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. Our favorite way to net fish saves time and keeps your fish happy.
Before you start…
There are many aquarium nets on the market, and not all of them are the same. This is why it is important to choose the right tool for your 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. 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. 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. 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 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 allows the fish to swim in the net by leaving an opening at the left edge. 3. If you find it easier to set your trap, you can use large pieces of fish tank decorations instead of tank walls.
To set the trap, place the net in the front left corner and hold the right side against the tank wall. The only way fish can enter is from the left side of the net.
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. With your fingers extended to make it larger, place your hand in water and move the fish around 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.
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. Push your hand towards the corner of the aquarium so the fish swim away naturally and you can 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. Your hand should be against the glass in order to get the fish to swim deeper into the net. You can gently move the net from one side to another if necessary to keep them hidden. 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 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 this case, we want the powder blue dwarf tourami to remain but the red platy to be released. We opened the net slightly on the right and gently guided the platy out with our hands.
1. Lift the net out of the water, while keeping the net rim flat against the glass for as long as possible. 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, pull the net straight up vertically and quickly out of the water. This will cause the mesh to fall and trap the fish inside the net. 3. The more times you lift the net in and out of the water, the more scared the fish may become, which in turn makes them harder to catch.
Move the fish net vertically to the surface of the water. This method causes the net mesh to drop downwards, trapping the fish in the net and minimizing their chances of escape.
This video will help you to better understand the technique.
To make it easier to net your fish tanks, remove any ornaments and hardscape. This will allow you to have more room 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. Finally, don’t forget to check out our favorite aquarium net that gives us the best advantage for catching fish.