What are painted, tattooed or dyed fish?

What are painted, tatooed or dyed fish?

‘Painted' or 'Tattooed' fish is a term given to ornamental fish that have been cosmetically dyed to make them more appealing to consumers. Fish are typically dyed with fluorescent pigments by a variety of processes including injection, tattooing, or interfering with the skin by using lasers or chemicals so dye is readily absorbed.

The procedure is likely to be painful, as even the topmost layer of skin on a fish is believed to be sensitive, which to most reasonable people is unacceptable and thoroughly unethical from a welfare perspective.

The most popular species of dyed or 'painted' fish is the Glass fish and the Parrot fish. Studies of painted glassfish showed that they 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.

'Painting' fish with dye is a practice that is commonly frowned upon by most retailers in the UK and is generally discouraged industry-wide on ethical grounds. Dyed fish are usually quite appealing to beginners or fishkeepers new to the hobby, who are perhaps unaware of the practice, and do not readily appeal to experienced hobbyists.

Painting or injecting fish with a dye is not something we at Real Aquatics support or partake in. We will not entertain any enquiries for the supply of dyed fish. To browse our range of (non-painted!) tropical fish please click here.


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