A discussion regarding herbal remedies

Humblefish

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We've all heard herbal remedies referred to as "useless" or "snake oil"; but recent events have caused me to reexamine my position on some of these products. To be clear: I still do not believe any of these products are capable of complete eradication! However, the examples cited below provide anecdotal evidence of their usefulness for disease management purposes:
  • I regularly seek out fish with diseases to treat (thank you Petco! :D) However, in 4+ years now I have never once found a specimen with visible physical symptoms of disease at my LFS. But I know people who buy from him and sometimes the fish develops symptoms of ich or velvet, even if placed in a QT by itself. :oops: So how is he keeping the diseases at bay in his shop? All incoming fish get a Paraguard (aldehydes, malachite green, and fish protective polymers) bath before entering his retail system, and then are treated with Herbtana (for parasites) & Artemiss (for bacterial diseases) on a daily basis.
  • Two weeks ago I was invited over to someone's house to evaluate the health of their fish. Most of the fish looked badly diseased: some had ich, others had velvet, and I also saw evidence of secondary bacterial infections. To my surprise, I was told the fish had looked like this for weeks and all these fish are currently still alive (even the ones with velvet). While I have no doubt most of these fish will eventually succumb to disease, what has been keeping the ones with velvet alive for weeks? Fritz Aquatics Parashield (Active Ingredients: Capsaicin Oil, Chitosan, D-Limonene, Manuka and Neem Oil).
  • Melafix: I first tried this Tea Tree (Melaleuca) Oil product 20+ years ago for treating bacterial infections in SW fish. It failed miserably on multiple occasions, so I went back to using antibiotics. However, a good friend of mine is a FW disease guru, and has documented several cases now where this product appeared to help (and heal) freshwater fish with bad bacterial infections (and even Hexamita.) I myself recently used Melafix to "fix" a very old betta who had developed a terrible bacterial infection and other issues. This after antibiotics and methylene blue had failed to remedy the situation. Further experimentation on just freshwater fish (for now) has yielded outstanding results, and I will soon be testing this stuff out again on saltwater fish with bacterial infections. :eek:
  • I can't tell you how many times now just soaking fish food in Selcon & Zoecon has made ich "go away" for stubborn friends. ;) Of course, the parasites are still in the tank but oftentimes visible symptoms will not resurface for months. Also, I have personally witnessed how soaking fish food in Selcon & Zoecon on a daily basis has reversed the effects of HLLE (mild to moderate cases), and also expedited the "going away" process for Lymphocystis.
Conclusions: I AM NOT advocating herbal remedies as a cure-all, or as a substitute for proper QT or proper treatment. However, there is evidence to suggest that the above mentioned products might buy you time until a proper treatment can be done. :)
 

melypr1985

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I'll add some anecdotal evidence to this. This is my one experience using one of these meds that seems to have had a good outcome....
A coworker of mine "cured" a yellow belly hippo tang after it jumped out of the large sale tank for corals. It's the only tank big enough to hold him since he was nearly a foot long. We walked in and he was laying on the floor that morning. After some "CPR" (holding him in the flow of the return line for a while) he gained some life but still looked terrible. He got several paraguard dips of 1 hour each time and never developed an infection. He didn't have any other problems besides the after effects of hitting the floor - meaning he was pretty beat up. It took 2 months of vitamins, babying and paraguard dips ( about once a week or so for the first month) to recover. He hid all the time under the rocks almost never coming out and had to have his nori stuck under the rocks where he hid. He eventually started coming back out to swim around and even eating without being coaxed. I sold him to a good customer of mine and he rules the tank he's in now. Me and the coworker took turns doing the dips and babying him. I was surprised when he didnt' die the first week.... he just looked that bad. Now he's healthy as can be and actually only has a couple small scars to show proof of what he went through.
 
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Humblefish

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Seachem likes to tout Paraguard as a "safe" formalin alternative (to remove surface parasites/worms.) It also claims to be effective against, "fungal, bacterial, and viral lesions". I've just never liked how ambiguous "aldehyde based parasite control product" sounds. :p

FWIW; Ruby Reef makes a product called "Hydroplex" which basically claims to do all the same things; but that product is even more ambiguous about the active ingredients. ;)
 

MCooper

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Store just pushed Hydroplex and then another store swears by Herbtana! No ingredients listed at all.
hmmmm
 
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Humblefish

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melypr1985

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The guys at the store I work at swear by Herbatana for freshwater, though I keep telling them I'm not going to experiment on my fish there just to prove them wrong with the saltwater version.
 

melypr1985

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What is even in herbatana?
I'm pretty sure one of the main ingredients is Citronella. A bottle broke once during shipping and our entire order of dry goods smelled like a SUPER STRONG mosquito candle. I made my nose burn and I felt kinda sick until it aired out some. So my sureness is actually a guess based on that.
 

naoki

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This is an old thread, but I came across this since I was also curious about the ingredients of Microbe-Lift Herbtana. It does smell like Citronella as Meredith mentioned. I found this recent paper, which investigated essential oils on fish, and I thought that some of you might be interested in it:

Al‐Sagheer, A. A., Mahmoud, H. K., Reda, F. M., Mahgoub, S. A., & Ayyat, M. S. (2018). Supplementation of diets for Oreochromis niloticus with essential oil extracts from lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) and geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) and effects on growth, intestinal microbiota, antioxidant and immune activities. Aquaculture Nutrition, 24(3), 1006-1014.

You might be able to access the full text via reseach gate: (pdf link).

They used essential oil extracts from lemongrass and Geranium as food supplements. Fish showed higher expression of anti-microbial enzyme (lysozyme) and higher concentrations of immunogloblins.
 

niQo

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I appreciate the openness to these "alternative" ways. I remember reading something about Ginger powder and Ich. Have you heard anything about that?
 
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naoki

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I appreciate the openness to these "alternative" ways. I remember reading something about Ginger powder and Ich. Have you heard anything about that?
From my quick check of google scholar, ginger can act as an immunostimulant (as with many other herbal supplements) according to the review by Mehana et al (2015). It was effective as a dietary supplement against bacteria (Aeromonas hyrophila) in rainbow trout. Its effect is and I didn't see a scientific support for ginger vs Cryptocaryon.

Mehana, E. E., Rahmani, A. H., & Aly, S. M. (2015). Immunostimulants and fish culture: an overview. Annual Research & Review in Biology, 5(6), 477.

I saw a citation to this Ph.D thesis, which directly tested these herbal supplements against Cryptocaryon, but I don't have an access to it (I haven't found an abstract, neither, so I don't know the results):

Kim, J. H. (2016). Evaluating Garlic (Allium Sativum), Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) and Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) for the Remedy of Cryptocaryon Irritans in Guppy (Poecilia Reticulata) (Doctoral dissertation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies).

Other than the thesis, I didn't find a direct evidence. Some commercial preparation of garlic tablet was tested against some protozoan parasites (with dipping, not dietary supplement). It was effective for some protozoa (Trichodina spp. and Epistylis spp.), but it wasn't for another Monogenea (Gyrodactylus). In other words, it has to be directly tested on the target parasite (Cryptocaryon).

Abo-Esa, J. F. K. (2008). Study on some ectoparasitic diseases of catfish, Clarias gariepinus with their control by ginger, Zingiber officiale. Mediterranean Aquaculture Journal, 1(1), 1-9.

Abo-Esa's study did include the lethal effect of ginger on fish (50% of catfish died around 192mg/L of this garlic tablet).
The tablet is from Mepaco, an Egyptian company, and the product could be this one.
 
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