Alternative Antibiotics in Survival

infected cut

Infected Cut

Years ago, I wrote the original article on aquarium antibiotics as an option in a survival setting. Many of the questions that we field during our speaking engagements are related to the stockpiling of medicines. What fish medicines are equivalent to the human versions? What illness is each one used for? How much to take? Can children take them?

There isn’t a 60 second answer to these questions. Actually, there isn’t a 60 MINUTE answer to this, but anyone that is interested in preserving the health of their loved ones in a collapse will have to learn about and stockpile antibiotics.

Responsible Antibiotic Use

It’s important to start off by saying that you will not want to indiscriminately use antibiotics for every minor ailment that comes along. In a collapse, the medic is also a quartermaster of sorts; you will want to wisely dispense that limited and, yes, precious supply of life-saving drugs.

Liberal use of antibiotics is a poor strategy for a few reasons. These include:

  • Overuse can foster the spread of resistant bacteria. Antibiotics routinely given to turkeys recently caused a resistant strain of Salmonella that put over 100 people in the hospital. 36 million pounds of ground turkey were recalled.
  • Potential allergic reactions may occur that could lead to anaphylactic shock (see our recent podcast on this topic at
  • Making a diagnosis may be more difficult if you give antibiotics before you’re sure what medical problem you’re actually dealing with. The antibiotics might temporarily “mask” the symptoms, which could cost you valuable time in determining the correct treatment.

Having said this, not having antibiotics in your storage may result in the unnecessary deaths of members of your group to infections incurred from activities of daily survival.  An infected cut from chopping wood, for example, may travel to the circulation causing a life-threatening condition known as “Septicemia” or “sepsis“.  In the History Channel series “After Armageddon“, this was the cause of death of an EMT survivor due to the lack of antibiotics in the survival community’s medical storage.

You can see that judicious use of antibiotics in survival situations, under your close supervision, is necessary to fully utilize their benefits. Discourage your group members from using these drugs without first consulting you.  Remember, YOU will be in charge of making these (sometime difficult) decisions to parcel out your limited medical supplies. Use them wisely.


In my dual role as physician and aquaculturist (I raise tilapia in ponds as a food fish), I treated humans and fish with antibiotics when it was appropriate. It wasn’t until I began writing about medical preparedness that I realized the similarities of some of the aquarium and avian medicines (I also have an African Gray parrot) to human antibiotics.  After seeing a totally unnecessary death in the series “After Armageddon”, I decided to research the usefulness of alternative ways for the average person to accumulate medications.  This is not for everyday use but only for a post-apocalyptic setting.

Important Information about Antibiotics

Not any veterinary antibiotic will do, however.  Only a certain number of antibiotics will meet my criteria, and should :

1)They must only be produced in human dosages, although they are “supposed” to be for fish or birds.

2)The only ingredient must be the antibiotic itself.  Nothing else that makes your scales more shiny, your fins longer, or your feathers brighter.

3)They must appear identical to their human equivalents when removed from the bottle. Note that different pharmaceutical companies may make a particular drug in different colors.  Dava labs, for example, makes Amoxicillin 500mg that looks identical (down to the I.D. numbers) to Fish-Mox Forte.  (what does that tell you?) See my video:  “Fish Antibiotics in a Collapse” at

4)They must be available without a prescription.

5)They must be available for purchase in bulk.

There are many antibiotics, but which antibiotics accessible to the average person would be good additions to your medical storage? Each antibiotic belongs to its own family and is useful for different ailments. Here are some common antibiotics  (available in veterinary form without a prescription) that you will want in your medical arsenal and their veterinary equivalent:


Amoxicillin 500mg/Fish-Mox Forte

Amoxicillin 250mg AND 500mg (FISH-MOX, FISH-MOX FORTE)

Ciprofloxacin 250mg and 500mg (FISH-FLOX, FISH-FLOX FORTE)

Cephalexin 250mg and 500mg (FISH-FLEX, FISH-FLEX FORTE)

Metronidazole 250mg (FISH-ZOLE)

Doxycycline 100mg (BIRD-BIOTIC)

Ampicillin 250mg and 500mg (FISH-CILLIN, FISH-CILLIN FORTE)

Clindamycin 300mg (FISH-CIN)

Sulfamethoxazole 400mg/Trimethoprin 80mg (BIRD-SULFA)

Azithromycin 250mg (AQUATIC AZITHROMYCIN)

There are various others that you can choose, but the selections above will give you the opportunity to treat many illnesses and have enough variety so that even those with Penicillin allergies with have options. Cephalexin, although not in the same drug family as Penicillin, has been quoted as having a 10% cross-reactivity rate; that is, a person allergic to Penicillin will have a 10% chance of being allergic to Cephalexin.

In recent developments, Doxycycline recently had a huge price increase and is now available in 100mg powder packets instead of tablets/capsules. That is the human dose, but I haven’t evaluated a sample of it as of yet.

Don’t forget natural substances that have antibiotic qualities, such as garlic, honey, and silver.  Before there were commercial antibiotics, topical solutions and ointment of these items were used to prevent infections. In a long-term survival setting, the pharmaceuticals will, one day, run out.  Know self-sustainable alternatives for every medication in your storage. It’s important to use ALL the tools in the medical woodshed.

In our recently-published second edition of “The Survival Medicine Handbook”, we discuss the above antibiotics and more with the indications, dosages, and other important information. A thorough knowledge of infectious diseases and the drugs that treat them is imperative for success in a survival scenario. Have them in your supplies in quantity and only use them when you absolutely have to in times of trouble. Seek modern and standard medical care by medical professionals in normal times.

Joe Alton, M.D., aka Dr. Bones


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