Unit of competency details

ACMSPE308A - Provide basic care of marine aquatic invertebrates (Release 1)


Usage recommendation:
Is superseded by and equivalent to ACMSPE308 - Provide basic care of marine invertebratesUpdated to meet Standards for Training Packages Minor changes to clarify content Assessment requirements revised 28/Nov/2017

ReleaseRelease date
1 1 (this release) 11/Nov/2010

Qualifications that include this unit

CodeSort Table listing Qualifications that include this unit by the Code columnTitleSort Table listing Qualifications that include this unit by the Title columnUsage RecommendationRelease
ACM30410 - Certificate III in Companion Animal ServicesCertificate III in Companion Animal ServicesSuperseded1-2 
ACM40412 - Certificate IV in Veterinary NursingCertificate IV in Veterinary NursingSuperseded
ACM50110 - Diploma of Animal TechnologyDiploma of Animal TechnologySuperseded
ACM20110 - Certificate II in Animal StudiesCertificate II in Animal StudiesSuperseded1-3 
ACM40210 - Certificate IV in Captive AnimalsCertificate IV in Captive AnimalsSuperseded1-2 
ACM30110 - Certificate III in Animal StudiesCertificate III in Animal StudiesSuperseded1-2 
ACM30310 - Certificate III in Captive AnimalsCertificate III in Captive AnimalsSuperseded1-2 
ACM30210 - Certificate III in Animal TechnologyCertificate III in Animal TechnologySuperseded1-2 
ACM40310 - Certificate IV in Companion Animal ServicesCertificate IV in Companion Animal ServicesSuperseded1-3 
ACM40410 - Certificate IV in Veterinary NursingCertificate IV in Veterinary NursingSuperseded1-2 
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SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 050105 Animal Husbandry  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 050105 Animal Husbandry  11/Nov/2010 
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Modification History

Not applicable.

Unit Descriptor

Unit descriptor 

This unit of competency covers the process of identifying marine aquatic invertebrates and their behavioural and physical needs, providing daily care requirements as well as assisting with behavioural requirements and preventative health measures.

Licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements may apply to this unit. Therefore, it will be necessary to check with the relevant state or territory regulators for current licensing, legislative or regulatory requirements before undertaking this unit.

Application of the Unit

Application of the unit 

The unit is applicable to those working in animal care industry sectors where it may be necessary to care for commonly available marine aquatic invertebrates. This may include aquariums, pet shops, zoos, animal technology facilities or similar workplaces.

In addition to legal and ethical responsibilities, all units of competency in the ACM10 Animal Care and Management Training Package have the requirement for animals to be handled gently and calmly. The individual is required to exhibit appropriate care for animals so that stress and discomfort is minimised.

Licensing/Regulatory Information

Not applicable.


Prerequisite units 

Employability Skills Information

Employability skills 

This unit contains employability skills.

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content

Elements describe the essential outcomes of a unit of competency.

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element. Where bold italicised text is used, further information is detailed in the required skills and knowledge section and the range statement. Assessment of performance is to be consistent with the evidence guide.

Elements and Performance Criteria



1. Identify commonly available marine aquatic invertebrates

1.1. Profile of marine aquatic invertebrates  commonly held in facility, including habitat, nutrition, health and behavioural characteristics , is defined.

1.2. External features are described using industry terminology.

1.3. Invertebrates are classified using industry-specific terminology.

1.4. Colours , markings and other identifying features  are defined, interpreted and documented.

2. Identify and evaluate behavioural and housing needs

2.1. Water quality  is monitored and adjustments  made as required to maintain optimum water quality appropriate for the species being housed as directed by supervisor.

2.2. Indicators of animal comfort and normal behaviour  are identified and signs of distressed invertebrates are recognised and reported to supervisor.

2.3. Industry guidelines for housing design , environmental factors  and appropriate stocking densities are identified.

2.4. Enrichment needs  are identified and evaluated for specific animal species.

2.5. Current animal housing design is evaluated in relation to the welfare of animals  kept and legislation requirements.

3. Approach and handle invertebrates

3.1. Risks  associated with handling and restraining invertebrates are identified and methods used to minimise risks are demonstrated.

3.2. Appropriate equipment to catch and handle invertebrate  are identified and prepared.

3.3. Invertebrates are approached and handled while minimising risks to animal and others using a range of appropriate animal welfare procedures.

4. Assist with health care needs

4.1. Signs of good health in invertebrates are identified and recorded in animal health and treatment records.

4.2. Common health issues  are identified and signs of disease or other conditions are reported to supervisor.

4.3. General health maintenance and preventative treatment procedures  are identified and implemented in accordance with level of job responsibility, regulatory requirements and supervisor guidance.

4.4. Options for activity and enrichment are identified, evaluated for impact on invertebrate health and implemented as directed by supervisor.

5. Feed invertebrates

5.1. Digestive system features  are identified and related to invertebrate specific feeding routines and diets.

5.2. Preferred food sources  are identified and food samples are assessed for quality and suitability.

5.3. Potential feeding hazards  are identified and risk control options defined.

5.4. Feed is prepared in accordance with dietary needs.

5.5. Feed is distributed and consumption, including abnormalities, is reported in accordance with workplace routines.

6. Maintain records

6.1. Documentation  on the care and management of marine aquatic invertebrates is completed in accordance with workplace procedures and legislation requirements.

Required Skills and Knowledge


This section describes the skills and knowledge required for this unit.

Required skills 

  • complete relevant work-related documents and maintain accurate animal records
  • comply with OHS, animal care, ethics and industry guidelines, relevant regulations and legislations
  • employ safe and environmentally responsible organisational systems and procedures when working with, restraining and handling marine aquatic invertebrates
  • maintain the highest standards of personal and workplace hygiene and infection control at all times to reduce the risk of infection and cross-infection
  • measure, interpret and record invertebrate weight, length and other relevant objective indicators of change in physiological status
  • monitor invertebrate health, condition and behaviour and recognise normal and abnormal signs
  • monitor water quality parameters using physical and chemical assessments and tests
  • prepare doses for treatments as directed and verified by supervisor
  • use equipment and materials correctly and in accordance with manufacturers' specifications
  • literacy skills to read and follow organisational policies and procedures, including OHS and animal welfare; follow sequenced written instructions; and record information accurately and legibly
  • oral communication skills/language to fulfil the job role as specified by the organisation, including questioning, active listening, asking for clarification and seeking advice from supervisor
  • numeracy skills to estimate, calculate and record routine workplace measures
  • interpersonal skills to work with others and relate to people from a range of cultural, social and religious backgrounds and with a range of physical and mental abilities
  • se problem-solving skills to assess appropriate practices and prioritise daily tasks
  • use safe manual handling techniques and/or equipment
  • use safe waste handling and disposal procedures.

Required knowledge 

  • anatomical and physiological terminology and glossary of terms
  • anatomical structures and physiological features related to basic care requirements for invertebrates
  • awareness of natural invertebrate behaviour relating to the characteristics of the species, developmental stage, health and reproductive status, behavioural and social needs and the signs of distress, illness and undesirable behaviours
  • basic invertebrate care and hygiene principles
  • basic water chemistry parameters and physical indicators of water quality relevant to the care and husbandry of marine aquatic invertebrates
  • common aeration and filtration systems
  • housing, social and activity needs of marine aquatic invertebrates and environmental impacts on health and wellbeing
  • methods of transmission of disease and infection
  • organisational policies and procedures regarding the care and health maintenance of marine aquatic invertebrates
  • personal protective clothing and equipment and when and how it should be used
  • physical conditions and vital signs of marine aquatic invertebrates
  • relevant legislation, regulations and codes of practice, including OHS, animal welfare and ethics
  • safe invertebrate handling techniques and procedures, potential hazards and control measures
  • terminology and language variations used by workplace staff and the public to describe marine aquatic invertebrates, their behaviour, status, health and treatments
  • terminology used to describe and document health and behavioural signs, including desirable and undesirable features
  • types of food and food supplements and their role in marine aquatic invertebrates diets, including natural dietary requirements for specific species
  • types of information that has to be reported and recorded in animal care workplaces
  • workplace hygiene standards, disinfectants, cleaning agents, cleaning techniques and cleaning equipment and materials.

Evidence Guide


The Evidence Guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Overview of assessment 

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit 

The evidence required to demonstrate competence in this unit must be relevant to workplace operations and satisfy all of the requirements of the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge and the range statement of this unit. Assessors should ensure that candidates can:

  • identify the specific characteristics and needs of marine aquatic invertebrates and apply these to the best practice industry standard of housing, socialising, feeding and health management
  • classify and identify invertebrates by developmental stage, sex, condition, colours, markings and other identifying features using industry terminology
  • safely and humanely catch and handle invertebrates
  • assess water quality for suitability for maintained species
  • report and document treatments, behaviours and other information on individual animals in accordance with animal welfare regulations, industry guidelines and workplace protocols and procedures.

The skills and knowledge required to provide basic care of marine aquatic invertebrates must be transferable to a range of work environments and contexts and include the ability to deal with unplanned events.

Context of and specific resources for assessment 

Assessment of this unit is to be practical in nature and will most appropriately be assessed against the types of processes required in the industry sector in which candidates are working or in a situation that reproduces normal work conditions. Workplaces can include aquariums, pet shops, zoos, animal technology facilities or similar workplaces.

There must be access in either situation to a range of marine aquatic invertebrates as well as relevant information, equipment and/or resources to enable one to demonstrate competence. Assessment must cover a minimum of three commonly available marine aquatic invertebrate species.

Method of assessment 

To ensure consistency in one's performance, competency should be demonstrated, to industry defined standards, on more than one occasion over a period of time in order to cover a variety of circumstances and where possible, over a number of assessment activities.

The assessment strategy must include practical skills assessment. Suggested strategies for this unit are:

  • written and/or oral assessment of candidate's required knowledge
  • observed, documented and first-hand testimonial evidence of candidate's application of practical tasks
  • simulation exercises that reproduce normal work conditions
  • third-party evidence
  • workplace documentation
  • portfolio.

This unit may be assessed in a holistic way with other units of competency relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role.

Guidance information for assessment 

Assessment methods should reflect workplace demands (e.g. literacy and numeracy demands) and the needs of particular target groups (e.g. people with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, women, people with a language background other than English, youth and people from low socioeconomic backgrounds).

Range Statement


The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

Commonly available marine aquatic invertebrates  may include:

  • crabs, lobsters and crayfish
  • cuttlefish
  • octopus and squid
  • prawns and shrimp
  • sea anemones, cucumbers and snails
  • sea stars and starfish.

Behavioural characteristics  may include:

  • behaviour characteristics can vary according to:
  • the family, developmental stage and sex of the animals
  • the time of day or night
  • behaviour characteristics associated with different species:
  • activity levels at certain times of day or night
  • feeding behaviours
  • fight or flight
  • social interaction
  • reproductive behaviours
  • the other marine animals in that environment
  • defensive behaviour:
  • defending territory, other animals or food
  • hiding or retreating.

Colours , markings and other identifying features  may include:

  • developmental stage, sex and size
  • skin or shell colours and texture
  • markings and patterns
  • tags.

Indicators of poor water quality  may include:

  • colour
  • odour
  • unsuitable water chemistry parameters.

Water quality adjustments  may involve:

  • correcting chemical imbalances
  • partial water change
  • raising or lowering pH or hardness or salinity.

Indicators of animal comfort and normal behaviour  may be identified by:

  • daily observation and visual examination is the best way to establish the appearance of a healthy invertebrate and at the same time allows detection of changes from normal. These observations will include:
  • posture and attitude
  • activity level
  • response to stimuli including handling
  • assessment of body condition
  • assessment of state of hydration
  • appetite and dietary history
  • presence of external organisms.

Housing design and environmental factors  may include:

  • environmental:
  • aeration rates and supply
  • biological control of waste
  • cleaning routines and methods
  • electrical safety
  • escape proofing
  • day/night cycle lighting
  • filtration requirements to maintain the water quality and optimal environmental conditions for target species
  • housing furniture and compatible plants
  • lighting, ventilation, temperature, heating and cooling requirements
  • water flows and currents
  • housing requirements:
  • compatibility of species housed together
  • food distribution
  • location and security considerations
  • longevity and sturdiness of materials
  • maintains ambient temperature conditions for the specific species
  • provides continuous access to water free of ammonia or chlorine
  • provides generous ventilation and is safe from fumes and vapours:
  • insecticides
  • cleaning agents
  • required floor area, vertical and/or horizontal space for specific species
  • suitability for specific species
  • species-specific options for animals to hide or rest
  • substrate appropriate to the specific species
  • designs that allow for species-specific activity, feeding or socialising
  • social options:
  • solitary
  • pairs
  • single sexed groups
  • polyandrous/polygynous groups
  • mixed species.

Enrichment needs  may include:

  • food or food-related enrichment
  • physical enrichment items:
  • plants and foliage
  • retreats
  • rocks or artificial rocks
  • social enrichment:
  • levels of contact with other animals of the same species
  • mixed species exhibits to encourage positive inter-species interactions.

Welfare of animals  requirements may include:

  • adequate housing, nutrition and stock levels
  • compliance to appropriate/relevant state or territory legislation and regulations
  • enrichment opportunities
  • the absence of predators, pests and vermin
  • the compatibility of species and breeds.

OHS risks  when working with animals may include:

  • animal bites, envenomation, scratches and crush injuries
  • biological hazardous waste and sharps disposal
  • electrical hazards enhanced by the presence of water
  • handling of chemicals and medicines
  • gas leakage
  • inhalation of aerosol particles
  • intraocular contamination
  • manual handling, including carrying, lifting and shifting
  • needle pricks and cuts from other sharps
  • release of infective agents (animal and human)
  • slippery or uneven work surfaces
  • zoonoses.

Equipment to catch and handle invertebrate  may include:

  • equipment:
  • isolation tanks
  • plastic bags
  • soft gloves
  • soft, knotless hand nets
  • traps
  • handling of invertebrates should always be minimised to ensure the invertebrate is not stressed or accidentally injured.

Common health issues  may include:

  • environmental hazards:
  • contamination of the water due to presence of toxins
  • exposures of extremes of water quality
  • exposure to the elements
  • inadequate activity
  • temperature extremes
  • ventilation
  • infectious diseases caused by:
  • bacteria, virus, fungus and protozoa
  • internal and external parasites
  • non-infection diseases:
  • nutritional imbalances and disruptions
  • metabolic
  • neoplastic
  • physical traumas
  • chemical toxicities and allergies
  • zoonotic diseases.

General health maintenance and preventative treatment  may include:

  • routine health check-up
  • control of parasites
  • temperature, heat and light requirements for specific species
  • quarantine and isolation procedures
  • routine observation of waste elimination
  • water quality.

Digestive system features  may include:

  • anatomical features relevant to the specific species
  • physiological features:
  • eating processes
  • nutrient requirements, absorption and storage methods
  • waste elimination
  • feeding patterns and natural dietary requirements for the species
  • potential digestive system malfunctions or problems
  • water needs.

Food source  considerations include:

  • captive diets must be similar to the natural diet of the species to:
  • minimise the impact of captivity
  • stimulate normal digestive function
  • maximise development of natural survival techniques
  • food sources will vary widely subject to the specific species.

Feeding hazards  may include:

  • animal movement and handling
  • shelf life of foodstuffs
  • manual handling and general food preparation, storage and distribution equipment
  • contamination of foodstuffs from vermin, bacteria, fungus, virus and other sources
  • organic and other dusts
  • possibility of zoonotic infection.

Documentation  on the care and management of marine aquatic invertebrates may include:

  • accident and incident records
  • chemical and veterinary supplies register
  • detailed and accurate records for each animal (or group of animals):
  • species and sex of animal
  • identification and history
  • feeding, health and treatment records
  • diary, rosters and task completion and timeframe records
  • equipment use, damage and repair register
  • OHS safe work method statements, material safety data sheets (MSDS) and other records
  • provisions records of current stock and items used and items required
  • stock control records
  • water chemistry and quality records
  • water change frequencies and amounts.

Unit Sector(s)

Unit sector 

Species specific

Competency field

Competency field 

Co-requisite units

Co-requisite units