The Advantages of Medicated Food
The Disadvantages of Medicated Food
A few years ago when Tetra stopped producing anti-parasitic fish food,
the company explained that there was not enough demand for the product.
But thankfully aquarium keepers have again started to look into this option
for their sick fish and we now have several important options available
to us hobbyists for when we have to treat our sick fish. This article
outlines the available common medications, discusses the ingredients and
attempts to narrow down which medicated drug may be better for our needs.
The advantages of medicated food
Medicated food provides a greater chance that the active ingredients will
be absorbed by the sick fish, something that is important if what we want
to treat is internal rather than external. The other option available
to most fishkeepers is often water borne medications. Water borne medications
will have to be either absorbed through the gills or the skin of the fish
(as fish do not exactly drink water). And for some of the medications
we may want to use, it is unclear what the absorption rate of the medication
is. A final option is injections and while injections are a superior method
they may not be practical or possible for many hobbyists.
The disadvantages of medicated food
In some cases if the fish gets ill it will not want to eat and medicated
food will be useless. Sometimes it is hard to know how much food we need
to feed in order to ensure that the 'patient' is getting enough medication
ANTI-PARASITIC FOOD EXPLORED
There are several types of internal parasites. They are hard to diagnose
as necroscopy (examine fish, intestines in particular under a microscope
after death) is often the only accurate way. Sometimes failure to thrive
and losing weight (even if the fish is eating) are indications of an internal
parasitic infection. Camillanus is an exception, as the worm protrudes
from the anus of the fish which makes identification easier.
Common Internal Parasites
- Monogenean trematodes (flukes), gill, skin most often.
Best treated with water borne medicine like Praziquantel.
- Flagellates, (Hexamita or Sprironucleus) In intestinal
tract. Best treated with metronidazole.
- Nematodes or Roundworms (most common: camillanus
and capillaria) In intestinal tract. Camillanus can be seen hanging
out of the fish's anus. Best treated with Fenbendazole, Piperazine,
- Cestodes (flatworms) Best (and cheapest) treated
Common Anti-parasitic medicial foods on the market
- Jungle Anti-Parasite Medicated Fish Food
Active ingredients: Metronidazole, Praziquantel, and Levimasole.Instructions:
"Feed exclusively for 5 to 10 days as required. Do not use other
foods during this period. Feed 1 or 2 times daily as much as the fish
will eat. May be used with external water treatments, antibiotic/fungal
or parasite treatments."
Comments: This food seems to address the three common type
of internal parasites. The product is becoming available in more local
fish stores and chains and is a recommended treatment if internal parasites
are suspected or diagnosed. Available from Goldfish Utopia
- Ultra cure PX:
A new gel medication from 'Aquarium
Medical ingredients: Praziquantel 0.0057%, Flubenol 0.03%,
Instructions: "Hold back all feeding for 1 day before
using. Then use Ultra Cure PX as the only product offered to the fish
when fed. Add to the aquarium with the dropper tip on the bottle. Hold
bottle 2 inches above water surface and squeeze. Offer at least 5 drops
per fish twice a day. Repeat every 24 hours for 3 days."
Comments: Another product that contains ingredients to combat the three
major types of internal parasites. It is available through mail-order
from most major internal companies that sell aquarium products (In Canada
available through mops.ca) More stores
will likely carry this product soon. As it is fairly new there are not
that many reports as to how well this product works and whether fish
will readily eat the gel.
- Metro Med
Active ingredients: Metronidazole, Ormetoprim-sulfa and Oxytetracycline
Comments: It is marketed by the Goldfish
Connection and according to the product information "Metro-Med
is a krill based food that contains Metronidazole and an antibiotic
used for treating Hexamita (hole in the head) in Goldfish." Because
it contains anti-bacterial ingredients (Ormetoprim-sulfa and Oxytetracycline),
metromed is not the best medication to use when trying to treat for
internal parasites specifially.
Active ingredients: Praziquantel
Comment: New product from the Goldfish
Connection. Treats flatworms, however, it may not be the treatment
of choice unless the diagnosis of flatworms has been confirmed.
Another ingredient often found it antibiotic food is garlic as garlic
can help combat internal parasites some antiparasitic foods may contain
garlic. In Europe there are several products on the market that uses
garlic as the active ingredient to combat parasites. One example is
PLUS food. You can also add garlic to the fish diets by soaking
food in a bit of garlic extract or adding garlic to homemade gelfoods.
The choices (in North America) for medication addressing internal parasties
seem to be good. Jungle or Ultra Cure PX make good choices with medical
ingredients that cover most common parasites.
ANTI-BACTERIAL FOOD EXPLORED
There are a wide range of bacterial infections that may affect our fish
such as finrot, septicemia, flex and ulcers. Many of these infections
will have external signs but originate internally and can be addressed
by feeding food containing antibiotics. Bacterial illness may be caused
by many different kind of bacteria, the most common being Aeromonas hydrophila,
Aeromonas salmonicida, Flavobacterium columnare (which causes columnaris),
Vibrio, and Pseudomonas species. Bacteria are usually classified as either
gram positive or gram negative depending how they react to the gram staining
test. Most bacteria we will deal with are gram negative and thought to
be better treated with anti-bacterial meds that are protein inhibitors.
Most of the medical ingredients in the bacterial food referred to contain
protein inhibitors (Kanacyn and Oxolinic Acid are exceptions).
Sometimes it makes sense to combine a water antibiotic with a medicated
food. However, some antibiotics should not be used together, so the antibiotics
you choose have to be compatable or they may not work properly.
Anti-bacterial medication is normally either bacteriostatic or bactericidal.
Bacteriostatic means that the medication aims to inhibit growth of the
bacteria but allow the immune system to actually kill the bacteria. Bactericidal
means that the medication aims to kill the bacteria. When we use medication
that is bactericidal it *may* have a negative impact on the nitrifying
bacteria in our biological filter.
Common Anti-Bacterial Products on the North-American Market
- Jungle Anti-Bacteria Medicated Fish Food
Medical ingredients: sodium sulfathiazole 2.3%, nitrofurazone
Active ingredients: sodium sulfathiazole is a sulfa drug (and an ingredient
in the water antibiotic TriSulfa) Sulfa drugs are bacteriostatic. So
is the second ingredient Nitrofurazone.
Use and Comments: Both of these medications may work well with
infections such as columnaris (flex – caused by Flavobacterium
columnare). You may want to choose another medication if you suspect
an aeromonas infection. Jungle Anti-Bacteria Medicated Fish Food can
be combined with a Jungle Fungus Cure or Jungle Fungus Eliminator bath
treatment. Available from Goldfish Utopia.
- Ultra Cure BX
Active ingredients: Nitrofurazone 0.03%, Triple Sulfa (Sulfadiazine,
Sulfamethazine, and Sulfamerazine) 0.03%
Ingredients explored: As with Jungle Antibacterial food - Ultra
Cure BX is a combination of sulfas and nitrofurazone.
Use and Comments: Generally the triple combination in this
drug would be more effective than feeding only sodium sulfathiazole.
- Medi-Gold and Medikoi
These are very similar--and have the same medical ingredients. The Medikoi
pellets are bigger than the Medi-Gold ones. Either one can be crushed
smaller if they are too big for smaller fish to deal with.
Active ingredients: Ormetoprim, Sulfadimethoxine, Kanamycin
and Oxolinic Acid
Ingredients explored: Oxolinic Acid is a quinolone antibacterial that
works by antagonizing DNA synthesis in bacterial cells. Ormetoprim and
Sulfadimethoxine (the ingredients in Romet B) both work by inhibiting
bacterial growth. Kanamycin is bactericidal and does not just inhibit
growth but kills bacteria.
Use and Comments: With the addition of kanamycin, Medi-Gold
is a good product to use against aeromonas infections (often the cause
of ulcers) and it should work well against the other common bacterial
illnesses as well. Available from PondRx.
Active ingredients: Metronidazole, Ormetoprim-sulfa and Oxytetracycline
Ingredients explored: Oxytetracycline is bacteristatic
Use and Comments: Containing Oxytetracycline it should be a good choice
to treat Hexamita. Oxytetracycline may also be a good choice with flex.
Since Metromed does not contain kanamycin (which can be hard on kidneys),
it may be your antibiotic food of choice if your fish dropsy. There
is some anecdotal evidence that metromed has helped reverse dropsy in
goldfish. Available from the Goldfish
Connection and Goldfish Utopia.
: Sulfadimethoxine and Ormetoprin
Use and Comments
: Romet B contains two common ingredients
used in the aquaculture industry. They are still considered fine to
feed to food fish (FDA approved) To buy Romet B in smaller quantities
contact Dandy Orandas
or Goldfish Utopia
Conclusions: For antibacterial food Medi-Gold is a very
good option as its combination of antibiotics addresses a wide range of
bacteria. There are also reports of bacterial resistance to sulfa drugs-a
key ingredient in many of the other medications discussed here. Because
of this, some people add another anitbiotic Trimethoprim to help strengthen
the sulfa drugs. The combination forms are called a potentiated sulfa.
Trimethoprim can only be obtained from a vet.
Things to remember.
Medical ingredients have short shelf lives. Pay attention to the date
on the product. After opening, store the product according to instructions.
Remember to feed only medicated food while you are treating and to feed
for the whole period recommended.
May your fish live long and prosper.
Edward Noga, Fish Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment
Klinger and Floyd: Introduction to Freshwater Fish Parasites (pdf)
Beverly Dixon, Antibiotics: How Do They Work Aquarium Fish Magazine Febr. 1992
Dieter Untergasser, Handbook of Fish Diseases
Roy P. E. Yanong: Use of Antibiotics in Ornamental Fish Aquaculture.
Ruth Francis-Floyd and Peggy Reed: Use of Medicated Feed in Channel Catfish.
The Merck Veterinary Manual online.
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