Got a betta fish with fin rot?
You might’ve been recommended Melafix or Bettafix by API.
While these products might seem like they’re designed to treat an infected fish quickly, the wrong treatment may actually do more harm than good.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about fin rot and why Melafix might not be the best treatment for this common fish disease!
What is fin rot?
Fin rot is a bacterial or fungal infection (Aeromonas sp., Pseudomonas sp., or Vibrio sp.) that affects fish fins and sometimes, other areas of flesh. Usually, this results in weak, tattered fins that eventually start to tear and disintegrate.
In most cases, fin rot is caused by poor water quality and infrequent water changes that weaken your betta’s immunity, and provide a breeding ground for bacteria, and invite infection.
For most hobbyists, the treatment for fin rot is as simple as keeping up with complete clean water changes and improving water conditions. However, for more extreme cases, stronger treatment is recommended.
One of the most commonly recommended medications is Melafix or Bettafix, though some believe that these products do more harm than good for your betta.
What is Melafix?
Melafix is an antibacterial fish remedy that also promotes the regrowth of damaged fins and tissue. This product is recommended for fin rot, as well as cloudy eyes and general cuts and scrapes.
But how does this medication exactly work? For that, we need to look at the ingredients.
Melafix claims to be an all-natural treatment containing tea tree oil from the Melaleuca genus, also known as myrtles. More specifically, the active ingredient is cajeput oil 1%.
While tea tree oil has been used for centuries as a form of medicine, this cure-all doesn’t exactly work best for betta fish.
Melafix and betta fish
The problem with using Melafix to treat your betta is that your betta fish has a labyrinth organ.
This lung-like organ allows betta fish to breathe atmospheric air in case water conditions and dissolved oxygen levels deteriorate.
However, it’s long been said that tea tree oil will cover the labyrinth organ when dosed, making it difficult for fish with labyrinth organs to breathe. Some hobbyists even think that a layer of Melafix at the top of the water will impede the ability to breathe.
Many of these claims come from the fact that the fish owner administered a dose of Melafix, and the fish died within minutes, making it seem like the medication was the problem. But is this a direct result of the Melafix?
There are a couple of reasons why this might have happened instead:
1. Your betta fish was already dying.
When fish become sick, they are very susceptible to changes in water parameters. A small fluctuation in temperature or other parameters can be enough to kill your betta fish if they’re already too far gone.
This could potentially be the same case with a betta fish that has been treated with Melafix.
As mentioned before, medications are only recommended in extreme cases and are often seen as a last resort for treating fish disease and illness.
If your betta fish was already too far gone and you treated it with Melafix, there is a possibility that the change in water conditions stressed out and killed your fish and not the actual medication.
2. You overdosed on the medication.
Melafix has been widely available in the hobby for years and experts have perfected the correct dosage to treat disease and illness.
The recommended normal dosage for Melafix is 5 ml per 10 gallons (37.9 L); remember that only 1% of this is actually tea tree oil.
Unfortunately, many hobbyists are desperate to try to save a dying fish. If treatment is done incorrectly, this can mean overloading the system with several medications.
Even though you’re not directly administering the medication as you would for other animals, the treatments will start to harm the betta fish in excess concentrations.
Not only will this create additional stress that your weak fish might not be able to regulate, but it can also create other internal problems that can quickly lead to death or permanent damage.
Adhere to the dosing instructions, and this can easily be avoided.
What is Bettafix?
But what if you use Bettafix? This medication is designed explicitly for bettas, so it must work, right?
Well, there’s a lot of controversy around Bettafix that is similar to the argument about Melafix. To understand it more, we need to look at the ingredients.
Bettafix is exactly the same as Melafix, but less concentrated.
This medication is an all-natural antibacterial that uses tea tree oil from myrtle plants (Melaleuca genus). More specifically, it contains 0.2% cajeput oil as opposed to the 1% that Melafix has.
Even in smaller concentrations, hobbyists still believe that the oil can cover the fish’s labyrinth organ, making breathing difficult and leading to an untimely death.
Fact vs. fiction
The debate on Melafix and Bettafix is ongoing.
Not many studies have been made to prove that tea tree oil detrimentally affects breathing, but hobbyists keep losing fish.
If you’re worried about dosing these medications, try other treatment methods first. While these treatments might be more time-consuming and less effective in emergency cases, they’re the safest and most proven ways for treating fin rot.
If you’re left with no other options, and it’s truly a life or death situation, then Melafix or Bettafix could be a final resort. Just make sure that you follow the instructions carefully to avoid any chance of overdose.
The best ways to treat fin rot
Luckily, there are many other ways to treat fin rot safely with little to no additional costs.
Again, the most common cause of fin rot is poor water conditions or dirty water. Your fish’s immunity weakens, and bacterial infection becomes likely.
Many hobbyists also like to use freshwater aquarium salt to boost slime coat production and help with physiological regulation.
The best ways to treat fin rot are:
- Water changes
- Aquarium salt
- Indian almond leaves
- Increased aeration
- Maracyn, Waterlife Myxazin, and Kanaplex
It is usually best to start with more natural treatments and progress to medications if the infection is mild enough. In more severe cases, it’s best to go straight to medications.
To further understand how fin rot works and how to treat it, make sure to check out Betta Fish Fin Rot: Causes And Cures.
Melafix and Bettafix are notorious in the aquarium hobby for treating betta fish with the common disease known as fin rot.
While they might be labeled as all-natural due to their tea tree oil content, it is said that these oils can cover the labyrinth organ, making breathing difficult for your betta fish.
However, other hobbyists suggest that betta death after dosing Melafix or Bettafix is usually just an untimely death resulting from overdosing.
If you have any questions about Melafix or Bettafix, have had experience treating fin rot, or have used one of these medications in your own freshwater aquarium, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!