Live fish may only be imported for the aquarium industry trade. Live fish for human consumption, pet food, aquaculture or as household pets are not permitted imports to Australia.
Conditions for importing live aquarium (ornamental) fish
You need an import permit to import live aquarium (ornamental) fish to Australia. Only permitted species may be imported from approved countries.
The live aquarium fish import conditions, including the list of permitted species and approved countries, can be found in the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON).
The import conditions for live aquarium fish are classified into two categories:
Approved arrangement site
Before applying for a permit to import live aquarium fish, applicants must establish or have access to a facility approved for the isolation of imported fish (called an approved arrangement site). The facility must comply with class 7.1 approved arrangement criteria.
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 in BICON.
Frequently asked questions
Can I import fish that are not on the permitted species list?
No. All live fish must be permitted species, 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 and Energy in the first instance.
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, Environment would need to conduct an assessment of the risks associated with its import before the species can be added.
Should Environment approve a species for import and add it to the Live Import List, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment would then need to assess the biosecurity risks posed by that species. This may require biosecurity import risk analysis.
All species must be included on Environment’s Live Import List before Agriculture would consider conducting a biosecurity import risk analysis.
For more information and how to apply for an amendment to the Live Import List, visit Environment’s website.
Can I import Garra rufa (also known as Dr fish)?
No. Garra rufa are not a permitted import to Australia for any purpose (including therapeutic uses).
What if I know that someone is importing a non-permitted species?
If you suspect, or have evidence, that someone may be breaching Australian biosecurity requirements you can make a confidential report via the department’s free call service – Redline (1800 803 006).
Alternatively you can contact the department’s Compliance area by email.
Can I import live fish for aquaculture?
No. Live fish cannot be imported for aquaculture. The department has not conducted a biosecurity risk analysis or developed import conditions for live fish for aquaculture.
Can I import live lobsters?
Only live tropical rock lobster (Panulir us ornatus) caught exclusively in the Torres Strait Protected Zone and imported from Papua New Guinea may be imported into Australia.
Can I import live oysters?
No. Live oysters cannot be imported to Australia because the department has not conducted a biosecurity risk analysis and has not developed import conditions for live oysters.
The import conditions for oysters (dead) for human consumption can be found on BICON.
Can I import live abalone?
No. Live abalone cannot be imported to Australian because the department has not conducted a biosecurity risk analysis and has not developed import conditions for live abalone.
The import conditions for abalone (dead) for human consumption can be found on BICON.
Can I import from a non-approved country?
No. Australia only allows the importation of live aquarium fish from 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 for approval. Following the request, the department would need to conduct a risk assessment of that country’s fish export program before considering approval.
Can I use any aquarium chemicals, treatments or antibiotics for imported aquarium fish during the isolation period?
The department has approved a list of aquarium chemicals, treatments and antibiotics for use 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.
Only substances on the list can be used during the isolation period unless the department has provided specific written approval for an alternative.