Importing live fish to Australia

​Live fish may only be imported for the ornamental (aquarium) trade.
Live fish for human consumption, aquaculture and pet fish are not permitted import to Australia.

Conditions for importing live ornamental fish

An import permit is required to import live ornamental fish to Australia. Only certain permitted species may be imported from approved countries. Th​e live fish import conditions, including the list of permitted species and approved countries, can be found in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON).

The import conditions for live ornamental fish are classified into two categories:

Approved arrangement site

Before applying for a permit to import live ornamental fish, applicants must establish or have access to an approved facility for the isolation of imported fish (called Approved Arrangement Site ). The facility must comply with the criteria for live ornamental fish Class 7.1 Freshwater and Marine Fin Fish.

Additional information, including conditions of approval and applications for an Approved Arrangement. Applicants should contact Audit Services for more information.

The department has approved a list of aquarium chemicals, treatments and antibiotics that may be used during the isolation period to help maintain the health of the imported fish. Further details can be found at Approved Aquarium Chemicals, Treatments and Antibiotics.

Applying for an Import Permit

Once you have an approved arrangement and are aware of the import conditions, you need to apply for an import permit. Information about applying for a permit, can be found at Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON).

Frequently asked questions

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Can I import fish that are not on the permitted species list?

All live fish must be permitted, as listed in the import conditions, before being imported to Australia.

If the species you would like to import is not listed as a permitted species, you should contact the Department of the Environment in the first instance. As one of the Australian government departments responsible for controlling live animal imports, the Department of the Environment administers the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 which contains the List of specimens taken to be suitable for live import (also called the Live Import List). If a species is not on the Live Import List, an assessment of the risks associated with its import would be required before the species can be added to the list. For more information and to apply for an amendment to the Live Import List, visit the Department of the Environment’s website.

If a species becomes approved for import by the Department of the Environment, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources would then need to assess the biosecurity risks posed by a species. This may require a Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis (IRA).

All species must be listed on the Live Import List before the department would consider conducting a biosecurity import risk analysis.

Can I import Garra rufa (also known as Dr fish)?

Currently, Garra rufa are not permitted import to Australia for any purpose (including therapeutic uses).

What if I know that someone is importing non-permitted species?

If you suspect, or have evidence, that someone may be breaching Australian biosecurity requirements, the department has a freecall service – Redline – for people to confidentially report suspected breaches of Australian biosecurity. The contact details for Redline are:

Email: Compliance or Phone: 1800 803 006.

Additional information can be found on the Redline page on this website.

Can I import live fish for aquaculture?

Live fish cannot be imported for aquaculture or any other non-ornamental purposes (such as human consumption). The department has not conducted an analysis of the biosecurity risks associated with live fish imported for aquaculture. As a result, no import conditions have been developed and live fish cannot be imported for aquaculture.

Can I import live lobsters?

Only one (1) species of lobster may be imported live to Australia – tropical rock lobster (Panulir us ornatus). Live tropical rock lobsters, caught exclusively in the Torres Strait Protected Zone, may only be imported from Papua New Guinea. Import conditions for live tropical rock lobsters can also be found on BICON. For additional information, email Imports.

Can I import live oysters?

Live oysters cannot be imported to Australia because the department has not conducted an analysis of the biosecurity risks associated with live oysters. As a result, no import conditions have been developed and live oysters cannot be imported.

The import conditions for oysters (dead) for human consumption can be found on BICON.

Can I import live abalone?

Live abalone cannot be imported to Australian because the department has not conducted an analysis of the biosecurity risks associated with live abalone. As a result, no import conditions have been developed and live abalone cannot be imported.

The import conditions for abalone (dead) for human consumption can be found on BICON.

Can I import from a non-approved country?

Australia allows the importation of live ornamental fish from a variety of approved countries as listed in the import conditions. In order for a non-approved country to become approved, the Chief Veterinary Officer of that country would need to submit a request to the Australian Government. Following a request, the department would need to conduct a risk assessment of the country’s proposed fish export program prior to considering approval.

Can I use any aquarium chemicals, treatments or antibiotics for imported ornamental fish during the isolation period?

The department has approved a list of aquarium chemicals, treatments and antibiotics that may be used during the isolation period. The use of such substances is subject to conditions and further details can be found at Approved Aquarium Chemicals, Treatments and Antibiotics.

Substances not identified on this list cannot be used during the isolation period unless the department has provided specific written approval.