Monday,26 July 2021, 4 : 51 PM

Indian Aquarium and Fish Shop Rules 2017

Geophagus Iporangensis
Geophagus Iporangensis
Image Credit: Hayath Mohammad


Government Of India has issued rules for regulation of Aquariums and Fish shops.
These rules are called “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals(Aquarium and Fish Tank Animals Shop) Rules,
These rules are issued under provisions of Section 38, subsection 1&2 of “The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.”
The rules are applicable from 23th May 2017.



These rules are applicable to following two categories:

  • Aquariums.
  • Fish shops.

Section 2 b defines an aquarium as
"an facility or establishment where fish tank animals are displayed."

Further Section 2c defines the term aquarium operator as:
"aquarium operator” means a person who has the ultimate control over the affairs of the aquarium, and include—
(i) in case of a firm or other association of individuals, any partner or member thereof;
(ii) in case of a company, any director, manager, secretary or other officer, who is in-charge of and responsible to the company for the affairs of the aquarium; or
(iii) in case of aquarium owned or controlled by the Central Government or any State Government or Union territory Administration or any Trust or Society funded by the Central Government or State Government or a Union territory Administration, the Secretary of the concerned Department of that Government, or as the case may be, the Union territory Administration;

Although the term “Facility” or “Establishment” is not defined anywhere in the act, but by a combined reading of these two section it is clear that the important characterises of an aquarium are:

  • it should be and facility or establishment.
  • Fish tank animals should be displayed.

This means that private residences are not covered under these rules.
Whether Offices, show rooms, clinics etc. are covered, is not clear at this point.

Fish shops:

Fish Shops have been defined in rule 2(f) as:
“fish shop” means a shop, place or premises, where fish tank animals are housed, kept or exhibited for trade, or a business involving the trade of fish tank animals, and includes online platforms over which the trade of fish tank animals is carried out;

It is clear that any commercial activity involving fish is covered under the act, it is immaterial as to their nomenclature.
Hence breeders, hobbyist selling the fish are covered under the act, including on line platforms.


  • “fish bowl” means a bowl for keeping live fish.(2f)
  • “fish tank” means any container, receptacle, storage tank or vessel for keeping fish tank animals.(2g).


Destructive fishing practices. :(Rule 3)

No aquarium or fish shop shall source fish tank animals caught by destructive fishing practices, including-

  • (i) bottom trawling;
  • (ii) cyanide fishing;
  • (iii) use of explosives or dynamite to kill or stun fish;
  • (iv) trapped from Coral Reefs; or
  • (v) trapped from any protected area.

Prohibition on display.: Rule(4)—
  • (1) No aquarium shall function without a certificate of registration from the State Animal Welfare Board.
  • (2) No aquarium shall keep, house or display:-
    • (a) any cetaceans, penguins, otters, manatees, sea turtles and marine turtles, artificially coloured fish, any species of fish tank animals listed in the Wildllife (Protection) Act, 1972 (53 of 1972), or any species listed under the Appendix I of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species; or
    • (b) any species listed in the Second Schedule.
  • (3) No aquarium shall keep house or display animals other than fish tank animals.

For other requirements refer to the full text of Rule.

  • (1)Prohibition on trade of fish tank animals.— (Rule 18).
    No fish shop shall function without a certificate of registration from the State Board.
  • (2) No fish shop shall keep, house, display or trade in –
    • (a) any species of cetaceans, penguins, otters, manatees or sea or marine turtles; artificially coloured fish; any species of fish tank animals listed in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (53 of 1972) or any species listed under the Appendix I of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species; or
    • (b) any species listed in the Second Schedule.
  • (3) No fish shop shall trade in animals other than fish tank animals.
  • (4) No fish shop shall trade in fish tank animals covered with fungus, with sunken bellies, sunken eyes, clamped or unhealthy fins, labored breathing (often with gill covers quite extended), and fish with external blemishes resulting from parasites or disease.


These are General Provisions which are applicable to both Aquariums and Fish Shops.

Fish tank animal housing and display
  • (1) No fish tank animal shall be kept, housed or displayed in a fish tank that is not in accordance with the standards specified in these rules and in compliance with the guidelines published by the Board.

  • (2) The designs and dimensions of the fish tanks shall determine the number and species of fish that can be housed in the fish tank and the fish tank animals shall be housed in fish tanks as per directives and guidelines published by the Board.

  • (3) The aquarium and fish shop shall ensure that the fish tanks are safe and secure for the fish tank animals, the caretakers and the visitors.

  • (4) No aquarium and fish shop shall house together two or more species of fish tank animals that are not compatiblewith each other.

  • (5) Every aquarium and fish shop shall make special efforts to enrich the environment in the fish tanks to match the specific natural environment of the species of fish housed in that fish tank.

  • (6) Every aquarium and fish shop shall ensure that the quality of the water in the fish tanks is maintained at all times and is within the permitted range of salinity, pH, hardness and temperature specified so as to meet the health and welfare needs of the fish tank animals.

  • (7) No aquarium or fish shop shall display or sell –
    • (a) bowls for keeping fish tank animals; or
    • (b) fish tanks with a capacity of less than 13 gallons or 60 litres of water for keeping fish tank animals.

  • (8) Every aquarium and fish shop shall ensure compliance with the directives and guidelines published by the Board, with regard to fish tanks for all fish tank animals having the following minimum requirement, namely:-
    • (a) for freshwater fish, tanks must have at least one gallon or 4.55 litres of water for every inch or 2.54 cms. of total fish length, the volume refers to the amount of water in the tank and does not include the volume of rocks, ornaments, or air that may also take up volume in tank;
    • (b) for marine fish, tanks must have at least four gallons or 18 litres of water for every inch or 2.54 cms. Of total fish length during the first four months, and at least two gallons 9 litres of water for every inch or 2.54 cms. of total fish length thereafter, the volume of which refers to the amount of water in the tank and does not include the volume of rocks, ornaments, or air that may also take up volume in the tank;
    • (c) each tank shall have a water surface area of at least –
      • (i) 12 square inches for every inch or 78 for every cm. of total fish length, in the case of tropical freshwater fish;
      • (ii) 30 square inch for every inch or 194 for every cm. of total fish length, in the case of coldwater freshwater fish;
      • (iii) 48 square inches for every inch or 310 for every cm. of total fish length, in the case of tropical marine fish;

    • (d) water oxygenation must remain above 80% and oxygenation is regularly measured and adjusted when levels fall below 80% by decreasing stocking density, partly replacing water volume, increasing aeration, or correcting improperly functioning heater, filter, or air stone;

    • (e) about 10% of the water in the tank is replaced weekly and regular or partial replacement of water volume and the use of devices to create water movement is used to improve water quality and water flow is appropriate to enable fishes to swim correctly and to maintain normal behavior;

    • (f) salinity and pH levels are tested at least weekly and after water changes;

    • (g) nitrate levels is tested at least weekly, and ammonia and nitrite levels are tested daily for three days after new fish tank animals are added to a tank, and weekly thereafter;

    • (h) tanks are cleaned and vacuumed regularly, at least once a month and whenever tanks become unclean;

    • (i) newly manufactured tanks require a conditioning and depuration period to flush out solvents before they are filled with water for fish tank animals;

    • (j) filters are checked weekly and cleaned or replaced as necessary;

    • (k) frothy, cloudy, yellowing, and smelly water are all signs of deteriorating conditions;

    • (l) suitable filters are used;

    • (m) tanks are having smooth, inert, sealed interior surfaces and wood are not used as a tank material in contact with system water as it is a porous material that may contain toxic elements (in particular, pressure treatment of glue in plywood), as it is subject to rot, and requires the use of sealants, which can be toxic and vinyl tanks are only suitable for temporary holding as the plasticisers can be toxic and vinyl often contains contaminants;

    • (n) tanks are equipped with a covering, such as tank nets or rigid covering, which prevents fish tank animals from jumping out of the tank;

    • (o) the height between the water surface and lid is such that minimises the risk of damage to the fish tank animals if they jump and lids must allow visual access to the fish tank animals, either by being transparent or by being removable or partially removable;

    • (p) all warm water aquariums have an aquarium heater and thermometer and all salt-water aquariums have an ultraviolet steriliser to reduce the population of free-floating pathogens in the aquarium;

    • (q) electrical components and equipment are located outside the splash zone, unless safely designed to be submersible, and housed in moisture-proof enclosures and electrical fixtures are secured with gaskets to prevent i ncursion of water, and located above pipe runs;

    • (r) tank support is properly designed, strong, sturdy and durable, with transfer of weight to the floor structure taken into account, so as to prevent any danger of catastrophic collapse;
    • (s) the suitable species of plants are only used in a tank;

    • (t) no tank contains any metals or materials which can corrode or any rocks which can change the water chemistry, such as limestone, marble, dolomite, or calcareous sandstones which make water hard and alkaline; and

    • (u) fish tanks or aquariums are not placed in the following locations, namely:-
      • (i) in direct sunlight or near radiators;
      • (ii) in a place where there is always light, or where it is always dark;
      • (iii) in a place where rainwater can enter the tank;
      • (iv) in a place of extreme cold or extreme heat;
      • (v) in a place where there can be fluctuation of temperatures, such as, near air conditioning units, ventilation units, open fires, kitchens, cooking areas, windows and doors as all these can cause drastic changes of temperature in the tanks; or
      • (vi) in a place where there will be constant vibrations from traffic or movement of large numbers of people.


    Every aquarium and fish shop shall ensure that–

    • (a) aquatic environments are designed to meet the established physical and behavioural requirements of the fish tank animals in terms of shelter, social grouping, overhead cover and lighting;

    • (b) machinery that produces noise and vibration are isolated from areas housing fish tank animals;

    • (c) lighting are appropriate to the species and turned on and off gradually with a dimmer and turned off at night and incandescent lights give off heat and should therefore be on a schedule of 12 hours off;

    • (d) there is an emergency contingency capacity, capable of maintaining aerated and filtered water and assuring the continuation of life support and the basic requirements are complied with;

    • (e) it has adequate water supply of suitable quality and adequate filtration within the system to remove suspended solids and wastes and to ensure that water quality parameters are maintained within acceptable levels for species-specific requirements;

    • (f) measures such as a carbon filtering system of a reverse osmosis system, activated charcoal (for large volume systems) and sodium thiosulfate (for smaller systems) treatments are used to protect fish from contaminants in the water supply;

    • (g) if fresh or seawater is drawn from an open body of water or a municipal source, it is tested for, and treated to remove, contaminants and pathogens;

    • (h) a comprehensive analysis of the water quality parameters (ions, pH, metals, etc.) is approved by the Board and testing is conducted on annual basis;

    • (i) if well water is to be used in the facility, a pressure drop test is conducted to ensure that the supply is adequate and reliable and the water is not depleted of oxygen or having high levels of metal ions, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, ammonia and other gases, or excessively high or low alkalinity;

    • (j) water supply and drain lines to and from the tanks are secure, protected from disruption and should consist of hard, permanently fixed pipes to prevent air locks, fouling and all lines are prominently labeled and designed to facilitate cleaning by simple, low technology methods;

    • (k) pressure gauges and flow meters are installed at points throughout the system to monitor the condition of the lines and the performance of the pumps and filters;

    • (l) polyvinyl chloride pipes and other materials meet human drinking water standards and adequately flushed to eliminate acetone, methylethylketones, and tetrahydrofurans that are released following gluing;

    • (m) the main drains are over-sized handle large flow of water and gutters have covers that are flush with the floor and that permit water to drain quickly;
    • (o) drains and gutters are designed to self-clean under normal flow, and to permit the use of a cleaning pig to remove any build-up of waste in the lines and where feasible, drains on all tanks are fitted with traps and easily accessible clean-out ports;

    • (p) if the effluent from the facility is untreated, it is discharged in a location that is remote from the system intake, so as to minimise the chances of effluent recirculation in the system and the discharge location does not have any negative impact on wild aquatic organisms in the water body;

    • (q) if the effluent is discharged into the municipal sewer it is essential that potentially noxious materials in the effluents, for example disinfectants, are diluted to non-toxic concentrations before the effluent is discharged into the sewer;
    • (r) all compressors providing gases to the system have devices to remove moisture, and oil traps to prevent any oil leaks from entering the fish tanks and food-grade lubricants are used as far as possible, and intakes to compressors are located in way that allow use of only clean air, free of engine exhaust, tobacco smoke or other airborne contaminants;

    • (s) there is a dedicated separate quarantine areas for the isolation of new fish tank animals and foot and hand cleaning stations with basic sanitary measures so as to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic animal pathogens;

    • (t) all materials used in the construction of facilities including paints, fiberglass surfaces, insulating materials, aerosols, air ducts and wood preservatives, are non-toxic and resistant to corrosion and water damage, and pipes, fittings, and valves do not contain copper, nickel, brass, zinc or galvanising treatments which can result in toxic concentrations of heavy metals;

    • (u) if any potentially toxic material is required to be used in construction, including materials which may release ions, chemicals, or corrosion by-products from their surfaces, prior approval is obtained from the State Board.
    • (v) all metal and concrete use in construction are sealed or inert and if silicone sealant is used, it is labelled as being suitable for use in aquaria and it should allow to cure to release any volatile toxins.

    Upkeep and healthcare.—
    • (1) Every aquarium and fish shop shall provide all fish tank animals in its collection timely supply of quality food of such composition and in such quantities that nutritional and behavioural requirement of every fish tank animal is fully met and adequate safeguards shall be taken to ensure that no fish tank animal shall remain under-nourished.

    • (2) Every aquarium operator and fish shop owner shall ensure that the left over feed material, excreta of the fish tank animals and all other wastes are promptly removed from the fish tanks.

    • (3) The fisheries expert and fish tank animal handlers shall keep a close watch on the general behaviour and health parameters of the fish tank animals and the fish tank animals shall be handled by the handlers having experience and training in handling the individual fish tank animals.
    • (4) Any fish tank animal that shows any signs of dullness, loss of appetite, injury, or abnormal behaviour shall be thoroughly assessed and provided medical attention promptly.

    • (5) Every aquarium and fish shop shall maintain records of health status of the fish tank animals including feed intake, medication and treatment.

    • (6) Every fish tank shall meet the following requirements, namely:-
      (a) the length of a tank shall be not less than five times the length of the longest fish in the tank, calculated at the length of a full-grown adult;
      (b) tank water volume shall be not less than 13 gallons or 60 litres.

    • (7) Every aquarium and fish shop shall comply with the standards of upkeep and health care as specified by the Board from time to time.