antibiotics, survival, preparedness, SHTF, TSHTF, disaster, prepper, medical supplies

antibiotics, survival, preparedness, SHTF, TSHTF, disaster, prepper, medical supplies

by  Dr. Bones of The Doom and Bloom Hour with Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy


Accumulating medications for a possible collapse may be simple when it comes to getting Ibuprofen and other non-prescription drugs. It will be a major issue, however, for those who need to stockpile prescription medicines but don’t have a relationship with a physician who can or will accommodate their requests.  Antibiotics are one example of medications that will be very useful in a collapse situation. Obtaining these drugs in quantity will be difficult, to say the least.

The inability to store antibiotic supplies is going to cost some poorly prepared individuals their lives in a collapse situation.  Why?  Well, there will be a much larger incidence of infection when people have to fend for themselves and are injured as a result. Any strenuous activities performed in a power-down situation, especially ones that most of us aren’t accustomed to, will cause various cuts and scratches. These wounds will very likely be dirty. Within a relatively short time, they can begin to show infection, in the form of redness, heat, and swelling.

Treatment of such infections, called “cellulitis”, at an early stage improves the chance that they will heal quickly and completely.  However, many rugged individualists are most likely to “tough it out” until their condition worsens and the infection spreads to their blood.  This causes a condition known as sepsis; The person develops a fever as well as other problems that could eventually be life-threatening.  The availability of antibiotics would allow the possibility of dealing with the issue safely and effectively.

The following advice is contrary to standard medical practice, and is a strategy that is appropriate only in the event of societal collapse.  If there are modern medical resources available to you, seek them out.

Small amounts of medications can be obtained by anyone willing to tell their doctor that they are going out of the country and would like to avoid “Travelers’ Diarrhea”.  Ask them for Tamiflu for viral illness before every flu season, and Amoxicillin, Doxycycline and Metronidazole for bacterial/protozoal disease. This approach is fine for one or two courses of therapy, but a long term alternative is required for us to have enough antibiotics to protect a family or survival group. Thinking long and hard for a solution has led me to what I believe is a viable option:  Aquarium antibiotics.

For many years, I was a tropical fish enthusiast.  Currently, we are growing Tilapia as a food fish in an aquaculture pond.  After years of using these medicines on fish, I decided to evaluate these drugs for their potential use in collapse situations. A close inspection of the bottles revealed that the only ingredient was the drug itself, identical to those obtained by prescription at the local pharmacy.  If the bottle says FISH-MOX, for example, the sole ingredient is Amoxicillin, which is an antibiotic commonly used in humans.  There are no additional chemicals to makes your scales shiny or your fins longer.  Here is a list of the products that I believe will be beneficial to have as supplies:

  • FISH-MOX  (Amoxicillin 250mg)
  • FISH_MOX FORTE  (Amoxicillin 500mg)
  • FISH-CILLIN  (Ampicillin 250mg)
  • FISH-FLEX  (Keflex 250mg)
  • FISH-FLEX FORTE (Keflex 500mg)
  • FISH-ZOLE (Metronidazole 250mg)
  • FISH-PEN (Penicillin 250mg)
  • FISH-PEN FORTE (Penicillin 500mg)
  • BIRD BIOTIC (Doxycycline 100mg) – used in birds but the antibiotic is, again, the sole ingredient
  • BIRD SULFA (Sulfamethoxazole 400mg/Trimethoprin 80mg) also used in birds

I understand that you might be skeptical about considering the use of aquarium antibiotics for humans in a collapse.  Those things are for fish, aren’t they?  Yet, if this is the case, then why are all of the above antibiotics also commonly used on humans?  More importantly:  Why are these antibiotics in the exact same DOSAGES that are used in humans?  Why would a guppy require a dosage of FISH-MOX FORTE that would suffice for a 180 pound human adult?  It is my opinion that they are manufactured in the same way that “human” antibiotics are made; I don’t have proof that this is true, but I suspect that they might even come from similar batches.

These medications are available without a prescription from veterinary supply stores and online sites everywhere. They come in lots of 30 to 100 tablets for less than the same prescription medication at the local pharmacy. If you so desired, it appears that you could get as much as you need to stockpile for a collapse. These quantities would be close to impossible to obtain from your physician.

Of course, anyone could be allergic to one or another of these antibiotics, but it would be a very rare individual who would be allergic to all of them. There is a 10% chance for cross-reactivity between Penicillin drugs and Keflex (if you are allergic to penicillin, you could also be allergic to Keflex).

This one additional fact:  I have personally used some (not all) of these antibiotics on my own person without any ill effects.  It’s important to note that I am speaking primarily about aquarium antibiotics, as some dog and cat medications also include other chemicals and are not just the antibiotic.

These antibiotics are used at specific doses for specific illnesses; the exact dosage of each and every medication is beyond the scope of this handbook. It’s important, however, to have as much information as possible on medications that you plan to store, so consider purchasing a hard copy of the latest Physician’s Desk Reference. This book comes out yearly and has just about every bit of information that exists on a particular drug.  The book lists medications that require prescriptions as well as those that do not. Under each medicine, you will find the indications, which are the medical conditions that the drug is used for.  Also listed will be the dosages, risks and side effects. I don’t have to tell you that this is a large book!

Although I have said that I wouldn’t talk about every medicine to use for every illness: Most penicillin and cephalosporin meds are taken at 500mg dosages 3-4 times a day for adults, (250mg dosages for children) and will treat many skin and respiratory infections.  Metronidazole (250mg) and Doxycycline (100mg) are taken twice a day and will treat many types of diarrheal disease.

For medications that treat non-infectious illness, such as cholesterol or blood pressure drugs, you will also need a prescription.  These medications are not available in aquarium supply houses, so how can you work to stockpile them?

You may consider asking your physician to prescribe a higher dose than the amount you usually take. Many drugs come in different dosages. If your medicine is a 20 milligram dosage, for example, you might ask your doctor to prescribe the 40 mg dosage.  You would then cut the medication in half; take your normal dosage and store the other half of the pill.  It’s very important to assure your physician that you will continue to follow their medical advice and not take more medicine than is appropriate for your condition. Your success in having your request granted will depend on the doctor.

Others have managed to obtain needed prescriptions by indicating that they are traveling for long periods of time out of the country or telling their physician some other falsehood.  I can’t recommend this method, because I believe that dishonesty breaks the bond of trust between doctor and patient.  Consider having a serious discussion with your healthcare provider. Describe your concerns about not having needed medications in a disaster situation. You don’t have to describe the disaster as a complete societal collapse; any catastrophe could leave you without access to your doctor for an extended period.

If we ever find ourselves without modern medical care, we will have to improvise medical strategies that we perhaps might be reluctant to consider today.   Without hospitals, it will be up to the medic to nip infections in the bud. That responsibility will be difficult to carry out without the weapons to fight disease.  Accumulate equipment and medications and never ignore avenues that may help you gain access to them.

Alternative therapies such as herbal supplements and essential oils should be stockpiled as well.  Honey, onion, Silver, and garlic have known antibacterial actions; be sure to integrate all medical options, traditional and alternative, and use every tool at your disposal to keep your community healthy.  If you don’t, you’re fighting with one hand tied behind your back.  Remember that traditional medicines and even essential oils will eventually run out in a long term collapse. Begin your medicinal garden now and get experience with the use of these beneficial plants.

I would like to take a second to voice my concern over the apparently indiscriminate use of antibiotics in livestock management (what I call Agri-Business) today.  80% of the antibiotics manufactured today are going to livestock, such as cattle and chickens.  Excessive antibiotic use is causing the development of resistant strains of bacteria such as Salmonella, which can cause a type of diarrheal disease in humans.  Recently, 36 million turkeys were destroyed due to an antibiotic resistant strain of the bacteria. Over 100 people wound up in the hospital as a result of eating contaminated meat.

Consider patronizing those farmers who raise antibiotic-free livestock; this will decrease the further development of resistant bacteria, and thus the antibiotics you’ve stockpiled will be more effective.


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  1. On the comment of why the dosage for a guppy is similar to that of a 180lb human it is because of the dilution effect. The dosage for a human is based upon the size of the patient because once it enters the body the drug is dispursed throughout the whole body and not just where the infection is located. The same is true when adding antibiotics to a fish tank, you need to add enough drug to the container that concentration will be sufficient not matter where the patient is swimming at the moment.

  2. Great Post! I have carefully brought this up with my PCP but he was very reluctant to prescribe anything beyond what I needed for that visit. I was more successful with my dentist when I had an oral surgery and told him I was sensitive to pain. I received the larger dose and antibiotics. I carefully managed the use and have some left over but never enough to last any break in our medical access.

  3. Hi,

    This is Dr. Bones (not Dr. Bob, Jason, lol),

    and we have over 150 articles on medical preparedness on our blog at

    Regarding the dilution effect, the point is that that dilution effect does not explain why they have chosen exactly the human dosages for the fish antibiotics they market. There is no mathematical equation that says that Amoxicillin 250 or 500 mg exactly dilutes out to the exact dosage a guppy needs. That guppy might live in a 5, 10, or 100 gallon aquarium. Also, all of the other antibioitcs are exactly in human dosage only. This leads me to believe that they come from the same factory lots as the medications that go to human pharmacies.

    Dr. Bones

  4. Dr. Bones.
    Great article, and spot on with your assessment of both the fish supplements as well as the overuse of antibiotics in animals.

    When SHTF, a good supply of antibiotics will be worth more than gold, but better than that, your family and friends may need them and you will be able to help!
    Just keep them stored in a cool place. If there is no cool place, consider burying them in a plastic tube several feet below the surface. That should keep them below 65 degrees. Also, revisit your stockpile every year and order more so the entire lot doesn’t expire at once.

  5. Just “anecdotal hearsay evidence” and worth nothing, in and of itself, but an old acquaintance who worked for a huge pharmaceutical house once mentioned, in passing, “if the caps dont look right, or the packaging is messed up, we ship it to the veterinary side – cheaper than dumping it, now that EPA is watching.”

  6. aquaticpharmacy[dot]com has an even wider variety available, including azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, and clindamycin. No affiliation, just saying. Knowledge in selecting one (?) for the patient is the key, there’s some good recommendations on antibiotic selection by infected region or type of injury on the web. A PDR is nice, but probably overkill since we’re only talking about maybe a dozen different drugs. drugs[dot]com info would be enough, unless you want to understand the molecular structure and the method of action for each (and a good wiki will have that). Print out the info for each, along with antibiotic selection charts/guides/tables from hospitals and universities in case you can’t get to the web. Here’s a couple decent (I think) places to start:

  7. Excellent article on often overlooked topic. I have a previous background as a major city paramedic so I am comfortable with both medications taken by mouth and those injected either IM (into muscle) SQ (into skin) and IV (intravenous). Their are legitimate sellers of prescription IM and IV antibiotics that were strictly manufactured for human use (JUST LIKE THE AQUARIUM ANTIBIOTICS–just look at an aqaurium pill next to the human version of the same one…they ARE identical! Also people might want to think of stockpiling some IV Lactated Ringers solution with some 15 drip IV sets (this allows faster infusion of the IV than the 60 drip sets) and 18 Gauge needles or IV catheters. A little practice starting an IV before the emergency might help also (you tube). Once you have controlled external bleeding 1000-2000 ml of Lactated Ringers will save the life of a knife or gunshot victim. Lactated Ringers is not as good as Plasma or Blood but it stores a lot longer. Speaking of storage, medications that are in tablet or powder form will store from 10-20 years past expiration date and retain 80% plus of there potency is kept dry, dark and at a constant temperature of around 70 degrees F. Google US Gov’t study on medicine expiration extensions. Yes you can buy Lactated Ringers as well as needles and administration sets off the internet with no prescription from legitimate sellers within the US . A little internet research will serve you well and if that doesn’t work send me an email and we will get you squared away with some very reliable sellers. Leave me your email in your reply and I will contact you.

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