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Related FAQs: Freshwater Medications, Phony Cures, Salt/Use, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Freshwater Infectious Disease, Understanding Bacterial Disease in Aquarium Fish; With a gallery of bacterial infections, a discussion of 'Fish TB', and a listing of major antimicrobial medications with examples available to fishkeepers By Myron Roth, Ph.D., Freshwater Fish Parasites, Ich/White Spot Disease, Freshwater DiseaseNutritional Disease, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease

Related Articles: Freshwater MaintenanceIch/White Spot DiseaseMethylene Blue, Formalin/Formaldehyde, Malachite Green, Organophosphate Use,

Choose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options

 

By Neale Monks

 

If you read an aquarium web site, magazine, or book you'll likely come across recommendations of products for treating disease. The problem is that not all brands and not all drugs are equally available throughout the world. Since we're a very international crew, a moment spent looking over the table below should help clear up any confusion you have about the treatment we've recommended.   

Antibiotics 

In most countries access to antibiotic medications is restricted to some degree. A notable exception is the United States, where a variety of antibiotics can be obtained from tropical fish shops. In other countries, you will either need to use antibacterial alternatives or ask a veterinarian to supply you with the required antibiotics (generally at low cost, but it's admittedly a hassle). 

Examples of antibiotics sold in the United States you won't find in tropical fish stores in most other places include:

        API Furan-2 (Furan compounds)

        API Erythromycin (Erythromycin)

        API T.C. (Tetracycline)

        Mardel Maracyn-Two (Minocycline)

        Seachem Metronidazole (Metronidazole)

 

Antibacterials 

In states where sale of antibiotic treatments is restricted, aquarists often turn to antibacterial medications. Whilst these can be effective, the claims made by the manufacturers as to their efficacy have to be taken in context. Often they depend upon early diagnosis and immediate treatment. Do not expect an antibacterial medication to have much impact on an advanced case of dropsy or severe hole in the head. Since many of the problems that antibacterials and antibiotics are used to treat are typically caused by lack of quarantining, careless use of live food, or poor water quality management, this underlines the fact that prevention is definitely better than cure. In other words, the best way to deal with dropsy or hole in the head is simply not allow it to become a problem in the first place.  

Tea-Tree Oil and Bay Tree Oil 

Medications based on tea-tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) such as Melafix and West Indian bay tree oil (Pimenta racemosa) are widely sold as "natural" and therefore "safer" alternatives to standard antibiotics, antibacterials and antifungals. While such products are sometimes effective, many aquarists -- including most of us here at WWM -- tend to recommend against them. The problem is that they are unreliable, and inexperienced aquarists often expect them to cure serious infections. By the time the aquarist realises the tea-tree oil or bay tree oil isn't working, it's already too late for standard medications to save the life of the fish. On balance then it is much better to think of these products as mild antiseptics that prevent secondary infections. So if a fish has been damaged by fighting or handling, Melafix might be used to prevent a fungal or bacterial infection. Of course, a healthy fish would fend off such infections anyway, so it's hard to know if the tea-tree oil did anything useful. On the other hand, once a fish starts exhibiting symptoms of fungal or bacterial infection, tea-tree oil and bay tree oil are best passed over in favour of traditional antifungal, antibacterial and antibiotic medications. Such medications will work much more effectively and reliably. One last warning: Just because these medications are marketed as "natural" doesn't mean they're not toxic. Cyanide is 100% natural, but it's still pretty deadly stuff! Some fish and invertebrates have reacted badly to tea-tree oil and bay tree oil, and just as with standard medications, the aquarist should observe the tank during treatment to ensure all livestock behaves normally, in particular looking out for signs of laboured breathing, excessive nervousness, or unusual colouration.  

Warnings!

        Most medications are not safe to use with invertebrates (such as shrimps).

        Most medications are not safe with sensitive fish, including clown loaches, certain catfish, mormyrids, pufferfish, stingrays, and sturgeons.

        Most medications are not safe used in combination with other medications.

        Almost all medications will only work when carbon has been removed from the filter.

        Some medications will not work in soft/acid water (e.g., JBL Gyrodactol).

        Some medications require the addition of salt to be effective (e.g., Interpet #13 Swimbladder Treatment).

 

What's available 

The following table lists some of the popular freshwater aquarium medications. Inclusion on this table isn't an endorsement though, and you may find that some products are more effective than others. As ever, research and talking to experienced aquarists are the keys to make wise decisions. This list isn't exclusive either, and there will be numerous other brands available at your retailer performing equivalent functions. 

Disease

US brands

UK brands

European brands

Bacterial infections (internal)

API Erythromycin

API Triple Sulfa

Hikari BiFuran+

Mardel Maracyn-Two

Seachem KanaPlex

Seachem NeoPlex

Seachem Sulfathiazole

Interpet #9 (Anti Internal Bacteria)

Kusuri Sabbactisun

Waterlife Myxazin

JBL Furanol

 

Dropsy

API Erythromycin

API Furan-2

Hikari BiFuran+

Mardel Maracyn-Two

Seachem Focus

Seachem KanaPlex

Interpet #9 (Anti Internal Bacteria)

Kusuri Sabbactisun

Waterlife Octozin

eSHa 2000

JBL Furanol

Dwarf Gourami Disease (bacterial form)

-

-

-

Dwarf Gourami Disease (viral form)

-

-

-

External ulcers

API Erythromycin

Seachem ParaGuard

Kusuri Sabbactisun

Kusuri Ulcer Wound Treatment Kit

eSHa 2000

JBL Furanol

Finrot

API Furan-2

API T.C. (Tetracycline)

API Triple Sulfa

Aquarium Products Furanase

Mardel Maracyn

Mardel Tetracycline

Mardel TriSulfa

Seachem NeoPlex

Seachem Sulfathiazole

Seachem ParaGuard

Seachem PolyGuard

Interpet #8 Anti Fungus & Finrot

eSHa 2000

JBL Ektol

Flukes, anchor worms, gill maggots, lice, etc.

API General Cure

Aquarium Products Clout

Aquarium Products Fluke-Tabs

Aquarium Products Life Bearer

Hikari CyroPro

Mardel CopperSafe

Seachem Cupramine

Seachem PolyGuard

Interpet #12 Anti Crustacean Parasite

Kusuri Parazoryne

Waterlife Sterazin

JBL Gyrodactol

TetraMedica ContraSpot

 

Fungus

API Fungus Cure

Mardel Maracyn

Mardel MarOxy

Seachem Cupramine

Seachem NeoPlex

Seachem KanaPlex

Seachem ParaGuard

Seachem PolyGuard

Seachem Sulfathiazole

Interpet #8 Anti Fungus & Finrot

eSHa 2000

JBL Fungol

TetraMedica FungiStop

Hole in the head

API General Cure

Aquarium Products Clout

Hikari Metro+

Seachem Metronidazole

Seachem ParaGuard

Waterlife Octozin

eSHa Hexamita

JBL Spirohexol

Intestinal worms

Aquarium Products Fluke-Tabs

Hikari PraziPro

Waterlife Sterazin

JBL Gyrodol

Koi Herpes Virus

-

-

-

Mouth fungus

API Erythromycin

API Furan-2

API T.C. (Tetracycline)

API Triple Sulfa

Aquarium Products Furanase

Seachem ParaGuard

Interpet #8 Anti Fungus & Finrot

JBL Ektol

 

Neon Tetra Disease

 

Waterlife Octozin

eSHa 2000

Slime disease

API Erythromycin

API Triple Sulfa

Seachem ParaGuard

Interpet #7 Anti Slime & Velvet

eSHa 2000

Swim bladder disease

 

Interpet #13 Swimbladder Treatment

 

Velvet

API General Cure

Aquarium Products Organi-Cure

Hikari Ich-X

Mardel CopperSafe

Seachem Cupramine

Seachem Metronidazole

Seachem AquaZole

Seachem ParaGuard

Seachem PolyGuard

Interpet #7 Anti Slime & Velvet

Kusuri Parazoryne

eSHa Exit

JBL Oodinol

TetraMedica ContraSpot

Whitespot (Ick)

API Goldfish Super Ick Cure

API Super Ick Cure

Aquarium Products Aquari-Sol

Aquarium Products CLOUT

Aquarium Products Quick Cure

Hikari Ich-X

Mardel Maracide

Seachem Cupramine

Seachem Metronidazole

Seachem AquaZole

Seachem ParaGuard

Seachem PolyGuard

Interpet #6 Anti WhiteSpot Plus

Kusuri Parazoryne

eSHa Exit

JBL Punktol 400

TetraMedica ContraSpot

 

Major manufacturers 

Some brands are sold worldwide, but others are only sold in certain areas. The following gives a listing of the featured manufacturers and their approximate area of distribution at the time of writing (July 2007).

 

Aquarium Pharmaceuticals

Based in the US

Available in North America and parts of Europe

http://www.aquariumpharm.com

 

Aquarium Products

Based in the US

Available in North America

http://www.aq-products.com

 

eSHa Labs

Based in the Netherlands

Available in UK and Europe

http://www.eshalabs.com

 

Hikari USA

Based in the US

Equivalent Hikari products available worldwide

http://www.hikariusa.com

 

Interpet

Based in the UK

Available in UK and Europe

http://www.interpet.co.uk

 

JBL

Based in Germany

Available in UK and Europe

http://www.jbl.de

 

Kusuri

Based in the UK

Available in UK and Europe

http://www.kusuri.co.uk

 

Seachem

Based in the US

Available worldwide

http://www.seachem.com

 

Waterlife

Based in the UK

Available in UK, Europe, South Africa, Australia, Asia, Middle East, etc.

http://www.waterlife.co.uk



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