Are you an animal activity licensing inspector looking to improve your knowledge in fish, amphibians and reptiles? If you carry out animal activities licensing for pet vending then it’s likely that the vast majority of pet shops you inspect will be selling these animals.

Enhance your expertise and practical skills with OATA and the National Centre for Reptile Welfare’s new comprehensive training course tailored specifically for local authority officers who inspect pet shops selling aquatic, reptile and amphibian species. Over two days, this course will give you all the information you need to feel confident to carry out inspections of establishments that sell fish, reptiles and amphibians pets in England. Although relevant to inspectors in other parts of the UK, this course is based on requirements set out in the English regulations for selling animals as pets.

Why Choose Our Course?

  • Specialised focus: Our course is exclusively designed for animal activities licensing inspectors who want to improve their knowledge in fish, reptiles and amphibians. Gain in-depth knowledge of the specific regulations, guidance, industry standards, and welfare considerations that apply to these unique and diverse species.
  • Experienced instructors: Learn from industry experts who have decades of hands-on experience in fish, reptile and amphibian husbandry. Our knowledgeable instructors will guide you through the intricacies of inspecting and assessing various fish and reptile vending establishments, ensuring you gain practical insights relevant to your day-to-day experiences.
  • Real world application: Practical training is at the core of our course. Through immersive and interactive sessions, you will improve your understanding of various different types of housing and equipment likely to be found in establishments that sell pets. You will gain relevant experience in evaluating enclosures, identifying species-specific needs, and ultimately ensuring that you know exactly what to look for when carrying out licensing inspections.
  • Species specific considerations: Fish, reptiles and amphibians have unique welfare requirements and environmental needs. Our course will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of their specific care needs, behavioural indicators of distress, and common issues related to water quality, lighting, temperature, and appropriate levels of enrichment.
  • Optionality: We aim to provide the learning experience that is tailored to your specific needs. Although the course comes as a two-day package (one day on reptiles and amphibians, the other on fish), we are happy to offer single days depending on your specific needs. In addition, we offer several deals in combination with our existing City & Guilds-accredited online training courses on aquatics which offer more in-depth understanding of how aquatic systems operate.


2 days of indepth training, combining theory lectures and practical sessions.

Day 1 – Fish and aquatic species

Day 2 – Reptiles and other exotics


Receive a Certificate of Attendance upon successful completion of the course, showcasing your specialised knowledge and competence in fish and reptile licensing inspections.


Our Introductory offer for our 2-day training course is £400. If you wish to only participate in one day of the course (details outlined below), a single day’s training is £225.

Further study – If inspectors want to add continuous learning following completion of the practical training then OATA offers two further online study courses. Our City & Guilds accredited Foundation and Advanced training courses cover water quality, filtration, fish biology and fish health. They are studied online and are available for a year to complete. Find more about the courses here. We offer a range of competitively priced options combining the local authority training with additions of our online training courses (see below).


Join our email list to be informed about the next dates for this training. Email us here to register your interest.

The course is held in Hadlow College, Tonbridge Road, Tonbridge, TN11 0AL. Find more about Hadlow College here. We are investigating other educational institutions across the UK for future courses.


Accommodation is not included in the price of the course.

What participants are saying about the course

It’s important to see how animal accommodation should be set up and has given me confidence to test water properly.

Michelle Fautley

Chelmsford City Council

The fish practical was great and gave me confidence with water testing.

Ione Brownlie

Maldon District Council

Really useful information for areas in the LAIA that are not expanded on enough in normal training.

Louise Duke

Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council

Very good, clear, engaging trainers.

Katy Mclester

Dover District Council

Course content


Day 1 outline – Fish:

Water quality – theory lecture covering:

  • Nitrogen cycle overview
  • O2 cycling in systems
  • Temperature
  • Salinity
  • Other parameters e.g. phosphate, remineralisation

Water quality – practical sessions on:

  • Routine water testing with different methods likely to be seen in pet vending establishments e.g. dipsticks, liquid kits, automated sensors
  • Water testing to understand likely values on different types of aquaria seen in shops

Filtration – theory lecture covering:

  • Definitions of mechanical, biological and chemical filtration
  • Types of filter found in shops
  • Water modification methods, how they work e.g. RO, resins.
  • What maintenance looks like
  • Sterilisation e.g. UV and ozone, how they work, what maintenance looks like

Filtration – practical sessions covering:

  • Demonstration of different kinds of filters used
  • Disassemble/assemble different filters to understand how they function

Fish Biology – theory lecture covering:

  • Five welfare needs and how these relate to fish
  • Brief overview of supply chain
  • Common fish species groups and their requirements
  • Appropriate enrichment drawing on guidance and primary authority advice
  • Care information – good examples
  • Enclosure sizes

Fish Biology – practical sessions on:

  • Examination of tank set-ups for different species groups. Comparison with available care information
  • Discussion on finished tanks and whether they are a) appropriate for a species and b) appropriate for a retail environment

Fish Health – theory lectures covering:

  • Operational welfare indicators e.g what to look for
  • Common causes of stress. What management strategies are there for alleviating these?
  • Potential signs of disease and causes. What management strategies exist?
  • Biosecurity in retail settings. What should shops be doing?
  • Legal requirements around mortality recording

Fish Health – practical sessions on:

  • Group diagnosis of likely symptoms of stress
  • Demonstration & example of net dip & capture of fish
  • Demonstration & example of acclimation of fish

Concluding remarks

Question and Answer session


Day 2 curriculum – Reptiles and amphibians:

Introduction to Reptile & amphibian biology – theory lecture covering:

  • History of reptiles & amphibians in trade
  • Basic biology & physiology
  • Principles of care
  • Common species and their requirements
  • Overview of other species e.g invertebrates.

Basic environmental parameters – theory lecture covering:

  • Lighting
  • Heating
  • Humidity
  • Substrate & decor

Feeding, diet & Feeds – theory lecture covering:

  • Carnivores
  • Insectivores
  • Herbivores
  • Omnivores
  • Feed storage
  • Supplements & vitamins

Enclosures, types and suitability – theory lecture covering:

  • Vivariums
  • Terrariums
  • Aquariums
  • Racks & rubs

Reptile & Amphibian Health – theory lecture covering:

  • Welfare indicators & what to look for
  • Recognising common health issues & what to look
  • Potential signs of disease and causes
  • Biosecurity in retail settings. What should shops be doing?

Reptile & Amphibian Health & Welfare – practical sessions on:

  • Environmental parameters
  • Food & feeding
  • Enclosures
  • Illness & disease

Types of trade – theory lecture covering:

  • Importers
  • Wholesalers
  • Retailers
  • Commercial breeders

Related trade legislation – theory lecture covering:

  • Invasive species legislation
  • Dangerous Wild Animals Act

Mock inspection – practical session:

  • Participants will be invited to conduct an inspection using our demonstration enclosures

Concluding remarks

Question and Answer session

Course fees