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Fish Antibiotics for Human Use?

Can fish antibiotics be used for humans?

That is a great question! The real question you are probably asking is "are fish antibiotics safe for humans" (or animals other than fish and birds)? 

One important thing to note when we talk about "Fish Antibiotics" and "antibiotics for humans" is that there is no difference in the USP grade "prescription" product and the USP grade "no prescription needed" product for fish and birds. There are no antibiotic manufacturers that make prescription strength pharmaceuticals only for fish, birds, pets, or humans. Pharmaceutical companies manufacture medications used across all applications, including for fish, birds, humans and other animals, but fish antibiotics are the same as human antibiotics, and dog antibiotics, and every other antibiotic made for animals. Humans are animals after

Do Humans use Fish Antibiotics? "No, fish use human antibiotics." A. Yates via Facebook

Let’s try to answer some specific questions we regularly receive about fish antibiotics.

What is the difference between Antibiotics for Fish and antibiotics for Humans? 

Q: Can fish antibiotics be used for humans?

A: Yes, they can, but to do so is technically illegal. Fish antibiotics and bird antibiotics are the same antibiotics you get in a prescription that you fill at the local pharmacy. They are manufactured by the same big pharmaceutical companies, but just because they are the same doesn’t change the fact that sick humans should go to a doctor, get a diagnosis, and follow the recommendations of a healthcare professional.

Q: What about fish antibiotics for dogs, or other animals? Is that okay?

A: Fish Antibiotics, like Fish Mox or Fish Flex, are labeled for fish use only. Bird antibiotics, like Bird Biotic or Bird Zithro, are labeled for bird use only. These products are labeled to be FDA compliant and specific to pet, exotic, and hobbyist use in fish and birds that are difficult to take to a veterinarian, or whose owners are well trained in medicating these animals, as hobbyists. Antibiotics for dogs and other animals are prescribed by a veterinarian and usually dispensed at the veterinary office. The medications are the same, but it is important to get proper medical advice and treatment for dogs, cats, and other animals from a trained veterinary professional. 

Q: Are fish antibiotics safe for humans?

A: This is similar to the first question, “Can humans take fish antibiotics?”, but are they safe? Again, they are the same medications made for humans, prescribed by doctors, and filled at local pharmacies, but they are legally repackaged and labeled for fish and birds only. The safety of any medication is based on its proper application and following the directions of a medical professional, such as “take 2 a day” or “don’t give to children”, for example. There are no directions for human use because they are not labeled for human use. There is no substitution for professional medical advice, going to a doctor, and using medication properly, as a doctor prescribes. Safety comes with the knowledge and advice of a physician.

Q: Why is it legal to sell antibiotics for Fish and Birds?

A: Simply because it can be very difficult to take your fish or bird to a veterinarian, so there is an exclusion to the approved drug rules by the FDA that allows for the sale of Fish and Bird antibiotics to hobbyists, collectors, curators, and pet or exotic fish or bird keepers that does not require them to go through the difficult and expensive process of bringing their pets to the vet. However, antibiotics cannot be given to fish or birds that are intended to be eaten by humans, as those are considered livestock and fall under the USDA rules for antibiotics in food producing animals.


*Water treatment "medical baths" are a type of product that comes in liquid form, or mixed with multiple, low strength ingredients, ex. products from Mardel or API Fish Treatments. These are not prescription strength antibiotics.

Only the most trusted brand, Thomas Labs, is sold on The antibiotics on this site are labeled and used for fish and birds only. Humans should probably go to a doctor. Dogs and cats should go to a vet. No directions for use in anything other than fish and birds will be given by employees of