Animal & Veterinary

Ornamental Fish Drugs and You

We share a lot with the animal world, and that is a good thing. But, there are times when we and animals are better off if we don’t share.

Although it’s true that people and many animals are sometimes given the same antibiotic, they shouldn’t be shared or substituted between species.

You may find an antibiotic on a pet store shelf, or an online pet store, with the same name as a drug prescribed for you or your family. Drugs like ciprofloxacin, amoxicillin, and tetracycline are sold to treat bacterial diseases in fish and are frequently prescribed antibiotics for people.

So, why not skip the trip to the doctor’s office and treat yourself with the amoxicillin at the pet store? It’s the same, right?

Wrong. Animal drugs should not be used to treat people.

The antibiotics available in pet stores, or online, for ornamental fish haven’t been approved, conditionally approved, or indexed by the FDA -- in other words, we have not evaluated them for safety and effectiveness -- making it illegal to market them.

These unapproved products may not meet the agency’s strict standards for purity and potency. And, we don’t know how the products have been handled and stored because they haven’t been controlled by a veterinarian or pharmacist. They may not be properly manufactured or properly labeled, so don’t substitute them for the products prescribed for you by your health care provider.

FDA is aware that these drugs are being sold to treat fish, and while the agency has heard anecdotal reports of people diverting animal drugs for their own use in the past, the agency does not have data on how prevalent this is. Talk to your doctor about what medications are safe for you, and talk to a veterinarian when your animals are not well.

We share a lot with the animal world, but for our health and the health of the animals, we shouldn’t share drugs.

Page Last Updated: 08/23/2017
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