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Understanding the Active Ingredients in Antibacterial Aquarium Medications

My poor clownfish has a bacterial infection behind its right eye.Understanding what a medication contains can often be as or more important than understanding what it treats. I’ve compiled just a few of the most common active ingredients found in many of the most popular aquarium medications. This list is not all-inclusive but may hopefully help to unravel the why’s and how’s of some medications.

Remember, some of these active ingredients have more than one use and the medications they are in may be marketed for different uses. Antibacterial medications may be included in anti-parasitic medications and some anti-parasitic ingredients may also be useful in fungal infections but the uses I’ve listed are the most common or most effective in the aquarium trade. Always remember to properly diagnose conditions and diseases before medicating and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for any medications.

Part 1: Antibacterial ingredients in aquarium medications

These ingredients of common bacterial fish medications are used to treat different types of bacterial infections. Some are broad spectrum, general medications while others are geared towards Gram-negative or Gram-positive bacteria only.  The Gram designation refers to a testing system named for the scientist who developed it, Hans Christian Gram.  Known as Gram Staining, bacteria samples are treated with a purple dye under microscope, the bacteria who accept the dye, and turn purple are Gram-Positive.  Bacteria that do not accept the stain are Gram-Negative, and appear pink.  These two groups are the largest two types of infectious bacteria.  If you try a Gram-Negative medication, and it is ineffective, then you may need to switch to a Gram Positive medication. Some antibiotics may also kill off the beneficial bacteria in the aquarium, as most nitrifying bacteria are Gram-Negative, and will affect the biological stability of the system.

Amoxicillin/ Ampicillin/ Penicillin:

The “-cillins” have been well-known for decades as popular treatments for human infections, but some aquarium medications are also made with these active ingredients. All three derivatives are used to treat bacterial infections. Amoxicillin is the most broad-spectrum of the three and treats Gram-positive and Gram-negative infections. Ampicillin treats some Gram-negative infections but is most effective on Gram-positive bacteria. Penicillin is used for Gram-positive bacteria. Aquarists who are allergic to Penicillin or any other -cillin derivatives should use extreme caution if using these medications in their aquarium.
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How Diet, Lighting and Other Factors Can Influence The Appearance of Aquarium Fish

Red TerrorDedicated aquarists pour their hearts and souls into creating thier own versions of breathtaking aquatic displays. Countless hours are dedicated to precise placement of wood, rock and other ornaments, painstaking pruning of live plants, and,  of course, to testing and maintaining the water quality to provide the healthiest environment possible for the stars of the show: the fish! The ultimate goal is to have brilliant, beautiful, healthy fish to observe, and just about every other aspect of the tank contributes to the appearance of the livestock you keep. While the conditions that favor each species vary, you can provide the necessary factors to tweek the colors they show and make your fish look their best.

Understanding Fish Coloration

The inner layer of each fish’s skin contains color cells called chromatophores. Some chromatophores produce melanin, providing brown or black pigmentation. Some are capable of storing carotenoids which provide brilliant red, orange, and yellow pigments that come largely from foods the animals eat. Then there are iridophores, that contain crystalline deposits that reflect and bend light and giving the illusion of silvery, white, or metallic blue and green pigmentation. Read More »

“My Fish is Floating” – Swim Bladder Disease in Goldfish and Others

Most goldfish owners have encountered fish that suddenly become unable to submerge.  Try as they might, they float, often belly-up, at the surface, and seem to be in great distress.  Less often, the hapless victims may be unable to rise to the surface, or may swim in an “off balanced” or head-down position.  Fantails, Orandas and other strains with rounded bodies are the most common victims, but Comets and others are not immune.  The problem is also frequently seen in Bettas, or Fighting Fishes, but may afflict any species.  Swim Bladder Disease almost always involved.  This condition is actually a general term applied to a wide variety of ailments, rather than a specific disease per se.  Today we’ll look at its causes, prevention and treatment.

Fish with Swim Bladder Disease

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Humanfeather / Michelle Jo

The Swim Bladder

The swim bladder is a sac-like organ located in the abdomen of most bony fishes, but is absent in the cartilaginous fishes (sharks, rays and their relatives).  The lining of the swim bladder, and the many blood vessels that transverse it, allow gasses to be passed into and out of the organ.  Goldfishes and certain others are also able to exchange gasses through a duct or opening in the bladder that leads to the esophagus.  In this manner, fishes control their buoyancy, or ability to float and move up and down in the water column. Read More »

Introducing High Quality New Era Fish Foods at That Fish Place

New EraFor as long as this blogger can remember, when it comes to feeding your fish there have only been a few options available to the concerned aquarist. You can try to find those rare-gem high-nutrition flake foods that won’t quickly pollute your tank if add too many. You can spend top dollar for a hard pellet that your fish have to bite and spit out several times only to let it fall to the gravel to be ignored. You may even have frozen cubes of fish food sitting in the door of your freezer right next to the ice cubes and Creamsicles, much to the abhorrence of your significant other.

Fortunately for us fish geeks, a New Era (pun intended) of fish food has dawned upon us. UK based company, New Era, has produced a game changing array of innovative foods. They uniquely manufacture their foods with a slow, low-temperature, and low-pressure process that maintains the nutritional content of the formula, unlike foods that are quickly baked at high temps have many of their natural vitamins and minerals cooked away. New Era’s processing method also leaves a soft, highly chompable pellet that your fish will be able to eat in the first bite. These pellets are soft enough that you can and roll them into a ball in your finger tips or break pieces off for smaller fish.  But don’t let this texture fool you; they won’t melt and or dissolve away instantly in your fish tank. Between the quality of the ingredients, and unique palatability of the food, your fish get more nutrition with less waste, ultimately leading to a cleaner aquarium. Read More »

Vacation Fish Care – Ensuring Your Aquarium’s Health While You Travel

automatic feederWhen you and your family go out of town on vacation or for the holidays, one important consideration is who takes care of the pets? You can board your dog or cat, or have a friend take care of them while you’re away with a set of pretty basic instructions for feeding and walks. Vacation fish care may take a little more preparation and training to ensure that your tank is cared for properly and any dire issues are addressed.  Generally, depending on the duration of your time away, you’ll want to have a trusted and competent friend come to your home to monitor and feed the tank.  Here are some things to consider in preparing that friend to successfully care for your tanks.

Feeding

Feeding is probably the first thing people think about when you think about leaving your fish for a few days. If you’re going away on a short weekend trip, chances are your tank will be fine without feedings, unless you’re keeping fry or some other “special needs” class of fish. If you’re going to be gone longer that 2 or 3 days, you’ll want to either invest in an automatic feeder or vacation food blocks, or leave detailed instructions with your tank-sitter on what, when, and how much to feed. Generally a few pinches of community food will be enough, but it may be much more complicated with a large reef aquarium or one stocked with various specialized feeders. If you have a complicated feeding regime, or if you’ll be taking an extended vacation, it’s probably a good idea to print a detailed list of instructions on feeding as a reference, and to go through the process at least once with your sitter in person to prevent overfeeding and other mishaps. Read More »