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Catching Fish in a Planted Tank

I wanted to share with you a recent success in removing unwanted fish from a
planted tank -- without uprooting the plants and destroying the aquascape.
We decided recently that we had too many fish, mostly because the wagtails
and variatus were reproducing a bit too well. (Sexy little devils aren't
they? I just shudder to think of all the incestuous relations involved.)

As many of you know, it doesn't take long for a fish to recognize the
approach of a net and make a dash for cover.  My wife and I have spent a lot
of fruitless time trying to catch fish with both one net and two net system.
When she tried, I was usually helping out by shouting "Stop, you're ruining
the plants!"

Then the other day the solution came to me.  We have what I think is meant
to be a brooder cage, a box made of plastic struts and netting that hangs on
the inside of the tank.  It's about 5" X 6" in cross section and about 5"
deep. We bought it to isolate damaged fish that were being picked on by
other fish, without having a separate hospital tank.  (It was so poorly
made, incidentally, that the struts kept coming apart, and the netting kept
slipping off. Trying to keep it assembled, we must have looked like
two-thirds of the Three Stooges putting up a tent.  I finally glued the
plastic pieces together and my wife sewed the netting in place, so at least
we can use it without the whole thing collapsing.)

Anyway, I tied a long loop of string to two diagonally opposite corners, so
that I could lower the cage into the only clearing in the tank, without the
fish seeing my hands coming toward them.  Because it tended to float, I also
added a couple of plant weights.  And, finally, I put in a couple of sinking
wafers, one algae, one regular food, and lowered away.  Well, it took a few
minutes for the wafers to begin to disintegrate, sending their attractive
smells out into the tank.  But, within ten minutes, the more curious fish
began to enter the cage to partake of the bonus meal.  As soon as one or two
were inside, I just hoisted the cage out of the tank and dumped them in a
bucket of water.  Then back in the tank went the cage for another catch.
Before too long, we had caught fifteen fish of various sizes, not counting
the two or three we didn't mean to catch and returned to the tank.  And all
this without touching the plants!  Then it was off to the LFS with our day's
catch.  They'll sell the bigger fish and give away the smaller ones to a
youth group.  We'll wait a few days and do it again, because we still have
too many fish!

Let me know if any of you try the same approach and how you make out.

John T. Fitch
E-mail: jtfitch at spamcop_net
Web Site: www.fitchfamily.com/aquarium.html