The Introduced Fish Problem and the Aquarium Fish Industry



Of the 46 species of foreign fishes known to be established as reproducing populations in open waters of the contiguous United States, approximately 65% are known or presumed to have originated from the aquarium fish trade. Many escaped or were released from aquarium fish culture facilities and some were introduced by aquarists. More than 50 additional, non-established fishes, mostly aquarium species, have been collected in the wild. These introductions, with established populations, have not been restricted to the so-called Sun Belt states, but have occurred throughout the U.S.

Because many introductions have resulted in serious negative impcts to native fishes, and most have the potential to do so, it is imperative that the aquarium fish industry and trade take measures to curtail such releases. The means of accomplishing this goal are relatively inexpensive. Industry must assist in public education to reduce introductions by aquarists.