By now, I’m sure you’ve all seen the AP reports going around about the Fish Pedicure. (Click here and here for videos.) A salon in Alexandria, Va., is using so-called “doctor fish” to nibble away at its clients feet. Yep, you heard me right. After washing their feet, the client steps into a special tub filled with the tiny carp (garra rufa). The fish nibble away at the dead skin on the client’s feet. (They stay away from the live skin because they don’t have any teeth, so they can’t bite it off.) Yvonne Hair and Nails salon owner John Ho and his wife Yvonne Le, say about 5,000 people have dipped their feet in the waters since launching the service in April. He charges $35 for 15 minutes in the tank and $50 for 30 minutes. (Each pedicure tank holds somewhere around 100 fish.)
After my initial “Ewwww,” all I could think of is how nasty and unsanitary that must be. There are no state board regulations for the use of fish in a service. (Really, why would there be?) And when the salon first added the service, they had one communal tank that could hold up to eight clients. But the county health department, which does regulate pools, required the salon to switch to individual tanks. And after each service, the fish are put back in their larger holding tank while the water in each tub is switched out and cleaned.
Apparently clients are raving about how soft their feet feel after the service. (After the 15 or 30 minutes with the fish, they sit down for a normal pedicure with a nail technician.) I’m not sold on the idea. But it is pretty fascinating. What do you guys think? Is this a great marketing gimmick or is it just plain weird?