We recognise that virtually every species we trade in is 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 fish have the potential to 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 non-native pets. Read the Code of Practice here 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 invasive plants, particularly aquatic plants. Please support the campaign by displaying information and talking to customers when you sell aquatic plants. You can download a free factsheet for retailers, poster, leaflet and sticker to use in your shop and display on your website. Please also share information and show your support for the campaign on your social media channels.

Aquatic plants that cannot be sold in the UK:

  • Water Fern (Azolla filiculoides)
  • Parrot’s Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
  • Floating Pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides)
  • Australian swamp stone crop (New Zealand Pygmyweed) (Crassula helmsii)
  • Water Primrose (Ludwigia grandiflora)
  • Floating primrose-willow (Ludwigia peploides)
  • Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)
  • Cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana)
  • Curly waterweed (Lagarosiphon major often inaccurately called Elodea crispa)
  • American skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus)
  • Nuttall’s waterweed (Elodea nuttallii)
  • Alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides)
  • Chilean rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria)
  • Broadleaf watermilfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum)
  • Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta)
  • Senegal tea plant (Gymnocoronis spilanthoides)

Animals/invertebrates that cannot be sold in the UK:

  • Pond sliders  (Trachemys scripta)
  • Stripped eel catfish (Plotosus lineatus)
  • Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)
  • Only one species of crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) can be sold in England and Wales. No live crayfish may be sold in Scotland.

Apple snails (Pomacea genus) were allowed to be imported and sold back into Great Britain (but not Northern Ireland) in January 2021.

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To read more about how we represent the industry on invasive species.

Check out the Import of Live Fish Act which outlines the freshwater fish species that can be traded in England and Wales.