We believe that educating people to pick the right pet for their lifestyle and care for it properly is the key to happy and healthy pets – and that includes fish. So we’ve created lots of information to help people research and choose the right pet and their responsibilities once they welcome them into their new home.

As with any pet you need to think carefully before taking on an aquarium or pond because as an owner you have certain legal responsibilities under animal welfare legislation. If you don’t look after your fish properly then you could be committing an offence and face prosecution.

Here’s what your fish needs:

  • The right home – your fish needs a suitable tank or pond that’s big enough and has the right equipment and accessories
  • The right food – your fish needs food that is suitable for its species
  • The right behaviour – your fish needs to be provided with an environment where it can act normally
  • The right company – your fish needs the right tankmates so it can live happily alongside them, or live separately if that’s right for them
  • The right care – your fish needs protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease

The vast majority of non-native pets in the UK are ornamental fish and reptiles so we want to encourage responsible pet ownership. And we also want to make sure owners understand why they should never release their pets into the wild.

So we’ve helped to create a useful code of practice for pet owners to help them understand their responsibilities.

The code covers three main issues for pet owners when it comes to buying and keeping a non-native pet:

  •  The importance of not releasing the pet into the wild or allowing it to escape – mainly because it’s both cruel to the animal and can lead to harm to British wildlife
  • The need to properly dispose of old bedding and pet litter so that eggs and pests can’t get into the wild
  • The importance of owners doing their research and preparing themselves for all that’s involved in keeping their chosen pet for the whole of its life

It also urges traders involved in selling pets to:

  • Make sure customers know and understand all the commitments involved for the pet they want to buy
  • Make sure pets are free of pests and parasites as far as possible when they’re sold

The code is simple and understandable and we hope it will help owners to understand the need to do your research before investing in a new pet so that you understand what you are taking on when you buy your pet.

This will hopefully then mean owners do not decide to get rid of their pet. And if you do have to make this decision you should never release your pet into the wild. It’s cruel and could harm the British countryside and wildlife.