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. This is our favorite method for netting fish. It not only saves you time, but it also prevents your fish getting stressed.
Before you start…
Not all aquarium nets are created equal, so make sure you start off with the right tool for the job. Make sure the net is free of holes or tears that might allow the animals to escape. 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. To prevent shrimp and baby fry from escaping, use a net made with fine mesh. However, if you are chasing faster or smarter fish (like African cichlids, loaches, and rainbowfish), get an aquarium net with coarse mesh or tiny holes because it decreases drag through the water and allows you to move more quickly when needed.
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 Easiest Way to Catch Aquarium Fish
We now have the right equipment for the job. Let’s discuss the best technique. Remember to remain cool, calm, and collected because when you become overly agitated, your movements convey your anxiety and the fish are more likely to become stressed as well.
1. Avoid standing or towering over the fish tank as some fish might perceive you as a predator. Get a stool to allow you to sit at the tank’s level if it is too low. 2. The net should be held closer to the net’s rim than the handle. This position gives you more control to make faster movements. 3. Place a trap so the net faces one of the tanks’ front corners. 1. In this example, we are using the left corner, so place the net at an angle such that the right edge of the net is flush against the glass and the bottom edge of the net is tight 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.
To set the trap, place the net in the front left corner and hold the right side 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. Move your hand toward the tank’s front left corner after the sweep is complete to allow the fish to enter the net. 3. If you have a taller aquarium, your hand also has to stay higher in the water to prevent the fish from escaping over the top edge of the net.
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. 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. Once the fish have entered the net, close the trap so that the left edge is flat against the front window.
Once the desired fish are in the net, close the trap so that the net rim is entirely flush against the front wall of the aquarium.
1. The net should contain the desired fish, while the unwanted fish can be let loose. 1. Move the desired fish further into the net. Place your hand against the glass to cause the desired fish to swim further into the mesh. You can gently move the net from one side to another if necessary to keep them hidden. 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. Therefore, we slightly opened the right side of the net and used our hand to gently guide the platy out.
1. For as long as you can, lift the net from the water and keep the net flat against the glass. 1. Avoid rotating the net horizontally when removing the fish from the water. It can cause panic and increase the chances that they will jump. 2. Instead, drag the net vertically out of the water. This causes the mesh to drop down and naturally trap the fish in the net. 3. The more you raise the net into the water, the more afraid the fish will become. This makes it more difficult to catch them.
Slide the fish net vertically out of the water so that it remains flush against the tank wall for as long as possible. This will cause the net mesh to fall downwards and trap the fish, reducing their escape chances.
This video will help you to better understand the technique.
If your fish are still struggling to net their aquarium fish, you might consider taking out some fish tank ornaments or hardscape. This will remove any obstructions and allow for more movement. 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.