The Role of Antibiotics in the Aquarium

By | August 9, 2017

Anyone who has kept fish for a long period of time has at one point or another had to deal with the unfortunate reality of various types of fish diseases. Even the most well balanced and clean aquariums can run into problems. There are many products available that are made to treat or control various diseases – some of which work better than others. In this article I would like to briefly discuss the role of antibiotics to treat diseases in ornamental fish.

Please be advised that antibiotics are powerful and potentially dangerous medications and should be used as a last resort after other treatment failures. Discussing your case with a professional is a good idea to make sure that antibiotics are really indicated. Use a hospital or quarantine tank if possible and don’t use any carbon filtration during treatment. That being said, here a list of commonly used medications.

1) Penicillins: The most common medications in this class include penicillin, amoxicillin, and ampicillin. The penicillins are broad spectrum antibiotics which are effective against gram-positive and some gram-negative bacteria. They can be effective against a number of pathogenic bacteria associated with marine and freshwater ornamental fish diseases including Infected eyes, Fin and Tail Rot, Skin ulcerations, Pop-eye, Columnaris disease, Gill disease and White Body Slime.

2) Tetracyclines: The most commonly used medications in this class include tetracycline, doxycycline and minocycline. The tetracyclines are broad spectrum antibiotics that are most effective against gram-negative bacteria. They can be useful for Fin and Tail Rot, Pop-eye, Gill disease, General Listlessness, Anorexia or other Unusual Behavior and Internal infections.

3) Macrolides: Commonly used to treat Swollen eyes, Clamped fins, Patchy coloration and Heavy or Rapid breathing. This class of antibiotics are similar to the penicillins in spectrum but have a broader range. The most frequently used medication in this class in erythromycin.

4) Quinolones: This class of medication is quite potent and can be effective where others fail because it stops bacterial replication and DNA repair. Ciprofloxacin is the most popular and can be used to fight Vibrios, Furunculosis, Flexibacteria, Aeromonas and Columnaris infection.

I hope you enjoyed this brief explanation of the classes and uses for various antibiotics in relation to fish diseases. Before starting any treatment regimen you should check with a local specialist who can recommend effective treatment.

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