Fact Sheet: Import risk analysis for ornamental finfish with respect to gourami iridovirus and related viruses

September 2014

New requirements for importing ornamental finfish into Australia

Australia’s biosecurity system works to prevent pests and diseases from harming our agricultural industries, economy and environment.

The Department of Agriculture develops import risk analysis (IRAs) using science and research to best determine the required biosecurity conditions for imports.

The import risk analysis for ornamental finfish has found that a new approach is required to manage the risk associated with importing ornamental fish into Australia.

New import conditions requiring fish to be sourced from compartments, zones or countriesfree from megalocytivirus and be batch-tested negative for the virus before export come into effect on 1 March 2015.

Post-arrival verification systems will be progressively implemented during the next two to three years.

The new import policy emphasises the use of offshore biosecurity management to reduce the risk of fish diseases, such as disease caused by gourami iridovirus, entering Australia and impacting our natural environment and aquaculture and fisheries industries.


The new IRA applies to ornamental fish including:

  • the gourami family (e.g. dwarf gouramis, paradise fish and Siamese fighting fish)
  • cichlids (e.g. angelfish and oscars)
  • poeciliids (e.g. guppies, mollies, platys and swordtails).

Under the new policy, fish must meet all of the following requirements:

  • be sourced from an approved country, zone or compartment free from megalocytivirus, or batch-tested negative for the virus before export under the supervision of an approved overseas competent authority
  • be subject to an ongoing programme of random post-arrival testing for megalocytivirus to monitor the effectiveness of overseas systems in ensuring the health status of exported fish
  • be subject to the baseline import conditions that apply to all importedornamental fish, including post-entry quarantine detention for at least seven days. 

Key facts

  • More than 1 billion ornamental fish, representing about 2000 species, are traded internationally each year.
  • The ornamental fish trade in Australia has an estimated value of about $350 million. With about 12 to 14 million fish imported each year the Australian industry relies heavily on imports.
  • Fish of the gourami, cichlid and poeciliid families make up more than two-thirds of the fish imported to Australia.
  • An estimated 12 to 14 per cent of the Australian population participate in the aquarist hobby at some level.
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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