Melafix & Pimafix - Why they work and don't work

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Thread: Melafix & Pimafix - Why they work and don't work

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    So CA

    Melafix & Pimafix - Why they work and don't work

    It was the end of my third day at InterZoo 2006 in Nuremberg, GERMANY. Part of my objective for going there was to obtain information regarding fish medications.

    I had the opportunity to speak with people in the (large and impressive) Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Inc. (API) booth. I had a long conversation with their Research Project Manager, including new medication packaging, fish medications in general, and some interesting specifics about Melafix and Pimafix.

    API makes and packages Melafix and Pimafix. They come in 'industrial strength' and 'regular strength' concentrations. I've used both in my evaluations.

    I asked why there was inconsistent results between users and indeed, even in my own applications of these products. These chemicals are 'natural' organic compounds derived from plants.

    I was told that it was quite simple. . .These products (Melafix and Pimafix) only kill some kinds of bacteria. I asked if he meant gram negative or positive and the answer was, "No." What he meant was that, irrespective of gram stain results, the bacteria that is thwarted by these products is a finite group (which is mostly unknown).

    They know, for instance, that Melafix wipes out mycobacterium and a few others. What about the other bacteria?

    They don't know. One aquarist's fish could have a type of bacteria that Melafix will kill, and another aquarist will have bacteria it won't touch. So one aquarist may say, "It works!" and the other says "It doesn't work." Both can be right.

    There is a small downside to their use, which shouldn't be cause for general concern, but nonetheless the aquarist should be on the lookout for this situation:

    Both Melafix and Pimafix are organic compounds. The bacteria in the tank water (not necessarily the ones on the fish) these products don't kill, sometimes use the Melafix and Pimafix as food! This means that when you add these medications to a tank (especially a tank that has not been maintained well or one that hasn't had regular water changes) there is a small chance that a bacterial bloom will ensue and take up dissolved oxygen. This could mean that you could see, under such circumstances, your fish significantly increase their respiratory rate.

    I was told an interesting tidbit. . .The above affect seems to be happening quite often in Italy and API hasn't been able to figure out why, yet.

    The fish may seem to be desperately trying to get oxygen and, in effect, they are. This will of course be adding a significant stress factor to an already stressed, sick fish. If the aquarist has any doubt or concern about this, perform an oxygen test before and during the treatment for monitoring purposes.

    API has not done much work at trying to figure out all the bacteria that these two compounds are effective against. They don't seem to want to go much further with it. Since aquarists don't know the exact bacteria that is infecting their fish, it might be a moot point whether it was of value knowing what bacteria it was good for, anyway. It IS selling to aquarists!

    However, in the professional arena (public and private aquariums, for instance) where scrapings and identification of infections are performed, not knowing whether Melafix and/or Pimafix will treat the bacteria isn't worth the risk. You'll find they don't use these medications.

    The concern with an aquarist using these products is that it might not work. When that happens, the bacteria causing the problem can continue to multiply and adversely affect the fish. Most fish should be able to survive a 'mis-treatment' if they are well fed with the proper nutrition.

    In such a case where Melafix and/or Pimafix can't kill that particular bacteria, the fish suffers longer by not having been given a successful treatment. Usually, the fish should not expire by this lost time IF the fish is given the correct antibiotic treatment immediately after a failed Melafix/Pimafix treatment.

    But if the infection has progressed significantly and/or it has become systemic and/or the fish has stopped eating, I'd still suggest a known likely effects of an antibiotic over the chance that Melafix or Pimafix might work. Under these circumstances, the wrong choice of medication could mean the fish will expire because it couldn't hold out any longer for the effective medication.

    Is Melafix and Pimafix reef safe? Yes -- up to a point. I was told that in its proper final reef-tank concentrations, some corals may retract during the treatment period. This doesn't mean the corals are dead. It usually means they have become irritated by this chemical's presence. So far, I have been assured by API that when this occurs, the coral will survive the treatment and come out again after the treatment, without harm. API knew/knows of no other reef concerns. But, like the bacteria issue, API hasn't tested the product on a wide spectrum of corals, invertebrates, and marine life.

    The bottom line is that no aquarist should leap to the conclusion that Melafix and/or Pimafix will or won't cure the fish. No one should promote its use NOR dissuade someone from using them. All anyone can say is that it did or didn't work for them AND they should direct the inquirer to this post so that the aquarist can make up their own mind whether to try it or not.

    This post provides current facts of Melafix and Pimafix's sometimes successful use, from the manufacturer's knowledge and experience, so that the aquarist can make an informed decision. Let's try to be level headed. Inquiring aquarists want to know!

    Even an aquarist who has had success with the product might find that the next time their fish is infected, the product won't work. This would mean that this next infection was of the bacteria that Melafix and Pimafix can't kill or failed to kill during the last treatment. Regarding this possibility, keep in mind that if it was successfully used once, the bacteria it kills are gone and only 'the other ones' are hanging around. So it would make sense that the next time, there might be a lesser chance of it working.

    I asked if there might be strains resistant to the products and so far none have been reported to API. If it is the type of bacteria that it kills, it will kill it. If it not the kind of bacteria it kills, it will leave it alone (or rarely, provide food for the bacteria to live on and further multiply).

    I hope this helps those who wonder if Melafix and/or Pimafix will work!

    Now to a second feature. . .It seems that in higher concentrations, Melafix is useful to clear up and/or stop tissue degeneration of many corals. Julian Sprung tells how to use this in a dip/bath method in his.

    Both these products have no effect on parasites, viruses, and fungi. Just to be clear, these products have no effect on Marine Ich and Marine Velvet.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009

    Thumbs down Re: Melafix & Pimafix - Why they work and don't work

    Do NOT, absolutely DO NOT use Marine Melafix!!!! I used it for two days, because one of my marine fish had a minor case of fin rot. All my other expensive fish that I've had for years had absolutely no healh problems. I used the exact dose they recommended on the bottle - 5ml. per 10 gal. ALL MY FISH AND INVERTS ARE DEAD ON THE SECOND DAY!!!! One coral has magically survived and 1 clownfish and 2 chromises. My star fish was lying belly up, but still barely alive. As soon as I did a 50% water change, replaced the filters and turned the protein skimmer back on, the star fish got up and crawled back in his favourite spot. All my cleaner shrimps ($40 each are dead). I cannot tell you how pissed off I am at the company!!! This happened just on the second day of the treatment!!! I've used the Melafix for my freshwater fish before, and it worked great, that's why I trusted the company and purchased the Marine one. They should take the product off the shelves ASAP!!!

  3. #3
    NaClH2O Addicted Reefmack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Charlotte, NC, USA

    Re: Melafix & Pimafix - Why they work and don't work

    Very sorry to hear that juels I've heard bad things even about the FW Melafix.
    aka Terry
    Excellence in reefkeeping is achieved by mastering the fundamentals, and learning from mistakes.
    34g Red Sea Max 130 (April 07), ~50-60 lbs. live rock. Lighting: Sol Super Blue LED with AI controller. Vortech MP10ES & battery backup, LifeReef Siphon, Sump, SWC Extreme 120 cone skimmer, Tunze Osmolator ATO, ReefKeeper Lite L3 controller

    Reefmack's RSM 130 and...Red Sea Max Owners Club

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    So CA

    Re: Melafix & Pimafix - Why they work and don't work

    Thank you for your input juels. Sorry to hear of the losses.

    It isn't reasonable that the deaths were caused by this product. I would suggest there being another likely cause. Although the product may not cure your fish (as noted in the post above), I have never known it to be the cause of death.

    Still, just like salt manufacturers and any other kind of manufacturer, mistakes in formulation are made, so it might be worth reporting this to the makers of this product and providing them with a sample from the bottle you used to verify the formulation was correct.

    Please start a new thread if you have a desire to discuss this further.


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