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Pets and Livestock
Ornamental Fish

What are "ornamental fish"? Finfish, such as goldfish, betas and guppies are ornamental fish, and according to Alaska law, so are aquatic invertebrates, and amphibians that are common in the aquaria trade. These organisms are not used for sport fishing purposes, including as bait, and may not be raised for food. They are not thought capable of establishing reproductive populations in Alaska; however, fresh water plants commonly sold 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 in Alaska waters, even under ice. The established populations of Elodea spp. provide a valuable lesson that even plants and animals that we may not expect to can survive in Alaska. 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

Please contact the appropriate Permit Coordinator if you are interested in importing ornamentals but are unsure whether the species you are interested in fits the definition.