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Fish #75 Tadpole FishRaniceps raninus ~ John Wyatt Clarke
Oil on electrician's insulation tape on board 30 x 30 cm
You've got to feel for this fish. All anyone says about it is 'what the hell is this?' (from the sea anglers) or 'of no interest' (from the commercial fishers). FishBase describes its head as depressed, and you're hardly surprised. Even its name tells you that it's just a fish-version of something better. You get the feeling that if it ends up in an aquarium, it's there for us to laugh at, with its glum face and overgrown frog-baby looks. It makes sense that it's solitary and secretive, hiding in the seaweed 20m down and never moving far.
But it can have beautiful colouring, a velvety blue-black or a deep reddy-brown, and its eyes are like a teddy bear's. Its head is quite elegant, though too large for its body, and its top and bottom fins ripple beguilingly along the length of its body.
It's a member of the Cod and Haddock family, usually around 20cm long so it's about actual-size in my painting. It's very much a North Sea Native, found only here, in the Channel and off Ireland, living 20m down on the rocky bottom in seaweed and eating smaller fish, worms and shellfish.
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