Aussies warned over illegally releasing their fish

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Australian fishkeepers have been warned over the potential environmental dangers of releasing their aquarium fish into the wild.

According to a report from Australia's ABC News Online, residents in New South Wales have been told that illegally releasing pet fish could have a serious impact on the local environment.

Fishkeepers who flout the law also face a fine of up to A$11,000 (that's about 4,669).

"These are something that would have quite a big impact on our native fish if they got established..."

Bill Talbot, Group Manager for Fisheries at the Department of Primary Industries told ABC News Online that Jack Dempsey cichlids, "Cichlasoma" octofasciatum, were already problematic in Angourie's waterways:

"These are a little aquarium fish which is named after a heavyweight boxer, so you can imagine they've got some pretty nasty habits.

"They're a fairly tough, pugnacious fish and we've had a population of them turn up near Angourie.

"We've worked very hard to try and eradicate them because these are something that would have quite a big impact on our native fish if they got established across the coastal rivers of New South Wales."

Talbot warned ABC that illegally introduced feral fish can introduce disease, have an impact on local species, prey on them and, in some cases, even drive native species to extinction.