These fishes have come from a specific geographical region, watershed, and population. This makes them unique animals with a specific genetic constitution. They are not the same as the fish that may live in your local waters. Consequently, these fish must not be released into any natural body of water or to any body of water that connects to another body of water directly, by overflow or by flooding.
The release of fishes into different habitats can be destructive to the naturally occurring fishes of those habitats. Once introduced, it is often impossible to eliminate the exotic species from the environment without killing all the fishes who live there.
Your aquarium receives fish from all over the world. Diseases not found in your area may be introduced along with fishes from the aquarium. Though your fish may not appear to be sick, they could be a carrier of some dormant parasite, bacterium, or virus. Many diseases go undetected until a fish becomes stressed, lowering it's defenses against disease. This is why you should never release a fish after it's been in captivity.
In many places it is illegal to release fishes into any body of water.
Even if the species you want to release is native to your area, the new fish are likely from a different population with different characteristics from the native populations. When scientists study native fishes, they need to know whether they are studying fish that naturally occur there or whether there has been an introduction from outside that area. Introducing exotic fishes can hinder the cause of ichthyology and species conservation.
Please handle these animals responsibly. What you learn about their care, behavior and breeding can be valuable to agencies and researchers who are working to preserve wild fishes.
Enjoy your new fishes and pass this message along to your fellow aquarists.
What to do with unwanted, sick or dead fishes
Excess live fishes can be shared with other aquarists by trading, selling at club auctions or to pet shops. Many aquarists will be glad to accept gifts of unwanted fish from time to time.
Fishes may be painlessly euthanized by putting them in a plastic bag of water and placing the bag in the freezer. Alternatively, carbon dioxide from carbonated water or Alkaseltzer may be used to kill unwanted fish. The freezer is a good place to store fish waiting for disposal. Dead fish should then be disposed of by putting them out for your regular garbage collection, or they may be buried or composted. Again, fish should not be introduced into water via the sewage system or otherwise.
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