Don't dump that fish!

Be responsible

  • Never dump fish, plants or snails into or near waterways, stormwater drains or the ocean. Heavy penalties apply.
  • Don't keep noxious species. You can be fined. See (fisheries section) for more information.
  • Don't buy fish, plants or ‘live rock’ from overseas on the internet – it’s illegal! Use a reputable local dealer.
  • Give unwanted fish to friends or your petshop, or dispose of them humanely by putting them to sleep in an ice slurry and then freezing them.
  • Take care cleaning tanks or ponds. Tip waste water on the garden. Place solid waste like plants or gravel in the bin, or bury it.
  • Design fishponds so that plants, snails, fish or eggs can’t escape during heavy rains, and screen all overflow areas. Consider keeping species native to your local area.
  • Look out for new species in local waterways. Report suspected pests to NSW DPI’s 24 hour hotline: 02 4916 3877.

Fish care Tips

  • Know your fish. Some need special conditions and diet. Others are aggressive and unsuitable for a community tank.
  • Change the water. Replace about a quarter of the water in your aquarium at least once a month.
  • Use good water. Tap water may contain chemicals that harm your fish. Add a water conditioner available from your pet shop.
  • Remove sick fish. Diseased fish can contaminate others so remove them quickly.
  • Don't overfeed. Feed only as much as your fish will eat in one minute and just once a day, or as advised by your pet shop.
  • Don't overcrowd. Overcrowding increases pollution and aggression problems.
  • Watch the sun. Too much sunlight on your tank encourages algae growth.

Protect our ecosystems

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.

Most fish, snails, and plants you keep are not native to Australia, or to your local area. If released, they are difficult to eliminate and pose a serious threat to fragile ecosystems and important industries.

Don't dump that fish

Setting fish free may mean they die from starvation or disease. Fish that survive and breed will compete with local native species for food and space. They may also spread disease and parasites, and damage natural habitats.

Your plants are weeds!

  • Unwanted plants from your aquarium or pond can choke waterways, displacing native plants and depleting oxygen and food for fish.

Watch water & rocks!

  • Water from your aquarium or pond may contain fish and snail eggs, larvae, plant fragments, or diseases. The same is true for rocks and gravel. Dispose of waste water and other materials carefully.

Take special care with the groups below – some species have already become feral and can pose a threat to our rivers and oceans.

Livebearer family

  • Includes guppies, mollies, and ‘mosquitofish’. Two species (gambusia and speckled mosquitofish) are aggressive pests, and are banned from sale in most of NSW.


  • A popular and very diverse group of aquarium fish, but some species have established feral populations. Tilapia are banned in NSW.

Carp & minnow family

  • Includes minnows, bitterlings, danios, and rasboras. Five species (carp, goldfish, roach, tench and white cloud mountain minnows) are feral in NSW. Some – like carp – are major pests.

Loach family

  • These non-natives are very hardy and can move overland to invade new areas. Weatherloach has established feral populations.

Marine & freshwater weeds

  • Assume that all aquatic plants in your aquarium or pond are potential weeds. Some (eg. Caulerpa, Cabomba and Salvinia) have already invaded NSW waterways, and are totally banned.


  • Fresh and salt water snails can be big vegetation eaters. Keep them safe in your aquarium.

‘Live rock’

  • ‘Live rock’ (used in marine aquariums) contains all kinds of organisms and should never be dumped in or near the sea.

For more information contact the Aquatic Biosecurity Unit