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Melafix™: A Product Review
by Terry Fairfield
used with permission of the Apitogramma Study Group

Aquarium Pharmaceuticals has devoted numerous years in the pursuit of naturally occurring compounds that promotes fish health or combat fish diseases. The first in what I hope is a long list of nature based medications is a new product called Melafix™.

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Paraphrased from "Uniview" (published by the University of Western Australia). May 1994 issue- "melafix™ is derived from the oil of the Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). The only place M. alternifolia occurs naturaly is in a relatively small area of northern New South Wales, Australia. Due to the increased interest in using the extract from this tree, there are already a number of plantations producing about 100 tons of tea tree oil annually. This production is sold to companies that include it in a wide range of products - shampoos, hair conditioners, soap, cream, gel, lotions, even toothpaste. It is also included in liniments, foot balms, insect repelents and germicides". It is this last usage that was of interest to the developer of Melafix™.

University of Western Australia microbiologist Dr. Tom Riley, and PhD. student Christina Carson have found that the oil will kill many bacteria present in a number of common infections, including some of the staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria. Dr. Riley also found that it is useful for minor cuts and abrasions.

What the researchers for Aquarium Pharmaceuticals have found is that it is effective in promoting the healing of minor injuries of fish. It is also effective in the control of secondary bacterial infections and subsequent fungal infections.

To quote the manual that accompanies Melafix™, Aquarium Pharmaceuticals investigated hundreds of botanical extracts for use against fish diseases. Over six years of research and development by AP resulted in the formulation of Melafix™.

I had received from the manufacturer a number of containers of Melafix™ in which to try. This was in addition to containers received from Jeff Magnus for product testing and review. I procured a few sick fish from some of the local pet stores and treated them according to manufacturers directions.

While it is not effective against external parasites of fish, I have found that it is quite effective against minor fungal infections. Bacterial infections were also controlled using the prescribed dosage.

Why use Melafix™? In the transport of fish, no matter how careful we fishkeepers are, fish can become injured. This occurs when we use nets, chase fish through an aquarium, and during the interaction between fish while in transit. These slight abrasions and damaged fins provide an entry point for bacteria and fungus to invade our fish. The effects of these bacterial infections can cause eroding fins, localized ulcers of the skin, and mouth "fungus". True fungus is a secondary invader and attacks damaged/dead tissue.

Conclusion: Both of these type of infections can progress rapidly, so rapid treatment is a must. To this end, Melafix™ is the current answer. It is not the silver bullet to answer all disease situations, but it is a bullet in the arsenal.
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