Preppers Guide to Using Fish Antibiotics for Human Consumption

While walking home from a long day of hunting just three weeks after the collapse, you begin to hear the faint sound of your daughter crying in the distance. You immediately rush over to her as fast as you can, only to find that she cut the palm of her hand while playing with a machete in the woods.

Somehow you manage to calm her down a bit; and once you agree to stop when she says so, she finally allows you to treat her wound. Since the cut doesn’t seem to be too deep, you simply wash her hand with a little bit of clean water and apply a bandage with Neosporin onto the cut. To keep the bandage from falling off, you wrap some medical tape around her hand as well.

Upon sunrise the next morning, you thoroughly clean her wound once again and believe that your job is done. You tell her to rest for the day so she won’t get her cut infected, but being the young girl that she is, she went right back to playing in the woods whenever no one was looking  of course resulting in an infection.

It’s not until a couple days later that you begin to notice the cut on her hand is starting to swell. You promptly return to cleaning her wound, but nothing you do seems to stop the infection from spreading. In hope of finding antibiotics, you attempt to search through every abandoned house you can find – but unfortunately, you’re unsuccessful.

You keep watching over her as the week goes by to make sure she’s okay, but it’s not long before you begin to notice that she’s showing signs of a fever and her breathing appears to quicken in pace. The infection at this point has turned into what is known as sepsis, which is your body’s natural response to fighting an infection by releasing chemicals into your bloodstream.

To make a long story short, your daughter doesn’t make it. You keep playing out in your head what you could’ve done different, but without being a doctor or raiding a pharmacy the day of the collapse – your options are limited. Fortunately, there is one little loophole in the system that will allow you to obtain antibiotics without a prescription – and that is buying antibiotics sold for fish.

Fish Antibiotics for Humans?

While antibiotics are certainly going to be useful in any form of long-term disaster; you may not be so certain that storing antibiotics meant for fish is such a great idea – and who could blame you? Since you have neither scales, gills, nor fins, what could a fish antibiotic possibly do for you?!?

In reality though, most of the fish antibiotics sold on the market are made with only one ingredient (the antibiotic itself). Now this doesn’t mean that fish antibiotics aren’t dangerous, as the misuse of them there could certainly lead to severe consequences.

While antibiotics are known to cure bacterial infections, proper knowledge of how to use them is vital. Taking the wrong antibiotic, dosage, or mixture can quickly lead to adverse side effects. In addition, taking antibiotics when not needed, such as in the event of a viral infection like the common cold – will do absolutely nothing at all. In fact, it could even make things worse.

Over time, this prevalent misuse of antibiotics will inevitably lead to additional problems, such as the creation of many more multidrug-resistant bacteria, otherwise known as superbugs. These so-called “superbugs” already attribute to the death of more than 2 million people a year, over 23,000 being in the United States alone.

It’s because of these harmful reactions to antibiotics that a prescription is required to obtain them in most modern countries around the world. This, of course, is where fish antibiotics come in handy; as not only are getting antibiotics for fish legal, but you’ll also be able to pick and choose which antibiotics you wish to purchase. Obviously, this is a much better idea than going to the clinic every time you catch a cold and hoping for the best.

Safety Concerns

Disclaimer: All information in this article should be used for educational purposes only. In no way does the author recommend any form of self-diagnosis and treatment, and instead urges you to always seek medical help from your healthcare professional whenever possible. Remember, the practice of medicine without a license is illegal and punishable by law, so don’t do it!

Now to be clear, I’m not a doctor or medical practitioner of any kind. Instead, I’m merely a prepper who prefers to leave no stone unturned. This includes having access to antibiotics in the event of a natural or man-made disaster; as not having a way to cure bacterial infections would undoubtedly be leaving a HUGE stone unturned. A simple cut, scrape, or even an animal bite may be nothing to worry about in today’s society, but if you were ever left without access to modern medical care, it would be an entirely different story.

While obtaining large amounts of antibiotics from a pharmacy may be virtually impossible, getting fish antibiotics is a fairly easy task to accomplish. The question, however, is are they safe?

If you know anything about saltwater fish, you’ll know that they are very delicate creatures. Even the slightest change to their habitat – such as applying glass cleaner to the outside of their aquarium – will almost certainly kill every fish that resides inside. This fact alone is essentially proof that fish antibiotics can’t be dangerous, and because they do heal the fish back to health, it’s evident that they work as well. Not all fish antibiotics are made the same though, so it’s essential that you do your research and buy the right kind.

You can do this by making sure:

  • The only ingredient is the antibiotic itself
  • It looks identical to the actual pharmaceutical antibiotic, i.e. same size, color, shape, imprint (check
  • It’s only produced in human dosages

As long as the fish antibiotic passes all of the requirements above, it should be safe to consume. Just make sure to do your best to stay away from any company that seems “fishy”(i.e. anything from a website nobody has ever heard of).  If you were to buy from some unreliable source online, you may just end up with antibiotics diluted with corn starch.

On the other hand, buying from a company that is well-known and reputable will more likely ensure the antibiotics you receive are made by the same manufacturer as those made for human consumption. The way you can be positive that they’re the same is thanks to the unique imprint code that you’ll find on each antibiotic. You can then use this imprint code (along with the size, shape, and color of the antibiotic) to look it up online, or in any one of the major pill identification books. This imprint code will not only guarantee that the antibiotic in question is what it says it is, but also it’s strength and manufacturer.

While I’m sure some of the shady companies online could easily make a believable counterfeit, it wouldn’t be smart for a highly known brand to do so; as antagonizing the FDA is definitely not a good idea.

Does This Mean No More Doctor?

While some fish antibiotics may be the same as the actual antibiotics you get from a pharmacy, this doesn’t mean you should go all gung ho and starting taking them for every minor ailment that comes your way. Unless you know what you’re doing, you could very easily get you or someone else hurt. Also to mention it’s illegal to give medical advice or treatment without a professional license (Never know who may report you).

Instead, fish antibiotics should be stored away in order to be readily available for any situation where there is a dire need, and no access to modern medical care is available. Even if a major disaster does strike and someone appears to be in need of antibiotics, it would be smart to first look for a doctor or nurse who knows what they’re doing. If nobody with medical experience is available, then it will be up to you to properly diagnose and treat whatever bacterial infection that one may have.

For the average prepper with no medical knowledge, getting a book such as The Merck Manual will certainly give you some guidance when it comes to administering the right antibiotics. Learning the common signs that make it possible to tell the difference between a viral and bacterial infection is also extremely vital as well. While it may be impossible to always tell the difference, there are certain ways you may be able too if you know what to look for.

Whenever administering someone antibiotics, make sure to continually examine them for any sign of an allergic reaction, even if they’ve safely taken that particular antibiotic in the past. While books such as The Merck Manual may have information about allergic reactions readily available, printing out extra information online can only be of extra help; as you never know what bit of information may just lead to one day saving a life.

Truth about Expiration Dates

While antibiotics certainly make a valuable addition to any preppers list of supplies, you may be worried that they will expire long before they can even be used. While I can’t say for certain how long each antibiotic will last, I can say that it will be longer than the expiration date on the bottle.

This video from DNews does a great job at explaining the truth about expiration dates.

So what does all of this mean? Essentially, any antibiotic that you buy – whether it be for fish or humans – is going to last longer than the expiration date on the bottle. How much longer depends entirely on how you go about storing your medication. Some place that is cool, dark, and away from humidity is always best.

If you have antibiotics in a factory sealed bottle (such as fish antibiotics) then the bottom shelf of the fridge would be an optimal place for storage. However, you’ll want to wait a few hours for the antibiotics to reach room temperature before opening the bottle. This will ensure that oxygen doesn’t mix with the cold air to form condensation, as this will quickly lead to degradation.

After opening a bottle of antibiotics, make sure to place the pills in an airtight container with a desiccant if you want to store them back in the fridge. The desiccant also needs to be replaced every time before being placed back in the fridge as well

If you decide to store your antibiotics outside of the fridge, somewhere like a drawer away from the sink and oven would be ideal. Just make sure to avoid the bathroom medicine cabinet at all costs, as the steam from your daily shower will surely erode your antibiotics over time. This is why most drugs received from a pharmacy have an expiration date of around a year later at most; as it’s extremely common for people to store their medication in an environment such a bathroom medicine cabinet or a hot car.


Fortunately for us, properly storing your antibiotics should ensure them to be good for many years to come. It also helps to know that “There are no specific reports linking expired medication use to human toxicity” as stated on This essentially means that when your antibiotics do actually start to “expire”, they won’t slowly degrade into a toxic sludge that will leave you in a form of paralysis – but instead only lose some of their potency.

However, there was one article in the 1963 Journal of the American Medical Association that reported a case where degraded tetracycline resulted in kidney damage; but the formulation has since been changed and toxicity is no longer a problem. The NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) had this to say about the issue:  “Old and degraded tetracycline’s have previously been demonstrated to have direct toxic effects on the renal proximal tubule, but because of changes in manufacturing techniques this is no longer a real problem.”

Below is a table showing some of the antibiotics that were tested in the Shelf Life Extension Program, otherwise known as SLEP.

NameDosage FormExtension in MonthsAverage Extension
Amoxicillin sodiumTablet22 – 2323
AmpicillinCapsule22 – 6449
CephalexinCapsule28 – 13557
CiprofloxacinTablet12 – 14255
Doxycycline HyclateCapsule37 – 6650
Erythromycin lactobionatePowder38 – 8360
SulfisoxasoleTablet45 – 6856
Tetracycline HClCapsule17 – 13350
Silver sulfadiazineCream17 – 13357

You can find this information available in The Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vol. 95, No. 7, July 2006. Luckily I found this online PDF version of the report if you’re interested in reading it.

Best Antibiotics for Survival Situations

If you’ve decided to take the role as survival medic for your family, then it’s important that you do your research and stockpile the best antibiotics to fit everyone’s needs. Make sure to take into account all illnesses, allergies, and even the area where you live before making a decision. If there is anyone else that will be bugging in/out with you, then you’ll need to take into account which antibiotics may be needed for them as well.

To make things simple, listed below are the 5 antibiotics that I’ve personally decided to store away to prepare for the unforeseeable future. This is in no way the perfect guide to which antibiotics are best for survival, but just what I’ve found to be necessary for me and my families needs. If you know someone that is a doctor or nurse – you may want to run this list by them to see if there is anything else you should consider storing away depending on your area, allergies, etc.

Remember that everything stated in this article should be used for entertainment purposes only. Once again, I’m not a medical practitioner of any kind, and the only purpose of this article is to get you thinking. Be sure to do further research of your own.


Almost everyone has heard of Amoxicillin at one point or another, as it’s what you’re typically prescribed when someone in your family has an upper respiratory infection (an infection of the ear, nose, or throat). Pregnant women and children can even use Amoxicillin as it’s a fairly moderate-spectrum antibiotic – meaning it mostly targets the bacteria that is harmful to your body, while leaving the majority of the good bacteria alone.

Typical bacterial infections treated by Amoxicillin include pneumonia, bronchitis, ulcers, skin infections, urinary tract infections, Lyme disease, and even STD’s such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. Taking Amoxicillin can even help prevent Anthrax, as well treat the bacterial infection from an abscessed tooth; although you will still need to remove the tooth to fully get rid of the infection.


This antibiotic, much like Amoxicillin, can also be used safely by children and pregnant women due to its low risk of side effects. While both antibiotics treat a lot of the same bacteria, Cephalexin also known as Keflex has the ability to treat traditional staph infections as well.

In the event of a serious man-made or natural disaster, such as TEOTWAWKI, not having access to Keflex is going to put you and your family at a huge risk. With the constant need to do manual labor and possible harm lying around every corner – cuts, scrapes, and wounds are bound to happen. Even though the story at the beginning of the article may just be a story, it could very well become reality one day in the future.

While Cephalexin is considered the first line of treatment for bacterial infections caused by staph (Staphylococci), unfortunately it’s ineffective against MSRA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). In order to treat MRSA, you’ll need a broader spectrum antibiotic such as TMP-SMX (Trimethoprim Sulfamethoxazole) or Clindamycin.

Instead, Keflex should be used mainly for treating bacterial infections caused by Staph and Step (Streptococci). Common ailments treated by Keflex include strep throat, skin abscesses, boils, cellulitis, mastitis, and impetigo. It can also be used for middle ear infections, pneumonia, UTI’s, and even infections of the bone.

For those allergic to antibiotics in the penicillin family, you’ll have a 10% chance of being allergic to Cephalexin as well. Despite of this, Keflex is often recommended to patients who are allergic to penicillin; just make sure to keep an eye out for any sign of an allergic reaction.


When fighting a bacterial infection that’s stronger than normal, an antibiotic such as Ciprofloxacin is a great choice to consider. While the increase in antimicrobial resistance may have somewhat weakened the efficiency of this once mighty antibiotic, it’s still a great choice to stockpile given the affordable price. Ciprofloxacin, or Cipro as it’s commonly known, can and should be used to treat serious skin infections, traveler’s diarrhea, complicated UTI’s, kidney infections, bone and joint infections, respiratory based Anthrax, Typhoid fever, plague, Shigella, and even complicated intra-abdominal infections when combined with a second antibiotic known as Metronidazole.

Be careful though, because Ciprofloxacin is so broad in spectrum, it does come with a bigger risk of side effects. While not common, Cipro has been known to cause Tendinitis and tendon rupture – but only in extremely rare cases. However, the risk is greater if the person taking Cipro is over the age of 60. Especially if the individual is also taking corticosteroids and/or has a kidney, heart, or lung transplant.

Because of the possible side effects of Cipro, make sure it’s only to be used as a last resort. If another antibiotic that you have will treat the infection at hand, then it would be wise to use that antibiotic instead. In the case that a bacterial infection continues to persist even through treatment of another antibiotic, then Cipro can be used in order to fully treat the infection.


Another good antibiotic have hidden away for when SHTF is Doxycycline. Much like Cipro, this broad spectrum antibiotic also has the ability to treat a wide variety of infections as well. However, in the case of Doxycycline, not only can it treat infections caused by bacteria, but also infections caused by the protozoan parasite known as Malaria. While it’s highly unlikely for you to ever catch this disease if you live somewhere such as Europe or the United States, you never know what could happen given an extended societal collapse.

Typical infections treated by Doxycycline include Lyme disease, walking pneumonia, travelers’ diarrhea, cholera, and infections caused by the Rickettsia bacteria. It’s also effective for treating STD’s such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and early forms of Syphilis. Furthermore, it can even be used to treat more complicated infections such as Anthrax, Tularemia, and even the plague.

If you happen to live in Lyme’s disease country, then Doxycycline is considered almost mandatory after the collapse of modern medicine due its ability to treat tick-borne infections such as typhus and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Q fever is another Rickettsial infection that can be treated with this antibiotic as well, but is usually contracted from contact with an infected animal or their byproduct.

Because Doxycycline is so effective at treating Rocky Mountain spotted fever, it’s even recommended for use in children; although usage typically results in the permanent yellowing of teeth. In people that are allergic to drugs in the penicillin family, Doxycycline can also used to treat common bacterial infections in its place.

Make Sure to be Prepared!

Instead of going into detail explaining how to properly take each antibiotic (not that I could), you would once again be better off getting a book such as The Merck Manual, as well as printing out any useful information you can find online.

You would also do well to venture over to the Book and Resources section on and download a free PDF of their book, Where There is No Doctor. While this book is typically meant to be used by people in developing countries, it’s also makes a great resource for anyone who wants to learn how to properly administer antibiotics when help from a doctor isn’t available.