Welcome to Aquatic Warehouse!

Is It a Bad Idea to Touch Your Fish?

Can You Touch Your Pet Fish San Diego, CA

Having fish can be a rewarding hobby. From long-finned bettas to ornate angelfish, there are many beautiful species that can thrive in captivity. While fish may seem like easy pets to care for, they all have different maintenance and diet requirements. One of the most important aspects of fish maintenance is handling, which should be done with the proper equipment rather than your hands. The staff at Aquatic Warehouse, a trusted supplier of saltwater and freshwater aquarium supplies, wants to share why it’s best to not touch your fish.

Touching Can Be Harmful to Fish

Touching your pet fish is usually a bad idea. It’s advised to avoid touching or grabbing fish with bare hands in an aquarium unless in emergency situations. From sanitary concerns to fish safety, there are many reasons to avoid touching them altogether. Fish nets are best for proper handling, though nets can still lead to unnecessary stress on the fish. Keep any handling of your fish to a bare minimum, as it can be very stressful for them.

Fish are generally known as delicate animals and even the toughest fish can be injured. Grabbing or squeezing a fish can permanently damage the gills and fins, leading to serious or even fatal health issues. Fish are covered in a slime coat that acts as a barrier from bacteria and impurities in the water. The slime coating can be rubbed off from direct skin contact, taking away the protection against infections and diseases. Touching and grabbing can also be stressful to fish because they may sense your movement as an attack and begin to panic, which could cause damage to their bodies in an attempt to flee.

Touching Fish Can Be Harmful to Humans

While fish safety is priority, fish keepers should also be aware of the chemicals they may be exposed to. Many fish have spines that have low-grade toxins in them as a way of fending off predators. If you’re stuck by one of these spines, you’ll know it! Lionfish, rabbitfish, and foxface fish can ruin your day, though people with acute anaphylactic never have major issues health-wise. Poorly maintained aquariums may contain high levels of ammonia and other toxic chemicals that can cause health problems. Always wash your hands and arms thoroughly before and after touching aquarium water. Check your skin for any cuts or scrapes, as they could become infected after exposure to aquarium water. It’s recommended to wear aquarium-safe gloves when working with aquarium water and equipment.

Proper Handling of Fish

Learning the safe ways to handle fish is an important aspect of becoming a fish owner. Use a net to retrieve any fish. Use a gentle scooping motion to catch the fish, being careful not to snag the fins. If using your hands is the only option, wash them thoroughly before touching the fish. Scoop the fish gently with your hands as if using a fishing net, taking extra care around the gills. This should only be done in emergency situations and never as the main method of catching your fish. You might see professionals at fish stores handle fish with their hands when sorting fish. These people know how to handle the fish without harming either party and have always taken the proper precautions based on hand hygiene and what fish they’re handling. This is a practice that causes less physical stress on the fish by avoiding the eyes (fish can’t blink).

If you have any questions about how to properly handle and care for fish, reach out to the experts at Aquatic Warehouse. From protein skimmers and LED lighting to koi pond filters and beneficial bacteria, we carry everything you need to keep your aquatic pets happy and healthy. Stop by our store in Kearny Mesa, take a look at what we have to offer on our website, or give us a call today at 858-467-9297.


Contact Information

  • Address: 5466 Complex Street Suite 204
    San Diego, CA 92123
  • Phone: (858) 467-9297
  • Email: sales@aquaticwarehouse.com
  • Working Days/Hours: Mon - Fri / 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
    Saturday / 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Sunday / 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM


Site Security

secured by

SSL site seal - click to verify

Google Reviews