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Don’t Dump That Fish!

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Dumping aquarium fish and plants into NSW waterways can cause enormous damage to both the environment and native fish and plant species.

In a bid to educate fish owners the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has produced a brochure outlining the dos and don’ts of owning an aquarium and how to safely discard of plants and fish.

Most people try to do the right thing but don’t realise the potential damage. Keeping fish is fun, but it’s important to make sure living things in your aquarium or pond are kept away from our oceans and waterways.

In recent years an increasing number of aquarium or ornamental fish species have established feral populations in NSW waters, the speckled mosquitofish in Sydney, white cloud mountain minnow near Gosford, Jack Dempsey cichilids on the north coast and green sword tails in northern NSW.

Aquarium fish are often hardy and if released can have major impacts on native species and the environment. Some are aggressive predators that eat native fish; others become so abundant they consume all of the food resources. Aquarium fish often carry diseases or parasites which can wipe out native fish.

And it’s not only fish that cause problems.

Some of the State’s worst aquatic weeds, including Caulerpa, Salvinia and Cabomba are introduced and have come from aquariums. As a Government we have spent millions of dollars trying to control these weeds.

Both introduced fish and plants can have a major impact on recreational fishing and tourism. If released they are difficult to eliminate and pose a serious threat to fragile ecosystems and important industries.

Not only is the dumping of fish and weeds environmentally damaging, it’s actually illegal. Penalties of up to $11,000 apply for releasing fish in the wild without a specific permit.

The brochures will be available at pet and aquarium shops.

Suspected infestations of aquatic pests and weeds can be reported to DPI’s 24 hour hotline 4916-3877.

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