There comes a time in some aquarists’ lives where they feel the need to let their fish run free in the ocean. Feeling bad because they can no longer care for the fish or the fish is too large for the aquarium, they find their closest saltwater source and set out to liberate their pets from the confines of the glass box. Unbeknownst to the aquarist, however, is these actions have potentially severe consequences. More often than not, the newly released fish will probably just die due to improper acclimation and predators that can easily pick them off. But that’s not always the case. The model story for the worst case scenario is the one involving the lionfish and their domination of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It is believed that the fish that started this invasion originated from the pet industry, and we all know how that has ended up. Another scenario involves fish diseaeses. It’s very easy to introduce an exotic disease, virus, or strain of bacteria into local waters if you release a fish back into the wild. Chances are nothing will result from the release, but again, worst case may be that something serious does happen.
In any situation, if you find yourself looking to free your fish, try re-homing it instead. There are tons of aquarists that will take a free fish off your hands, and if there isn’t, try the fish store. Someone, somewhere will take the fish, eliminating your need to toss it back into the wild.