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. We have been running an aquarium fish shop for years and have seen thousands upon thousands of fish. This means we are very familiar with how to get the right number of fish for each customer. This is our favorite method for netting fish. It not only saves you time, but it also prevents your fish getting stressed.
Before you get started…
Aquarium nets may not be the same. Make sure you have the right tools for the job. Check the net for any holes or rips that would allow the animals to slip out. A larger net will allow you to catch your target more easily and cover a greater surface area. Consider the type of fish you want to catch. Use a net with a fine mesh when handling baby fry and shrimp to prevent escape. 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 fishnets have a coarse mesh to reduce water drag and strong carbon fiber handles that won’t flex. There are no metal parts to prevent rusting.
The Best Way to Catch Aquarium Fish
Let’s now discuss the correct technique. Keep calm and composed. Fish will be more likely to stress if you get too excited.
1. Do not stand or tower above the fish tank. Fish may perceive you as a prey and be afraid of you. A stool will allow you to reach the tank from the ground if the tank is very low. 2. The net should be held closer to the net’s rim than the handle. This position will give you greater control and allow for 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 cannot enter the trap from the left side.
1. Because a fish net tends to be slower than your hand, the key is to use one of your hands to “chase” the fish into the trap while the net stays mostly fixed in place. 1. Put your hand in the water, with fingers open to make the fish appear larger. 2. After the sweep is completed, move your hands towards the tank’s front corner so the fish can enter the net. 3. Your hand must be higher than the aquarium’s top to stop fish escape.
While one hand holds the net handle in place, the other hand will be used to sweep the fish around the tank from the left to the right. Once the fish reach the left wall of the aquarium, push your hand towards the front left corner so that they naturally swim away from you and enter the net.
1. Swing the trap closed as soon as the fish enters the net so that it is parallel to the front glass.
Once the fish have been caught, close the trap until the net is flush against the aquarium’s wall.
1. Keep the desired fish in the net while letting the unwanted fish swim out of the net. 1. Move the fish you want deeper into the net. To get the fish to swim further in the net, place your hand on the glass. If necessary, gently shuffle the net side to side so that they are tucked away. 2. Lift the net rim slightly away from the glass (in a corner of the net that is furthest away from the desired fish) so that you can release the unwanted fish. 3. If all of the fish (including the unwanted ones) keep swimming deeper into the net, you can use your hand or finger to push or chase out the unwanted fish.
In this case, we want to keep the powder blue dwarf gourami but release the red platy. Therefore, we slightly opened the right side of the net and used our hand to gently guide the platy out.
1. Keep the net in the water for as long possible. 1. Don’t rotate the net horizontally before bringing the fish out of the water because it causes them to panic and increases the likelihood that they will jump out. 2. Instead, drag the net vertically out of the 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.
Move the fish net vertically to the surface of the water. This causes the net mesh of the fish net to drop down, trapping them in it and decreasing their chances of escape.
Here’s a video showing how fish are caught at our fish shop.
If you are still having trouble netting your aquarium fish, consider removing some of the fish tank ornaments or hardscape to eliminate any obstacles and give yourself more space to move. You can lower the water level to a few inches if you have a planted tank. This will prevent the fish from swimming over the net. Our favorite aquarium net is the one that allows us to catch fish.