10 Smart Ways to use an Aquarium Catch Cup Or Specimen Container


10 Smart Ways to Use an Aquarium Catch Cup or Specimen Container

Have you ever seen those clear rectangle boxes hanging on the outside of tanks at your local fish store? This is the aquarium specimen or catch cup, one of the most versatile tools for fish keeping. It is a transparent, small container that can be used to observe fish or hold aquarium supplies. Learn about the top 10 ways we find ourselves using catch cups every day at our retail fish store and personal fish tanks.


1. Observation

You may not be able to see the fish well if they are moving around in an aquarium. This allows you to examine the fish for any signs and symptoms, as well as pick the most healthy individuals for breeding or to sort out juveniles. Plus, the clear, flat walls are perfect for photography so you can proudly show off your favorite species.

2. Transport

Although aquarium nets are fine for moving small numbers of fish from one tank, they can prove inefficient when you have large schools of fish to move. You can instead use your specimen container to temporarily hold the fish until you are done catching them all. After that, move them around together. To keep them safe from predators, relocate fry to a grow out tank, bring pond fish indoors during winter, or remove pest snails from a single tank for your pufferfish tank.

3. Selling fish

Fish bags are required if you plan to sell your fish at an auction, fish shop, or online. Scoop out some aquarium water and then place the fish you catch into the specimen container. Once you have the right number of fish, you can easily pour them from the catch cup directly into the fish bag and then seal them inside with rubber bands. Multiple containers can be used – one container to hold large quantities of fish, and another to separate the species and numbers for each bag.

4. Acclimation

If you are buying new fish or shrimp, they may be accustomed to water parameters that are very different from yours, and therefore you may want to slowly acclimate or get them used to your aquarium water. You can also acclimate small animals in the specimen container.

1. Take the fish bag out of its bag. Once the fish have been soaked, pour some water into the cup. 2. Add aquarium water from their new home into the catch cup so that the water level is doubled. (If the water gets too high, just pour some out of the container.) 3. After 15 minutes add more aquarium water until the water has doubled. 4. After 10 minutes add more aquarium water until the water has doubled. 5. The fish can be netted from the container and added to the aquarium.

A length of airline tubing can be used to make drip acclimation, which is a more gradual process. You can calm fish that are running around in the catch cups by covering them with towels or darkening the room.

5. Breeding

You can make your own DIY breeder box with a catch cup by adding an air stone, check valve, airline tubing, and air pump. Hang the specimen container inside the aquarium to keep it warm if needed, and add the air stone to make sure the fish get enough oxygen in the water. Then you can place a select pair of fish inside to increase the chances that a certain male and female will mate together. This setup is also useful for hatching fish eggs. The catch cup can be used to temporarily raise the newborn fry without fearing that they will escape with their tiny food. Add a clump of java moss or other live plants to give them shelter, and make sure to frequently clean out the dirty water inside using a turkey baster.

6. Isolation

There are several situations where you may need to temporarily separate one fish from the rest of the crowd. A calm and peaceful environment is helpful for female guppies, mollies or other livebearers about to give birth. A “birthing room” can be set up to protect the fry from being eaten by larger fish immediately. Additionally, a clump or plants will help the babies hide from their momma.

You could also isolate fish with unusual symptoms or injuries. If you have a fish that is sick or injured, it’s a good idea to keep them in a container with an air stone. This will allow you to closely monitor their health and treat any problems with medication. For more information on treatment of fish diseases, read the full article.

7. Mealtime

We always recommend feeding many different fish foods to ensure your fish get a variety of essential nutrients, but it can be hard to juggle all those round jars and slippery packages. You can use your catch cup to transport all the food items from tank to tank. You can feed frozen food by thawing the cubes in the water container. Next, use a pipette (or turkey baster) to squirt liquid into multiple aquariums. You can use the same technique with live fish food such as baby brine shrimps, blackworms and daphnia.

8. Water Transfers

The catch cup acts as a mini-boiler, and we use it often to clean out an aquarium’s surface or replace water that has evaporated from a nano tank. If you want to test your water parameters using liquid reagents, scoop up some tank water with the specimen container and then use a pipette to fill the test tubes. During water changes, some hobbyists will place their catch cups inside the aquarium and then stick the end of the hose or aim their Python hook into the container while refilling the fish tank. The catch cup collects the water from the faucet and gently flows out. This protects your plants and substrate.

9. Equipment Storage

Whenever using fish nets, algae scrubbers, or other tools in the aquarium, a specimen container is the perfect place to put them afterwards so they don’t drip all over the floor. They can also be used to store fish food, fertilizers and other supplies.

10. Planted Tank Maintenance

One of the best uses of specimen containers is in maintaining planted aquariums. Use them to remove duckweed and other floating plants that have taken over your aquarium so you can spread them to other tanks or feed them to your goldfish. While pruning, put your stem plant trimmings in the catch cup, and then replant them in the substrate to propagate them.

Now that you know you need to have a specimen container in your life, make sure to get the Aquarium Co-Op Catch Cup. The walls are extremely clear to allow you to see your fish and the plastic is shatter-resistant so it won’t fall if dropped. You can hang it on large fish tanks that have thick walls thanks to the extra-wide handle.