Aquariums - thanks but no tanks

Consider the ocean. Big, blue, deep. One of the world’s greatest marvels, the endless ocean that sustains all life on the planet and has many secrets that will never be discovered by humans.

In aquariums around the world, we place animals stolen from the wild into miserably small tanks. And through our investigation work here at Freedom for Animals, we see that the animals suffer for it.

Fish have feelings too

Extensive research has long proven that fish can feel pain but many do not know that fish also have social abilities. They can form bonds with other fish, recognise human faces and they can even ‘talk’ to each other using sounds that we humans cannot hear.

A life of deprivation in a tiny tank can lead to mental health conditions, just as it can in humans. Pacing, circling, circling, head bobbing and other abnormal behaviours, which are all indicators of stress, have been observed in animals in 90% of UK aquariums.



Our investigation into the world's largest aquarium brand, SEA LIFE, exposed a life of deprivation for animals.  

Stolen from the wild

The vast majority of the fish, crabs, sharks, octopuses and other animals you see in aquariums in the UK will have been stolen from the wild, from their natural homes. Many species of fish do not breed in captivity, so as soon as one fish dies, another must be taken from the wild to replace it.

An estimated 79% of animals are taken from the wild to stock aquariums in the UK. Taken from conservation-sensitive areas like the Great Barrier Reef, fish and other animals are packed into plastic bags and boxes and forced to travel thousands of miles. This stressful journey can be too much on their delicate bodies and many die on the way.

Lucky to be alive?

Cyanide and other chemicals are sometimes used to stun fish for capture, often resulting in death. This process also damages the reef. The mortality rate of fish has been indicated to be as high as 30% during capture, and during transportation, a further 5-10% of fish are estimated to die. A massive 30% die following importation.

A BBC investigation found 35% of animals were dying in SEA LIFE centres across the UK. Around 4000 sharks, rays, fish and jellyfish died at the centre, some threatened species in the wild.

A drop in the ocean

The tanks which hold the animals are sometimes only just bigger than the fish. Many tanks lack proper substrate important for some fish and rays, lack space to leave the water for animals like turtles and alligators, lack environmental enrichment and lack of space to retreat.

Con in Conservation

Aquariums claim they are protecting endangered species through their work. In reality, very few animals they hold captive are under threat. Our research showed just 2.5% of the species held captive in SEA LIFE aquariums in the UK (the world's largest aquariums chain) are endangered. Very, very few animals have ever made it back into the wild and the vast majority are bred simply to restock the tanks.

What is Freedom for Animals doing?

We support protests at aquariums raising awareness of the suffering of fish and other animals.

We educate the public about aquariums by speaking up for animals in the media, online and in person.

We investigate and expose aquarium cruelty ensuring we have evidence to speak up for the voiceless

Visit our SEA LIES website to find out more