We firmly believe bricks and mortar shops are the best place for people to buy fish. By offering customers the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of watching live fish swimming around, we believe shops help to inspire and captivate people to become the next generation of fish-keepers which online-only shops can’t do in quite the same way.

But we also acknowledge that consumer habits are changing. Internet sales are here to stay and more people are buying live fish online. For some people living in more remote parts of the UK, travelling to their nearest aquatics shop may mean a very long trip so they turn to online shops to enable them to pursue their hobby.

So we have produced a guide to the responsible selling of live animals (fish) online which gives advice on a range of issues from sales to packing and transporting fish. Our guide outlines the law on distance selling and also makes clear our expectations of what a responsible seller should be doing when they sell fish and arrange delivery to customers.

By knowing the standards that a responsible seller should be working to, we also think it will help customers to decide who to buy fish from online.

With this guide we hope to improve fish welfare and raise awareness and standards among both sellers and customers about the best way buy and move fish.

Key things to remember when buying/selling fish online:

  • Live fish are prohibited from being sent by Royal Mail. Only approved couriers can carry live fish and no-one should buy fish from a seller who says they will send their fish through the normal post.
  • A firm date and time for delivery should also be established and someone over the age of 16 should ALWAYS be in to take delivery of the parcel. This ensures fish spend no longer than necessary in transit packaging.
  • Good after-care information must be included with the fish, such as one of our care sheets. This is a legal requirement.
  • Check to see if the seller has been inspected by their local authority. People who sell fish commercially need an animal activities licence, issued by their local authority following an inspection which shows they have reached certain animal welfare standards.

 Fish are living creatures and their welfare should be paramount to both buyer and seller.

We are also a member of the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) and support the minimum standards it has set out for websites selling animals. We would urge anyone buying live fish online to only buy from sites that meet these minimum standards.