(908) 642-1966
0 Shopping Cart $0.00


Do not hesitate. Check out our wide range of products!

How To Safely Catch Your Aquarium Fish?

by Brian Dunleavy
How To Safely Catch Your Aquarium Fish?

You wouldn’t be an aquarium hobbyist if you haven’t experienced trying to catch your aquarium fish in a net, who simply doesn’t want to be caught. 

There are times when it may become necessary to safely catch and remove one or more of your aquarium fish. Whatever the reason for removing your fish, you should be able to catch any fish. However, this is not as easy as it sounds, and it requires practice and a lot of patience.

In this article, you will learn some general methods and tips to safely catch your aquarium fish, as well as what to avoid. 

Safe Ways To Catch Your Aquarium Fish

Mandarin fish

Fish can easily become stressed when you enter their home, whether it be with your hands or a net, this is not a ‘normal day’ in a fish’s eyes. When catching your fish, it is extremely important to do it as quickly and safely as possible to reduce stress, as this can weaken their immune system, putting them at risk of fish diseases. 

The good news is, we have some simple methods to safely catch your fish!

Catching Your Fish Using A Net

The most common way to safely catch fish inside aquariums is by using a net. Nets are great tools as they vary in shape, color, and size, giving you flexibility on what you can catch inside. 

Black and green nets are more effective than white nets, because they give your fish a false sense of security, reducing the chances of them getting spooked and injuring themselves. 

When using a net, always move it slowly through the water, until your fish is inside the net. Once your fish is inside the net, lift it to the surface with the net handle vertically. Always ensure your fish spends as little time out of the water as possible. 

If you are struggling with the net method, then you can try luring your fish into the net with a treat. We recommend placing food at the top corner of the aquarium. When your fish starts nibbling on the food, it should be distracted enough to gently scoop your fish up inside the net. 

If you are struggling with one net, then you can try two nets. 

The Two-Net Method

We love this technique when we need to catch fish in a heavily decorated tank that has limited space to maneuver around the aquascape.

Now here’s the important part…

One net should be smaller and white and the other larger and black or green. The white net is what should safely spook your fish into the larger net. 

You want to place the larger net in the direction you want the fish to run, and keep it stationary. With the smaller net, gently guide your fish towards the larger net. If done correctly, your fish should safely swim inside the larger net, leading to a safe catch. 

The Cichlid Trap

Ok, so your fish is really not in the mood to be caught, and you are probably getting rather frustrated by now, so let’s bring in the big guns - fish traps!

Fish traps may sound horrific, but they are extremely easy to use and are safe for your fish. 

If you have very speedy fish or small juvenile fish, then the cichlid trap is a super easy and safe method. 

The cichlid trap is like a mini DIY project! You will need a plastic bottle, a small amount of fish food, and of course, patience. 

First, take a plastic bottle and cut the top off. You also want to cut the rim bigger than the cap opening, to allow enough space for fish to swim through. With the top part of the bottle, invert it inside the bottle, and glue it with reef-safe glue or putty. 

Next, put some of your fish’s favorite treats inside the bottle, and gently lower the bottle to the bottom of the aquarium. Once your fish notices the food, it should swim freely into the bottle, at which point you seal the exit and remove it from the aquarium.

Store Bought Fish Traps 

If you frequently have to catch fish, it may be worth buying a fish trap from your local fish store (LFS). 

LFS fish traps have a removable bait container and box to trap fish. They come with strong suction cups that stick to the side of the aquarium, so your fish will just think it is some new decor, plus it will not damage anything inside your aquarium. 

Once stuck in the location where your fish usually feeds, fill the bait holder with your fish’s favorite food. Remove the sliding door to the trap, and walk away.

At first, the trap may intimidate your fish, but after a couple of hours or days, they should actively feed from the trap. After your targeted fish is comfortable with the trap, you can set it up and get ready!

With the bait holder full, open the trap door. Most LFS-bought fish traps have a fishing line attached to the trap door, this is how you will close the door once your fish has entered the trap. 

We will tell you one thing, fish are smart and fast, so do not be too hard on yourself if it takes a few tries to successfully catch your fish.

What To Avoid When Catching Aquarium Fish?

When catching your fish inside your aquarium, you must avoid the following:

#1: Avoid stressing your fish. Stressing your fish increases the chance of your fish becoming sick. 

#2: If using the net method, avoid swinging the net violently. Not only will aggressively swinging the net stress any inhabitants inside your aquarium, but it will also stir the sediment, making it more difficult to catch your fish.

#3: Finally, the obvious one… avoid causing any injuries to your fish. 

Unfortunately, physically hurting fish is a common issue when trying to catch aquarium fish. To avoid physically harming your fish, always be gentle, particularly if you are using nets. If, for any reason, your fish gets stuck in the net, put it back in the water and let your fish swim out. If it is too entangled, carefully cut the net, so it can escape. 


Fish are not the easiest to catch, but its not impossible. Just remember, whichever method you decide, be patient and perform each method slowly to avoid stressing your fish. 

If you need more advice on safely catching your fish, aquarium maintenance, or which reefing supplies you need, contact the Reefco team, or visit us in-store. 

by Brian Dunleavy