Articles Guest posts

Learning to safely catch your aquarium fish

August 30, 2015

This guest post about catching aquarium fish was written by the blogging team of Swell UK, a UK based pond and aquarium supplier!

It’s something we do all the time, and at some point you too are going to have to go through the potentially stressful task of catching one of your aquarium fish. This may be for quarantine purposes, for sale or simply to keep them out of the way during maintenance of your aquarium.

For fish, stress can be lethal so keeping stress levels low is important. When a fish becomes anxious for either a large period or multiple times in a short space of time their immune system is lowered, meaning they are more prone to diseases such as white spot, which if untreated can sadly be fatal. All the more reason to perfect your fish-catching skills to do as little damage as possible!

fish net

Using Fish Nets

  • The first part is obvious: make sure the net you are buying is a suitable size for your fish, and for use in your aquarium. Too large and you might not be able to manoeuvre in the tank to catch the fish, too small and you will miss the fish itself, prolonging the catch and causing you and the fish more stress.
  • Round or square nets are available, and we encourage you to use whatever is best for you (although most find square nets easier to get fish hiding in corners).
  • It is sometimes a good idea to use two nets to catch your fish – one large net, and one smaller net. This makes it easier to guide and trap fish in areas of your tank that are easier to catch them in. The best advice for using a net is to use slow, controlled movements when approaching the fish. This will mean there is less chance of startling your fish, before a quick swift movement at the end gets it in the net.
  • At first, you may think of lifting the net from the water horizontally, much like flipping a pancake. While this can sometimes work, the fish is not fully trapped at this point, and faster species may be able to swim out of the net via the open top. Instead, pull the net out vertically like pulling on a door knob. This causes the net to flop around the fish and avoid escapes!

Hazards of catching aquarium fish

heres lookin at you fish

Catching quick and strong fish like clown loaches can be a real challenge. heres lookin at you fish by Rebecca-louise

One of the most common fish catching problems is your aquarium décor. While day to day it is important for your fish to have somewhere safe to hide, when it comes to capture these pieces quickly become an obstacle for a quick catch. You may want to consider removing them before attempting to use the net, as your fish may bolt and hide somewhere inaccessible if startled. Try taking the obvious ones out first and if you are still having trouble, make a note of other ones to take out for next time! Just make sure you do it softly so as not to cause any more stress to the surrounding fish.

You also need to know exactly what you are going to do with your fish once you have caught it. If it is for quarantine or sale, make sure you have a suitable environment to put them in straight after catching, minimising the amount of time the fish is out of the water. Use a bucket of suitable aquarium water if you have to move it any more than a few feet and if possible, gently hold the fish with wet hands through the net (ideally wearing gloves!) to avoid it escaping while in the open air.

Note: Your safety must come first, so remember just what kind of fish it is that you are dealing with before capture. Some have venomous spines, poisonous secretions and some simply just have a nasty bite! Take common sense precautions to avoid getting harmed, and don’t hold anything that can hurt you.

The most important tip we can give you when it comes to catching your fish is to be patient. Practice your skills and try to learn something every time you perform a capture, and soon you will be a master of the art! If you still have any questions after reading this article or if you want to share your own tips for effectively catching fish, be sure to leave a comment below. Happy fishkeeping! 

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  • Reply Nate December 10, 2015 at 1:10 am

    Is a algae eater bad for a 60 gallon tank

    • Reply Mari December 10, 2015 at 6:24 pm

      That depends on what type it is! There are many different fish labelled algae eaters and their requirements are all different.

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