What to do when catfish spines get caught in nets Important 

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CaptainAquatics

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Hey everyone! So I am not posting because I need help but this is more of a "What to do if your catfish gets caught up in a net". So in case you have no idea what I mean by this here is a basic rundown: Almost all catfish have spines in their fins, these are most often present in their pectoral fin (side fin) and their top fin. In smaller catfish if you get pricked its not that big of a deal, may sting but not to badly, with larger catfish this can really hurt. Anyway getting slightly off track. When a catfish feels scared or threatened they will stick out all their spines to try to do two things: Make themselves look bigger to scare away predators, and they also do this if they get swallowed so they can get themselves stuck in the throat of the larger fish so that fish goes with the catfish. When you net any kind of catfish they will likely stick out their spines, this is bad for two reasons: They can spine you, and they can get themselves tangled in a net is that is what you are using to transport them. Now I am not here to say you can't move catfish in nets as I have done it many times with no issues, sometimes will get caught for a min but after will be fine. However today I had my Synodontis multipunctatus (Cuckoo) Catfish get tangled up in my net. Now he is not a very large catfish (maybe 2") however the dorsal (top) spine in the top fin of this fish was probably 1" long and was very sharp. This guy had gotten his one of his pectoral fins caught up in the net which is not good. Here is my advice when this happens:
1. Let the fish sit in the water for a minute; doing this allows the fish to calm itself down a little as it will likely be freaking out which will worsen its situation, the fish may also get itself free (if it does look it over to ensure no injuries were sustained).
2. Once the fish has calmed itself lift the fish out of the water and find the spot in which the fin is tangled; this is important for step three, it is very important that you do not move onto step three, you can not move on until the fish is calm (which may take several minutes) and you have identified where the fish's fins are tangled.
3. Take the catfish out of the water and carefully grab and hold onto the fin that may be tangled and GENTLY pull to see if you may be able to get it out of the net; this step may be dangerous and it is helpful to have someone else hold the net while you do this, make sure to always know where his spines are and if he starts to thrash move your hand away and let him calm down.
4. If you are able to pull the fin out gently gently pull it out, if not then it is time to cut the net, like step three gently grab the fin that is tangled and cut as close to the fin as possible watching that you don't cut the fin of the fish

After step 4 the best idea is to leave it be for a couple days and see if it comes of on its own which it might. If not you may proceed further however the next step is drastic and can be dangerous so let it sit for several days before doing this (unless of course the fish can not swim properly or is in other ways having a hard time with the net, in which case do this ASAP)

5. So the fish either is having a hard time swimming or you have waited several days and its not coming off, here is the next step. For this you will need supplies: Towels, tweezers, two buckets/tupperwear, clove oil, and patience. these following steps you will be doing a kind of surgery to remove the net so I advise you watch this video before continuing to understand better the sedating process:
6. You have now watched the video, follow the steps in the video to make the fish sedated and then gently place it on the towel.
7. Using the tweezers GENTLY remove the net from the fins
8. place back in the second bucket, remember that it may take several minutes for the fish to wake up and it is helpful to place an airstone near or under their gills

Good luck and I will update you on how my catfish does. He still currently has the piece of net on his fins and hopefully he can get it off on his own but I will keep you posted. Hope this helps you :)
 

Debbie1986

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Great post! This is something I have been actively researching. My featherfin is just under 4 inches, but as it ( no idea which sex it is) grows, it will be a top concern of mine for their safety & mine
 

AcuarioAmazonico

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thanks for this post. I’ve always been worried about my two common plecos getting caught up in the net so I just usually scoop and move with my hands :)
 
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CaptainAquatics

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Debbie1986 said:
Great post! This is something I have been actively researching. My featherfin is just under 4 inches, but as it ( no idea which sex it is) grows, it will be a top concern of mine for their safety & mine
I have three large feather fin catfish (most pushing 9”) and one smaller feather fish (maybe 6”). If I ever need to move them from my 130 I will likely use tupperwear and just corner and scoop them up to avoid their spines. By feather fin you do mean Synodontis Eupterus right?
 

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wow the timing on this post is incredible.... I literally just bought a new pictus catfish to add to my one existing one. I used a net on the first one with no issues so I did the same with the new guy. He immediately got all tangled up. Both pectoral fins.

I dreaded having to try and help him but it was necessary. He calmed down while I was trying to help him which was a huge help.

I ended up immobilizing the fin between my thumb and finger and gently jiggling the net back over the spines. First fin went fairly quick but spent a good while on the second fin.

What a trooper, he seems to be doing fine and didn't sustain any injury.
 
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CaptainAquatics

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Joker77 said:
wow the timing on this post is incredible.... I literally just bought a new pictus catfish to add to my one existing one. I used a net on the first one with no issues so I did the same with the new guy. He immediately got all tangled up. Both pectoral fins.

I dreaded having to try and help him but it was necessary. He calmed down while I was trying to help him which was a huge help.

I ended up immobilizing the fin between my thumb and finger and gently jiggling the net back over the spines. First fin went fairly quick but spent a good while on the second fin.

What a trooper, he seems to be doing fine and didn't sustain any injury.
Happy to help! Glad it worked out :)
 

Debbie1986

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CaptainAquatics said:
I have three large feather fin catfish (most pushing 9”) and one smaller feather fish (maybe 6”). If I ever need to move them from my 130 I will likely use tupperwear and just corner and scoop them up to avoid their spines. By feather fin you do mean Synodontis Eupterus right?
Yes. Featherfin squeaker. very shy but has grown out beautifully from 1 inch baby. I intend to move him into a 50+ gallon in the spring after redoing my dining room area for fish tanks with vinyl floor. I never use the dining nook so it'll be fun to move him off my bedroom dresser into a proper tank home.

When I move him currently, it's by using his fake rock cave as means to lift him out into a temporary bowl (it has a lip all the way around the ceiling that keeps him inside as I move him) if I need to clean his tank. His back fin has nearly doubles in size last 3 months
 

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CaptainAquatics

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Debbie1986 said:
Yes. Featherfin squeaker. very shy but has grown out beautifully from 1 inch baby. I intend to move him into a 50+ gallon in the spring after redoing my dining room area for fish tanks with vinyl floor. I never use the dining nook so it'll be fun to move him off my bedroom dresser into a proper tank home.

When I move him currently, it's by using his fake rock cave as means to lift him out into a temporary bowl (it has a lip all the way around the ceiling that keeps him inside as I move him) if I need to clean his tank. His back fin has nearly doubles in size last 3 months
they are cool! I will post photos of my synos tomorrow
 
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