We recognise that many of the species we trade in are not native to the UK so our industry has a responsibility to educate our customers about the need not to release fish or plants into the wild. So all ornamental fish and aquatic plants should always remain within aquariums or ponds.
Coldwater pond fish do have the potential to live in UK waterways (canals, ponds or lakes) and become invasive. We are naturally concerned about that risk but also for the welfare of the fish. Although it may appear to be a kind gesture, the release of any fish into the wild is cruel, since predation, starvation, cold or disease will most likely kill them. It is also against the law.
We have joined forces with REPTA to produce a Code of Practice for pet owners and traders to help encourage the responsible ownership of pets that are not native to the UK. Find the Code of Practice below and we would encourage you to share it with your customers.
We are also keen supporters of the Be Plant Wise campaign. This initiative is aimed at getting people to think responsibly about disposing of their garden and pond plants. Our advice is always to compost with care to ensure pond plants do not escape outside of your garden – so don’t throw plants over the hedge or into waterways. Please support the campaign by displaying information and talking to customers when you sell aquatic plants.
Aquatic plants that cannot be sold in the UK:
- Water Fern (Azolla filiculoides) (How to ID Water Fern)
- Parrot’s Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) (How to ID Parrot’s Feather)
- Floating Pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides) (How to ID Floating Pennywort)
- Australian swamp stone crop (New Zealand Pygmyweed) (Crassula helmsii) (How to ID New Zealand Pygmyweed)
- Water Primrose (Ludwigia grandiflora) (How to ID Water Primrose)
- Floating primrose willow (Ludwigia peploides)
- Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)
- Cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana) (How to ID Cabomba)
- Curly waterweed (Lagarosiphon major often inaccurately called Elodea crispa (How to ID Lagarosiphon)
- American skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) (How to ID American skunk cabbage)
- Alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides)
- Nuttall’s waterweed (Elodea nuttallii) (How to ID Nuttall’s Waterweed)
- Giant Rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria) (How to ID Giant Rhubarb)
- Broadleaf watermilfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum)
Animals/invertebrates that cannot be sold in the UK:
- Apple snails (Pomacea genus)
- Pond sliders (Trachemys scripta)
- Only one species of crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) can be sold in England and Wales. No live crayfish may be sold in Scotland.
- Channa argus cannot be traded in England and Wales. The whole Channa genus is banned in Scotland (unless you have a licence).
- Only specimens of pure bred Florida and Cuban gars can be imported into the England and Wales – hybrid gars are illegal. (Find out more here.)
There are also strict rules on the import of Caudata species, including the requirement to quarantine. Find out more here.
Tropical freshwater fish species that can be sold in the UK are governed by the Import of Live Fish Act. This outlines those fish (by scientific name) that can be sold in the UK. You can check the list on the Government website (see the button below which will take you to the Government site). If a fish does not appear on that list then it cannot be sold in England and Wales.
Fish species that cannot be sold in Scotland are governed by Wildlife and Countryside Act. See the button below for the schedule of animals covered by this legislation.