Cichlid Room Companion

An easy way to catch small fish in a planted Aquarium

By , 2001. image

Classification: Captive maintenance.

" Ever had problems trying to catch some fish out of your aquarium? Here is a very cheap and practical solution to that nightmare, that will work in most occassions "

I would like to reiterate an old fish catching trick for all of you that have problems catching fry or adult fish, out of a heavily planted tank - the old soda or water bottle trick: Take an old plastic soda or water bottle and cut off the top just below the shoulder of the bottle, the cut off part should resemble a funnel.

Then cut the funnel in a way that it will fit snugly into the bottom bottle part. Invert the funnel part back into the bottle. Next, drill a hole into the bottle part with a small drill bit (1-1.5 mm), to let excess air out of the trap when it is in the water. Place the trap in the tank water and let it fill. Drop some of your fish's favorite food in the trap, (live food such as Baby brine shrimp or worms work best), as the movement of the bait really gets the fish's attention.

Tip: I use my wife's turkey baster to insert the bait into the trap when its in the water. You can then place the trap on the bottom of the tank to catch bottom feeding fish or on driftwood, plants, etc., to catch mid level feeding fish. I recommend not feeding your fish for at least a day before any attempts of catching them. I believe this method is less stressful for the fish than netting them. I can catch a whole school of hungry Apistogramma juveniles out of a heavily planted tank of any size in 15 minutes with this method.

I leave my Apistogramma offsprings with the parents until they reach what my wife calls "the teenage stage." That's when they start to get a little bit rowdy and the parents start to chase them away. By that time they are around 60 days old, and it is time to get the old soda/water bottle out. Note: Be very careful when opening the trap, especially when you caught fry. Make sure that no fry get caught between the funnel and bottle part of the trap. I accidentally killed two Apistogramma eunotus fry that way. It won't happen again, I just wait until all the fry settle. They naturally try to escape towards the bottom of the bottle. Got him. This guy went straight into my 280 liters (75 gallon) tank upstairs. It works very well on adult Apistogrammas too. I had to catch a male A. agassizi this morning to make room for new arrivals. I just put some frozen brine shrimp in the trap, and placed it right in front of his territory. It only took the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, and I caught him together with a A. bitaeniata female. Unfortunately, he slipt out of the trap when I tried to release the A. bitaeniata female, and I had to start all over again. Of course he was pretty scared and didn't show himself again for about half an hour. I just left the trap in the tank while I was getting ready for work, and voila I caught him again. So much about Apistogramma memory.

It took less then a minute to catch these two A. nijsseni juveniles.

Learn about your fish's behavior and their favorite hangouts by just simply watching them for a few minutes a day, and I guarantee you that you will catch any fish in your tank with this method. Or if you prefer, you can even use fishing floats attached to the trap and let the trap float in any level of your tank. You can experiment with various bottle sizes and mouth openings, depending on the size of fish you want to catch.

Cichlid trap The pictures show Apistogramma nijsseni juveniles being trapped for their move to the grow out tank. Photo by Max Gallade.


Galladé, Max. (Mar 15, 2006). "An easy way to catch small fish in a planted Aquarium". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on Jun 18, 2024, from: