Over-Medicating Fish

We have had several instances over the last month of fish being over treated with a wide array of over the counter fish medications. Please read this if you are unfamiliar with how to treat sick fish or do not have much experience.

Overuse of medication in fish can lead to decimation of your biological filter and loss of the protective slime coat on a fish’s skin. This leads to “burns” that can be pink splotches anywhere on a fish’s body. Usually, you will see secondary fungal growth in spots that can no longer fight off the invasion.

The aquatic veterinary industry is different from the small animal pet industry wherein many treatments are available over the counter at your local pet store. If one treatment doesn’t produce the expected results, owners can grab multiple medications, running them in sequence, or even worse, in combination.

If you have a fish that is sick, it is vital to that fish’s survival that you correctly diagnose the disease the first time. You wouldn’t want your doctor reaching for everything in his medicine box just because your nose itches, would you? If you are a new or inexperienced fish keeper, there are many resources available to help correctly treat your pet. This does not mean consult Dr. Google. There are many fish health experts that work in fish-specific online forums. You can also try your local pet store, provided that they have a well seasoned staff and good turnover of their fish and fish-related products.

Once the problem has been diagnosed, make sure that you know how to use your product correctly. Most fish treatments are water-based, meaning that they are mixed in with the tank water. Never, ever apply medication directly to your fish. You will see the same “burns” from over-medication, except now it is a direct chemical burn. Your fish needs to grow a new layer of skin before they will be able to heal the initial reason you treated in the first place. Again, imagine yourself in their place.

No matter where you are located, you can always contact an aquatic veterinarian for guidance. Even though we are located in California, we are happy to discuss fish issues all over the world. To find a local fish professional you can talk to, visit aquavetmed.info or fishvets.org

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6 thoughts on “Over-Medicating Fish”

  1. This is unfortunately an all too common problem I’ve encountered in >30 years of practice. After a client has treated their animal/s with everything they think might fix a problem, the most difficult part is to then try to identify (diagnose) exactly the cause of the ailment.

  2. Curious question. Can a antibiotic like fish flex forte br combined with api general cure. I have a sick 6.5 inch blue hippo tang (Dori) whom shows no sign of external parasite infection. I am uncertain as to what is wrong with her. She is on her second dose of Fish flex forte as of this writing. Because I don’t know what is wrong I thought it wise to start with an antibiotic ” however I m also wondering if its internal parasites which is why I got the Api general cure. Just dont know if they can be combine at once or do I have to seas the antibiotics before using the general cure.

    Thanks for you time.

  3. Pingback: How to use fish medicine - Taunt On Water

  4. I have a beta that was left in the cup too long and began fin rot. I transferred him to a new tank with water that was tested to be appropriate. I then used APIs e.m. Erythromycin. I just realized that I mis dosed the tank. Instead of 1/3 of a packet, I put 3 packets. What do I do? Is this harmful to the fish? He is in a 3 gallon tank.

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