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Fish Nets

Bent Aquarium Net

Fish nets are often the last thing an aquarium owner's mind when purchasing an aquarium. Never the less, every fish owner will eventually need one. Here is a primer for the unglamorous, but necessary aquarium fish net.

Net Mesh
Nets may be used for a variety of tasks, from skimming debris from a pond or tank, to catching fish of various sizes, to scooping up a meal of freshly hatched brine shrimp. For each task, a different sized mesh is used.

Large mesh nets are hard on fish anatomy and might allow small fish to slip through, but are well suited for tasks such as skimming debris. When capturing fish, a soft loose mesh minimizes physical damage to the skin or fins, while allowing water to quickly pass through the net without causing excess drag.

Very fine mesh nets are available, and might seem like the best net for all tasks. However, skimming debris clogs the net quickly and is difficult to clean off. The very fine mesh is soft but impedes water movement, which makes it hard to move the net quickly when chasing after a darting fish. For that reason, very fine mesh nets are reserved for specialty tasks, such as scooping up tiny brine shrimp.

Net Size
The size of the net should be matched to the job. Various sizes, from as small as 3 inches to as large as 10 inches are readily available. The handles also are available in lengths from under one foot, to over two feet in length. If you do not have large fish, a five inch net with a ten inch handle is a good all purpose size.

If you have a pond, you will need larger, long handled nets. A large net is also helpful to have on hand to scoop things out of your aquarium. Large nets are also helpful when trying to catch fish in a larger tank.

How Many Nets?
Think you only need one net? Think again. It's always wise to have a backup, just in case you tear one or misplace it. If you have to catch fish, using the two (or three) net method will usually work better. One net is kept stationary, while the other net (or nets) are used to herd the fish towards the stationary net.

Another technique that helps with catching fish is to bend the handle of your net so that it looks like a stair step. This will make it easier to capture a fish against the side of the tank.

Net Maintenance
What? Nets require maintenance? Nets do deteriorate over time. They can dry out and become rough, which can damage fish when netting them. Worse yet, if nets are not kept clean they can carry disease from one aquarium or fish, to another. Nets should be rinsed well of all debris, and cleaned with a commercially available net soak product. Inspect your net each time you use it to ensure hasn't become brittle or have holes in it.

Nets are a valuable and relatively inexpensive aquarium accessory. Be sure to keep several on hand at all times.

Readers Respond: When you catch fish do you use one net or two, and why?

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