The Big Fish Campaign

INJAF is delighted to be supporting the Big Fish Campaign. Below is some key information from BIAZA (British and Irish Associations of Zoos and Aquariums) which details the reasons for the campaign, the aims of the campaign, some information for fishkeepers, information on current activities, and most importantly how you can help.

The Big Fish Campaign is an initiative set up by NAW (National Aquarium Workshop) and the BIAZA Aquarium Working Group having heard the results of research that indicated that over a period of just 4 months, 11 UK aquaria were asked to house 144 fish that had outgrown their owners’ tanks.

More and more frequently, fish of all shapes and sizes are being imported into the UK aquatics trade. A large percentage of these fish appear in general pet stores and are sold to unwary customers who do not expect their pet fish to grow to such enormous sizes and are left with a ‘BIG’ problem as a result of inadequate space or equipment.

Zoos and aquaria are being inundated with public donations of all sorts of fish species. Although members of the pubic may see this as the perfect solution for their problem, it creates problems for the aquaria themselves. It is often very difficult for them to mix donated stock with their own stock and they often lack the space to provide a purpose built home for the donated fish.

Therefore the zoos and aquariums in the UK decided to launch the Big Fish Campaign to stop the problem. The campaign first launched in Nov 2005 is back for 2012 and working with the trade to tackle the issue. It aims to raise public awareness about the need to make sensible, informed decisions when choosing pet fish.

The Big Fish Campaign aims to:

The aim of the Big Fish Campaign is to raise awareness about the problem of aquarium fish that grow larger than the vast majority of home aquaria can accommodate, and to promote responsible buying and selling of these larger species.

The campaign will be focusing on a positive approach, including:

  • raising awareness throughout the hobby and aquatic trade about the extent of the problem
  • dispelling the myth that fish only grow to a size relative to the tank size (!)
  • asking retailers to sell larger fish responsibly by providing information on realistic adult sizes of these species
  • encouraging wholesalers and retailers not to routinely stock the “worst offenders” e.g. the six ‘poster fish’ of the campaign and instead to concentrate on the hundreds of more suitable aquarium fish available to the hobby

The campaign does not aim to ban certain fish from sale, or push for restrictive licensing, the campaign’s aims are quite the opposite; it is hoped that a more responsible attitude from fishkeepers, retailers and wholesalers/importers will help to prevent the need for future legislation. 

How you can help – calling all hobbyists, retailers and anyone ‘fishy’!

  • July 2012 – Practical Fishkeeping (PFK) have set up their page for you to sign up to the Big Fish Campaign.  If you represent an aquatic shop, an aquatic business, a fish wholesaler, or are an importer, show your support by leaving your company name in the comments section below the article on their site
  • BIAZA have produced a letter you can download to introduce retailers etc. to the Big Fish Campaign and encourage them to sign up
  • Ask your local aquatics and pet shops to get involved, display a poster and show their support on the PFK website.  Please contact as many aquatic retailers as you can in your area with a copy of the:

Big Fish supporters letter
Big Fish Lorry Poster
Big Fish Campaign logo poster
We’re backing the Big Fish Campaign logo

What else can be done to help?

  • Add the link to the dedicated campaign website to your own website:
  • Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter for news and updates
  • If you work in a public aquarium, fish shop, fish rescue or any other enterprise that may be approached by people trying to rehome their big fish, please capture new big fish data from phone calls you receive so the Big Fish Campaign can update their survey: Fish Donation Sheet
  • Print out and display the poster: Big Fish Lorry Poster
  • Print out and display the new logo poster designed by Aquatics Live, you can also use this for display material: Big Fish Campaign logo poster
  • Print out and display the ‘We’re backing the Big Fish Campaign’ logo: We’re backing the Big Fish Campaign logo
  • Jeremy, Nathan (PFK), Sandra (PBW News) and Matt (Seriously Fish) have all expressed an interest in any ‘horror’ stories, quotes, photos that you might have regarding big fish. Any information like this would be well received to help with articles. Please contact them directly:

  • Retailers, public aquariums and aquatics clubs could run some Big Fish events: family fun days, how to set up a fish tank demonstration, how to pick fish for your tank, fact or fiction quizzes etc.
  • If you work at a public aquarium add information about the campaign into talks given at your aquarium.
  • Please let the Big Fish Campaign know if you run any events or have any PR and remember to take photos etc it would be nice to see what everyone does.
  • All ideas welcome! If you have an idea please share it.

What else has the Big Fish Campaign done?

  • In December 2011 there was a great article in PBW News which some of you may have seen, Aquatic Trader Article Dec 2011
  • This was followed by an initial piece, Will you support the Big Fish Campaign?, on the PFK website which was also sent out to 60000 people on their database.  Both publications are very much behind the campaign and hope to publicise it as much as possible this year with a number of articles
  • PFK will also be setting up a link from their facebook page where people can go to download the poster, plus you can download it from here Big Fish Lorry Poster 2012
  • Paul Hale from London Aquarium and Jamie Craggs from the Horniman Museum are looking into possible press opportunities for later in the year such as the One Show and possible celebrity backing
  • BIAZA has produced a children’s quiz sheet, Big Fish Quiz Sheet (2012). Please use this if you would like or make your own
  • Aquatics Live 2012, Olympia London – the Big Fish Campaign hopes to be there this year and are speaking to the organisers – update as of July 2012 – the Big Fish Campaign will be at Aquatics Live – update as of November 2012 – the campaign a lot of interest from visitors and was generally considered a successful day
  • are also on board and are keen to promote the Big Fish Campaign. Matt Ford has offered to host a dedicated information page, also with a download link for the poster
  • Further websites are encouraged to sign up with support for the campaign
  • July 2012 – Ultra Marine magazine have published the new logo in their latest edition and an article is being written for inclusion in the next one.
  • July 2012 – dedicated website launched at
  • May 2013 – Joe Inglis (TV vet) pledges support to the campaign
  • May 2013 – Buster the life-sized red tailed catfish toy joins the Big Fish Campaign team to help raise awareness about the real sizes of some of these species
  • July 2013 – the Big Fish Campaign appeared on The One Show
  • Summer 2013 – Buster is going on tour!  Various public aquariums around the country are getting a visit from Buster to help promote the campaign
  • The Deep in Hull are having a Big Fish Summer to promote the campaign and raise awareness

Don’t forget to like the campaign on Facebook to keep up with all latest news and events, not to mention find out where Buster is during the summer!

The future
To help UK aquariums halt the trade in Big Fish species, please contact campaign coordinator, Peter Burgess or the Aquarium Working Group Chair Katy Duke

Further reading
Will you support the Big Fish Campaign?
Who’s to blame for the big fish problem?
Where do all those big fish keep going?
How much will this fish cost to keep in its lifetime?
Bournemouth Aquarium appeals to exotic pet owners
Maidenhead Aquatics – ‘Tankbusters & Co.’ Do you really know what you’re taking on?
Two catfish find new homes at Blue Planet Aquarium

Nathan Hill, Technical Writer at Practical Fishkeeping Magazine, put together two excellent (and rather sobering!) ‘info graphics’ which illustrate very clearly the sizes some of the commonly available fish can get to in comparison to a human (reproduced with kind permission of Nathan Hill and Jeremy Gay (editor) of PFK Magazine).

INJAF has some further information on
Red tailed catfish – an aquatic big cat
Help with understanding how much room a species needs in an aquarium
Do fish grow to the size of their tank?
Raising your concerns

Other information and supporters
Public aquaria supporting the campaign
Websites and forums supporting the campaign
Other supporters

Author: INJAF

Facebook IconTwitter Icon