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Old 05/15/2004, 07:53 PM   #1
JHardman
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How to capture/catch clownfish in a tank

Since I see so many posts about people having to move their clownfish for whatever reason and I so often see poor or stressful (for the fish and keeper) techniques being tried I thought I would share my techniques for catching and moving clownfish.

First we are smarter than the fish, even though sometimes they make us feel that they are indeed smarter. Since we are smarter than them, we know that clownfish are territorial and we can use this against them.

Using territorial defense response to catch clownfish

Find a clean, clear container that is large enough to hold the fish or pair in question. You can buy clear plastic specimen containers at better stocked LFS or online. These are ideal, but anything that is clear, has a wide opening and is not easily broken will work, the key here is clear.

You will need both hands for the capture. Place the clear container in the tank near the fish. Hold it in place with one hand and use your other hand to herd the fish into the container. Most clownfish if you move slowly and carefully will not flee and can be herded into the container and lifted out of the tank.

If your fish is a runner... Place the container in an open corner of the tank and herd the fish into the corner and container. This is where having a rectangular specimen container is handy, no gaps for escapes.

When you carry or move the fish in the clear container it is a good idea to cover the top and bottom. Scared clownfish tend to jump so having something on top to keep them in the container is nice. Covering the bottom will help to not scare them with suddenly moving floor.

Clownfish sleep, attack at night!

If you are unlucky enough to not only have a runner, but one that is really good at it, you may have to resort to catching them at night when they are asleep. You can either go with the flash light and not light up the tank or you can flip on the tank lights. However if you flip on the lights, the fish are going to wake up, giving you much less time to get the job done than if you just use a flashlight.

Careful not to scare your fish to death with a night time attack! Some species of clownfish are very prone to night time scares and wild runs and jumps that could lead to their death.

Using evil nets!

I do not recommend using nets to catch clownfish. Clownfish are very visual fish with excellent eye sight. Having a large "thing" chasing them around a tank can cause a great deal of stress. I have even seen fish die shortly after netting them. I avoid them and the only ones I own are for straining brine shrimp.

NEVER EVER use a net on a maroon clownfish! Maroons have cheek spines that can easily be caught in the netting and result in very bad, even deadly damage to the fish.


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Old 05/15/2004, 08:46 PM   #2
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thanks for the information J. i also dont like using nets to catch my fish as the main reason being their eyes (imagine sandpaper scraping against your cornea). the method where you herd them into a corner and scoop them up in a jar works good. i have a plastic container that when i dunk in the water, creates a huge suction from the water replacing the air. if you hold this close to the clowns they usually get sucked in and are unharmed.

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Old 05/15/2004, 10:57 PM   #3
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My tank is large. I find that night capture is easiest. I can easy capture my fish to move them at night with a small net. Often this would be over in 15 seconds and it seem to me the fish is not complety awake when I got them to their transfer container.
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Old 05/16/2004, 07:12 AM   #4
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Ive moved my clowns a few times in the past few years, and tho it wont work for most and probably doesnt belong in this thread.. . I just grab ahold of the anemone, and the clowns dive in. I am able to move all 3 at once. They arent going anywhere withoiut their anemone, and visa versa,


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Old 05/17/2004, 05:00 PM   #5
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only thing I had to do was put the net in the water, and the big one swam right in, and the little one followed,,,,,,,,,,,
They are very friendly,,,,,,


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Old 05/17/2004, 06:08 PM   #6
tcarlson
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I have always been an anti-net person and catch clowns in a clear plastic container. It seems like some clowns react better than others my Cinnamons, Ocellaris, and Maroons were unfazed by the treatment but my Clarkiis freaked out and were hyperventilating when they were moved to their new home. (Of course they have been absoloutely the most skitish clowns I have ever owned.) I don't know how anyone can move a Maroon with a net, I saw an uneducated fish store employee do it once for a customer and get both of the pair of maroon's cheek spines caught in the net.

I tried the plastic container trick to catch a Flame Angel and it was completley ineffective. I think the fact that clowns are poor swimmers and ultra trusting, as long as they are hungry, is why this works so easily.


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Old 05/17/2004, 07:15 PM   #7
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What works for me:

Step 1 -- gently and slowly chase clowns a bit with container
Step 2 -- hand feed clowns
Step 3 -- herd fed clowns into container

I don't know why, but Step 2 seems to remind them they can trust me, and they only put up token resistance in Step 3.


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Old 05/18/2004, 03:00 PM   #8
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I have had luck using the clowns anemone as well. Turning the lights off during any part of the day will ensure that the clown will be in his anemone and won't want to go anywhere else. I then simply run my hand into the anemone and am able to scoop the clownfish into my hand and then into a bag. I have never had to move any rocks, and only use one hand. My tank is a little above eye level so using two hands isn't an option.
For all other fish night time is the best.


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Old 05/19/2004, 12:01 AM   #9
Luis A M
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JHardman,how you catch and count a large number of fish being packed for sale?(and returning those not big enough)


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Old 05/19/2004, 12:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Luis A M
JHardman,how you catch and count a large number of fish being packed for sale?(and returning those not big enough)
Good question!

I use 10g tanks for growout. I keep basically three types of tanks...

1) For fish that are ready for sale, i.e. size, color, species, misbar or regular.

2) For fish that are not ready for sale. These are for the most part community tanks that I keep multiple species in at a time and only include or exclude based on size or very bad aggression.

3) Mutt tank, this is were runts, deformed, picked on fish go. Some make it out, some don't.

So when I ready to fill a order I remove the stand pipe, cap off the bulkhead after draining about 1/2 the water, remove hiding places and air line. Then I use a large specimen container and herd a hand full into it. Then I drain a part of the water out of the container so that the fish are force closely together, this really helps keep them calm, schooling instinct I guess. Then very gently and slowly I scoop a fish out at a time holding them between my thumb and fingers. Being touched on both sides at once, even if they are out of water generally keeps them calm. I give each fish a final inspection (as they already got when they went to the "ready" tank), if the fish passes then they get plopped into a temp container, if not into the "mutt" tank. I keep one of those little "click with your thumb" counters to keep track of how many I have sorted out. From the temp container depending on if they are going long distance or locally they either get bagged in breathing bags or a plastic bottle with a battery powered air stone in it and then off to the store.

A couple of notes about the above...

1) I would not recommend handling fish by hand with anything but your own fry. Adult fish generally do not take well to it at all.

2) I am VERY VERY careful not to hurt the fish and try very hard to keep them calm during all this. I want these fish to see people and the things they do are not harmful, painful or scary in any way.

3) I keep my hands very clean and do not worry about contaminating the tank or the fish.

4) I do not waste time, this is a fairly quick process once the fish is in my hand, if the fish is in my hand, out of the water for more than 30 seconds, something is very wrong...


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Old 05/19/2004, 01:56 PM   #11
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John,thanks for the description!
I use a net,of a fine mesh though.I also scoop fish needing to be separated with my fingers.Granted,this is kinda stressful for the fish and sometimes one or two are temporarily shocked,but recover.Resistance to stress has to do with the nutritional status of the fish and commercial breeders perform similar "stress tests"to evaluate this.
I use small square specimen container if I need to move very small juvs like damsels,neon gobies or shrimp which can´t take being netted.
On a side note,I don´t use any hiding places in the grow outs.I imagine they could encourage territorial and agressive behaviour.


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Old 05/25/2004, 10:19 PM   #12
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Thanks for the great advice J, always so good to have this kind of thing posted.


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Old 06/04/2004, 06:10 PM   #13
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I just had to do this. I waited until they were hungry, and slowly put a specimin contain into the tank. Then I placed some food in there and boom, they went in.


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Old 06/06/2004, 10:29 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rod Buehler
Ive moved my clowns a few times in the past few years, and tho it wont work for most and probably doesnt belong in this thread.. . I just grab ahold of the anemone, and the clowns dive in. I am able to move all 3 at once. They arent going anywhere withoiut their anemone, and visa versa,
Once, I bought an anemone, it was in the acclimating container when I noticed movement, what the heck?....
I look closer....turns out a clownfish hitchhiked home with the anemone!


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Old 06/15/2004, 02:04 PM   #15
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UUhhh your lucky.


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Old 06/16/2004, 10:15 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by obarrera
UUhhh your lucky.
Not really judging from my track record at the crap table. My point was that it's extremely easy to catch clowns, since they usually just dive into their anemones and stay there.


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Old 06/23/2004, 11:36 PM   #17
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Most of my "parent" moves are done at night with the aid of a red flashlight. They seem to not "see" red. Daylight moves are done with a clear container and are herded gently inside. Fish coming from LFS's or from the outside that are bagged are floated, dripped then cradled out by hand. If you get them by both sides in a cupped hand you can practically walk back to the store with them. Kudos to JHardman for pointing that out, all this time I thought I was a fish whisperer.
Dman


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Old 07/14/2004, 06:40 PM   #18
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JHardman, i bought a pair of oscellaris last month. the female was a bright yellow orange and the male was a bright orange. now the female's color has turned to a brownish yellow. i feed a lot of variety foods with frozen, flake, and pellets. is this normal? i want the fish to return back to its original color. what do i have to do?


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Old 07/28/2004, 02:23 PM   #19
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I don't know if this is true with all clowns, I have only had maroons but they are use to attacking my hands when they are in the tank. When I want to catch one and the hand is holding a specimen container the attack takes them right into the container.


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Old 08/11/2004, 11:42 AM   #20
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We had a maroon that put up a fight in my biology class tank. There was a rose annemone that was "his" and the annemone split so he thought both were "his" he tried to protect the annemone by nipping me even though i was feeding it. He was really hard to catch because he stayed close inside the annemone and we did not want to damage the rose. but the suction tecnique does work

yeah!


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Old 08/11/2004, 12:07 PM   #21
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I'm constantly amazed how trusting tank-rased ocellaris clowns are. I can practically reach in and grab them with my hand (not that I would...) The clear container trick works great: Food in the container, clown follows. One of mine has gill parasites. So catching him for a FW dip was a no-brainer.

Any good links for clown gill parasite info?


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Old 08/17/2004, 02:57 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by z_rivers
thanks for the information J. i also dont like using nets to catch my fish as the main reason being their eyes (imagine sandpaper scraping against your cornea). the method where you herd them into a corner and scoop them up in a jar works good. i have a plastic container that when i dunk in the water, creates a huge suction from the water replacing the air. if you hold this close to the clowns they usually get sucked in and are unharmed.

-rivers
Wow, great idea! Thanks


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Old 08/29/2004, 11:25 PM   #23
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I just prefer to rearrange my tanks....


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Old 09/02/2004, 09:27 PM   #24
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Well all of you are lucky I guess ??? I have a monster 4" Tomatoe Clown, that can draw blood !!! He, of course is a runner. If I stick my hand in, he comes for me,,, add a net or speciman container and he's out of there !!! I thought that I would try to either put a net over him and the rose, while he's asleep, or maybe try to slip a large fish bag over them ???? I was concerned about scaring it to death !!! He's a real pain, has become hyper dominant, it's a wonder that he hasn't torn my Rosebud apart, he's really rough on it, he messes with my Yellow Tang, and kicks up the substrate ALL THE TIME. Maybe that's why my corals are all doing so good ????? I have even thought of trying to catch him with a small barbless flyhook !!!! Anyway, mine's not peaceful and has become quite the rogue !!!! This fish takes food(krill) right from the mouthes of other fish for himself and the anemone !!!! Anyway, I want him gone !!!


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Old 09/02/2004, 11:41 PM   #25
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I have two of these little guys and I have never had a problem with catching them. Actually if I put the net in the tank to spread shrimp the clowns run into the net and wont get out ,they like it. Maybe they have ADD or something and dont know that the net is not the anemone but there so cute who cares..here's a pic!


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