Biological Invasions

, Volume 12, Issue 11, pp 3757–3770 | Cite as

The freshwater aquarium trade as a vector for incidental invertebrate fauna

  • Ian C. Duggan
Original Paper


The aquarium trade has a long history of transporting and introducing fish, plants and snails into regions where they are not native. However, other than snails, research on species carried “incidentally” rather than deliberately by this industry is lacking. I sampled invertebrates in the plankton, and from water among bottom stones, of 55 aquaria from 43 New Zealand households. I recorded 55 incidental invertebrate taxa, including copepods, ostracods, cladocerans, molluscs, mites, flatworms and nematodes. Six were known established non-indigenous species, and eight others were not previously recorded from New Zealand. Of the latter, two harpacticoid copepod species, Nitokra pietschmanni and Elaphoidella sewelli, are not native to or known from New Zealand, demonstrating the aquarium trade continues to pose an invasion risk for incidental fauna. The remaining six species were littoral/benthic rotifers with subtropical/tropical affinities; these may or may not be native, as research on this group is limited. A variety of behaviours associated with the set-up and keeping of home aquaria were recorded (e.g., fish and plants in any home were sourced from stores, wild caught, or both, and cleaning methods varied), which made prediction of “high risk” behaviours difficult. However, non-indigenous species had a greater probability of being recorded in aquaria containing aquatic plants and in those that were heated. Methods for disposal of aquarium wastes ranged from depositing washings on the lawn or garden (a low risk for invasion) to disposing of water into outdoor ponds or storm-water drains (a higher risk). It is recommended that aquarium owners be encouraged to pour aquarium wastes onto gardens or lawns—already a common method of disposal—as invasion risk will be minimised using this method.


Pet trade Craspedacusta Melanoides Exotic Invertebrates Alternative vector 



This project followed the University of Waikato Human Research Ethics Regulations 2000, and included informed consent of participants without coercion. I thank all participants in the study for allowing me access to their aquaria, and Gregor Fountain for facilitating access to aquaria in Wellington. Thank you also to Alton Perrie for discussion on this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology Research, Department of Biological SciencesThe University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

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