Managing aquarium species

Aquarium fish make great pets but if aquarium plants or animals are released into waterways — there is the potential for them to become serious pests. They can also spread disease.

If you are involved in the aquarium industry as a trader, breeder, retail outlet or hobbyist, you have an important role in preventing the introduction and spread of marine pests in Victorian waters.

Your legal obligations

You must only import permitted species.

Do not release unwanted species into local waterways or use them as live bait.

Return unwanted aquarium species to your local aquarium dealer for correct disposal.

This includes live rock (live coral, live sand and coral rubble). Live rock is colonised and burrowed into by various organisms, including:

  • bacteria
  • algae
  • sponges
  • worms
  • crabs
  • clams
  • snails
  • starfish and others.

Any of these organisms could establish viable pest populations in a new environment.

Similarly, gravel and even the aquarium water must not be released into waterways as they may contain:

  • fish and snail eggs
  • larvae
  • plant fragments
  • diseases.

If released, aquarium plants and fish can survive in the wild and establish viable populations — they may be very difficult or even impossible to eradicate.

If you are planning to import marine aquarium species into Australia — check that it is included on the Live import list.

Only species included on the list will be allowed through quarantine. You will also need an Import permit issued by the Australian Government.

It is also an offence to import declared noxious aquatic species into Victoria from other parts of Australia without permission.

Page last updated: 23 Aug 2021