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Native Fish Aquariums in California


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#1 Guest_Adigiaap_*

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 01:14 PM

I'm still a bit confused by California law but it appears that it is basically illegal to keep a temperate water aquarium with NA natives, collect native species, or own native species without a special permit. I'm trying to clarify with the local DFG.

You can search the California code of regulations by keyword or section at: http://ccr.oal.ca.go...&Action=Welcome

You can search fish and game code here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html

The following seems to cover a lot of disparate regulations:

RESTRICTED SPECIES LAWS AND REGULATIONS IMPORTATION, TRANSPORTATION AND POSSESSION OF WILD ANIMALS - MANUAL 671

It's available right now (January 2011) at: http://www.dfg.ca.go...iles/fg1518.pdf

Pet stores are basically limited to tropical species and a few listed temperate species. Importation guidelines require DFG OK for transporting other taxa. Trapping seems limited to a few introduced species in specific areas only for use as bait (no transport).

Here's the part on commercial:
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Cal. Admin. Code tit. 14, § 227 -- Sale of Live Aquaculture Products by Aquarium or Pet Stores.

(a) No live aquaculture products shall be maintained or sold by aquarium or pet stores except the following:
(1) Tropical species of ornamental marine or freshwater plants and animals not utilized for human consumption or bait purposes;
(2) Goldfish;
(3) Koi;
(4) Albino channel catfish;
(5) White sturgeon not to exceed 8 inches in total length;
(6) Giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergi);
(7) Brine shrimp;
(8 ) Worms of the family Tubificidae;
(9) Crustaceans of the order Amphipoda that are native to California waters;
(10) Mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis, except that mosquitofish may not be sold by aquarium or pet stores in Inyo, Mono, San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties.
(11) Abalone.

#2 Guest_Adigiaap_*

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 01:34 PM

I guess the loop holes might be trading and buying from out of state?

#3 Guest_tommyvercetti_*

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 05:09 PM

I, too, would like some clarification on this subject.

Can I legally go out to my local river and collect with a net for my home aquarium?
Can I use a minnow trap?

Can I order native fish online for my aquarium from outside of California?
From within California (if they were available) ?

The regulations are so long and cover so many irrelevant topics it is difficult to get the information I want.

#4 Guest_Adigiaap_*

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 05:54 PM

I, too, would like some clarification on this subject.

1) Can I legally go out to my local river and collect with a net for my home aquarium?
2) Can I use a minnow trap?

3) Can I order native fish online for my aquarium from outside of California?
From within California (if they were available) ?

The regulations are so long and cover so many irrelevant topics it is difficult to get the information I want.


Here's my research summary so far:

The answers to 1 and 2 are apparently no. You can target certain species (mostly introduced species -- regulations are regional), but only for bait. But you can't take them away live (Title 14, section 1.63 California Code of Regulations). The rules are evidently different for certain non-threatened amphibian and reptile species which you can take if you have a fishing license and obey the limits for that species. Go figure.

If you have a research permit or are acquiring with a permit for a classroom education project the answer is yes for 1 and 2. Traps can be used for bait fish. They are not recommended where the endangered red-legged or yellow-legged frog is present. Apparently minnow traps kill them.

The answer for 3 is fuzzier. You can definitely acquire fish from in-state aquaculturalists but the number of native species available is limited (Sacremento Perch appears to be available). For out of state fish you may need an import permit to stay legal. If you can argue it's both "tropical" and ornamental there are different and looser regulations. It's a little weird since certain species which are sold in California in the aquarium trade under the tropical exception have successfully colonized natural water around San Diego.

For any ambiguity I think the standard answer stands. Contact the California Department of Fish and Game.

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If you choose to bend the rules, my only advice is at a minimum to follow the ethical guidelines put forth elsewhere in this forum with regards to protected species, small populations, etc. and never releasing an aquarium fish of any type back into natural waters.

#5 Guest_tommyvercetti_*

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 10:20 PM

Here's my research summary so far:

The answers to 1 and 2 are apparently no. You can target certain species (mostly introduced species -- regulations are regional), but only for bait. But you can't take them away live (Title 14, section 1.63 California Code of Regulations). The rules are evidently different for certain non-threatened amphibian and reptile species which you can take if you have a fishing license and obey the limits for that species. Go figure.

If you have a research permit or are acquiring with a permit for a classroom education project the answer is yes for 1 and 2. Traps can be used for bait fish. They are not recommended where the endangered red-legged or yellow-legged frog is present. Apparently minnow traps kill them.

The answer for 3 is fuzzier. You can definitely acquire fish from in-state aquaculturalists but the number of native species available is limited (Sacremento Perch appears to be available). For out of state fish you may need an import permit to stay legal. If you can argue it's both "tropical" and ornamental there are different and looser regulations. It's a little weird since certain species which are sold in California in the aquarium trade under the tropical exception have successfully colonized natural water around San Diego.

For any ambiguity I think the standard answer stands. Contact the California Department of Fish and Game.

-------------

If you choose to bend the rules, my only advice is at a minimum to follow the ethical guidelines put forth elsewhere in this forum with regards to protected species, small populations, etc. and never releasing an aquarium fish of any type back into natural waters.



So I can legally set out a minnow trap and/or use a dip net; but I cannot take what I catch home alive?

#6 Guest_Adigiaap_*

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 12:04 AM

The department of fish and game has a nice Q and A website where they try to lay out their interpretation of the rules: http://californiaout...s.wordpress.com

It seems to me California has written fairly strict rules to keep fishermen from stocking waters on their own or moving fish around. Basically you can't take live "fin fish" from the waters of the state. Fin fish is defined to separate it from shell fish, crayfish, etc. which are less regulated.

Here's the text of California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 1.63:

"except as provided in sections 4.00 through 4.30 and 230, live fin fish may not be transported alive from the water where taken."

-- where as near as I can tell the exceptions appear to be related to bait regulations (you can collect certain species in certain waters for use in the same waters), bass fishing contests, and scientific permits.


I've included a few relevant Q and A. I think the last one skips around the question of licensed aquaculturalists who can sell a variety of non-native and native species for stocking in private ponds or or tanks. You also have to consider the definition of "waters of the state"-- which certainly doesn't include your aquarium, swimming pool, or isolated pond. So going from an aquaculturist to you tank or swimming pool should be OK? If you can find your species sold as bait you should be able to take a fish from that "private water" to your "private water" but I'd be sure to have valid fishing license on you as you leave the bait store. You can also get mosquito fish from your local mosquito control agency for putting in you "private water". Obviously it also can not apply to children bringing fin fish home from the pet store.

So my interpretation is not "from" and not "to" a "water of the state." You might also be able to get around the whole concept by transporting fertilized eggs . . .

Anyway here are the DFG Question and Answers:

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Using aquarium fish for bait?

Question: Is it legal to keep live bait in an aquarium at home and use it for bait in the future? For example, I’d like to catch a few shiner perch nearby. I have a saltwater tank at home and was wondering if I can keep them alive in my tank and then use the live shiners as bait in a week or two? (James M., Union City)

Answer: No, the moving of fish is prohibited. Live fin fish taken under the authority of a sportfishing license may not be transported alive from the water where taken (CCR Title 14, section 1.63).

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Transporting and relocating live finfish from one body of water to another can cause major environmental problems and is a serious offense punishable by fines and jail time. Lake Davis is a prime example of the havoc caused by the illegal introduction of a non-native species into a body of water.

Question: I ran into a bunch of guys recently who love to bass fish and so have been moving bass into the rivers. They think it’s ok, but I think not because bass eat trout and salmon fry. They say the water is too warm during the summer for trout. Is there anything we can do if we know they are taking a bunch of bass to the rivers to dump? Who do I contact if I know where and when it will be done next? (Anonymous)

Answer: Transporting and relocating live finfish from one body of water to another in California can cause serious environmental problems and is a serious offense punishable by fines and even jail time. If you have knowledge of this activity, you should immediately call our CALTIP line (888-DFG-CALTIP) and provide specific details, including suspect and vehicle descriptions, license plate numbers and locations of where the fish are being caught and dropped off.

Enormous problems can occur when live fish are transported from one body of water to another without the permission of DFG! Aside from the fact that the transported fish may not adapt well to their new surroundings or even die, the introduced fish can potentially disrupt the balance of existing species through increased predation, competition for the same limited food sources, disease and parasites.

Predator/prey imbalance – Case in point: the illegal introduction of northern pike into Lake Davis. This is a prime example of the havoc that may be caused by the illegal introduction of a non-native species into a body of water. The pike adapted well and reproduced quickly in their new home, and soon began preying upon and out-competing the trout of this premier fishery. Efforts to contain the pike and prevent their spread into the Sacramento Delta system (which could have proven catastrophic to the aquatic ecosystem, including California’s salmonid fisheries) were a huge task that went on for several years. A major rotenone chemical treatment in 2007 is thought to have eradicated them, although monitoring continues. Repairing the damage caused by this one illegal fish introduction involved hundreds of staff and cost millions of dollars.

Diseases – Another example of the consequences of people illegally moving fish (though in another state) involved the clandestine importation of trout into Colorado in the late 1980s. The fish carried whirling disease, which ultimately caused the demise of many of that state’s world-class rainbow trout fisheries and resulted in millions of dollars in damages and lost recreational opportunities for anglers. According to Dr. William Cox, DFG Program Manager of Fish Production and Distribution, this is but one example of many in which illegal fish movement has spread disease. DFG maintains a staff of pathologists and veterinarians to ensure that animals transferred from one location to another are healthy and will not result in disasters like those cited above.

Legal consequences – Law enforcement takes these illegal practices quite seriously. According to Captain Sherry Howell, violations related to moving live freshwater fish from one body of water and planting them in another are misdemeanor offenses (CCR, T-14 Section 1.63 and FGC Section 6400). These actions carry penalties ranging from fines of up to $5,000 and/or up to a year in jail, or both (FGC section 12007).

If the violation involves an aquatic nuisance species (ANS) such as northern pike, the penalties increase significantly. This is also a misdemeanor but is punishable by jail time of six months to one year, a fine of not more than $50,000 for each violation, or both (FGC section 12023). It may also include revocation of all of the defendant’s licenses and permits issued pursuant to the Fish and Game Code.

Also, the defendant can be held liable for damages to property and fisheries, and all costs for public and private response, treatment and remediation resulting from a violation involving an ANS (FGC Section 12023).

A reward may be available for those who provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person found guilty of violating FGC Section 6400 through the use of an aquatic nuisance species. Reports can be made using the toll-free CALTIP number (888-DFG-CALTIP / 888-334-2258) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers’ identities will remain anonymous.

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Can You Purchase Bluegill for Your Home Aquarium?

Question: Is it legal for me to purchase bluegill for my home aquarium? (Johnny, Long Beach)

Answer: According to Game Warden Patrick Foy, a few sections of the regulations taken in combination prohibit purchase or transport of locally caught bluegill or any warm water game fish for your aquarium. Aquariums and pet stores are not authorized to sell warm water game fish (Title 14, Section 227) and anglers are prohibited from transporting fish alive from the waters where taken (Title 14, Section 1.63). Transportation of live fish is prohibited in order to prevent the introduction of non-native species into California’s freshwater environment. Many very destructive invasive species present in California’s waters today are due to introduction by irresponsible aquarium owners. As a reminder, never release any fish or algae species into California waterways.


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#7 Guest_tommyvercetti_*

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 11:01 PM

I wrote to CDFG and got the following reply:

"Section 1.63 in the F&G sport fishing regulations for both ocean and fresh water prohibits moving live fish from the waters where taken. In accordance with this law it is not legal for anglers keep fish they have taken alive for placement in a home aquarium. The sport fishing regulations are available online @ http://dfg.ca.gov/

Sections 4.00 - 4.30 in the fresh water Sport Fishing regulations authorize the taking of several species of freshwater fish to use as live bait, but these regulations also prohibit you moving them from the waters where taken. However, you may purchase certain species of fish from a licensed Live Bait Dealer and keep those fish alive in your home. The list of species available are those listed in section 4.00 - 4.30 as authorized for use as bait.

Other than ornamental tropical marine or freshwater fish species, no other species of live fish may be imported into CA without first obtaining a permit from the Department of Fish and Game. For information regarding the permit, application process, and species restrictions choose the link for Informational Leaflet 36 @ http://dfg.ca.gov/fi...ration/Permits/

Phil Nelms
Law Enforcement Division"

I read the Informational leaflet. In certain cases a permit must be obtained to stock a "body" of water; but probably not an aquarium in my interpretation. I am not a lawyer and will take NO RESPONSIBILITY if this is incorrect--but I believe a California resident can order any fish not listed as prohibited and keep it indoors in an aquarium. So no Gars, but pygmy sunfishes should be ok as long as it is "ornamental" and not going into a "body" of water. My local fish store sells Florida Flagfish which supports this interpretation.

However, collecting fish from the wild for the aquarium in California is definitely not allowed.

Edited by tommyvercetti, 09 February 2011 - 11:02 PM.


#8 Guest_Adigiaap_*

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 02:37 PM

Thanks for the update. That's sounds like the same page I'm on.

I have a few more questions about photographing fish in the wild ( i.e. catch and release with minnow trap) that I'm still trying to clarify.

#9 Leo1234

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 08:02 PM

I know this is a very old topic, but is this the section I need to look for?

 

Fish and Game Code - FGC
DIVISION 3. FISH AND GAME GENERALLY [2000 - 2948]
( Division 3 enacted by Stats. 1957, Ch. 456. )

CHAPTER 2. Importation, Transportation, and Sheltering of Restricted Live Wild Animals [2116 - 2203]
( Heading of Chapter 2 amended by Stats. 1987, Ch. 1231, Sec. 1. )


ARTICLE 1. Generally [2116 - 2127]
( Article 1 enacted by Stats. 1957, Ch. 456. )


2118.

It is unlawful to import, transport, possess, or release alive into this state, except under a revocable, nontransferable permit as provided in this chapter and the regulations pertaining thereto, any wild animal of the following species:

Class Monorhina (lampreys)

All species.

(e)

Class Osteichthyes (bony fishes)

Family Serranidae (bass)

White perch, Morone or Roccus americana

Family Clupeidae (herring)

Gizzard shad, Dorosoma cepedianum

Family Sciaenidae (croakers)

Freshwater sheepshead, Aplodinotus grunniens

Family Characidae (characins)

Banded tetra, Astyanax fasciatus

All species of piranhas

Family Lepisosteidae (gars)

All species.

Family Amiidae (bowfins)

All species.

(f)
 






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