Fish Antibiotics For Human Use?

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about fish antibiotics and how folks are using them (or planning to use them) to treat humans.  I’ve read several articles that say that the antibiotics sold for treating common bacterial infections in fish are the exact same medicines produced and sold for human consumption.  Not being completely convinced I decided to look into this a little further.

First off let me say that I am not a doctor and probably wouldn’t even be allowed to play one on TV.  In fact I’m about as far from being a doctor as a person can get.  I’m not very bright, I’m a rabid hypochondriac, and just the thought of having blood drawn gives me massive anxiety.  So not a doctor.  Not giving medical advice.  In fact I think the best medical advice I have ever given in my life was when I was ten years old and I advised my best friend Jason on how to treat a scraped up knee he got from a bicycle crash.  ”Rub some dirt on it.” I told him.  And so you see, you shouldn’t listen to me when it comes to matters like this…

However I will share a bit of what I’ve heard and seen regarding fish antibiotics.  Step one, I went ahead and bought some off the internet which it turns out is fairly easy to do.  There are several suppliers as well as one of our own advertisers here at Prep-Blog (who I hope has a sense of humor).  I happen to know that I’m allergic to penicillin so I figured it best to steer clear of that.  I have taken Cipro and the famous “Z Pak” (which is the trade name for Azithromycin) in the past and know what dosages to take and that I tolerate both drugs well so I thought they would be the best to start with.

While waiting for my antibiotics to arrive I wondered to myself what would show up in the mail.  Would these really be the very same drugs that I would otherwise have to get from the pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription?  Would they work the same?  How would I take the antibiotics if I needed them?  Would I have to fill a bathtub with water and spread the flakes across the top of the water like fish food and if so would I need a mask and snorkel to better eat them or just a spoon??

My shipment arrived a few days later and I must admit I was giddy with excitement upon tearing open the package.  Inside were two bottles labeled Azithromycin and Ciprofloxacin and, to my surprise, they contained pills and not flakes of fish food.  Who would have thunk it?  And how do you get a fish to take a pill anyway?  I guess you put them on the end of a hook and use your fishing pole.

So off I ran to my computer to check out the pill identifier page of  From what I have heard every medicinal pill in the U.S. must have its own unique markings.  Usually letters on one side and numbers on the other.  It is my understanding, although I am not 100% certain, that no two pills may be produced with the same markings if they do not contain exactly the same medicine.  I checked out both my Cipro and my Azithromycin and sure enough both pills were indicated to be what they claimed according to

Personally I’m still a little skeptical.  How can I be sure these aren’t drugs that were found to be somehow substandard and unfit for human consumption and relegated to the fish stores?  Did I just buy “irregular” antibiotics?  My wife is a lot skeptical.  Expressing her skepticism clearly and memorably with a terse, “Give that fish food to our children and I will shoot you.”  ”But Honey, it’s not fish food!”  I tried to tell her.  She looked less than convinced as I stood there holding a bottle of pills with a large yellow fish on the label…

My friend Damon was skeptical as well.  Damon has had a nagging sinus infection of some sort for about the last three weeks and his doctor has refused to give him any antibiotics, claiming the problem is viral and they wouldn’t help anyway.  Doctors are getting a lot tighter with the prescription pads these days as giving out too many antibiotics can cause resistance to develop in bacteria which can be very dangerous.  This can make it tough for preppers who want to stock up on antibiotics for emergencies.  Just try asking your doctor to write you a prescription for a dozen Z Paks and a jug of Cipro.  Chances are he’ll throw you right out on your butt.

So back to Damon.  My perfect test subject, or so I thought.  I’d get Damon to take the azithromycin and see what happens.  A brilliant plan thwarted by my friend’s refusal to take what he also termed “my fish food”.  ”It’s not fish food!  It’s the same thing as the pharmacy would give you!”  My pleas fell on deaf ears as Damon decided to keep on sniffling rather than take a pill out of a bottle with a fish on the side.

So here I am at the end of my story and I’m still somewhat on the fence.  Do I believe these antibiotics are the exact same as you would get from a doctor?  Probably.  Would I take them in any situation except for an emergency?  Probably not.




6 Responses to Fish Antibiotics For Human Use?

  1. I’ve used Fish amoxicillin off ebay. Made in the USA and US pharmacopia certified (USP). its the brand with a purple and white fish on the bottle. Had a tooth infection. 500mg 3x a day 9 days.

    It worked. it kept me sane till i could get to my DMD.
    I now have 5 bottles of that plus 3 bottles of Cipro and 3 bottles of Penicillin VK.

    absolute requirement for a SHTF situation!

  2. If You are still doubtfull, just read the ingrediance part of the label.
    It should say 100% of the particular drug.

  3. BTW….azith is not the best for sinus infection. Cipro would be better. Also…cycline (eg..tetra mino) type drugs need to be discarded at the expiration date or they become toxic….not so with other drugs. Search the web for decent info on various meds. just having them on hand w/o knowledge can be very dangerous!!

    And you are right…. i never take this stuff unless its an emergency (like above). but thats why its in my SHTF bag and not my meds cabinet. do u realize that is hard to find even aspirin in a Greek pharmacy nowadays?

    also….children need lower doses than adults….so be careful.

  4. Been stocking (fish) antibiotics since about 1997, which I discard and replace every 5 years or so. Taken them myself a few times, respiratory infection that started getting better then started getting worse again about a week later (secondary bacterial infection I figured in my non-professional opinion) and for a tooth infection when I couldn’t get to a dentist. Given them to the dogs (Keflex) for wounds as well.

    What sold me on their validity was that, by chance, I ordered erithromycin on my first order. This was before pill identifiers were available on the web, so I went to the library to consult the PDR. I learned that some formulations of erithromycin are destroyed by stomach acid, so the tablets must have an enteric coating that allows them to pass through the stomach without dissolving until they reach the intestines. The fish erithromycin tablets I received were this type, were manufactured by Teva if I recall, and clearly had this enteric coating on the tablets as described in the PDR. So besides the illegality of counterfeiting drugs by marking them the same as human forms, why would the manufacturer also go to the added expense of adding an enteric coating for a tablet intended to be crushed and added to aquarium water? Some even mistakenly believe they are veterinary antibiotics, but that’s not correct or they’d have to be labeled as such. , Sec. 206.10.

  5. Butch, I have always wondered about this subject as well. Love this article though I admit I’m still a little skeptical. Is there a book that lists med types/usages/dosages to have if grid down situation that you can recommend? I probably will end up getting some of the most common ones just for SHTF situation because at that point anything will be better than nothing – right??

  6. i ordered cipro and had a bad tooth infection. it does work….