10 Smart Ways to Use an Aquarium Catch Cup or Specimen Container
Have you ever seen those clear rectangle boxes hanging on the outside of tanks at your local fish store? You are looking at one of the most versatile tools in the fish keeping hobby – the aquarium specimen container or catch cup. It acts like a small, transparent bucket for observing fish, holding aquarium supplies, and a million other uses. Learn about the top 10 ways we find ourselves using catch cups every day at our retail fish store and personal fish tanks.
When fish are zooming around the aquarium, or darting behind ornaments, it can be difficult to see them clearly. To get a better view, grab a few fish and set them up in a cup of water. You can inspect the fish for signs of disease, select the best individuals for breeding, and sort out the juveniles. You can also use the flat, clear walls to take photos of your favorite species.
Although aquarium nets are fine for moving small numbers of fish from one tank, they can prove inefficient when you have large schools of fish to move. Instead, use your specimen container as a temporary holding pen until you finish catching all of them and then move them together afterwards. To keep them safe from predators, relocate fry to a grow out tank, bring pond fish indoors during winter, or remove pest snails from a single tank for your pufferfish tank.
3. Selling fish
Fish bags are required if you plan to sell your fish at an auction, fish shop, or online. Then, fill the aquarium with water. Place the fish into the specimen container. Once you have the correct number of fish, you will be able to pour them directly from the catch cup into the fish bag. Then seal the bag with rubber bands. Multiple containers can be used – one container to hold large quantities of fish, and another to separate the species and numbers for each bag.
You may need to gradually acclimate your shrimp or fish to the aquarium water if they are new to it. If the animals are small enough, you can acclimate them in the specimen container.
1. Cut open the fish bag and pour the animals and some of the water from the bag into the catch cup so the fish are completely covered in water. 2. Add aquarium water from their new home into the catch cup so that the water level is doubled. (If the water gets too high, just pour some out of the container.) 3. After 15 minutes, add aquarium water to make the water double. 4. After 10 minutes, add aquarium water to make the water double again. 5. Set the fish aside in a container and net them.
A length of airline tubing can be used to make drip acclimation, which is a more gradual process. If the fish are frantically dashing around in the catch cup, you can calm them down by darkening the room and/or covering the container with a towel.
An air stone, check valve and airline tubing can be added to your DIY breeder box. To keep the specimen container warm, hang it inside the aquarium. Then add the airstone to ensure that the fish have enough oxygen. You can then place a few fish inside the aquarium to increase the likelihood of them mating. This setup is also useful for hatching fish eggs. Finally, you can temporarily raise newborn fry inside a catch cup without worrying that they (or the tiny foods you feed them) will escape. To provide shelter for them, add a clump java moss and other live plants. You should also regularly clean the water from their catch cup with a turkey baster.
In some cases, you might need to temporarily remove one fish from others. A calm and peaceful environment is helpful for female guppies, mollies or other livebearers about to give birth. The “birthing area” will prevent the fry being eaten immediately by larger fish and will also help the infants hide from their mother.
A fish suffering from an injury, behaving strangely or displaying other unusual symptoms could be isolated. Keeping them in a specimen container with an air stone allows you to monitor their status more closely and potentially treat them with medication if needed. For more information on treatment of fish diseases, read the full article.
Fish food should be varied to ensure that your fish receives a variety in nutrients. However, it can be difficult to manage all the jars and packages. Your catch cup can be used as a food container to transport everything from one tank to the next. You can feed frozen food by thawing the cubes in the water container. Next, use a pipette (or turkey baster) to squirt liquid into multiple aquariums. You can use the same technique with live fish food such as baby brine shrimps, blackworms and daphnia.
8. Water Transfers
The catch cup acts as a mini-boiler, and we use it often to clean out an aquarium’s surface or replace water that has evaporated from a nano tank. To test water parameters with liquid reagents, you will need to first scoop some water from the tank and then fill the tubes with test water. Some hobbyists use catch cups to place in their aquariums. They then stick the end or aim their Python hook into their container as they refill the fish tank. The catch cup collects the water from the faucet and gently flows out. This protects your plants and substrate.
9. Equipment Storage
Whenever using fish nets, algae scrubbers, or other tools in the aquarium, a specimen container is the perfect place to put them afterwards so they don’t drip all over the floor. A lot of people hang the catch cups on the side to save space and keep their fish food, fertilizers, or other supplies easily accessible.
10. Planted Tank Maintenance
We love using specimen containers for the maintenance of our planted aquariums. Use them to remove duckweed and other floating plants that have taken over your aquarium so you can spread them to other tanks or feed them to your goldfish. Put your stem plant trimmings into the catch cup and then replant them in their substrate.
You now know that you must have a specimen container in you life. Get the Aquarium Co-Op Catch Cup. The walls are clear, so your fish can be easily seen. Additionally, the shatter-resistant plastic won’t crack if dropped accidentally. You can hang it on large fish tanks that have thick walls thanks to the extra-wide handle.