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Article Medicated Food Explained and Explored

Discussion in 'Aquarium Equipment & Decor' started by cooltow1, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. cooltow1

    cooltow1 Thread Starter Member

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    The Advantages of Medicated Food
    The Disadvantages of Medicated Food
    Anti-Parasitic Food
    Anti-Bacterial 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


    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, or Levimasole.
    Cestodes (flatworms) Best (and cheapest) treated with praziquantel

    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 Products'
    Medical ingredients: Praziquantel 0.0057%, Flubenol 0.03%, Metronidazole 0.30%
    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 D-ALLIO 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.
    In conclusion
    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.


    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 0.13%
    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.
    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.
    Romet B
    Active ingredients: 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 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.