State of Alaska
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Alaska Department of Fish and Game

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Pets and Livestock
Ornamental Fish

What are “ornamental fish”? Ornamental fish are tropical species; including finfish, such as goldfish, aquatic invertebrates, and amphibians, common in the aquaria trade and not used for sport fishing purposes or raised for food. They are not thought capable of establishing reproductive populations in Alaska; however, some fresh water plants commonly distributed for use in aquaria have proven to be invasive here. The common waterweed (Elodea spp.) has been found in several water bodies around Fairbanks, Anchorage, Cordova and the Kenai Peninsula. This plant has been observed growing well under ice. The cultivation of ornamental species in Alaska is regulated under 5 AAC 41.070(c). This regulation also prohibits the release of unwanted organisms into the wild.

Disease and Other Concerns

It is illegal to release ornamental fish or fish waste, and wastewater from ornamental fish, into the waters of the state, including by pouring them down a local storm drain. This helps prevent introduction of diseases from captive fish into wild fish populations. It can also prevent the colonization of aquatic ecosystems in Alaska by ornamental species nobody previously thought could reproduce here.

Alaska monitors and restricts import and holding of ornamental species for this reason. Even species that have previously been authorized for import into the state can cause introduction of diseases here; new diseases or strains are always evolving, especially in culture situations such as aquaria.

Importing Ornamentals

Before importing any species of amphibian or crayfish to Alaska, you must first get a Fish Resource Permit from ADF&G. The permit will specify the conditions that must be met before import is allowed. Next, the State Fish Pathologist must receive and approve a health certificate from the out-of-state supplier before your shipment can be sent to you. For general questions on ornamental fish culture, or to reach the State Fish Pathologist, see the list of fish permitting contacts.