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Hello from Northern Illinois!

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#1 JBMedia

  • NANFA Member
  • Northern Illinois

Posted 26 January 2021 - 10:39 PM

Hello everyone! While not new to Nanfa, I am new to the forum here!

I'm up north in the Chicagoland Suburbs but travel throughout the midwest for work which leads me to some fun spots for sampling fish after my work day is over!

I really am passionate about aquariums and how under represented our native species are in the hobby and would like to bring more awareness. However Illinois law and regulations are extremely vague when it comes to captive care and I'm curious if anyone has any personal experience on this topic?

Hopefully someone from INHS might be able to help me?

I'm planning on sampling locally pretty frequently so if anyone wants to tag along or share some spots I'd love to chat!


#2 swampfish

  • NANFA Member

Posted 28 January 2021 - 10:21 AM

I have not received any information recently about keeping fish in aquaria or outdoor ponds from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). However, in the late 1990's, I was involved in a roundtable discussion at the Illinois Natural History Survey with the head lawyer from IDNR about native fish regulations. Although most of the discussion centered around interpretation of laws involving native fish collecting, there was a short discussion about keeping live native fish. Essentially, the lawyer said that IDNR didn't regulate what people did with the fish after they were legally caught from Illinois water bodies as long as they were not returned to other water bodies. He further stated that if people wanted to keep them live in aquaria, IDNR did not prevent it.


I just looked through the 2020 Illinois Fishing Regulations and, like you, came up with no insight into captive care. I know of no other source of legal information in that area. I currently keep several species of native fish in aquaria, and move some of them outdoors during the summer into polyethylene stock tanks and small landlocked garden ponds which seems reasonable in protecting them from likely interaction with wild fish. I feel comfortable that I am not violating any Illinois laws or the intentions of them. 


Phil Nixon

Tolono, IL

#3 Jess Heil

Jess Heil
  • NANFA Member

Posted 12 April 2021 - 05:57 PM

Sorry haven’t been around the forums in a long time. I tend to stick with a social media only. I’m also from Northern Illinois! Cheers


from Lake County, IL 

#4 Flatlander Fisheries

Flatlander Fisheries
  • NANFA Guest
  • Illinois/Iowa

Posted 07 May 2021 - 01:45 PM

I recently spoke with a IDNR representative and it seems there has been some rule changes and now you can no longer move wild caught fish. I will get some more info hopfully today.

#5 chicagofisher

  • NANFA Guest
  • North Chicago suburbs, IL

Posted 18 February 2022 - 11:17 PM

I spoke with the IDNR last year and they said that due to VHS you cannot keep live wild fish.


Edit: Sorry, didn't see this post was from last year. But I hope it helps anyone else from Illinois as well.

Edited by chicagofisher, 18 February 2022 - 11:18 PM.

#6 El Todd

El Todd
  • NANFA Member
  • Silver Spring Md

Posted 19 February 2022 - 12:30 PM

Have you tried looking into scientific collection or aquaculture permit? Maryland (where I live) lets you keep natives, possesion limits are low but they do give out aquaculture permits which allow for wild capture and also they issue scientific collection permits which allow for more methods of capture etc. It's kind of a hassle, but not a huge hassle.

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