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Aquatic Organisms Welfare


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To many of us the appeal of keeping a living environment in our home is very appealing and most times this comes in the form of an aquarium, but it is important to ensure the needs of the animals are met to ensure the picture continues to look the same in the future. There is an animal welfare act in New Zealand that covers the welfare of aquatic organisms and also covers the needs of an animal that are vital to be taken into consideration when housing or breeding them. The Act covers many issues but the main one to be taken into consideration is; - “The owner or person in charge of an animal has overall responsibility for the welfare of the animal(s) in his or her care and must ensure that the physical, health, and behavioural needs of each animal are met in a manner that is in accordance with both good practice and scientific knowledge”.


When it comes to Aquatic organisms the diverse range of species and habitats means there is no one rule that fits every species but the basics are the same as to water quality for each species. The water should be pollutant free and meet correct minimum levels for, pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, salinity, temperature and an oxygen level that is appropriate to the species being kept.

Aquatic organisms that are well looked after will usually, depending on  age, sex, maturity and species exhibit normal behaviour, colouration, fin/scale condition, no obvious signs of disease and feed normally. Exceptions might occur during a disease outbreak or after transport, power failures etc. but then it is expected that appropriate actions e.g. treatment, acclimatisation or isolation would be undertaken immediately by the owner when a problem is noticed.


Housing for the animals should be of a size to allow a full range of natural movements, there are many small aquariums on the market nowadays but most are restricted to only being able to house smaller species and the small volume of water can be very hard to maintain a stable quality environment in them. The “old Goldfish bowl” without proper filtration and aeration can quickly become a death trap owing to the small water surface area in contact with the air resulting in lack of oxygen for the fish to breathe. Your fish are living in a box of water where they feed and produce waste, overstocking, lack of regular water changes or good filtration can create a “toilet” that they are living in.

You as a fish, amphibian, reptile, or invertebrate keeper have not only a moral but a legal obligation to look after them as best you can, there are many sources nowadays with the internet available to research the proper care of the animals you happen to choose to keep.


Some further reading on cold water and tropical set ups can be found here. Happy Fish Keeping.

Cold Fresh water

Tropical Fresh water


Cycling your tank

Stocking the Tank.

Feeding your Fish.

Why do my fish die?

Disposing of sick fish.

Environmentally friendly water changes.

Aquarium Hygiene.

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