Garlic bad for fish? Rambling about forum propaganda.

by | Dec 29, 2011 | Fish, Opinion | 3 comments

Where does this statement come from? Has anyone actually done a study on the effects of feeding the fish in our aquariums foods soaked in garlic?  Since I first read the comment made by a member of a popular forum I frequent, I have fruitlessly searched the WWW for any credible publication stating that garlic is or may be harmful to the function of marine fish livers.

I’ve not found any such studies or articles concerning saltwater fish. I did find a research thesis written by two Egyptian zoologists in 2003. Their study of the effects of garlic on the freshwater carnivorous fish Chrisichthys auratus state that indeed there are negative effects when dosing garlic to carnivorous fish. According to the research it was hard on the liver and kidney function of the fish studied.

A few questions came to mind. Just how much garlic-saturated food would a fish have to consume before damage occurred to the liver? I’d assume that it would have to be an excessive amount because I’ve used garlic extract I press myself from cloves as an appetite enhancer for finicky fish for years. If a fish won’t eat I soak the food overnight and that usually does the trick. I’ve used it to get ailing fish to eat as well. Fish with bacterial infections or parasitic diseases do not want to eat but it’s important that they do because for one, stress wastes valuable energy the fish needs to heal and two, most of the time I’m treating a bacterial infection or other intestinal disease, the medication needs to be consumed by the fish. The garlic masks what I’m assuming is foul-tasting medication and it triggers the fish’s feeding response. It’s an important tool in my bag of tricks.

Would one have to feed garlic daily for an extended period of time before damage occurred? Is there anyone that actually takes the time to soak every feeding in garlic before serving the fish their meal? I’d imagine that the frequency of feeding garlic would have to be high in number for an extended period greater than 16 days straight. I pick that number because I’ve personally fed a Royal Gramma that was housed in QT and being treated for MI,  food soaked in garlic and Selcon, 3 times per day, for right around 16 days  until it began eating the food without having to be enticed to do so. The fish survived and continued life for another two years before passing on to the big blue in the sky. That isn’t the only fish I’ve QT’d and fed garlic to but I remember it so well because it was a new arrival, the first marine fish I’ve purchased to ever come down with any ailment in QT and the length of time I had to work to get it to eat.

I’ll continue using garlic to get my fish to eat when they won’t despite what I’ve read. I’ve used it to get fish to eat for a few years, off and on of course. I’ve never lost a fish to what I would believe is garlic liver disease or renal failure brought on by onion overdose. Personally I love garlic, on my bread, in my pies and pasta. Hmm, maybe that’s why I’ve been having those abdominal pains on the right. Naw,  probably the Windsor.

  • Michael D. Phelps

    I'm an 18 year old with 26 years of experience. I live in the southeast corner of South Dakota with my wife, the 3 of 7 children who still live at home, two dogs and a whole bunch of fish. I've been keeping fish prisoner in glass boxes for 37 years.


  1. Rich Ross

    Fantastic. Could you get me a link to the thread? Thanks!

  2. mavl666

    I have to agree with the above. I would hang a few cloves in the tank to entice sick fish to eat. Not for long maybe a week at most.


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