Safely Catch Your Aquarium Fish

Knowing how to catch fish you keep in your aquarium is something that must be done from time to time. Reasons for catching fish are various such as the fish is injured and needs treatment before it gets more serious.

Other times, one fish might become ill and you will have to react timely and properly by placing it in a separate tank to quarantine it.  You might even have to separate an aggressive fish from bullying other members of your community aquarium.

Whatever the reason, you should be able to catch any fish at any time in order to be the ultimate master of your aquarium.

However, this is not as easy as it seems; there are a lot of factors that can make catching fish easier or harder, but this task requires knowledge, experience, skill, and patience.

Experienced aquarists even plan their aquascape with this in mind. They leave nothing unplanned, which is important for large tanks with a lot of rocks and other decorations.

Here are some general methods and tips on how to catch your fish quickly and safely:

Things to avoid when catching fish

Avoid Stressing Your Fish

Putting stress on your fish is something you must avoid at any cost. There is some extent of stress in any catching attempt, but your goal should be to minimize it as much as possible.

Stressed fish can become vulnerable to disease because their immune system is greatly suppressed when they face severe levels of stress.

Avoid Swinging Your Net Violently

Another thing you should not do is violently swing your net in the tank. Not only could it lead to excessive stress of all the inhabitants, but it would also disturb the bottom of your tank, leaving unwanted dirt and debris throughout the water.

Avoid Hurting Your Fish

Physically hurting your fish is a common problem when catching. Be aware of how you use your equipment because some fish species are very delicate.

Causing injuries can lead to infections, which can spread and prove lethal. You could also damage the fins leading to a wide range of possible complications.

If, for any reason, the fish gets entangled in the net, the best option is to put the net back into water and let the fish free itself. If this is not possible, the last resort should be to cut your net so the fish can safely get away.

Catching fish using hands only

This is a method that works best with bigger fish. Use one hand to gently catch fish just before its tail and hold it underneath with the other.

This method is very difficult and requires a lot of skill and patience. It should be carried out with caution because some fish defend against predators such as humans.

Catching fish with a net

This is the most common way to catch fish among aquarists. Nets vary in color, shape, and size and each type has its advantage.

The most effective nets are black and green ones, as recommended by experts. They give a false sense of security to fish as opposed to white nets, which spook the fish more easily.

When using nets, try to move the net as slowly as possible through the water. If you move too fast, the fish will run away from you or you will be creating waves, which will knock fish away from the net.

Combine these two speeds. Move the net slowly until the fish is already in the net or close to it. Then you can perform a fast maneuver to “seal the deal.”

Struggling with a fish net?

If you find yourself struggling with this method, you can find a way to motivate fish to come somewhere you want.

A good idea is to lure your fish with food. Try placing food at the top corner of the tank. When the fish starts eating it will easily be distracted and you can place your net underneath the fish and slowly move it towards the top of the aquarium.

Distracted fish will have far less time to react, leaving you with the perfect catch.

Catching fish with two nets

This technique is particularly handy when trying to catch fish in a decorated tank without much space for maneuvering.

Ideally, your small net should be white (as this color spooks the fish) and your big net should be green or black (these are the colors that give fish false sense of security).

One net should always be smaller than the other and use the larger net as the stationary net, but keep your hands ready at the handle.

Place it somewhere you want your fish to go or place it in the direction your fish is known to run. Use the other hand to guide the fish with the smaller net towards the big one.

If done properly, this should lead to a safe catch. Once the fish is in the larger net, close the net and drive it out of the tank.

Many times, you will even be able to catch fish with your smaller net before it gets to the large one.

Closing the net

Once you catch the fish, you need to close the net in order to prevent the fish from escaping. To do this, simply pull the net handle up while holding the handle vertically.

This will result in the net closing down across the rim as the handle faces lower water resistance than the fabric. Once the fish is out of the tank, make sure to place it in another tank as soon as possible.

The Cichlid trap

The Cichlid Trap

This method is used for fast fish or small juvenile fish that are often times hard to catch using nets only.

To do this, you will need one plastic bottle and a little bit of food, though patience would come in handy too. Take one plastic bottle and cut off the part from the label up; then take that part and cut off the rim to make some room for fish to get into.

Invert the cut top of the bottle and slide it back into the bottle. Glue it back on to ensure it doesn’t fall off during the catch.

Place some sinking fish food inside the bottle and gently submerge the trap to the bottom of the tank.

Once the fish swims in, seal the exit and remove your catch from the tank.

Patience is the key

Whichever method you use, remember, patience and practice will lead to perfection. Give it a try and share with us your favorite technique of catching your fish on our facebook page or twitter.

2 thoughts on “Safely Catch Your Aquarium Fish”

    • Hehe. Thanks for the question.

      I now realized that we should not glued the top of the bottle but instead use a string or rubberband to hold them together so that it would be easier to remove the top once the fish are caught.

      Here’s a video showing how the trap works with a string:

      Reply

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