OATA is reminding retailers to only sell Japanese rice fish or Medaka (Oryzias species) for indoor aquariums and to ensure customers understand they cannot be kept in outdoor ponds or barrels.

The Import of Live Fish Act, which governs which freshwater species can be imported and sold in the UK, only grants a general licence to sell these fish for indoor set ups. They cannot be kept outdoors because of their tolerance for low temperatures. This means if they managed to escape into UK waterways they could survive and cause an invasive risk.

“We’ve been alerted by the Fish Health Inspectorate to issues of these fish being kept in outdoor set-ups so Invasive Species Week seems a good opportunity to remind retailers who sell these fish to make it clear to customers they must only be kept in indoor aquariums – and explain why that is,” said OATA Chief Executive Dominic Whitmee.

“Our industry has a responsibility to ensure the species we trade in cannot become invasive and I’m sure if customers understood why they cannot be kept in outdoor ponds etc they would be happy to comply.

“Keeping Oryzias species in any capacity outdoors would breach the terms of the ILFA licence under which they are imported and if there continues to be reports of Oryzias species being kept outdoors then this could also result in action being taken by government bodies to ban the import and keeping of these popular species.”

The Import of Live Fish Act grants a general licence for the trade of certain freshwater species for ornamental purposes. Check out the list of freshwater fish that can be traded here on the Government website (under Licence to keep non-native freshwater fish).

Thank you to Maidenhead Aquatics for the use of this photo.