‘Painted fish’ is the term given to ornamental fish that have been dyed to make them more appealing to consumers. These fish are artificially dyed by injecting a colourant under their skin. This procedure (also called ‘juicing’) is unnecessary and likely painful, potentially compromising the health and welfare of the fish. Studies of painted glassfish in the UK showed that these fish suffered from a much higher prevalence of the lymphocystis virus than their unpainted counterparts. This is probably due to the spread of disease by sharing contaminated needles between fish.
Dyed fish are available for sale from some pet shops and aquariums in Australia, although sales have dropped since the health and welfare problems associated with painted fish became more widely known. If you see fish for sale that you suspect have been artificially dyed, politely ask the retailer where they were sourced from and how they were painted. By letting retailers know that there is little support for the practice from fish owners we can hopefully discourage the practice.
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