Live by the ocean? Going on a tropical island holiday this festive season…
Why not catch your own marine fish! Its fun, its difficult and it will give you a new found respect for your marine pets…
First and most importantly you need to make sure you have correct permission to collect marine fish (as a hobbyist, not collector) where you are. If you dont know how to go about this ask the local dive shop or marine authority.
Next you need to make sure you have all the collection equipment you need (underwater collection bucket, probe/stick) and transport containers plus a tank at home waiting for you catch…
How to actually catch your own marine fish:
Trawling and seine nets will actually damage ornamental marine fish quite a lot as they will get knocked around. The best method is to snorkel or dive with SCUBA using a hand net with a mesh fine enough to catch smaller species but wide enough to stop fish fins getting fouled up in it. A too small mesh will make the net too visible and hard to move through the water and a too large mesh will let smaller fish escape and ensnare body parts more easily which increases the trauma to the fish.
The best mesh colour is green or brown not white because the fish can more easily see a white net coming! It is possible to make your own hand net; using a good coat hangar with some green mosquito netting over it works really well. Having a long handle also helps but not so long you cant make quick movements. The net will need to be deep enough once a fish is inside you can flip the top of the net over to trap it.
It is always easier to chase a fish into the net with your hand or a second hand net than swipe the net and catch the fish. This is because the fish have to be quick enough to get away from much faster predators than a human!
The best strategy is to is to observe rocky areas where your fish of interest inhabit, move towards the fish very slowly a few times to learn its escape route. Now you will need to decide on a good place to put your hand net so that the fishes only logical escape route is into it, now simply scare it in with your hand or another net or probe. This is easier said than done.
The most easy fish to scare into a hand net are: some Butterflyfish, Clownfish, Royal Grammas, Hawkfish, Puffers, Boxfish and Cowfish.
For more serious collectors a barrier or fence net can be used in conjunction with a handnet and poker, this type of net catches about 80% of fish found in your LFS. This net can be set up in a “U” shape (use a rock to weight it into this shape) along a reef wall or rocky bottom and has a weight line at the bottom and a float line at the top. The easiest way to place and use these nets is when you are diving.
Fish such as Tangs, Butterflyfish, Damselfish and Wrasses can be scared along the seabed, driven into the concave of this net and are simply handnetted (sweeping the net up to catch them works best) off the barrier net and put into the collection bucket.
To learn more about how to sustainably and successfully catch your own marine life and many other saltwater aquarium insiders secrets check out what my mentorship program at www.SaltwaterAquariumAdviceVIPClub.com has to offer.