How to Catch Aquarium Fish Like a Pro
One of the more frustrating parts of the aquarium hobby is trying to catch or move your fish. Just try chasing around fast and slippery fish using a flimsy net with a ton of aquarium decorations in the way. Our years of experience in running aquarium fish stores have taught us a lot about how to catch the correct number of fish and what kind of fish they are. Our favorite way to net fish saves time and keeps your fish happy.
Before you start…
Not all aquarium nets are created equal, so make sure you start off with the right tool for the job. Check the net for any holes or rips that would allow the animals to slip out. Select a larger net that covers more surface area and makes it easier to capture your target. Consider the type of fish you want to catch. Baby fry and shrimp should be handled with care using a net that has a fine mesh to stop them from getting out. If you chase faster or more intelligent fish (African cichlids and loaches), you should use an aquarium net with coarse mesh. It reduces drag and allows you to move faster when necessary.
Aquarium Co-Op fish nets feature coarse mesh for less water drag, strong carbon fibre handles that won’t bend, and no metal parts.
The Best Way to Catch Aquarium Fish
Let’s now discuss the correct technique. Remain calm, collected, and cool. If you get too agitated, then your movements can communicate your anxiety to the fish, making them more likely to become stressed.
1. Avoid standing or towering over the fish tank as some fish might perceive you as a predator. If the tank is low to the ground, get a stool that allows you to sit down at their level. 2. Hold the net closer to the net rim and not at the very end of the handle. This position gives you more control to make faster movements. 3. Set up a trap so that one of the tank’s front corners faces the net. 1. We are using the left side of this example. Therefore, place the net so that its right edge is flush with the glass and the net’s bottom is against the ground. 2. This arrangement creates a gap at the left end of the net for the fish to enter. 3. If it’s more convenient, you can also use large pieces from fish tank decorations to set your trap.
Place the net on the ground, and make sure the right side is against the tank wall. Fish can only enter from the left side.
1. A fish net is slower than your hand so you need to use one of your hands “chase” the fish to the trap. The net will stay in place if it stays put. 1. With your fingers extended to make it larger, place your hand in water and move the fish around the aquarium. 2. After the sweep is completed, move your hands towards the tank’s front corner so the fish can enter the net. 3. To prevent fish from jumping over the top of your aquarium’s net, you will need to keep your hand higher in the water.
One hand holds the net handle, while the other uses the other to move behind the net and sweep fish from one side to the next. When the fish reach the left side of the aquarium, move your hand towards it so they swim away from you.
1. Swing the trap closed as soon as the fish enters the net so that it is parallel to the front glass.
Once you have caught the fish you want, close the trap to ensure that the net rim touches the aquarium’s front wall.
1. The net should contain the desired fish, while the unwanted fish can be let loose. 1. Move the fish you want deeper into the net. Place your hand against the glass to cause the desired fish to swim further into the mesh. Gently shuffle the net from side to side if needed to keep them tucked away. 2. You can lift the net rim towards the glass by putting it in the corner closest to the fish so you can release the fish. 3. If you see that all the fish (including unwanted ones) continue to swim deeper into the net, your hand or finger can be used to push or chase them away.
In the above case, we would like to keep the powder-blue dwarf gourami and release the red platy. We opened the net slightly on the right and gently guided the platy out with our hands.
1. Keep the net in the water for as long possible. 1. Do not rotate the net horizontally prior to bringing the fish out. This will cause panic in them and increase the chance that they will jump out. 2. Instead, you should pull the net vertically up and quickly get out of water. This will cause the mesh to fall and trap the fish inside the net. 3. The more times that you bring the net in and out, the more fearful the fish might become.
Slide the fish net vertically from the water, so it is flush against the tank wall as long as you can. This method causes the net mesh to drop downwards, trapping the fish in the net and minimizing their chances of escape.
To help you better visualize the technique, here is a video demonstration of how we catch fish at our fish store:
To make it easier to net your fish tanks, remove any ornaments and hardscape. This will allow you to have more room to move. In a planted aquarium where it’s not possible to move the live aquarium plants, try lowering the water level to just a few inches so that the fish cannot swim over the net. Finally, don’t forget to check out our favorite aquarium net that gives us the best advantage for catching fish.