How can I preserve a specimen (fish) for
dissecting in the classroom?
I do not recommend such things in classrooms without proper
ventilation...The typical aldehydes that are used are noxious. The least
objectionable is using ethanol or isopropyl alcohol which in conjunction
with refrigeration work ok...The more modern approach used by many colleges
and high schools is to get a software that illustrates the same thing and/or
an internet site which does the same. There are some fantastic web sites
that show tomographic anatomical breakdowns of various life forms including
The fish and lampreys I have preserved have been done using a high concentration
of ethyl alcohol.
We had success using 100+ proof, the higher the better. You will need to
use an injection of this solution to preserve the internal organs effectively.
The sooner you do this after the fish has deceased, the better. Do not mix the
alcohol with any aldehydes. I recommend not waiting too long to do the
dissection. Also, rinse the specimens very well before allowing any student to
work on the animal. The above is intended to be used for demonstration dissections
and not for student use.
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Update: June 2012