Experimental animal models are extremely valuable for the study of human diseases, especially those with underlying genetic components. The exploitation of various animal models, from fruitflies to mice, has led to major advances in our understanding of the etiologies of many diseases, including cancer. Cutaneous malignant melanoma is a form of cancer for which both environmental insult (i.e., UV) and hereditary predisposition are major causative factors. Fish melanoma models have been used in studies of both spontaneous and induced melanoma formation. Genetic hybrids between platyfish and swordtails, different species of the genus Xiphophorus, have been studied since the 1920s to identify genetic determinants of pigmentation and melanoma formation. Recently, transgenesis has been used to develop zebrafish and medaka models for melanoma research. This review will provide a historical perspective on the use of fish models in melanoma research, and an updated summary of current and prospective studies using these unique experimental systems.