View Full Version : MelaFix

10th August 2004, 11:47
I went to the petshop today (they actually know about axolotls there) and bought some MelaFix to treat the fungal problem I've been having recently. It's active ingredient is Cajeput Oil, and it smells like Tea Tree! It doesn't have malachite green or the other blue whatchamit, and the petshop had used it successfully on their axies, so I feel pretty safe using it.

Was wondering if anyone's come across it before? It's not listed on the safe/unsafe lists.

10th August 2004, 13:11
Melafix is made with tea tree oil and is safe for fish, so I don't think it'd harm axolotls. You meed to make sure your water is well aerated though, and take the carbon out of your filter, or it won't do much good. I say aeration is important because I once used it with a betta I had quarantined in a large bucket with just a heater, no filter, and it knocked the fish right out! He went completely limp and I thought he was dead until I swished him around in clean water!

There is also a product called Pimafix, made by the same company as Melafx. One helps with bacterial infections, the other with fungal infections. I can't remember which is which, but it should say on the label anyway... Careful with Pimafix, if you overdose it will kill them (again, from experience- killed 3 gorgeous male bettas! http://www.caudata.org/forum/clipart/sad.gif ) I've used both with new fish before going into any "real" medicines, and the stuff works wonders, especially for quick healing of torn fins!

Again, not sure if it's safe for axies, but yeah, it's good stuff.

11th August 2004, 02:14
Melafix is easy to overdose as it is passed readily through the skin and is liver toxic. Off the top of my head if I remember correctly the active ingredients are similar to turpentine. There are some past threads in the archives on melafix as well as some links to deaths of animals caused by overdoses.

12th August 2004, 02:01
Eeek! That's good to know, thanks Ed! I'm going to go read those now...

12th August 2004, 07:04
ok, cool, thanks guys. i'll do a water change today and continue with a half dose. they seem to be responding well so far.

16th August 2004, 08:44
I went through the archives to find this:

May 24, 2004.

I would suggest being very careful with the melafix as this is an extract from the melaleuca tree and has been shown to be toxic to mammals and is readily absorbed through the skin (see Villar D, Knight MJ, Hansen SR, Buck WB. Toxicity of melaleuca oil and related essential oils applied topically on dogs and cats. Vet Human Toxicol. 1994;36(2):139-142.

Abstract: "Cases of melaleuca oil toxiosis have been reported by veterinarians to the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) when the oil was appled dermally to dogs and cats. In most cases, the oil was used to treat dermatologic conditions at inappropriate high doses. The typical signs observed were depression, weakness, incoordination and muscle tremors. The active ingredients of commercial melaleuca oil are predominantly cyclic terpenes. Treatment of clinical signs and supportive care has been sufficient to achieve recovery without sequelae within 2-3 days."

"Toxicity: The most common clinical signs reported to the Animal Poison Control Center by veterinarians with adverse reactions in dogs and cats after dermal exposure of melaleuca oil include ataxia, incoordination, weakness, tremors, behavioral disorders and depression. The acute toxcicity (rabbit dermal LD 50 and rat oral LC 50) for the major terpenic compounds (linalool, ocimene, alpha-terpinene, 1,8-cineole, terpinolene, camphene) ranges between 2 and 5 g/kg body weight, which is considered a moderately toxic range. From a toxicologic standpoint melaleuca oil can be compared to oil of turpentine, which is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and skin.")


How similar are amphibian bodies to mammalian bodies? It says there that the test were done using commercial melaleuca oil. Melafix comes in 1% and 5% dilutions, whereas the melaleuca oils I can find online are mostly 100% concentrations sold as "Essential oils." They seem to come in different grades though,(T36-C5, T36-C7, T40-C3 etc.) so I'm assuming some are more pure than others.

This site (http://www.exoticbird.com/gillian/teatree.html) has quite a few reports of toxicity in humans, birds, and animals, but I can't find anything saying it's toxic to fish and amphibs.

A site for Melafix, made by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals: http://www.koivet.com/html/articles/articles_results.php?article_id=104&category=13&se arch_term=MelaFix

Since my fish have never shown the negative effects of melaleuca that researchers have seen in mammals, and I've used it quite a bit in brackish, tropical, and cold water tanks, I do feel confident using it with my fish. With axolotls though, I'm really not sure!

Has anyone heard of studies done SPECIFICALLY with amphibians, or has anyone seen any of these symptoms of toxicity (muscle tremors, depression, weakness etc...) when using melafix on their axies?

Or maybe melaleuca would be toxic to fish also if you were applying 2-5g/kg of body weight of 100% melaleuca oil? It's just weird to me- on sites where it's being sold for human use, it says it's an irritant to the mucous membranes, so shouldn't it then REALLY hurt fish, especially my puffers that I used it on, who're scaleless and have no gill covers to protect them?!?!

Oi. I'm really confused!

16th August 2004, 21:39
Hi Leah,
I will say this, at this time you may never see a toxilogical test done on an amphibian that was not part of an enviromental assay. The same pretty much goes for fish.
The models used for amphibians and drugs are the ones developed for birds and mammals and to date they are generally consistant for biological activity.
The different numbers used in the test appear to be different concentrations.
As it is an item that is liver toxic it can take days to months to years before long term effects become evident (ex. liver damage from drinking).
Amphibian skin is even more porus to some substances than mammalian skin due to its role in osmotic regulation and gas exchange.

According to the vets at work, they would expect anything that irritates your mucous membranes to irritate the skin of amphibians and the gills of fish.
When the pet store I worked at treated the systems with melafix I observed multiple stress behaviors in the fish such as rapid breathing.


18th August 2004, 05:10
Awful http://www.caudata.org/forum/clipart/sad.gif

So the rapid fin re-growth from torn and bitten fins probably happens because the injured area is being irritated, which kind of jump-starts the body's natural healing process? Poor fishies!

I guess people used to think strychnine was a stimulant, and even tylenol can kill you, so I can't be too surprised that melaleuca is dangerous too lol. Its too bad that we still haven't discovered medicines that could cure illness without harming our bodies in the long run!

SO- where does that leave us for treating fish diseases? Most of the meds out there are deadly if you overdose, so how do we decide which ones are safe for a week or two of use? I'm not trying to say melafix is good- I certainly don't want to be the one giving my fish or axie liver damage- just trying to be thorough. Are our only options then stricter quarantine periods and more vigilant testing/maintenance of pristine water quality? If your animals get sick and a product like melafix can help them recover, would you still use it, knowing the dangers?

18th August 2004, 08:35
yeah, even on fish it causes burns sometimes. i only found this out after i got a bloody great tub of it! anyway, i wouldnt. i think axo skin is probably more sensitive than fish skin so i wouldnt try it.

19th August 2004, 09:50
A lot of the issues people have with Melafix is that they inadvertently OD the drug. If you are going to use it, get a 1mL syringe from your vet or chemist, and use that to meter out the doses.

I have used it for quite a while and never had any ill effects on fish or axies, tho, i do know people who have had problems (on questioning, most had gotten their dose rates all muddled and dosed about 10x what was needed)

I prefer Pimafix. It seems more effective in a shorter amount of time, and well, it smells better :P

do remember that its like dettol, you only need it to help prevent infection, once the wound is healed, its not going to do you any more good.

As a general rule, when working with axies, i choose the fish medications that say "safe for scaleless fish and morymids" as they are the most touchy fish. usually there is a reduced dose rate that goes with that.