trypsin needs changing (if it is dark brown in color), or if the bones are clean and can be removed from solution. Sometimes several changes of trypsin are needed; usually one dose will suffice. To accelerate the action of trypsin, place the jar under a light (this is particularly useful if the specimen is put into trypsin early in the day; ~38° C is appropriate).

7. When the bones are nearly clean, strain off the trypsin, and rinse the bones in water.

8. Soak in water for several hours or overnight, depending on the size of the specimen (this rinses off the trypsin and helps to loosen any remaining connective tissue).

9. Hand pick any remaining connective tissue from the bones (this can sometimes be time intensive, depending on the specimen), rinse the neurocranium in water to flush out any remaining brains, and try to remove the otoliths (it is possible to keep the neurocranium in one piece, by not leaving it in the trypsin for too long). Get the bones as clean as possible. If necessary, some can be put back into trypsin or continue soaking in water.

10. Spread out the bones on a tray to dry. By spreading them out as much as possible, you avoid the bones drying stuck to each other; pulling them apart after they are dry results in breakage
 

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hastatus said:
RedShoal Posted on May 13 2003, 08:42 PM
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They bones are too "soft" but you can try bleach. Diluted 2/3 bleach with 1/3 water and it should remove all the flesh. But watch it doing it or it will dissolve the bones too.
Agreed, but I also put them in hot water with the bleach. Talk about foam soup. Best alternative is get flesh eating beetles (I'm getting brain-dead here, long day with to much humor) forgot the common name, but that takes a few weeks.
I thought about that, but won't the beeltes bite through the little bones? Aren't they only use for big animals?
 

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RedShoal Posted on May 13 2003, 09:01 PM ....I thought about that, but won't the beeltes bite through the little bones? Aren't they only use for big animals?
Be honest, don't really know. I know that the museums used this method for fishes, but I never directly tried it myself. I used the cooking method I mention. Which is similar to that I just found via the internet.
 

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Found the name of the beetle and the method:

Assuming that it is in Osteoichthtyes, boney fishes, then the quality will depend on the species chosen. The more primitive species, gars, sturgeons, bowfish, have proportionally more bone material that is held together i.e. fused at the joints, and thus makes a better finished skeleton. Many of the more advanced groups have floating bones or groups of bones, which may not even be attached to the main vertebral system, or head area.
There are three basic methods you can use. The first would be warm water maceration, with or without enzymatic treatment. The best reference I can find is Hill, F.C. 1975. Techniques for skeletonizing vertebrates. American Antiquity, 40(2):215-219. This paper gives methods for fish, amphibians and reptiles and other small vertebrates.

The second method would be best described by Konnerth, A. 1965. Preparation of ligamentary articulated fish skeletons. Curator, 8(4)325-332. This journal article involves slow tedious dissection of the meat from the bones, soaking in ammonia, further picking, soaking in sodium hypochlorite, degreasing, bleaching in hydrogen peroxide, then pinning until dry.

The third method would involve utilization of some sort of meat consuming organism, such as dermestid beetles. (Crayfish have also been used in cleaning bone material -Journal of Mammalogy 35:428-429, and once as a kid I saw an almost prefect trout skeleton macerated in a pool and crowded around by crayfish eating upon it. Various other organisms have been used - shrimp, sow bugs, scounce, moths, etc.)

The method I have employed with varied success:
1) skin the fish out and remove all larger chuncks of meat, being VERY careful to not damaged the bone material. Here you must be familiar with the bone patterns in the body. Remove much of the cheek meat, the eyes, and eviscerate the body.
2) soak the fish a few hours or overnight in numerous changes of water to get the blood out. It is optional to soak in weak ammonia to make the meat more palatable for the dermestids.
3) position the fish in its final position by pinning it out on cardboard or styrofoam. Be sure to stretch out the fins the way you want them to remain, and fill the rib section temporarily with some net like material while drying to extend the ribs out to the desired position. Do likewise to the mouth and gill covers.
4) dry the fish in front of a fan, until reasonably hard, and then store it in a plastic bag in the freezer until
5) you purchase a dermestid colony from a supplier and build it up to a fair size (depending on the size of the fish). If your specimen is a larger one, you will need a larger colony. In essence you want to basically have dermestids eating almost all surfaces of the fish skeleton simultaneously, so that portions are not completely eaten before other portions are even started. It also would be best to have a uniform larger sized larvae to prevent the smaller dermestids from getting into the nooks and crannies and disarticulating the
ribs or spines. I have LOTS of experience on snake skeletons and this probably would hold true on fish.
6) as portions of the ribs or spines are clean, and other portions are not, to prevent complete disarticulation you can add spots of a substance that will prevent disarticuation at that particular joint. That could be superglue, Rittles preserve it, or formaldehyde.
7) Final steps would be to degrease the skeleton over a longer period in some aliphatic hydrocarbon (or possible acetone or alcohol). The degreasing may take a month or more in Naptha, 111 trichloroethane, Acetone, or the like, BUT do not use water based degraesers or it will relax the ribs and spines, and without tissue between them, it will be nigh impossible to get them even again.
 

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hastatus said:
2. Microwave the specimen in the bag (leaving a small opening for steam to escape) for several minutes, the timing of which depends on the size of the specimen (~3-10 minutes).
ewww man...the stench...
 

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goldfish chunks in teeth said:
hastatus said:
2. Microwave the specimen in the bag (leaving a small opening for steam to escape) for several minutes, the timing of which depends on the size of the specimen (~3-10 minutes).
ewww man...the stench...
hell yeah...
 

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Honda99_300ex said:
I was also wondering abot how to do this................
So was I, but is sounds like alot of trouble. I guess if I had a HUGE P then maybe I would consider it.

~Dj
 

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try putting it on an ant hill.........most likely fire ants would do the trick........ im not too sure tho...

ive done this for getting a turtle shell.
 

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ants sound like a good idea to me; I'd remark on stench, noxious fumes and hassle that the the other methods present, but I guess that's already been reinforced by other posters
 
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