The three best options for getting rid of unwanted pet fish are surrendering it to a pet store, donating it, or rehoming it via Craigslist or Facebook.
Pet Stores That Take Fish
There are only a few big name pet stores that take in fish, and they all work the same way.
First, call ahead to verify that the store can take the breed of fish you have. Once you’ve confirmed with the store, bring your unwanted pet fish to the location.
None of the stores we spoke with required that you make an appointment; the only thing some stores requested is that you come at least an hour before closing.
The process is pretty simple. In most cases, you won’t even have to fill out any forms.
Note: The following pet stores take in fish as surrenders; you can’t trade them in or get anything for them. Follow the link to locate your nearest store.
If you don’t live near any of the above store chains, look for a local pet, fish, or aquatics supply store. A “mom-and-pop” pet store may be willing to take a pet fish surrender.
You can also search online for a fish club in your state. (Yes, fish clubs are a thing.) If one exists in your area, reach out to the group to see if it can help you find a new home for your pet fish.
Where to Donate Pet Fish
You may be able to donate your pet fish. All you have to do is find a place with a large fish tank and ask if they would like to take in your fish.
Some places that often have aquariums are doctors’ offices, veterinary clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Be sure to tell them the breed to make sure your fish will live there peacefully.
Giving Away or Rehoming Unwanted Pet Fish
Another way to get rid of unwanted pet fish — and also any fish accessories you may have — is through websites like Craigslist and Facebook.
A pet store may take your fish, but you’ll likely be left with a (sometimes huge) fish tank and accessories to deal with. On Craigslist and Facebook, you can try to rehome your fish and tank all for one price or give them away for free.
Craigslist and Facebook both prohibit the sale of animals on their sites; however, you can list your pet fish for free or for a rehoming fee.
If you decide to sell your fish, tank, and/or accessories via Craigslist or Facebook, be smart about it: meet in a public place to make the exchange, consider accepting cash only, etc.
Posting something on Craigslist is simple. You’ll need to identify the type of post and the category type. For animals, you might want to choose “community” and then “pets.”
Craigslist discourages the sale of animals, and, on its prohibited page, it states that you cannot create listings for “pet sales, animal parts, stud service[s], [or] endangered, imperiled and/or protected species and any parts thereof.” However, rehoming animals for a small fee is okay.
Despite the prohibitions, you will still see listings for animals on Craigslist. To avoid your post being flagged or taken down, you would be best off posting your fish for free or naming your price as a rehoming fee.
Facebook does not allow the sale of animals on its platform. And Facebook Marketplace specifically has a feature where you can report users who have posted animals for sale.
However, rehoming an animal isn’t the same as selling one, and Facebook groups have been created for this purpose. In our research, the likelihood of getting into any sort of trouble for trying to rehome your fish through a Facebook group is very low.
To rehome your pet fish via a Facebook group, you will first have to find one that is specific to your area. Many groups are closed or private, but it is not hard to get into one; just choose “join” and wait for approval. Sometimes, you have to answer simple questions like “Have you read the rules of our group and will you abide by them?”
Once you’re approved, you can post about the fish you are looking to rehome. Depending on the rules of the group, rehoming fees may be allowed or discouraged.
Most groups will ask that you specify what type of fish you have (and any information about a tank and/or accessories), where you are located, and how far you are willing to travel.
Places That Don’t Take Pet Fish
The following locations do not accept unwanted pet fish:
- PET DEPOT
- Petland (All stores are independently owned and operated, so you may be able to find a location that will accept an unwanted fish; however, in our research, we could not find a Petland that would take a fish.)
- PetSmart (You can, however, return your fish if you act quickly.)
- Pet Supplies Plus
- Pet Valu