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Is there a list of fish I am allowed to keep in a aquarium?

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#1 Joey

  • NANFA Guest
  • Oswego, NY

Posted 20 February 2016 - 09:36 PM

I would love to keep a largemouth or smallmouth bass in a home aquarium. I was wondering if there is some type of permit I would be able to get in order to make this possible.

#2 Michael Wolfe

Michael Wolfe
  • Board of Directors
  • North Georgia, Oconee River Drainage

Posted 21 February 2016 - 07:45 PM

Check your local fishing regulations.  If there is no "season" on bass, then you should be able to keep one in a tank.


But I have to recommend against it.  Bass get big and territorial, and basically have to be kept alone in a very large tank.  Furthermore, they are largely inactive.  It is not nearly as much fun as you think it might be.

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#3 Josh Blaylock

Josh Blaylock
  • Board of Directors
  • Central Kentucky

Posted 22 February 2016 - 07:55 AM

I know that NY has fairly strict regulations on native fish.  


I'll agree with Michael here.  Largemouth & Smallmouth will get too big to ethically keep in an aquarium, unless you have a pond not connected to a local water supply to put it in once it gets too big to keep.  There are some smaller bass species you could keep.


Now, as someone who has a keep-able bass species, M. Coosae.  I will say that I do enjoy the fish, however, he's only active when there's food in the tank.  Also, because he's so aggressive, I cannot keep any other fish with him which is kinda a bore.

Josh Blaylock - Central KY
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#4 Joey

  • NANFA Guest
  • Oswego, NY

Posted 27 February 2016 - 09:28 PM

I have a empty 250 gallon tank which should be fine for a largemouth or smallmouth. I just don't want to do it if its illegal.

#5 gzeiger

  • NANFA Guest

Posted 05 March 2016 - 02:55 PM

250 is much too small for these fish. I'm putting the finishing touches on an 800 gallon and debating whether it's big enough to keep one.


I disagree about their interest though. I had a baby smallmouth once and it was one of my favorite fish I've ever kept.


Most states seem to "allow" you to keep them, but have a curious law requiring you to stab your pet in the face with a fish hook before you can take it home. The bigger question is why we continue to put up with these politicians.

#6 Hydrophilus

  • NANFA Member
  • Syracuse, NY

Posted 30 March 2016 - 10:29 AM


  It is generally considered illegal in New York to keep native species, even if they originate outside the state. One notable exception is rosy reds/fathead minnows purchased at your local pet shop. The various species sold as bait would probably be okay, as long as they were purchased from a bait shop and you kept the certificate that they give you upon purchase. All other New York native species would be illegal to keep:




  Since you live in Oswego, which is in the "Lower Niagara River/Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River Overland Transportation Corridor", you MAY be able to get away with collecting certain baitfish within that corridor (or buying them from a dealer) and keeping them in your tank. I'm not sure if that would apply to game species, but I can't find any regulations specifying whether fish need to be alive or deceased upon leaving their water of origin. You could potentially claim your aquarium is a fancy livewell. At any rate it would be unwise to try to keep any native fish without contacting your regional fish manager and asking them for their input or blessing. I can't say that I've ever heard of anyone getting a permit without having at least a semi-legitimate educational/research purpose, however you may not need one.


  Oswego is in DEC Region 7. If you want to contact their fisheries department, here is their email: fwfish7@dec.ny.gov




-Eric C. Maxwell

DEC Rare Fish Unit, Watertown, NY

#7 PerchKeeper

  • NANFA Guest
  • NY

Posted 29 April 2016 - 04:19 PM

I worked at the NY DEC counsels office for 5 years, 4 months ago I transferred to a diffrent department and I don't currently represent the NY DEC. There are somethings that should be clarified. It is NOT illegal to keep fish native to New York. Aquatic animals are exempt with the exception of reptiles, amphibians and mammals. As long as you can legally catch the fish and it is of proper size you can keep the fish. You can legally buy native fish from breeders and pond farms. If the fish was bought from a licenced breeder/dealer you can have it even if it is not of size. Baitfish transportation laws must be followed when collecting your bait fish, not of bought from a dealer. Once the fish is on private property and not being transported anymore it is legal to have. It is illegal to be in possession of endangered fish.

There are lots of misconceptions going on and I wanted to clear them up.

Happy Fishing.

Edited by PerchKeeper, 29 April 2016 - 04:22 PM.

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