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Old 11/12/2005, 10:26 AM   #1
Anthony Calfo
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How to Catch Fish and Critters in Displays

The DRAIN METHOD:

Prompted by a query in another thread, I thought it might be useful to remind folks that need to remove fishes or motile invertebrates from established tanks that it is not effective or helpful to relentlessly chase the animal around the tank with a single net until exhaustion. Thats not good for anyone... especially a sick fish that needs to be pulled for QT.

And... there is not need to tear down the rockscape in part or whole just to make the same above attempt in what will be muddy/turbid water

No...if you need to trap this or any such fish... DO NOT tear down the tank, but instead set up some water holding vessels/clean garbage cans (well worth the $8 at Walmart if you have to buy new)... and use one of your powerheads/pumps or just a length or large bore tubing (1-1.5" from Home Depot) to drain the tank fast. Even a small powerhead of say 400ghp will pump a typical tank dry in mere minutes.

Thus... when the fishes are in low water (scoop a low spot in the sand if substrate is in the tank to force them into a really tight spot) you can effortlessly catch the targeted creature without stressing it or other fishes badly.

Then... simply pump that water right back in. You can drain and fisll even large aquarium in less time than it takes to eat lunch

As for the exposed rock/coral... I promise you that the 2 week dry import of live rock and the daily exposure of most reef corals to equatorial sun at low tide is far more stressful than the 15-20 minutes in a climate controlled house that it takes for you to drain and refill your tank

Ah, but what of anemones? Well.. the anemones would be better than most any other creature with this imposed "low tide." Wholesaler's ship and import most all of them without water to improve shipping survivability (they cannot pass waste in their own shipping bag water and pollute/kill themselves).

In time I will post other methods of trapping fishes and critters... and I'm asking fellow aquarists to do the same here too.


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Old 11/12/2005, 10:32 AM   #2
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The JAR METHOD:

For rogue crabs in particular... this is a fab, cheap and easy way to grab the critters.
They generally have very pointy "toes." This aspect of their legs makes them very well adapted to hold onto rocks, corals and other hard substrates in particularly heavy water flow on the reef. They can exploit places to hunt for food or graze algae, etc well by this adaptation.

But they cannot climb glass

Have you every seen a hermit crab hanging front and center in the middle of your aquarium pane? Ahhh... no.

And they cannot climb the glass walls of a pickle jar, or the like, either.

But they CAN scurry down to the bottom of the jar after some favorite stinky, smelly meaty foods And they will be waiting for you to pull them out later

If you have other creatures in the tank that will also go for this bait... deal with it. Finesse the "trap" or the hunt as needed. Bury a smaller jar in the sand, lean it against the rosk, narrow the mouth or opening to reduce the number of tankmates that are small enough to enter... hunt at night for an hour or two after the lights go out so you can watch, learn, adapt, etc.

Be creative.


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Last edited by Anthony Calfo; 11/12/2005 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 11/12/2005, 10:43 AM   #3
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The BAG in a BAG METHOD:

This is my favorite way of catching realy shy or elusive fishes from the reef tank. Dwarf angels, basslets and the like can be had this way with little disturbance to the tank as long as you have a little bit of patience

Take a fairly large plastic bag (new and sturdy 3-4mil preferably). Size relative to the fish being caught... but typically a 10X22" catches most home reef aquarium fishes.

Fold the top of the bag down about 2" to make a sturdy collar and sink this bag into the aquarium while removing all air from in and under it (the collar).

Place the bag expanded (fluff it out so it is a bit spacious) in the aquarium... but MOST IMPORTANTLY lean it against the rockscape so that shy fishes are more likely to slip by or in it (security) as opposed to waiting with it in open water. duh!

The Bait: take a tiny golf-ball sized plastic bag of concentrated live bring shrimp... tie it off, then throw it into the back of the large sunken bag trap.

Then... with a bowl of additional live brine shrimp in a slurry, you sit near the tank (lights off in the room) and occasionally squirt (turkey baster) just a little bit of brine shrimp into the mouth of the bag every few minutes as needed.

The obvious ploy here is to lure fishes to the mouth of the bag and tease them with the "motherload" in the back! (the small tied off bag of concentrated live food)

Now of course... every other fish and its brother that you do not want to catch will enter the bag first But eventually the shy fish will too... and when it does, you are sitting several feet away from the tank with a piece of fishing string that was tied around the neck of the bag, under the collar... and pull!

You'd be amazed how well this works for really elusive fishes. It takes time though... and patience.

But if you are afreared to drain your tank or use other methods... this may be an option.

Kindly,

Anthony


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Old 11/12/2005, 11:00 AM   #4
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The GONE FISHING METHOD:

I'm not kidding.... I've hooked my own fishes before... and I'll do it again if it is the best or needed solution.

Three words here: Barbless Trout Hook

Relative to relentlessly chasing a fish unskilled (you, not the fish) with a net until it's exhausted, scraped and otherwise brutalized... you could just tease and jig the until the right fish bites the hook.

I promise you the short catch and release is far less stressful than the run down with a net. Literally less abrasive too (nets are rough on skin/eyes, mucous).

And the hook is so tiny that it barely damages the lip... can be cut away and left if swallowed (extreme, yes... but usually dissolves in time).

This is NOT a first choice strategy... but really does work for many folks (ahhh... not to mention the millions of fish that are caught and released in the wild by sport fisherman!)

I practice what I preach BTW... caught my Australian tuskfish ($200) and yellow-belly hepatus tang, etc this way from a big display (too large to drain).


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Old 11/12/2005, 11:28 AM   #5
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Great Post! I know I have read so many threads where people are trying to find the best way to catch fish. I have also read countless posts where people say something like "...and now I'll have to remove all the rock to get him", or something like that. I think this shows a few different options that will help to both reduce the stress on the fish AND the stress on the entire tank.

Thanks for the info...

-Scott


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Old 11/12/2005, 11:50 AM   #6
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great tips, I think this will serve the greater good if they added this as a sticky in the fish disease forum,


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Old 11/12/2005, 12:39 PM   #7
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May I butt in?

HOMEMADE TUBE TRAP

Fish can be captured with a baited trp easily made at home, especially gobies and other bottom dwellers.

Take a plastic bottle, such as a water bottle, and cut off the top. Invert the top back in the bottle. Bait trap and wait. This may take several days. The fish will be sufficiently confused when trying to get out, that you should have enough time to pull the trap out before the fish discovers the exit.

Fair warning: I've had fish learn to avoid the trap by watching their mates go in and get taken.

Dragonettes don't like to go over the lip for some reason, IME. For them , you can leave one end open and slightly submerge the trap in the sand. In order to trap them once they go in, you must devise a trap cover on the end of a stick. Some premade algae cleaners will do nicely.




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Old 11/12/2005, 10:13 PM   #8
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excellent tip, Nicole! Great thanks for sharing Very DIY friendly and effective ala minnow trap style.


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Old 11/12/2005, 10:23 PM   #9
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One more,

THE NIGHTTIME KIDNAPPING

For fish who sleep in a regular spot that is relatively open (like clowns), the easiest time to catch them is at night when they are sleeping.

The scene: well after lights out, using a moonlight LED as a guide and eyes well adjusted to the dark.

The victim: your blissfully sleeping fish

The weapon: a clear specimen container, "convalescent home" or similar.

Slowly submerse the weapon and move it close to the fish. Scoop the ifsh up and quickly cover the top of the container. Remove the fish to it's new home, acclimating as necessary, but be kind and don't flip the lights on.


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Old 11/12/2005, 10:33 PM   #10
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another excellent one, Nicole. Grazie!

And I can attest to this too... in fact, I floored my dear friend Daniel Knop when I was in Germany. We were travelling about and I heard him complain for some days about two rogue rabbitfishes in his 1500 gallon tank!

Yet when we got back to his home (the night before I was to fly out)... I caught the first fish before he could walk to the sink to get a bucket! I caught the second fish even faster RC "pufferqueen" was there too and witnessed it! 2 fish in less than 60 seconds from a 1500 gallon tank

We hear of fisherman catching all sorts of creatures at night (with or without spotlight)

As Nicole states... this is a very common and effective technique! It's most successful if the tank is very dark for some hours first.


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Last edited by Anthony Calfo; 11/13/2005 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 11/13/2005, 05:36 AM   #11
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Not only was Daniel Knop impressed but so was I !

Two rabbit fish in less than a minute in a 1500 gallon tank that was populated with MANY corals, inverts & fish !

I have also seen Anthony do the drain technique in more than one of my tanks (not just the small ones either!) and have the fish out in a mere matter of minutes without undue stress on the fish.

Thanks for making this detailed sticky for the hobbyists - this will help many hobbyists and their fish/critters!

Thanks again,
Kelly


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Old 11/14/2005, 08:46 AM   #12
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I have used the Fish Corral that I bought at Dr's Foster and Smith. It is a clear plastic trap that you put food in and close the door when the fish goes in. It often takes patience but I have always eventually caught the fish. The part I like is that it is water tight when tipped on it's side. I use it to acclimate the new fish coming out of or going into quarantine and then put the whole vessel in the tank and safely let everyone see the new fish. After a while you open the door and let him swin out. The fish never touches a net or comes out of the water or anything and seems as non traumatic as can be.

Walt

I am not crafty to make my own traps so this is an awesome tool for me.


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Old 11/16/2005, 03:41 AM   #13
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Any ideas on how to catch some larger worms in a display? I baited a trap one evening with some silversides and krill, for a large Sally Lightfoot that I thought was terrorizing my tank. The next morning, the crab was caught, but I also witnessed two worms, which I know were over 14 inches in length...snooping around in the trap. But the problem is that the worms do not entirely leave the rock. They just stretch themselves down over the rock, to check out the bait within the trap (Ball jar).

I need to do something, as I feel the worms are responsible for the zoo's and mushrooms that are either showing up entirely missing or damaged. All of the items that I am concerned with are within 12 inches of the rock that these worms are in. You guessed it, the rock is on the bottom of the landscape. I also suspect that the worms killed the crab that was caught in the trap.

Thanks,
Jeff


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Old 11/16/2005, 09:15 AM   #14
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CATCHING SPIKY/PRICKLY CRITTERS

Prodded by Jeff's inquiry above... I add this entry for spiney creatures like bristle/fireworms and some shrimp & stomatopods (mantis).

For these various opportunistic omnivores with spiney aspects to their bodies, we can use it to our advantage to snare them.

With or without the various traps you will hear about in this thread and beyond, you can often snag one of these creatures by using a bit of (boiled to sterilize) ladies nylon stocking or the like.

Tie a small satchel of fragrant food like shrimp in the baggie of nylon (coin sized portion at most). Then tie a bit of string to the bag leading out of the aquarium (the string... not the bag of food - that stays in the aquarium ). Remember to clean oil off of fishing string if used (fishing line may be lubricated for reels in advance)

With this nylon satchel of stinky food inside a trap or not, the omnivorous scavengers are attracted to it overnight and often get snared in the nylon with their spiney aspects.

For the shrimp that will drag or pull the bait into a cave or crevice by daylight... you have the string to lead you there/where.


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Old 11/16/2005, 11:19 AM   #15
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Thanks you Anthony, I'll give it a try!
Jeff


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Old 11/17/2005, 10:50 PM   #16
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Goby's and along with sand dwellers succumb quite nicely to a 1" siphon hose and a 5 gallon bucket. Not sure how much trauma getting sucked down a tube does but does however...


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Old 11/17/2005, 10:58 PM   #17
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quite abrasive to mucus membranes, eyes, etc. Even when the siphon is slow. Let's avoid doing that


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Old 11/18/2005, 08:43 AM   #18
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Does anyone know of a good way to remove crabs form a 100 gallon tank. The crabs where in the rock when I started building my talk about 8 months agao. Now they have grown and are eating my snails. Help


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Old 11/18/2005, 09:08 AM   #19
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The jar method above works very well.


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Old 11/18/2005, 09:10 AM   #20
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If you lay the jar on it's side, how do you stop the crabs from crawling back out


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Old 11/18/2005, 09:53 AM   #21
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Not all the way on it's side -- lean it up against a rock so it's at an angle. Preferrably the rock where they make their home.


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Old 11/22/2005, 10:12 AM   #22
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I wish I had known about the jar method before I tore apart my 120 gallon reef to catch a rogue crab. Thanks.


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Old 11/26/2005, 09:28 AM   #23
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Help with catching a 4" long mantis would be very nice. Have tried inverted bottle trap but no luck. A friend of mine wants the mantis so live trapping would be best.


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Old 11/29/2005, 12:37 AM   #24
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Hi all

Do you think the nylon stocking trick
would work for camel shrimp.


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Old 11/29/2005, 11:45 AM   #25
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moumda... do try the nylon stocking trick with your mantis... or better yet, do see if you can locate a fav bolt hole or crevice it resides in and squirt a turkey baster of carbonated (soda/seltzer) water into it (anaesthetic). It may stumble out for a grab, or you can slurp it out (put your thumb over a length of one inch lift tube (longer the better) and sink the open end down to the mouth of the bolt hole. The action will be like using a pipette.

swamp63 - no try the tube trap or bag in a bag methods for your camel shrimp first.


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