ctenophors rule

New member
i have the opportunity to collect fish from a reef with scientist for their ublic displays at the reaserch center, and i was wondering, what techniques are their for catching pelagic fish?

i could use some help with the benthic fish as well, though i have gotten great results flipping rocks , it attracts all sorts of blennies, gobies, and sometimes even wrasse.

but the tangs, and angels are always swimming away fro the nets, how do you get them close?



New member
I've been collecting all my life, from local streams and creeks as a kid to all over the world for my marine tank as an adult. There are tricks for every fish you find, and it just takes observation and practice. You need to know what a fish is going to do when you approach it, and how it is probably going to react as you move toward it. Most of the time an animal knows when a giant thing pays attention to it, that means it is going to be eaten so they are very leary of things going straight at them. My suggestion, if you can't observe collectors diving and collecting is to watch the fish and how they react then use that knowledge to decide how to collect.

Just pay attention, for instance if a fish goes into a hole in the ledge, put your nets along side and your body in front, then take a poker or rigid piece of tubing and scare the fish out, when it comes out and your nets are set up right the fish goes into the net and your done. Wrasses just need to be baited with something like a clam or even just flipping a rock (remember to flip it back when you are done) and moving very slowly with the nets, if you go fast they just leave, if you move slowly they seem not to fear the nets. Again it just takes lots of time watching the fish to see how they react and deciding how to trick the fish into the nets.

Barrier nets are ok in some situations, but not for angels in FL, they take time to set up and need an area where they can be deployed, in FL, the angels and tangs don't school and live in the ledge walls where they just go into a hole, in that situation a barrier net takes too long to set up and isn't necessarily effective, but in HI where the potters angels and tangs are in big schools and the topography is flatter you can set up the net (which still takes time) and collect the whole school in a couple of passes, in that situation it works great.

ctenophors rule

New member
thanks, i will watch and learn i guess, you have given me some ideas as well, meyb swim toward the fish, but at a curvey angle angle, so i dont appear to be coming head on

barrior nets sound nteresting, but even if the topography was flater, we only want to collect a few fish, and want to stress as few as possible.

also the nets we will use are just hand held fishing nets, the ones with a handles, and a net filling in between a closed loop.

just seems like it would be impossible to catch any fish using our method, but i will try my hardest none the less, they have done it before, and they will do it again, i just hope i am not such a failure i dont catch any.


New member
I'm not talking about aquarium nets, they make collection nets, I make my own out of 1/4 inch monofilament commercial netting, but you can buy collection nets on line and at most dive shops where there are tropical fish. The ones you buy are usually aluminum handled, have heavy duty plastic sides with a green mesh bottom, they come in several sizes, my only recomendation is that you buy a lg and a small with the deepest basket, the shallow baskets tend to let the fish get out.


New member
I make my own nets as well. For less then $10 you can buy clear plastic shower curtain and make several nets out of it. Cut out enough to make a 12X14x20 inch rectangle. Just to give you an idea any large size is fine.

Then sew on a 12X14 piece of black plastic porch screen to one end. This will be your net bottom. Sew it on with fishing line. Finish up by sewing the rigid frame with handle on the open end.

I use pvc pipe for the frame. Some nets I don't bother with the bar opposite the handle. This allows me to press that side of the net against the rock shape. This is good for blennies and gobies.

Once a fish is caught turn the net with the open end facing up. Most fish including angels will try to swim down not up and out. This gives you time to either swim to the surface or twist the net closed.

Look for patch reef and isolated hiding areas. Beginners will have trouble collecting off major reef structures.

Angels - use a poker, easy
Tangs - use a poker, hard
Butterfly's - use a friend, very hard
Gobbies - use a net that molds to coral shape, easy
Most fish - use a poker

Shrimp - gently use a poker, easy



New member
I dont have any links but I do have some tips. When I find the fish I want to collect I watch it for a little bit to determine which holes and ledges it goes into. I dive down then I use my left hand to scare the fish to my right hand which has the net. It works almost every time. I freedive so I just bring the fish up and put it in my livewell or bucket with aerator.


New member
For angels here in FL what I do is try to scare them under a ledge and take my net in my right hand and put it at the right end of the ledge, and take a golf club shaft and poke it under the ledge and slide it toward the net, hopefull the fish will swim out and into the net. The only problem is alot of times an eel or scorpion fish will come shooting out at you so you'vee got to be ready to back away. I free dive too but I keep a empty mason jar with me and put the fish in there so if I see something else I want I can quickly go get it. Then when I have 2 or 3 fish in it i head back to the boat. But if it's a larger angel, butterfly, or tang I'll head straight to the boat since they won't fit. The jar also works well when I'm going for CBS since I can keep pairs seperated so they don't kill eachother.


New member
A few small points: 'benthic', used in an oceanic context, does not mean animals living under rocks in 20 feet of water. The term refers to animals found hundreds and thousands of feet under the sea, animals living on the sea floor, but not shallow water animals tha live on the bottom.

You shoud make your own nets if you are serious.

Books and articles written years ago by Bob Straughan and Rodney Jonklass about collecting can be very useful. When I was in high school, I met Straughan (an insufficiently recognised master aquarist from the middle of the last century), and watched him collect. Back then, most of Florida had not yet turned to overdeveloped crap. It was like a different planet. Straughan and the mythic Travis McGee would take poison were they to see what has become of their beloved Florida.


New member
Actuallly Ackee, if you look in the dictionary the deffinition of benthic just means the floor of any body of water

Here are quotes from the online dictionary:
benthic (bnthk)
Relating to the bottom of a sea or lake or to the organisms that live there.

Adj. 1. benthic - of or relating to or happening on the bottom under a body of water
benthal, benthonic

With that said, I agree, when I think of benthic animals I think of very deep water.

There are several books written in the 70's on collecting in FL, Collecting Marine Fishes is funny to read, for instance in one section is says as a collector to always catch any smalll sea turtle you find because there is always someone who wants them for days when you don't collet much or can't get out because of weather. There is also a section on coral collection and how to prepare it for sale, by bleach and high pressure hosing off.


New member
I indicated "in an oceanic context" to clarify my specific meaning. Most oceanography texts will classify 'benthic' animals as those that live on the ocean bottoms at great depth. We are not talking about lakes and rivers, nor are we discussing sculpins and pearly jawfish, which are not, in the usual sense of the word, benthic animals. Neither, for that matter, are corals.

Yes, how well I recall the piles of bleached coral skeletons, some still stinking of tissue rot, piled up all over Florida, including the airport specialty shops. The coral was 'harvested' all over Florida and the Caribbean with dynamite and crowbars. When the laws and penalties got more severe, the operation moved to Asia, where it still goes on.

Baby sea turtles were legal as aquarium pets until about 1977, and the comment in the old book that you can always collect a few baby turtles when the fishing is not good should remind us of what a marine wonderland Florida used to be. The pet trade had little to do with the diminished numbers of turtles. As I'm sure you know, it was the real estate development of the nesting beaches.

I would not judge Straughan by his comments in a book he actually wrote in first edition in the early 1960s. You can't, or should not, take things out of their temporal context. People do so with such great men as Lincoln and Jefferson. Yes, it's true that most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence owned slaves. It was Lincoln who ordered the hanging of dozens of Indians for leaving their reservations. You can't see past events accurately through the lens of the present.

I clearly remember big game fisherman sailing out of Lauderdale with buckets of baby sea turtles to use as bait for big Mahi-Mahi and Groupers. The mate hooked them through a back flipper. I was sickened by it back then, but I was in a small minority, and was told that it was "none of my business" It was not so long ago.
And I'm still sure Straughan and McGee would not want to live if they could see what has happened. Even an old sinner like me has to avert his eyes.


Moderator, 10 & Over Club
Premium Member
Benthic doesn't just apply to the deep sea abyssal plains, it does also apply to shallow sea beds as well, right on up to the high tide line ;)

BTW I've got Straughan's book on keeping live corals. It talks about putting your coral in a bowel and taking it outside for a few hours of sunshine to get it light. Cool reading some of that old stuff, especially his books on fish keeping and collecting.


New member
In addition to undoubtedly being painful, a bowel famously is the place 'the sun don't shine'. (Just kidding.)

Biologists, like most scientists, misuse Latin and Greek enough to make a classicist weep. The Greek word 'benthos' means 'the deep(est) parts of the sea. At one time every educated person understood this, and did not confuse 'the sea floor' with 'the deepest parts of the sea'. Thus, William Bebe's 'Bathysphere', from the two roots meaning very deep sea and round, which the Bathysphere more or less is. I know taxonomists and biologists now use benthic to refer to even very shallow bottom dwellers. It's what they are taught, and is not their fault. The most proper use of 'benthic' should be to reference deep sea dwellers, not even only those on the bottom, actually, but also those creatures that swim around way down there. Abyssal now seems to be more popular, but is also more linguistic foolishness. No one else agrees, or even cares, so I concede the point. Error upon error, compounded, eventually becomes the standard.

Computer geeks have all but ruined the word 'default', and whole populations of misguided youth think it means a condition or position taken when nothing else is specified. This is not what default means at all. Still, usage determines meaning, so I guess words like 'fantastic', correctly meaning something untrue, a fantasy, through some process akin to default, takes on new meanings. All this linguistic mutilation can drive one to drink. I used the word 'chimera' (an hallucinatory illusion) in a lecture recently, and some snot nose kid told me it was a creature in a video game. Mirabile dictu!

I think I'll do some diving this week. Those old books can be fun. I have some published by the NY Aquarium Society in the 1890s, with hand drawings by William Townshend. The Society Aquarium used to be located at the bottom of Wall Street, in Battery Park. Benthic, I suppose, until the Dutch drained it. Now it's in Coney Island (which is not really an island at all).