The Real Cost to Mount A Fish

On average, the price for fish taxidermy is about $15.50 per inch. Although Taxidermy can be done by yourself – DIY (Do It Yourself) to save money, it is better left in the hands of a professional to get the best results. 

There are three main factors influencing the price of mounting a fish if you hire a taxidermist:

  • Size
  • Species
  • Taxidermists’ skills

Regarding taxidermists’ skills, they mainly relate to the ability to replicate particular fish species, paint a fictitious fish, stuff a fish, skin a fish, mount a fish, or freeze a fish.

If you find that there are too many variables to weigh, don’t worry, we’ll help you compare and choose the most suitable one.

How Much Does It Cost to Mount a Fish? 

Size

Size plays a vital role when determining how much a fish costs to mount. 

Typically, fish taxidermy is priced by inch, therefore a large fish will end up costing much more than a medium-sized fish.

The average cost to mount a fish is between $10 and $20 per inch. For instance, the price ranges between $400 and $800 to skin, mount, dry, and paint a 40-inch long catch. 

Species

The cost to mount a fish is significantly influenced by the type of fish. Skinning a fish could be a challenging task without damaging the outer skin. As a result, each species’ price is distinct.

Regarding skin mounting, taxidermists divide fish into three major categories:

  • Warmwater fish (bass, walleye, pike, etc.): $11-$15/inch
  • Coldwater fish (salmon, trout, etc.): $14-$18/inch
  • Saltwater fish: $15-$20/inch

Coldwater and saltwater fish are typically more expensive to stuff than their warm water counterparts due to more oily skin and longer drying time.

You can easily track and find the approximate price with this detailed price table classified by fish species below.

Fish SpeciesAverage Cost (Per Inch)
Trout$16
Bass (Largemouth & Smallmouth)$13
Striped Bass$17.50
Walleye$13
Pike$13
Crappie$15
Salmon$16
Shark$19
Marlin$12
Billfish$17.50
Swordfish$14
Tuna$12
Tarpon$17.50
Redfish$14

Taxidermists’ skills

These are the typical prices paid at reputable stores, while you can undoubtedly find prices that are more or lower than those mentioned above, especially when considering how skillful the taxidermist is. 

Finding a taxidermist can be similar to hiring an architect for your home. 

The easiest way to choose a well-qualified taxidermist, if you don’t have any recommendations from friends, is to look at their samples. To determine the quality, you might consider how natural-looking the fish is, and how many flaws the piece has. 

If you want to mount a fish on a tight budget, search for a reputable taxidermist rather than a high-end one.

Remember: You typically get what you pay for. A low-price bargain might mean cheap quality work or work that deteriorates rapidly and needs to be restored. Therefore, doing it right the first time may be less expensive in the long run.

Moreover, bear in mind that a lot of taxidermists have a minimum fee. Therefore, if your fish is on the little side (like a panfish), the cost per inch may end up being greater because otherwise, it wouldn’t be worthwhile for them to stuff it.

A professional fish stuffer extends the life of the fish (before perishing for eternity). The skills needed for this profession mainly involve dexterity and design skills. It also comes with numerous specialized materials and instruments.

  • A mold

Once they receive the fish from a client, taxidermists make use of a mold to build a replica of it. The fish is then put into the frozen container after the mold has cracked open. The size and skin patterns of the fish will now be perfectly captured in the mold.

  • Styrofoam mannequin

A hard foam animal shape known as a styrofoam mannequin typically receives the peeled skin.

  • Preservatives

Fish skin needs to be treated with preservatives since it deteriorates quickly after peeling.

  • Formaldehyde 

The injection of this colorless gas into the head occurs occasionally to help preserve, dry out and protect them in the long run. In addition, a delicate Formaldehyde brush is used to clean the skin.

  • A Paint job

The fish skin mount is painted to create the ideal appearance by an airbrush, covered in a largely translucent paint.

  • Glass eyes

Glass eyes bear a striking resemblance to real eyes that almost no one can recognize their difference.

If you are not into the skin mounting of your trophy, another alternative to consider is a replica. 

Skin mount vs replica: which one should you choose?

Replica fish mounts cost between $10 and $16 per inch, which is approximately the cost of skin mounts (though replica mounts can be slightly cheaper when it comes to mounting coldwater fish or saltwater fish).

Even while the price may be comparable, please remember that a replica mount needs far less work as all you need to do is take a few high-quality pictures and note the important dimensions of your fish before sending them to the taxidermist.

It would be beneficial if you took pictures of your catch as soon as you could to preserve the fish’s realistic hues. A lot of images should be taken from all angles to ensure that your fish skin mount looks as realistic as it should. While it is advised to take pictures for skin taxidermy, it is a must for a Replica Creation.

A Replica Creation is essentially a manufactured replica of the fish you caught. To achieve a good duplicate outcome, it’s advisable to weigh the fish in addition to measuring its length and girth. A great bonus of replica is the fish can swim back into the water. Therefore, many in modern culture prefer to have a fish mount from a photograph.

Because replica making doesn’t call for conserving the fish that you wish to be stuffed, you can even eat or release it after capturing it and still have a good replica to put on your wall as a reminder of your catch. 

How to choose the right taxidermist to mount your fish? 

You can ask for recommendations on angling forums or ask your fellow friends for some helpful suggestions. Please take the time to read all comments before making your decision in order to avoid advertisements designed to boost the sales of the retailer or scams. 

Don’t forget to request a snapshot of their completed work. Examining a taxidermist’s most recent work closely is the best method to select the right one.

And the option isn’t limited to choosing taxidermists close to you because the majority of expert animal stuffers accept fish from all over the country.

However, before sending your trophy to the right taxidermist, let’s consider the following steps

Handmade a fish mounted 

When you catch a fish that is impressive (big, gorgeous, or both) and looking forward to showcasing the trophy with your friends, you should follow these instructions. 

Before you begin, decide which side of your fish will be on display or the “show side.” To prevent abrasion, you must always store the fish with this side up. Avoid injuring the fish in any way, including bleeding or gutting it. 

Now, you need to go through these basic steps to preserve the skin. 

Skin taxidermy

  • Rinse the fish.
  • Wrap in a wet towel.
  • Place the fish in a large plastic bag, wrap it in a towel, and seal the bag.
  • Place the entire package in the freezer with the “display side” facing up.
  • Keep it in freezer for at least two days, or until totally frozen.

Once you’ve located the ideal taxidermist, you can use a courier service that transports frozen products to them.

Replica creation

  • Measure the length and width with a tape measure.
  • Calculate weight (if possible)
  • Take as many pictures from different perspectives as you can.

Once you’ve chosen a store, all you need to do is provide them with the data you gathered, and they’ll handle the rest.

How long does it take to get a fish mounted?

Taxidermy timeline usually involves:

  • The taxidermist shop’s backlog of work.
  • The delicate nature of the species or the effort required to care for the fish.

The turnaround period for getting a fish stuffed ranges from 3 months to more than 1 year, with 1 year turnaround time being relatively typical for most establishments.

While the minimum time required can be reduced to just two months for some fish species, the longer intervals are primarily due to the large backlog of superior shops. They need to finish a lot of pieces before they can get to your fish.

Fish mounting requires fine workmanship and accuracy. Everyone wants their trophy fish to be put on their wall as soon as possible, but quality should never be sacrificed for speed.

If you want to prevent any backlog or delays, you might pay an extra fee for the expedited service so that the taxidermist can move your project ahead in line. It typically takes two months to a year to taxidermize a fish.

When a taxidermist tries to finish the job earlier than the anticipated deadline, it could lead to the fish spilling oils and destroying the paint job. It is best to give the taxidermist as much time as necessary to provide the finished product in the best shape possible.

Final thoughts 

Fish taxidermy, whether it’s a replica or skin taxidermy of your dream fish, is a way to celebrate your catch and keep it as a trophy. You may pay a pro up to  $15 per inch to make your amazing catch appear alive. A high-quality fish skin mounted on your wall does not usually come at an exorbitant cost. Let me know if I skip any interesting facts!

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