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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Get your fish!

Here’s how you can catch your fish without traumatising it
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - October 2, 2010
By: Wong Wei Chen
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Get your fish!

It’s only a matter of time before you’ll need to move your fish out of the aquarium, for quarantine and treatment if nothing else. Chasing your fish round the tank with a net is no fun, especially if the one you’re after is small and nimble, and your aquarium heavily planted or decorated. The little critter could just zip into a dense clump of vegetation or some secluded cranny, and you’re back to zilch.

Chasing your fish round the tank with a net is also not nice. It is a very stressful episode for the fish, and once caught it’ll start thrashing about. Chances of its getting injured due to rough handling are increased. Like I’ve said in previous articles, torn skin or open wounds present an opportunity for parasites, bacteria or fungi to afflict the fish.

There are better ways to catch your fish, so let’s find out more.

Draining method
Probably the most straightforward way to make your task easier is to drain some water from the tank. The idea is: the less space your fish has to manoeuvre within, the easier it is to catch it. This simple approach, however, may not be effective if there are lots of places for the fish to hide in. You may therefore want to remove some plants or ornaments first.

Remember not to discard the water you’ve taken out. Your fish have been acclimatised to this “old” water, and it’s a better idea to top up your tank with the same water than to use water from the tap.

‘Tricky’ nets
Nets come in many colours. White ones are not as effective as the black or dark green varieties. In their natural habitats, fish usually swim with the earthy colours of the riverbed or pond bottom in the background, so by and large, dark colours give fish a sense of security.

Since fish tend to avoid a white net, it can be used for herding towards a dark-coloured one, which would seem beguilingly secure compared to that white thing in its wake. Once the fish gets suckered and swims into the dark-coloured net, your task is accomplished. At all times, remember to use very gentle movements, since you don’t want your fish to get hurt.

Hands on!
Catching fish with your hands is a method suitable for larger fish. With one hand, gently grab the fish just above the tail; with the other, support the fish from beneath. Be very patient and gentle. Unless you’re a seasoned expert, you’ll find yourself having to make many tries. But that’s the way things are – most fish won’t quietly let you manhandle them.

Don’t use this method for species that have spikes or some form of body armour, or which are aggressive and quick to bite.

Bottle trap
What you need is a plastic bottle, preferably the 1.5-litre or 2-litre types used for sodas or colas. The entry point (usually the opening at the top of the bottle) should be only slightly bigger than the fish you’re trying to catch. If you’re going for a bigger species, slice off the bottle from the top to create a bigger opening. The idea is to make it easy for the fish to go in but difficult for it to come out. Rinse the bottle thoroughly with water, but do not use detergent.

When you’re ready, drop some bait into the bottle, and slowly lower it into the tank, letting water fill it up gradually. The bottle should finally be laid horizontally onto the substrate. Once you’ve done that, wait. With some luck and perseverance, you’ll see your unsuspecting target squeeze itself through an opening barely large enough for it, in an attempt to get at the tasty morsel inside. Stealthily put your hand into the aquarium, cover up the bottle opening – and yes, you’ve got your fish.

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