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It seems this pops up every so often here on the forums.. but it looks like it's being mentioned again more lately so thought I'd throw this up here. I know, most of you guys are aware of the dangers of using Bettafix, and that most here will recommend not to use it. But I want to help others become aware of the dangers this medication poses to bettas..

I know it can be used and not have any harm done- it's not a killer each and every time it is used. But it kills enough that it is very noticeable, and a hot topic/debate on many forums that deal with certain fish species. And not just Bettafix, but it's mother Melafix. It's everyone's choice whether to use it or not, but generally it is not recommended because of the harm it can cause our lovely betta fish.

Here is the run down, plain and simple of Bettafix:

Many people have reported firsthand the sudden deaths of their bettas after using this product. Now, that depends on what the fish was ill with when the medication(s) were used.. too many reports and not enough information to obtain a % on whether the deaths were caused by the medications. But enough deaths have followed the use of this particular medication when treating something as simple as fin rot to cause a concern among hobbyists that care for Perch, Combtail, Ctenopia or Ctenopoma, Betta, Gourami, Pencil fish and Paradisefish, etc.

Labyrinth fish, like bettas and gouramis, can be seriously injured or even killed (according to many reports) by the use of BettaFix or MelaFix, the stronger formula. While other fish can tolerate melaleuca extract (the active ingredient in Betta/MelaFix) quite well, the labyrinth organ present in bettas is highly sensitive to it. The melaleuca can burn the labyrinth organ and at high enough concentrations or with enough exposure, can damage the labyrinth organ to the point that the fish cannot breathe with it. These fish cannot breathe using their gills alone and will suffocate as a result of this.

Also, note that melaleuca is a harsh antiseptic and an irritant, speeding the healing of torn fins and tissue by irritating the injury site to speed up healing. This would be similar to putting alcohol on a wound.
Unfortunately, it is an irritant that seems to have an adverse effect on certain fish. Most fish can handle melaleuca just fine, this includes most "scaleless" fishes as well. So far, the fish that seem to have problems with melaleuca are anabantoids and pencilfish. Since it is an irritant, it is not unlike using alcohol or peroxide on a cut or a scrape. The melaleuca irritates the cells to speed the healing process. With most fish this would be fine and it wouldn't harm the fish in any way, but labyrinth breathers are different. Their labyrinth organs are sensitive to the melaleuca and with a full dose of Melafix, you can kill a betta or a gourami within a few days. The labyrinth organ is the most important organ in a betta's body, that is it's lung. Like humans, if an irritative chemical gets into our lungs, we will have adverse problems from it, possibly even death, the same goes for bettas with a dose of straight Melafix.

Yes, the ingredients are watered down in Bettafix- but since it requires you to put in a whole dose every day for 7 days before a water change, you are actually putting in quite a bit of it in there.. and it has been known to kill MANY bettas within days of use.. not just one or two.

If you look at the ingredients for Bettafix, what do you see?
Melaleuca CAS #8008-98-8: 0.2%
Inert ingredients: 99.8% (These are ingredients that in and of themselves don't do a whole lot other then make the main ingredient more potent.. that is the lackey chemistry description.)
BettaFix is telling you to use 5 times as much BettaFix as the amount of Melafix you would normally use (0.5tsp per gallon rather than 0.1tsp per gallon). BettaFix is 1/5th the strength. So... you're using the exact same amount of Melaleuca.

According to the American Cancer Society: "Tea tree oil (Melaleuca) is toxic when swallowed. It has been reported to cause drowsiness, confusion, hallucinations, coma, unsteadiness, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach upset, blood cell abnormalities, and severe rashes. It should be kept away from pets and children."
External application of tea tree oil undiluted and/or at inappropriate high doses has been associated with toxicity, including death, in cats and other animals, due to ingestion. If used in concentrations below 4% or particularly below 0.25%, tea tree oil may fail to kill bacteria and create selection pressure, which may result in them becoming less sensitive to tea tree oil and even some antibiotics.. so in the medication of Melafix and Bettafix, there isn't enough to actually do what the medication says it does, but it is still putting the animal at risk.

Basically Tea Tree oil (Melaleuca, Melaleuca alternifolia) is a phenol-containing essential oil. Its active ingredients are cyclic terpenes which have a similar structure and action to turpentine (a known liver toxin). The acute toxicity for the major terpenic compounds (linalool, ocimene, alpha-terpinene, 1,8-cineole, terpinolene, camphene) is 2 - 5 g/kg body weight, which is considered a moderately toxic range. From a toxicological point of view Tea Tree oil is comparable to oil of turpentine, which is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and then finds its way to the liver. What may be the problem is that under certain conditions Melafix may be toxic to the liver in Labyrinth fish.

The best research shows similarities between TTO and Turpentine (both are terpenes, but then so is beta carotene), is that in an acidic environment, in particular an environment with nitric acid or other acids as a result of organic decomposition such as carbonic acid, the chemical reaction can produce chemicals that may harm the liver in certain fish that have a tendency to ingest the water around them such as Labyrinth fish/Pencil fish (via the surface). Certain terpenes such as turpentine are actually explosive when combined with nitric acid (this chemical reaction is used in rocket fuels!). On a VERY small scale (aquarium environment) some similar reaction may be happening that with certain fish can cause death. This would also explain why this problem has never been noted in marine fish even though they constantly drink the water around them, since marine fish are always kept in an alkaline environment.

Melafix/Bettafix is primarily effective only with minor injuries and gram positive bacterial infections. This is worthy of note since most aquarium infections are gram negative and using a product such as Melafix/Bettafix for a disease such as fin rot will only result in failure.

The information is out there, you just have to know where to look, and how to weed through the pharmaceutical ads who want you to buy their product.

This is just a little information that I have found in hopes to help clear up some of the questions concerning Bettafix/Melafix and why it's generally not recommended. I know I didn't go into great detail, but I feel it's enough to show that there is some danger, and some concern when using this product on a betta. Especially for something simple such as fin rot or a torn fin.
It's a risk that many people make, and whether or not it was Bettafix/Melafix that actually killed the fish.. the numbers just have not been researched enough to come to a positive conclusion. It's your choice as owners whether to use this product or not, but I will always side against it and give safer alternatives to treatment, and I ask that if you wish to recommend this medication that you let the other person know the risk they are taking when using it for their fish.
 

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90% of reviews online are good reviews. If someone has a problem with fin Rot they should look it up themselves and read the reviews. There's not many bad reviews and the ones that are bad are people over dosing or using it for the wrong reason. It someone has a fish with something like finrot they should look into.this product. They'll read the reviews and decide on their own. Or get it and use less then the recommended dose or do a water change while using.
 

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If there is a small chance something could go wrong with my boys, I won't use it. Cons outweigh the pros on this one for me. Thank you for posting this Myates, I shall bookmark it!

Plain clean water has worked wonders for finrot for us, and AQ salts if extra boost is needed. We also use double Stress Coat. I brought my latest boy home with fins missing, and they are already grown back.
 

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The only problem is that I highly doubt a company like API is going to intentionally market a product at a specific species of fish that is going to either kill it or cause possible serious harm.

The trouble is, the only reports we have as to its supposed toxicity is anecdotal at best. Unless it has been tested in a laboratory under controlled conditions, it's impossible to tell whether it was the melafix/bettafix responsible for the death of these fish.

People here use roots and branches from actual melaleuca trees in their tanks, and the only deaths I have ever seen as a result of this, was a species of pencilfish.

I haven't seen the hysteria that surrounds melafix/bettafix in Australia as I have seen overseas. In fact, our main importer for show quality splendens actually recommends its use.

all fish should be treated with melafix/pimafix or heavy ketapang dose on arrival. keep this in the water for several days. this should keep any disease at bay until the fish gets back to strength
if you suspect something worse treat with antibiotics staight away.
Since I know for a fact she imports probably hundreds of bettas and other sensitive fish a year, I am surprised that she would advise its use if it was truly as toxic as claimed.

I myself have used it, and aside from the smell, didn't notice any signs of distress. I also didn't notice much of an improvement.

Honestly, the only reason I don't use it, is because clean, warm water, high-protein food and ketapang leaves are generally enough to encourage healing and new growth.
 

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IMO IAL leaves and warm clean water should be used for things like rot. Its less stressful and cheaper.
 

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Exactly to littlebettafish I agree with you medicines should only be used in dire emergency if it doesn't heal with warm water and salt. For instance I tried the warm and salt for quite a bit with it just getting worse so j added betta fix and it has gotten so much better . and to pitluvs any medication can put a fish at risk.
 

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An add on my husband overdosed his betta with bad fin rot. 3 table spoons for 5 gallons when its supposed to be 2.5 teaspoons and the betta is perfectly fine still after 2 days.
 

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Exactly to littlebettafish I agree with you medicines should only be used in dire emergency if it doesn't heal with warm water and salt. For instance I tried the warm and salt for quite a bit with it just getting worse so j added betta fix and it has gotten so much better . and to pitluvs any medication can put a fish at risk.
Ok, let me put it differently. Any medication with this much controversy online within the Betta community... no thanks! Any medication I have had to use, does not have hot topics about them :)
 

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I've heard good reviews and I've heard bad reviews. I've used it in the past with no poor effects, but it certainly didn't do anything to help my fish recover from fin rot.

For most things, I'll always use clean, warm water with IAL. If I need a medication for a dire disease, I will get one that is more effective than tea tree oil.

This being said, it helped clear up columnaris on the goldfish. I wouldn't mind using it on him again, but not on my bettas. Too much controversy.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Have you personally ever use bettafix or melafix.
No, I have never used it, nor will I when there are safer ways to treat ailments. I have not had a case where I need medications on any fish in the last 15 years except for this one boy I have, who when I purchased him had a bacterial infection along with internal parasites. The last time I had to treat any fish from anything was an ich outbreak in a tropical tank 15 years ago. I have been very lucky in that regard.. (Not in any way saying a fish becoming ill is saying the owner is negligent- it does happen for any number of reasons and to good owners.)

90% of reviews online are good reviews. If someone has a problem with fin Rot they should look it up themselves and read the reviews. There's not many bad reviews and the ones that are bad are people over dosing or using it for the wrong reason. It someone has a fish with something like finrot they should look into.this product. They'll read the reviews and decide on their own. Or get it and use less then the recommended dose or do a water change while using.
It's not usually the Bettafix that will treat the rot (as the bacteria is neg and Bettafix tends to target gram pos bacteria).. it is usually the clean water that is actually treating the rot. Have to look into the reason rot happens to begin with to see that what helps the most is clean water.
It's very easy to overdose when trying to measure out for smaller tanks, or QT tanks.. most medications target 10 gallons and larger when it comes to dosing. Not putting in the correct dose (less) isn't going to be doing much either..

I do hope your husband emptied the water and put in the correct dose..

If there is a small chance something could go wrong with my boys, I won't use it. Cons outweigh the pros on this one for me. Thank you for posting this Myates, I shall bookmark it!

Plain clean water has worked wonders for finrot for us, and AQ salts if extra boost is needed. We also use double Stress Coat. I brought my latest boy home with fins missing, and they are already grown back.
Exactly, there are safer ways to treat different ailments, why I personally prefer to recommend them over something that is controversial and has been blamed for many deaths.

This medication, namely Melafix, isn't a bad medication- why there are good reviews. BUT you have to look at the specific species it is being used on. Is this a good medication for, say, a tetra? Sure! But is it safe for a betta? No because of an ingredient that has been known, and is warned against, to harm specific functions of their systems.
Bettafix is pretty much like infant's medication- very watered down but has the same ingredients as adult medication. Would you give your baby an adult medication? No, because it can cause bad side effects for the baby. So you give them infant's medication. Do infant's medication actually work? Actually, not really.. it helps reduce symptoms, but it doesn't do anything for the actual cough, just lessens it to help soothe them. Bettafix is an "infant's medication" but with an ingredient that has potential to harm.


It is up to each person to research before using medication on their fish. But a lot of people will trust what is being told to them on forums such as this one, and will blindly follow what they are recommended. Why some of us are very particular as to what we recommend when it comes to treatment.
I am very careful about what I tell people to do when it comes to treating their fish- each case is different, so you have to judge accordingly. Tossing out a medication in situations such as a torn fin can lead to a dead fish very easily- and not just with Bettafix, as all medications are rough on the fish.
It is always ideal to start with something easy and safe for the fish first and work your way up if after you have exhausted all other measures of treatment that is safe. And even then there are some good medications out there that are a bit safer then others.
 

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Not all facts straight

"Bettafix is pretty much like infant's medication- very watered down but has the same ingredients as adult medication. Would you give your baby an adult medication? No, because it can cause bad side effects for the baby. So you give them infant's medication. Do infant's medication actually work? Actually, not really.. it helps reduce symptoms, but it doesn't do anything for the actual cough, just lessens it to help soothe them. Bettafix is an "infant's medication" but with an ingredient that has potential to harm."


I can see where you are going with this, but biologically, it makes no sense. Bettafix is nothing like an infant's medication. Infants medication is a suppressant of symptoms, not an antiobiotic. Bettafix is more like an infant's dose of antiobiotic, which does actually fix the source (bacteria) of the problem. I do understand that there can be potentially dangerous side effects to this medication, but it is a good one for last resort. For example: I have done everything in my power, hours and hours and hours of research, to help my new betta with his fin rot. Including 20% water changes in his tank every other day, double stress coat, AS, raw betta diets, etc...(all at different periods). After 2 months, It was only getting worse, to the point where his fins were receeding almost to his body. The problem is, that most fin rot is not due to a certain bacteria that can only be treated with medication. Most of the time, the owners are not doing their job by providing a healthy tank environment, (3+ gallon tank, fresh plants, etc, clean warm water, etc...) and they also do not give their betta the correct diet. Fin rot due to these reasons WILL NOT be healed by bettafix or any other antibacterial medication. However, if all standards are being taken into consideration and the betta is still sick, he will need to be treated with something like betta fix. I would recommend using half dose for seven days and continue to do 5-10% water changes daily, then do a 20-40% water change weekly for 3 weeks. Sometimes, just like humans, the disease is due to a bacteria that is not succeptable to salts, or the betta immune system is not strong enough to fight it off. I hope this helps to clarify things for people who have sick beta's. I am a big proponent of natural healing, but we don't want our bettas to die either.
 

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The only problem is that I highly doubt a company like API is going to intentionally market a product at a specific species of fish that is going to either kill it or cause possible serious harm.

The trouble is, the only reports we have as to its supposed toxicity is anecdotal at best. Unless it has been tested in a laboratory under controlled conditions, it's impossible to tell whether it was the melafix/bettafix responsible for the death of these fish.

People here use roots and branches from actual melaleuca trees in their tanks, and the only deaths I have ever seen as a result of this, was a species of pencilfish.

I haven't seen the hysteria that surrounds melafix/bettafix in Australia as I have seen overseas. In fact, our main importer for show quality splendens actually recommends its use.



Since I know for a fact she imports probably hundreds of bettas and other sensitive fish a year, I am surprised that she would advise its use if it was truly as toxic as claimed.

I myself have used it, and aside from the smell, didn't notice any signs of distress. I also didn't notice much of an improvement.

Honestly, the only reason I don't use it, is because clean, warm water, high-protein food and ketapang leaves are generally enough to encourage healing and new growth.
I agree with everything said here.

I have overdosed by more than 4x for a week with Melafix with no problem whatsoever.

The fact is that the company tests them on a wide range of anabantoids, including sensitive species such as chocolate gouramis and wild type bettas. It's just so incredibly implausible that the company would put warning labels on some products but not on others where a label is necessary.

Too, I wonder why no one ever blames other medications for the death of their fish...
There are tons of speculations and suppositions that get thrown around when the fact of the matter is that a lot of the time fish die we don't know why. It certainly is convenient to blame it on this or that, an I'm sure it makes people feel better to have something to which to point. However, keep enough fish and you'll notice that "healthy" fish drop dead from time to time. It happens. Is it possible that Melafix could push a defective fish over the edge? Sure, I suppose. It's also possible that startling the fish could cause it to pop a gasket. Those are just some of the things that we will never know.

Like was said, the good reviews FAR exceed the bad ones. But also like was said, there are usually better ways to treat issues, and understanding a meds limitations is always critical for its successful use.


Bettafix is the same thing as Melafix. There is absolutely no difference in the tank concentrations when dosed. Bettafixs concentration is lower, but the dosage is higher - makes for dosing small tanks and containers much easier. However, it is NOT a children's med versus an adults med. both have an equal therapeutic value when dosed according to the respective directions.
 
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Yeah, but it's something that probably should be discussed from time to time, especially by a fresh set of posters for a new set of members.
 
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