Popular aquarium fish to join susceptible disease list


The range of fish and crustaceans identified as vectors for, or susceptible to notifiable diseases is growing for 2024, which may have some ramifications on trade. Here's everything you need to know and what it could mean for you...

List of Ornamental Susceptible Vector Species 

The Government is planning to increase the range of fish and invertebrate species that have been identified as vectors for, or susceptible to, notifiable diseases, and add them to the existing Susceptible Vector Species Lists (SVS). Within the planned lists sit multiple aquarium species.

Most notable of these is the zebra danio, Danio rerio, which has been listed as susceptible to the notifiable diseases viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) and spring viraemia of carp (SVC). Other included species of interest to UK aquarists include: eel-tailed catfish, Tandanus tandanus (vector for epizootic haematopoietic necrosis, EHN); purple spotted gudgeon, Mogurnda adspersa (vector for EHN); Australian rainbowfish, Melanotaenia fluviatilis (susceptible to EHN); medaka, Oryzias latipes (vector for viral haemorrhagic septicaemia); and red claw crayfish, Cherax quadricarinatus (vector for yellow head virus).

Notifiable diseases are diseases that a person is legally obliged to report to the Fish Health Inspectorate, Cefas, even if said disease is only suspected. They include endemic diseases such as koi herpesvirus (KHV) that are already present within Great Britain, as well as exotic diseases such as viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) that are not normally present in Great Britain. 

Consequences of listing

Once listed, there are additional considerations for anyone wishing to trade a listed species. In the first instance, the listed species may be subject to additional health restrictions, including official certification by an inspector in the country exporting it, to show that the species either originates from an area free from diseases, or has undergone a necessary quarantine procedure. 

In the second instance, there are implications for a diseases outbreak occurring, including trade restrictions and movement controls. This may include the Fish Health Inspectorate supervising a stock cull, site clearance and disinfection to remove all trace of the infection. 

Most changes to Great Britain’s SVS lists are expected to have minimal impacts on the hobby, with the exception of zebra danios. Zebra danios are imported into the country in great numbers for both scientific research, as well as for sale in the ornamental aquatics industry. However, some sources of these fish are presently not declared free of VHS and SVC. 

The changes are expected to be added on May 31st 2024.

Related article: How to prevent and treat pond fish diseases

What should I do if my fish are on the disease list?

Don't panic if you already own any of the species on the Ornamental Susceptible Vector Species list as these changes are only relevant to retailers and shops selling them. As with any fish, however, it's important to monitor them and check they are healthy, For more information, visit our pages on can find our list of frequently asked questions on treating sick fish.

Listed species

Proposed new susceptible and vector ornamental species of notifiable diseases, as highlighted by the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA)

Epizootic haematopoietic necrosis (EHN)
Mosquitofish - Gambusia affinis
Eastern mosquitofish - Gambusia holbrooki 
Murray River rainbowfish (also known as the Australian rainbowfish) - Melanotaenia fluviatilis 

Southern purple-spotted gudgeon - Mogurnda adspersa
Tandanus - Tananus tandanus 

Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS)

Zebra fish - Danio rerio 
Mummichog - Fundulus heteroclitus 
Three-spined stickleback - Gasterosteus aculeatus 
Fathead minnow - Pimephales promelas 

Sand lance - Ammodytes personatus 
Japanese rice fish - Oryzias latipes 

Infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN)
White sturgeon - Acipenser transmontanus 

Koi herpes virus (KHV)

Russian sturgeon - Acipenser gueldenstaedtii 
Atlantic sturgeon - Acipenser oxyrinchus 
Sterlet sturgeon - Acipenser ruthenus × Huso huso (hybrid sterlet × beluga)
Swan mussel - Anodonta cygnea 
Goldfish - Carassius auratus 
Crucian carp - Carassius carassius 
Grass carp - Ctenopharyngodon idella 
Amphipod crustacean - Gammarus pulex 
Ide - Leuciscus idus 
Common Roach - Rutilus rutilus
Tench - Tinca tinca 

Spring viraemia of carp (SVC)

Zebrafish - Danio rerio 
Fathead minnow - Pimephales promelas 
Common Roach - Rutilus rutilus 

Infection with Bonamia ostreae

Beadlet anemone - Actina equina 

Infection with Perkinus marinus

Giant river prawn or giant freshwater prawnMacrobrachium rosenbergi 
Crawfish - Palinurus spp 

Taura syndrome

Gulf killifish - Fundulus grandis 
Fiddler Crab - Uca sp

Yellow head virus

Freshwater crayfish - Cherax quadricarinatus 
Gulf killifish - Fundulus grandis 

(Decapod) white spot disease

Disk abalone (or Edo abalone, a species of abalone sea snail) - Haliotis discus hannai 
Green ormer - Halitois tuerculata 
Common Octopus - Octopus vulgaris 
Medium to large sea snails - Strombus spp

See the complete new lists of susceptible and vector species

For more guidance on listed species, and what to do in the event of an outbreak, you can visit the .gov website.