The welfare of aquatic animals is receiving increasing attention around the world, and this should be reflected in the veterinary curricular. Veterinary students in Australia and New Zealand ranked the importance of five pre-selected topics on aquatic animal welfare and ethical issues for newly qualified veterinarians in an online survey. They ranked aquatic animals’ health and welfare issues, husbandry techniques of farmed fish, and the use of antibiotics as being of high importance for their first day in practice, with pain and distress associated with angling and trawling practices (fishing) and euthanasia ranking moderate to high. Females assigned more importance to fishing, health and welfare issues, and husbandry techniques of farmed fish than did males. Students in the early stages of study assigned more importance to fishing than did senior students. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to investigate what importance veterinary students place on their competence regarding aquatic animal welfare and ethics. Gaining an understanding of how veterinary students prioritize these issues, and if this differs based on gender and stage of study, will help veterinary educators to better prepare graduates to address concerns surrounding the welfare of aquatic animals. This could be achieved by careful consideration of course content and where in the curriculum this material is taught, as well as reiterating key messages in the senior years and addressing changing student attitudes as they progress through the course.