a product profile by PondDoc.com
This article was updated February 28, 2008.
Fish health and pond professionals such as myself are always seeking alternative and better means of healing our koi and goldfish. That is why I was very excited when I met Mr. Gary Jones of Aquarium Pharmaceuticals and he told me about Melafix. This was, of course, when Melafix was new to the market. He asked me if I would test it and generously supplied me with several gallons of it for testing purposes. This article will delve into the claims on the label, reveal the results of my tests and recommend a treatment regimen to treat ulcers and bacterial problems with koi and goldfish.
Melafix is a patented aquarium and pond product made from tea tree oil developed and manufactured by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. It is promoted to heal fish with ulcers caused from Aeromonas bacteria. Heres what the manufacturer claims:
Rapidly Repairs Damaged Fins
Heals Open Wounds and Ulcers
Stops Mouth Fungus
Treats Fin and Tail Rot
I did not find this product to be the silver bullet weve all been searching for. It is not the one-step cure for all ulcerated fish, however, it does promote faster healing of ulcers when used concurrently with other proven treatments and does a fair job of aiding in the repair of broken fins and fin rot.
In one test conducted on small koi in a hospital tank for 2 weeks on dosages of Melafix the ulcers did indeed recede. Unfortunately, they never quite went away. These ulcers were not swabbed with any type of topical scrub and no antibiotics were administered. The only medication used was Melafix. Improvement in the kois ulcerated condition was apparent but the ulcers did not totally heal.
On a second test with small koi, prior to starting them on Melafix treatment, I swabbed the ulcers with Betadine then put them in a 4-hour bath of Furazone Green to destroy much of the external bacteria on the koi. After the bath they were placed in the hospital tank and treated for 10 days with Melafix. After 14 days the ulcers were completely healed.
A third test was done on six large ulcerated koi (14 to 18 inches long). These koi were also swabbed with Betadine and put into a Furazone Green bath. My results were mixed. Three koi with less advanced ulcers started to heal. Two koi with more advanced ulcers did not heal but did not get worse. One fishs ulcer after 10 days of treatment continued to grow. This fish eventually died which prompted me to inject all five remaining fish with Amikacin for 4 consecutive days. The remaining koi healed quite quickly.
In all test cases any parasites were eradicated before testing began and test tanks were heated to 73°.
My opinion is that Melafix is a good product - one that should be used in treatment of ulcers and fin rot or damage. Is it a cure-all? No. Will your fish be cured in all cases when used? No. When used in conjunction with other methods such as bath treatments, scrubs and antibiotics will you get quick healing and a higher percentage of saved fish? A definite YES.
Since my testing of the product was conducted we have better products available to use along with the Melafix to hasten the healing process. Injecting fish with antibiotics is pretty much a thing of the past with the introduction of these new products -- which is a good thing because it has always been hard for the average koi pond owner to give injections to their fish and injections do cause stress on the fish (as well as the owner). So, with that in mind, here is my recommendation for treating ulcer disease:
#1 - If the fish have parasites, get rid of them to stop the "cause" of the ulcers.
Many times we find that bacterial problems such as ulcers are caused by complications from parasites. It is a safe bet that if you purchased new fish within a couple of months before noticing the ulcers parasites are the culprit. If you suspect that parasites are a problem treat the pond with Doc's Prescription Parasite Pak. Both parasite treatments in the Pak must be completed and a 20% water change performed before proceeding to the next step. Don't forget to de-chlorinate the water if using a chlorinated water source.
Learn More About Parasites HERE.
#2 - Treat the whole pond with Melafix.
Follow directions on the bottle and treat the whole pond with Melafix. Note that Melafix will create foam when first put into your system. Do not worry. The foam will go away. It will also give off an odd odor. Expect the odor to hang around a while. Treat the pond for 7 days. The pond water does not have to be warm for the Melafix to work and it's a good idea to treat the pond also - even if you treat infected fish separately in a hospital tank.
#3 - Treat infected fish separately
It's important that the fish be kept in a warmed environment during the treatment process - not for the Melafix's sake but because antibiotics do not work in cold water plus fish heal better when their bodies are above 65 degrees. If the pond is colder than that, place the fish showing signs of infection in a heated hospital tank and use Melafix as directed on the label. Use Doc's Prescription Lil' Dab-a-do for 3 consecutive days. Scrub all ulcerated areas, infected fins and infected mouth with "gusto" the first day then gently on the 2nd and 3rd day. It usually does not take a 4th day but go ahead and extend the treatment if the ulcers are not well on their way to being healed. Healed ulcers will turn white.
#4 - Feed Doc's Prescription Triple Antibiotic Food
For the antibiotics in the food to work, the water must be warm so if the pond water is warm, by all means, feed all the fish the triple antibiotic food (which actually has 4 antibiotics in it). Definitely feed visibly infected fish the antibiotic food. This food is formulated so that some of it sinks (for fish too weak to eat off the surface) while some of it floats for the fish who are still healthy enough to eat normally. Feed only the antibiotic food for two weeks then take them off the food completely.
Triple Antibiotic Food
This is the most effective treatment regimen we can recommend. By eradicating any parasites, treating the pond and hospital tank with healing-inducing Melafix and using the quick-working Lil' Dab-a-Do ulcer scrub and feeding Triple Antibiotic Food you attack the problem from all sides. It should only take a few days, once you begin the ulcer treatments, to see results.
Here a few other products that you might need:
Tricide Neo Antibiotic Dip
Don't forget the De-Chlorinator. You'll need to do several water changes...[../../Store/WaterTreatment/Dechlor/DocsDeChlor.htm]
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