March 23, 2023

The Lowdown on Fish Laws

Are you guilty of breaking a fish law? Perhaps you don’t even realize that what you’ve done to stock your aquarium is illegal. What you don’t know may land you in hot water.

Have you ever set your mind on a particular fish for your aquarium, only to find out it’s illegal to own in your state? It seems silly, to limit what people can keep in a glass box in their living room, but these laws serve some good purposes.

Taking Fish from State Lands

Did you know it is illegal to remove anything from protected state lands? Yes, during fishing seasons you are permitted, and able, to catch fish and remove them. This assumes that you are fishing for sport, and are taking the fish home to eat. So why shouldn’t you take home a fish to make a pet? First of all, it will likely die. Fish in the wild are just that – wild. Adapting a wild caught fish to aquarium life is seldom simple, especially if it’s a larger species such as bass or trout. Another reason is that these fish need to spawn in the wild to continue the population of the species so that animals and humans alike can use them for food.

Related: Fish Ponds Let You Take Your Hobby Outside

Introducing Fish into the Wild

Releasing aquarium fish is one of the most irresponsible things any fish keeper can do. Many aquarium fish simply cannot survive conditions in the wild, be it too hot or too cold. But some can adapt, and releasing a non-native fish into your local waterways may open the floodgates for that species to thrive, spawn, and take over other fish that are native to your area. A great example of this is the influx of common plecos in Florida. If you cannot keep your fish the best thing to do is give it away to someone who will house it properly, not release it into natural water systems. The outcome will be detrimental to both the natural habitat and to humans. This also includes aquarium plants, as they can go beyond thriving and take over water systems, resulting in the deaths of natural plants that are food sources for wildlife. As you can see, it is a chain reaction that wreaks havoc.

Related: The Ins and Outs of Shipping and Receiving Fish

Because of irresponsible fish keepers, many states have opted to make owning certain species illegal. While this may be a nuisance to someone who just wants to keep a certain fish in their home aquarium, it’s for the best that those fish do not end up in the wrong hands. In many cases, integrity is the big issue. As fish can be shipped, or driven over state lines without repercussions. Please, respect your state’s laws and regulations to help protect the wildlife that surrounds you. Be warned, that if you do attempt to break state wildlife laws, there are severe consequences with hefty fines that outweigh any benefit of owning a banned fish.

summerSummer Davis is the mom of three kids, four dogs, and several tanks of fish. She boasts a passion for all animals, whether they are in the water or on land. This fish aficionado has kept many different species in her time, but holds a special place in her heart for wild and domestic bettas. When she’s not talking about fish, Summer “spins” her extra time as the director of a baton twirling organization.