What’s in Tetra’s “Lifeguard” Product and What Does It Do?

You should consider Tetra’s Lifeguard product to be one of the best ‘antibacterial’ medicines out there right now. It’s not an antibiotic which IMMEDIATELY puts it ahead of all the rest because it doesn’t need to be absorbed and it doesn’t work like an antibiotic.

Resistance is not possible because this compound KILLS germs on contact. Without (hopefully) killing the fish. The simplest way to look at it is that it’s a VERY dilute version of chlorine. Except it’s not chlorine, it’s not even chloramine-T. But it DOES involve a chlorine effect. That’s why you shouldn’t use it on scaleless fish. They are too sensitive.

What’s in Tetra’s “Lifeguard” Product and What Does It Do?

Tetra’s Lifeguard product is pretty much “alone” on the market with: 1-CHLORO-2,2,5,5-TETRAMETHYL-4-IMIDAZOLIDINONE

It’s a “halamine disinfectant” and it’s been created with several molecules including Chlorine, Fluorine, and Bromine.

The Lifeguard product is VERY close to Chloramine-T
But it kills more stuff, and it kills stuff faster. But it’s almost as caustic. Further, it WILL kill flukes and some other parasites, but that hasn’t been 100% doped out by ME, yet. More experience is needed. I would use this product MAINLY for finrot, mouthrot, fungal infections, cotton wool disease, body slime, or body sores.

If I was attacking parasites, I would use something else. Perhaps their Ich-Guard product. If I thought Flukes were at work, I’d choose API’s General Cure instead.

How Tetra Lifeguard Works:

They put the halamine compound (1-CHLORO-2,2,5,5-TETRAMETHYL-4-IMIDAZOLIDINONE) into a chunk of magnesium sulfate. When you put that into the tank it dissolves / dissociates slowly over 6 hours to release UP TO but NOT MORE THAN 20ppm of the compound. That’s kind of a ‘thing’ because if the compound were to dissolve faster it would exceed 20ppm and burn the fish. Follow label instructions CLOSELY. Note that the chunks treat the system for roughly 6 to 8 hours- – which is why you have to reapply on the daily for several (5) days.

What's in Tetra's "Lifeguard" Product and What Does It Do?
This catfish is dying from a poor environment. Note the spotless gravel and unnatural environment. Stress kills this fish. A sponge filter would be aerating AND removing microscopic material from the water. Sponge filters can be rapidly cycled from the main tank.

What’s in Tetra’s “Lifeguard” Product and What Does It Do?

Here’s this on the active*:

Many environmental stressors are associated with the intensive culture of fish. These include poor water quality, overcrowding, insufficient dissolved oxygen, rapid environmental changes, poor nutrition and poor handling practices. The stress induced by these environmental and management practices can result in reduced growth, poor feed conversion as well as increased susceptibility to disease. Outbreaks of most parasites and many bacteria, including Flavobacterium columnare can also follow stressful episodes and if not remedied disease can occur. Few therapeutants are available for the treatment of disease in fish populations, fewer still that will work in both fresh and saltwater. One class of compounds, N-halamines, originally developed as human drinking water disinfectants, has shown promise against external parasites and bacteria of both freshwater and marine fish. The compounds are 1,3-dichloro 2,2,5,5-tetramethyl-4-imidazolidinone (DC) and 1-chloro 2,2,5,5-tetramethyl-4-imidazolidinone (MC). N-halamine compounds are so named because of the presence of one or two chlorine atoms (halogens) attached to a carbon ring structure. The precursor of these compounds is a stabilizer of free chlorine or a chlorine adjuvant. The stabilizing action of the ring structure reduces the toxicity of the chlorine to the animal and prevents bromine substitution in saltwater applications. This presentation** will provide an overview of the research conducted to date using these compounds in the treatment and prevention of diseases in fish and shellfish as well as providing an update on the progress made towards establishing an INAD.

You can read these things if you’re really nerdy:

Tetra Lifeguard Product Page and Testimonials (PDF)

Tetra Lifeguard Patent Application (PDF)

**Tetra Lifeguard Molecule Discussion: USDA (PDF)

Dr Erik Johnson is a Marietta, Georgia Veterinarian with a practice in small animal medicine. He graduated from University of Georgia with his Doctorate in 1991. Dr Johnson is the author of several texts on Koi and Pond Fish Health and Disease as well as numerous articles on dog and cat health topics.