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. After years of running an aquarium fish store, we have caught thousands and thousands of fish, so we know a thing or two about trying to wrangle the exact number, type, or color of fish for our customers. Learn about our favorite technique for netting fish that not only saves time but also saves your fish from getting stressed out.
Before you get started…
Not all aquarium nets are created equal, so make sure you start off with the right tool for the job. You should inspect the net for holes or tears that could allow animals to slip through. 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. To prevent shrimp and baby fry from escaping, use a net made with fine mesh. 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 are designed with coarse mesh for reduced water drag, strong carbon fiber handles that won’t flex, and no metal parts to eliminate rusting.
The easiest way to catch aquarium fish
Now that you have the right net for the job, let’s talk about the proper 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. Try not to stand above or tower over the fish tank because some fish may view you as a predator and become frightened even before you get started. If the tank is low to the ground, get a stool that allows you to sit down at their level. 2. Do not hold the net too close to the handle’s end. This position allows you to move faster and gives you more control. 3. Set a trap so that the net is facing one of the front corners of the tank. 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 allows the fish to swim in the net by leaving an opening at the left edge. 3. If it’s more convenient, you can also use large pieces from fish tank decorations to set your trap.
To set the trap in the front left corner, place the net on the ground and keep the right side of the net tight against the tank wall. Fish can only enter 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. Place your hand in the water (with fingers stretched open to look larger) and sweep the fish from the right to left side of the aquarium. 2. At the end of the sweep, move your hand towards the front left corner of the tank so that the fish enter the net. 3. Your hand must be higher than the aquarium’s top to stop fish escape.
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 the fish have been caught, close the trap until the net is flush against the aquarium’s wall.
1. You can keep the fish you want in the net, but let the fish you don’t like swim out of it. 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. If necessary, gently shuffle the net side to side so that they are 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 the fish, including unwanted ones, keep swimming further into the net you can push them out with your finger or hand.
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. For as long as you can, lift the net from the water and keep the net flat against the glass. 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, drag the net vertically out of the water. This causes the mesh of the net to drop and traps the fish. 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.
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.
This video will help you to better understand the technique.
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. If you have a planted aquarium and it is difficult to move the aquarium plants, lower the water level so the fish can’t swim over the net. Don’t forget about our favorite aquarium net for catching fish.