Essential Guide To Fish Antibiotics for Humans

Last Updated: October 27, 2022

There is a lot of controversy and confusion in the disaster prepping community on the use of fish antibiotics in humans.

If you are thinking of stockpiling them in your Just-In-Case supplies, here is what you need to know.

Are Fish Antibiotics the Same As Human Antibiotics?

When you start shopping for fish antibiotics, you’ll be surprised that most don’t come in powder or pellet form. Rather, they are pills or tablets.

How the hell is a fish supposed to take a pill???

These “fish” antibiotics aren’t actually meant for fish.

The sellers know that people like preppers want to get antibiotics without a prescription. Hence, they exploit a loophole in the law that allows them to market antibiotics for fish – even though they are the same pills for humans.

Right now, the FDA does not require a prescription for fish antibiotics.

What is the Difference?

For an antibiotic to work correctly, it isn’t enough to contain a particular ingredient (such as penicillin). The antibiotics also must be formulated to ensure absorption in the patient and absorption in the right place.

For example, antibiotics for cows (which have 4 stomachs) will need to be formulated differently than those for humans.

As far as fish antibiotics go, you CAN NOT take powders or pellet forms of the antibiotics and expect them to be effective on humans. These are meant for fish. 

However, if you see pill or tablet antibiotics marketed as “for fish,” these are really human forms of medicines that have been labeled for fish to get around the prescription requirement. I feel bad for any pet owner who mistakenly buys pill forms of antibiotics for their fish!

How can you be sure that the fish antibiotics you buy are meant for humans?

Read on…

FDA Labeling Requirements

antibiotic imprints

I’ve bought fish antibiotics from a few different stores to see what I would get. When the packages arrived, I opened them to check out the pills. Small letters and numbers were on the drugs, aka “Imprint Codes.”

I suggest you read this article on about Imprint Codes. In summary, the FDA requires all prescription and OTC medications to have a unique imprint. The purpose of the code is to make it possible to identify medications. For example, if you drop your pillbox and all the meds go flying, you can identify the pills by their Imprint Code.

All Imprint Codes will identify the type of drug and its strength.

You can use this Pill Identifier tool to type in the Imprint Code of a pill and determine precisely what it is.

If you get pills that do not have an imprint code, then DO NOT TAKE THEM! Who knows what they contain and in what dosage?

If the pills contain an imprint code, you can be confident that they are the same pills used for humans.

As one fish antibiotic seller told Survival Doctor, the fish pills are the same as humans. They source the pills from a manufacturer that makes them for humans and repackage them as fish antibiotics.

Same Pills Doesn’t Always Mean the Same Quality

So the fish antibiotics you bought are the same pills sold to humans. That means they are safe to use, right?

Not necessarily.

Drugs made for animals are not held to the same standards as those made for humans.

For example, there are strict regulations about how human antibiotics must be packaged, stored, and shipped. In an extreme case, the fish antibiotics you buy could be contaminated with protozoan or microbes. However, a more likely scenario is that poor storage conditions could have caused the antibiotics to deteriorate and lose effectiveness.

You are taking a risk whenever you buy fish antibiotics for human use. You can’t be 100% sure that the antibiotics are safe to use.

What Does “USP Standard” Mean?

As I said above, animal medications aren’t held to the same standards as human meds, so you are taking a risk by taking fish antibiotics.

Some sellers try to install confidence in the buyers by slapping labels on their products. One of the most common is “Made According to USP Standards.”

The United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) is a nonprofit organization that sets medication standards. These standards are used in over 140 countries. Any human drug sold in the United States must meet USP standards.

Here’s the thing: USP has not verified a single fish antibiotic!

Again, I emphasize that the pill ingredients might be the same as those sold for humans, but it doesn’t mean it is the same quality.

For example, the fish antibiotics could have been stored in a way that allowed mold to grow on them. Or maybe moisture levels were too high and destroyed the pills.

You might also see labels like “Pharmaceutical Grade” on fish antibiotics. However, like with the USP label, this doesn’t mean anything.


Dosage is simple; it is the same, 500mg of fish penicillin is the same as 500mg of human penicillin.

Here are some of the most common fish antibiotics you will find for sale online and what their human dosage equivalent is. Remember, always check the Imprint Code on the pills!

The most common ones for human use are Fish Pen (Penicillin) and Fish Mox (Amoxicillin)

Expiration Dates

pill expiration date

You need to know the expiration dates if you plan on stockpiling fish antibiotics for SHTF disasters. Just like with your food stockpiles, antibiotics can go bad.

Most antibiotics you find will have an expiration date of about 1 to 5 years. However, most antibiotics will probably still be good well after their expiration date.

A major study was done by the Department of Defense and FDA Shelf Life Extension Program. They tested 122 different products and found that most (88%) were good for at least 1 year after the expiration date, with an average of 5 years.

However, the test was done while the medications were kept in ideal conditions – away from heat, light, and moisture and in original packaging. Most fish antibiotics for humans are generic drugs that have been repackaged, so they already aren’t in the ideal conditions.

In most cases, taking an expired antibiotic won’t harm you directly. It just means that the antibiotic will have lost its potency. But this can be very dangerous because taking weak drugs can lead to mutations and antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. So, you would still be sick with a resistant strain of bacteria!

In other cases, taking expired antibiotics can directly harm you. The most notable example is tetracycline (Fish Cycline). It may break down into a toxic substance, so be careful!

Should You Buy Them?

First, I want to say that self-medicating is ALWAYS a bad idea! The vast majority of illnesses are caused by viruses and NOT by bacteria, so taking antibiotics isn’t going to help.

Overuse of antibiotics is causing mutant strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, so we should be wary about taking antibiotics.

Further, would you even know which antibiotic to take if you got sick? If you are thinking of stockpiling antibiotics, you better get a medical guide to go with them.

EMRA Antibiotic Guide

One option is the EMRA Antibiotic Guide, but I’ll warn you that it can be pretty confusing to make sense of if you aren’t a medical professional.

EMRA Guide
EMRA Antibiotic Guide, 17th Edition

The perfect pocket guide for antibiotic use. Be warned; it can be pretty confusing to make sense of if you aren’t a medical professional.

Before I’d take fish antibiotics, I would first go through my other options, such as natural remedies like herbal antibiotics. This is a lot safer than self-medicating with drugs that might be expired or contaminated.

But we aren’t talking about using fish antibiotics for everyday use. We are talking about stockpiling fish antibiotics for SHTF situations where you have no other options.

In an actual SHTF situation, the risk of bacterial diseases will skyrocket (read this post about the disaster hygiene problem no one wants to talk about).

Do you want to die because you got a minor infection from a cut on your hand or similar but had no medications?


Go ahead and stockpile fish antibiotics as part of your disaster prepping – but only if you take these precautions:

  • Research antibiotics, when they should be used, and how they should be used.
  • Buy a good antibiotics guide to keep with your stockpile.
  • Only buy fish antibiotics from a reputable source. eBay is NOT reputable!
  • Check the imprint codes on the antibiotics so you know exactly what it is. Don’t store fish antibiotics that don’t have imprint codes.
  • Store your antibiotics in the ideal conditions. This usually means in the refrigerator and never in the bathroom medicine cabinet.
  • Rotate your stockpile of fish antibiotics, so they don’t expire.

Here is where I need to make a disclaimer that I am not a doctor and none of this should be construed as medical advice! I am just a concerned citizen like yourself who wants to be prepared for disaster by making sure to have life-saving antibiotics if necessary.

Are you stockpiling fish antibiotics? What’s your SHTF medical plan? Let us know in the comments.

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    • Linda, the storage temperature range is always given on the package insert or on the secure container. I just looked at my 9 prescription meds & they were all 15-25C.
      It’s common to think that freezing things extends their life. There is always some loss during the freezing process, then during the thawing. So meat that has been frozen is never as high quality as meat that has never been frozen. Texture changes, nutrients are lost.
      Back when “drycell batteries” were poorly sealed, in the 1940s thru about 1970, it was common to freeze them to slow the self-discharge that began the day they were made. But modern AAA, AA, C, & D size cells are best stored at 20C or a bit lower temperature, & not frozen.
      Sorry for getting off the topic of antibiotics but your question brought this battery thing back to top of mind.

  1. I buy mine at the local Co-Op. Like the artical reads…They are safe for humans, the exact same pills that a pharmacy would give you.

    • Not sure Nat, gut feeling is yes as they are products sold worldwide. However this is not medical advice and you would need to verify to your own satisfaction.

    • What does your doctor give you instead of penicillin? That might be what you want to stockpile. There are “fish versions” of most types of antibiotics, although I have not found a fish Z-pack (azithromycin.) In fact, if anyone comes across fish azithromycin, please post a link.

    • There is no difference Amoxicillin trihydrate is the same Amoxicillin you get from the pharmacy that your doctor prescribes. It’s just the full chemical name instead of the simplified name.

  2. I would say a powder is the same as a capsule without the cap. Package has 10 packets and says each pacet contains 250mg of doxycycline. Packets are sealed, aluminum type. If there was anything else in the ingredients it would be listed on the package, as another different type showed 2 separate ingredients. As far as dosing. The tank has 20 30 gallons of water. Id put the whole pack in a water bottle. Then half a pack twice a day for however long. I just don’t see how powder form could be harmful, even I thought less expensive to package, therefore sells for a cheaper price. It’s pure doxycycline. It’s the only ingredients listed.

  3. Standard Disclaimer: Use the above information at your own risk it has not been verified nor is it endorsed by Primal Survivor. Always consult a qualified medical professional if you are unsure about anything.

    • I expect this would help, but obviously you would need to consult with a qualified pharmacologist to confirm.

  4. I get mine from my horse vet,.
    Yea, sick horse, I need a bottle of penn 500 250mg pills or a bottle of sulfa..
    But said vet legally needs to check my horse out before he can hand over meds.
    Could get injectable penicillin but that exp is normally within a year to 18 months.

  5. Diabetics cannot stockpile insulin. You cannot stockpile nitro for heart problems. I have tried some of the freeze dried so-called prepper foods after only 5 years of storage and they are terribly stale flavoured. No better than buying dry soups at the grocery store.
    They cost considerably more and in my opinion are no better. I once tried peanut butter in a tube from the WWII ration kit and it was great. It was 70 years old. What did they do that can’t be done now?

    • Would you rather have stale food or no food at all. If you want long lasting prepper foods make hard tack or pemmican. Those two last for a long long time.

  6. The article talks about pill or tablet form. When I click on the links provided it goes to capsule form. Is this still for human consumption?

    • Technically none of them are rated for human consumption but yes the capsule should work as described. Note – we are not medical professionals and you should consult a qualified person before taking anything you are not sure of.

  7. My husband is from overseas, and in his home country, he can buy antibiotics over the counter (and pain killers including codeine). I’d suggest if you’re ever traveling outside of the country, check to see what you can buy.

      • Mexico just go to the official pharmacia counters available in ANY city or town. You will know this usually by the cross sign illuminated. Also most airport have a counter as well. Basically if you were in San Diego Ca. for example that would be an airport shuttle away to Mexico to the airport or a touristy hotel who will tell you where they are as well. They also might have an in house doctor or pharmacia. All of this for under the price of a doctor’s visit and a medical prescription. Of course follow a pharmacist’s advice on drug interactions. They know more than even the doctors in ANY country. Texas same thing just take the shuttle to the nearest airport or touristy hotel in Mexico.

  8. I have Fish Mox (amoxicillin). When I looked up the imprint GG848 AMOX 250, which is a capsule on pill wizard, this comes up as a human medicine. There is nothing about Fish Mox. Made me feel alot better anyway. I was taking this for a cat bite. At least I won’t grow gills.

    • Yes, it’s basically the same as the human version. Obviously (for legal and other reasons) we can’t recommend that anyone take fish antibiotics… but it’s a good option to know about.

  9. I want to say thank u learned alot and knowing all this now could save my or someone’s eles life but even better give me chance to give the FDA the finger willing doing

  10. They are actually intended for fish, you use it for various fin skin or other fish illnesses. They usually come in some sort of capsules that you open and sprinkle the content into the tank as directed. Just an FYI.

    • It’s the exact same: 500mg of fish penicillin is the same as 500mg of human penicillin. Of course, for legal reasons, I can only recommend that you take antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor. 😉

  11. The fish antibiotics that I have are the exact same pills sold to humans, with the company product ID on the pill, same color capsule..etc. Exactly the same. When I have a urinary infection and couldn’t afford a doctor, I took the fish doxycycline for two weeks and got rid of the infection. I believe those who are fearmongering about us taking antibiotics packaged for fish have a vested interest in doing that, because it cuts into their profits. If people can get antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription/permission, that’s less money for physicians and for pharmacists.

  12. I use an easy option as follows: I have good repoir with my primary care physician. He and I discussed what medicines would be most useful in a SHTF situation and made a list. Once a year he gives me a prescription with six refills for those meds. This enables me to get three sets of all meds for myself and for each of my daughter’s families. No drug safety concerns. Get to know your doctor and simply tell what you want to store for SHTF. Nobody is addicted to antibiotics you know. Really good antibiotic ointment is Mupirocin. Only use after trying over-the-counter options.

  13. The Dept. of theU.S.Navy did a 25 year test study and discovered when medication ( for humans) were stored in cool, dry, dark storage only 10% of their potency was affected or reduced. And it was concluded that pharma companies only used expiration dates for sales increases.

  14. how many of the fish penicillin should i take? you never mentioned the dosages like from fish to human…. URGENT HELPPPPP

    • Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and do not recommend you take fish antibiotics. But the dosage would be exactly the same as with human antibiotics.

  15. Have uti but do not want to go to dr or hospital. Do not trust anymore. Greg ststed that hehad taken FishMox for uti, bit hr did not state strength of capsules or how often capsules should betajen. I fo not want to guess.

  16. I have used garlic in the past to clear an infection. Garlic is a very powerful antibiotic. Please look up how to do this effectively and carefully. The garlic needs to be raw, and chopped up small so it can oxygenate for 10-20 minutes to activate the allicin. Letting it oxygenate longer can cause botulism so please be careful and do some more research. I’m learning to grow garlic in my garden so my family and community will always have access to a fresh source of antibiotics. Please do the same!

    Good luck to all of you. I hope this information helps you. Sending love out there to all of you who are thinking ahead.

    • just an f.y.i. C. botulinum (the toxin that can kill you) is an anaerobic bacterium, meaning it can only grow in the absence of oxygen. the botulism spores are probably all over things in your house, but the spores themselves are not likely to be harmful unless you give it a chance to create the C. botulinum (by keeping it from air) — don’t get me wrong there might be all kinds of other nasty things that can grow on minced garlic.. i don’t know though the natural anti-biotic properties would lead me to believe otherwise.

  17. As a physician, make sure you are informed and pick the right antibiotic for the right infection. A UTI tends to be from E-coli (gram negative bacteria) and responds to poorly to some antibiotics whereas a bacterial sinus infection is more likely Staph or Strep (gram positive bacteria) and responds better to another agent. I wished people would be more informed about this. In addition, if you think you need an antibiotic, the truth is, you probably don’t. We are now encountering more and more resistance making the above decision even more difficult. This is solely because of overuse of antibiotics. Your overuse will worsen resistance for the entire community, so the bottom line is, unless you are in a true doomsday scenario, use your doctor. Believe me, there is more to antibiotic therapy than just picking one randomly. During a doomsday scenario, the absolutely last thing you want is a life threatening resistant bug or a deadly gut infection caused from antibiotics (it has happened to four of my patients in the last 7 years, so it is a real concern). Considering most infections can be adequately treated by your body’s immune system in MOST circumstances, taking such risks is total stupidity. Everyday, I get requests for antibiotics and 90% of those folks do NOT need them. Sinus infections are mostly viral in etiology and are by far the biggest demand from the average Joe. Bear in mind, with sinus infections. Do not even think about using them until you have 2 weeks of sinus tenderness. And even those are mostly viral. Caveat emptor and use your head folks. There is a reason we went to medical school. And there ARE risk with taking these things. Next to abuse of opiates, abuse of antibiotics are almost as bad. These are not Skittles folks. They should be used very sparingly and not for “just in case” or under the premise that they are “low risk”. If you think I am wrong and I have not succeeded in instilling at least a little fear, then you really have no business messing around with them at all. Be careful friends or your doomsday may be cut short for you or your family member. Peace!

    • Thank you! As a nurse, I am constantly educating patients on antibiotics and pain medications. If someone doesn’t understand these medications, I urge them to learn before taking anything!

    • First of all you don’t NEED antibiotics for a UTI. The best thing to resolve a UTI is Uva ursi tincture. Any woman knows this is the only REAL cure. This and Pyridium for the pain etc. is all that is needed. Uva Ursi not only kills the bacteria, bacteria does not become resistant to it and it actually HEALS the bladder and makes it stronger. You can find it in any health food store. I NEVER travel without it. It actually heals me even faster than antibiotics. Antibiotics should really only be used in severe cases that there are no other treatments for such as STD’s, cases of severe bacterial infection or risk of severe bacterial infection.

      • Dr Jacob Anders and DG, both of you had excellent knowledge and advice, I am a Doula and have seen some really crazy things people believe about antibiodics. One woman was taking them prior to giving birth…just in case… she was putting herself and her child in danger.


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