Pulling The Plug

Leaving the aquarium hobby? Do not set your pets free!

Finished with your fish? Setting them ‘free’ into a local waterway may seem humane but it is a very bad choice (and it is illegal).

Many released animals are not able to fend for themselves and die shortly after being released. Those that survive may introduce parasites or disease to the natural populations — or even worse — non-native species may become invasive and have devastating impacts on the natural environment.

Help protect your local waters — dispose of unwanted plants and animals responsibly!

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Best options for both your pet and the environment

  • Sell or give away your aquarium to someone else
  • Donate your tank to a local classroom, library, or other public organization
  • Return your animals to the pet shop
  • Take your animals to a facility that accepts them - local public aquarium etc
  • Humanely euthanize aquarium animals; completely dry or freeze plants
Caulerpa taxifolia


Caulerpa taxifolia in California

Caulerpa taxifolia is a popular marine aquarium seaweed native to the Indian ocean. It is highly invasive and has the ability to alter native habitats dramatically, as has occurred in the Mediterranean. In 2000, small populations were found in a bay in Southern California catalyzing a four year, $7 million eradication effort. It is believed the invasive algae came from a home aquarium. Caulerpa is now banned from sale, transport and possession throughout the US and in other countries.

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Lionfish Invade Florida

Lionfish (Pterois volitans) are another aquarium organism that has ended up outside of home aquariums where they weren’t native. First spotted off the coast of Florida in 1985, lionfish since have spread throughout the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and up the eastern seaboard as far north as Rhode Island. They are voracious predators wreaking havoc on the reefs they invade. A variety of strategies are being employed to reduce their numbers but complete eradication likely is impossible.

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