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Use of raw chemicals as treatments for aquarium & pond fish

The VMD is aware that chemicals such as malachite green, formaldehyde and potassium permanganate are being made available in their raw states for use by aquarium fish keepers.  By purchasing and administering these chemicals many fish keepers may be unaware of the dangers involved and inadvertently put the health and safety of their animals at risk.  In addition some chemicals used without the correct Health and Safety precautions may also cause serious risk to human health.

The VMD's responsibilities extend only to products aimed at animal treatment. If a chemical is promoted or advertised with claims for any form of medicinal use, or once purchased is administered to any animal as a medicinal treatment then this is an offence under the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2009 (S.I.2297).

Before a veterinary medicine can be sold or supplied in the UK its marketing must be approved by the VMD. This is recognised by the issue of a marketing authorisation or, as in the case for most treatments for aquarium and pond fish diseases, approval under the Small Animal Exemption Scheme.

Small Animal Exemption Scheme products may only be used in one or more of the following species: aquarium fish, caged birds, homing pigeons, terrarium animals, small rodents, ferrets and rabbits. This exemption scheme applies only to pet animals that are not intended to produce food for human consumption.

There are a number of products available under the Small Animal Exemption Scheme for the treatment of aquarium and pond fish. These products have been manufactured to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards and contain important labelling information regarding correct use, dosage, health and safety issues, and disposal advice. Products marketed under the  Scheme can often be identified by the manufacturers' claims on the product's label. This is usually done by displaying the statement "This veterinary medicine is marketed in accordance with the Small Animal Exemption Scheme"

For further information on the Small Animal Exemption Scheme please contact Amanda Baker on +44 (0) 1932 338313 or a.baker@vmd.defra.gsi.gov.uk.

Last Updated: 15 April 2011

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