How to Catch Fish in a Planted Aquarium?

How to Catch Fish in a Planted Aquarium?

Catching fish in a planted aquarium is not easy, but you can do it with efficient tips and techniques. Here are 13 easy methods for catching fish in a heavily planted tank.

How to Catch Fish in a Planted Aquarium? You can easily catch a fish from your planted aquarium using props, net, and commercially-made fish-traps. All you have to do is to stay patient and look for the right time to catch them. Any disturbance or carelessness during the process can harm you and your fish. Take some precautionary measures before and after capturing the fish from your aquarium.

How to Catch Fish in a Planted Aquarium?

Catching a fish from an aquarium full of plants, decorations, and driftwood, need time and effort and can be a headache. You may experience frustration and anger while doing this. Usually, they do not easily come into the trap, and you may struggle a lot to catch them. 

There may be various reasons for catching them, as they may be sick, injured, diseased, or for breeding purposes. Also, you may need to take out the aggressive nature to prevent from harming others. Moreover, it is sometimes necessary to remove them from the aquarium for detailed cleaning of the aquarium.

Whatever the reason, you have to be very careful and optimistic while catching fish from a planted aquarium. Correct selection of prop or catching equipment is essential for successful and harmless trapping. However, it is not that easy, but all you need is appropriate planning, full concentration, and dedication.

Considerations for catching fish in a heavily planted aquarium

Lure the fish with food

For any method of catching fish, the best technique is to lure it with the food. It helps to bring it into the trap, and you can easily capture them.

It is preferable to keep fish hungry for some time and then add food into the fish-trap or any other prop. It will immediately come to feed, and you can catch it while it is busy eating food.


Dedication is essential for success, and you can not achieve your goal without focus. The process requires concentration, and when you do not pay attention, it may bring you nothing but failure.

Keenly observe its activities throughout the process. Catch it at the most appropriate time before it comes out of the trap and rescue itself.

Avoid stressing your fish

Too much disturbance and movement while catching fish results in stressing and shocking it. It can be lethal for fish so try to avoid stressing them and catch them peacefully and carefully.

Patience is a must

The whole process of catching fish is slow and too time-consuming. It takes a lot of time to get it in a trap, and you have to be very patient throughout the process.

You can not rush or hurry to catch it as it is not always possible to catch fish using a single trick. You may need to apply several techniques and methods to capture one.

Methods and techniques to catch fish in a planted aquarium

Using the fishnet

It is a popular method to catch fish. You can easily capture small and large fish in the tank using the net; it has various shapes, sizes, and colors.

Black and green color nets are preferable because they give a false impression of security while white color nets spook them. It is better to move the net slowly in the tank.

Use a single net

The technique requires patience and concentration. Carefully place the net in the tank along the sides or corner and the mouth directing towards open areas where fish are swimming. Look for it to get in the net, and then slowly remove it out.

Use two nets

One net should be smaller than the other and keep the larger net stationary facing the fish. Use the small net to guide the fish into the large net and once it gets in, closes the net and take it out of the tank.

Using transparent bags

You can capture it using small transparent bags that come with a thread on the mouth side so you can close it when the fish get in. All you have to do is to add food to the bag and float it in the aquarium.

When it comes inside the bag to eat the food, immediately close the top by pulling the thread, and it will remain inside the bag. It is suitable to capture one fish at a time and preferable for a smaller one or fry. Many people use this technique to catch the paradise fish.

Catch fish when it is sleeping

Target the fish while it is sleeping is much easy and does not require much effort. When the lights are off, and you know where it is sleeping, slowly pour in the net and scoop it up.

Usually, when it is sleeping, it gets too lazy to recognize and react to the flashlight. So you can target it with a flashlight and catch it.

When the fish is sleeping in a specific hole, you have to get it out of there by squirting water inside using a syringe. Place a net over the hole and splash water to bring it straight into the net.

Lower the water level

Lowering water level increase the chances of catching it using the net or even bare hands. Normally fish can disappear in a tank the water is not low. It will restrict the fish in the lower portion, and you can capture it there. You have to be very efficient and quick for this method. You can easily do this by making a fish tank filter less powerful.

Make a DIY egg crate fish trap

Egg crate can help you capturing fish from an aquarium as it serves as a divider for a tank. It will reduce the space for a target fish and corners it in a specific area.

Add a feed in a corner or open space away from plants and decorations. When it comes to eating, place an egg crate to narrow the place and catch it using a fishnet. 

You can make your fish tape by cutting four large rectangular pieces and make it a cube using zip-ties. Make a door also for the entry and place it on the substrate.

Add food to the trap and let it come into the fish-trap. It is the best way to catch large, small ones, and you can capture several at a time in this trap.

Make use of a colander

A brilliant piece of equipment to capture fish in an aquarium is the use of a home colander. Make sure to make it safe by washing it with vinegar-water mix and then add in the tank. The colander is the best option to capture small ones by placing feed on it.

When it gets in the colander, slowly take it out of the tank without making the fish realize. You have to be very slow and lenient while taking the colander out to avoid getting it out of the colander.

DIY plastic bottle trap

Plastic bottle traps are most common and useful in capturing fish from planted home aquariums. Take a plastic bottle and cut the top of the bottle. Inversely slide it back into the lower part of the bottle.

Drill holes at the bottom of the bottle to drain water out while pulling the trap. Add live or frozen food in the bottle and place it at the bottom of the tank. When the fish enter the bottle, slowly take it out of the tank. This trap is suitable for small and medium-sized fish.

Mirror distractions

Distracting a fish is the best way to catch it in a planted aquarium. The smaller ones love to hide behind the plants, and you need some distractions to take them out of there.

Mirrors when creating reflections in the water, distract them and engage them. You can place a mirror inside or outside the aquarium, depending upon your convenience.

Fish hooks

The technique is the same as you use for fishing in the ponds, but it is not recommended for pet fish. Take an appropriate size hook and attach live food to it and place it in the aquarium.

When the fish come to eat from the fish-hook, take it out along with the fish. You can catch both small and large ones using the fish-hooks.

Catch fish with bare hands

When you do not have any trap or idea to catch fish from your planted aquarium, do it with bare hands. This technique requires skill and practice with patience, and you can capture small, medium, or large ones with it. 

For small and medium-sized fish, make a cup of your hands displaying an open cup mouth. Look for it to comes in your hand, then quickly close the hand, and the fish will remain in the closed cup of your hands. You can directly catch and hold a large one, but it requires careful handling. 

Use a glass jar

Place the jar on the substrate and add food to it. Wait for the fish to come into the glass jar patiently. Do not hurry or rush for the catch as it may take much time to get fish in.

Once it gets in the glass jar, cover it with a lid and take it out. This technique is better for smaller ones and the aquarium with few rocks, decorations, and other objects.

Commercially-made fish traps

Several traps are available in markets for capturing fish from a tank with reasonable to high prices. The best way is to place them at the bottom and leave them there for at least 24 hours. 

Acrylic fish trap

It is an acrylic square or rectangular box with a door that comes in variable size. You can add food to it and place it in a tank, and once the fish get in, the door automatically closes with a pin system. 

Bubble fish trap

It is a spherical trap that comes with a magnet that holds the bubble in water. When the fish swim in the bubble trap, you need to pull off the bubble magnet, and the bubble rapidly rises to the water surface.

How to catch fry from the aquarium?

The fry is too small in size and can not swim properly in the early days of life, so you can capture them using an appropriate trick.

The fry needs careful handling as using hard and pointed trapping objects can kill them. You can catch the fish with a net, but it should be a soft net with thin and small pores to avoid fry escape. You can also capture them with a plastic bottle, jars, using transparent bags and fish-traps.

Obstacles and hazard in catching fish in an aquarium

You may face hurdles or obstacles while capturing fish from the planted tank. There may be several hazards that come in your way to make the task difficult. Some of them are:

Hiding of the fish

Small fish and fry can easily behind numerous objects in the tank. When it is shy, it loves to stay and live behind and inside tank objects.

Rocks, decorations, and driftwood

A fully planted tank has many rocks, decorations, and plants that come as an obstacle for you. You can not use the large net and large traps in an aquarium, having several items.

You have to be very careful in such tanks as any disturbance or movements lead to stress and depression. However, sometimes it becomes necessary to remove these decorations and rocks, especially when you have a small aquarium.

Too aggressive or active fish

It is too hard to catch a super-active and aggressive fish as it may show resistance and aggression getting in the tank. Quick response and action are necessary after capturing them as they can quickly come out of the trap once they sense it. 

Precautions in capturing fish

Cautions with the net

Do not swiftly move or swing fishnet in the tank as it will create heavy waves and stress fish. It can also disturb all the setup inside the tank and can destroy gravel distribution.

A harsh-net can hurt or kill them, and if the fishnet has big pores or holes, the fish can get out of it. The one with sharp teeth, strong jaws can tear the net if you’re using a cheap quality net. Fishnet can also hurt them by entangling it and cause injuries.

Do not hurt fish

Fish are fragile and delicate, and careless handling can hurt them, especially when catching them with bare hands. Be aware of the equipment you are using and try to prevent them from harming. Injuries and wounds may lead to infections and diseases and can be lethal. 

Keep a bucket ready

It is necessary to keep a bucket full of water ready at the time of catching the fish. If you do not immediately transfer the captured one in the water, it will die. So keep beside a water-filled bucket or vessel.

Clean the containers and equipment

Always add a clean and safe container or trap in the water as any contamination or impurities on them can result in hurting fish and other animals in the tank. Thoroughly rinse and clean equipment with a vinegar-water mix or other disinfectants.

Remember your safety

Aggressive or sharp teeth fish can harm you and cause injuries. Be careful while handling it as they can bite you.

Related Articles:

Can you keep the fish tank outside in cold?