Original Paper

Biological Invasions

, Volume 15, Issue 12, pp 2707-2716

First online:

The aquarium trade as a potential source of fish introductions in southwestern Europe

  • Alberto Maceda-VeigaAffiliated withDepartment of Animal Biology (Vertebrates) & Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio), University of Barcelona Email author 
  • , Josep Escribano-AlacidAffiliated withGrup de Recerca d’Ecosistemes Aquàtics (GREA)
  • , Adolfo de SostoaAffiliated withDepartment of Animal Biology (Vertebrates) & Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio), University of Barcelona
  • , Emili García-BerthouAffiliated withInstitute of Aquatic Ecology, University of Girona

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The aquarium trade has been identified as an important vector of aquatic invasive species but this question has mostly been investigated in North America. We investigated the variation in diversity and species composition in different trade types in southwestern Europe (three major international wholesalers, different retail store types, and local internet forums), mostly in Spain and Portugal. As in previous studies, the diversity of fishes in the aquarium trade was vast, with a total of 20 orders, 79 families, and 1,133 fish species detected in the trade types analyzed. 248 species were observed in a single metropolitan area (Barcelona), with estimates of about 294 species being present. International wholesalers had higher species richness and evenness, with a single one having over 700 species. General pet stores had much lower evenness but due to high turnover had a total richness of over 200 species. Internet forums had the lowest evenness but similar richness. The different commerce types varied significantly in relative species abundance with about a dozen of popular fish species (e.g., goldfish, Siamese fighting fish, common carp, guppy, swordtails) dominating the retail stores, particularly the general pet stores. Our results imply that frequency in the trade varies strongly among species and commerce types and although general pet stores have usually low diversity, this is compensated with a higher species turnover. Many of the most popular species are well known invasive species and some of the species available are temperate species that might establish in Europe, reinforcing the need for more careful implementation of education programs, regulation and monitoring of trade, and internalization of environmental costs by the industry.


Introduction pathways Climate matching Establishment success Invasive non-native species Freshwater fish Iberian Peninsula