The fish pedicure: a foot-holder's-eye view

Had a long layover in the Singapore airport the other day. What to do? Why, I visited the Fish Spa, of course, where for just S$30 (about US$23) I could let hundreds of hungry doctor fish feast on my dead skin cells while I filmed the results and tried not to freak out.

I've only had one human-hands pedicure for comparison. This was every bit as efficient.  And way, way ookier.


  1. Reminds me of dangling my feet in the water at the end of the dock in a lake. The sunfish love to nibble your toes.

  2. This reminds me of the fun I had as kid of eight or nine, feeding the fish in the local lagoon. I would take a slice of wonder bread and wad it up in my fist, then put my fist in the water. The tiny fish would swarm around my hand, eating the bread from between my fingers. It looked, for all the world, like the piranha attack shown on the old Tarzan TV show. But it felt very cool.

  3. Yeah, I’m sorry, but I HAVE to ask: How hygienic IS this?

    I mean, what IF the dude had ATHLETES FOOT? Next thing you know, the fish have it on their fishlips, and are passing it onto you as they feast on your toes, only not only do you now have his athletes’ foot, the fishies were efficient enough to give you toe-nail fungus now too.

    Grody to the max!!

    1. Even being in a pool exposes you the athletes foot, you don’t need fish to transmit it. If you go to public pools there is a generally disregarded sign about things you shouldn’t do like urinate in the pool or have any type of fungal infections. I was in a pool where some baby went #2 and they had to shut it down. Being in a pool is like sharing a bath with your entire community, just hope they don’t have diarrhea and don’t drink the water.

  4. There’s only one good answer to fear of infection: pickle yourself in alcohol. Your chances of infection will still be non-zero, but you will no longer care. The problem was in your head anyway.

  5. There is this mild hot spring in the desert of Nevada, near the Oregon & Idaho borders, that has thousands upon thousands of little fish in it. They do the same thing, but since the water is deep, they do it to your whole body. It tickles, but is strangely invigorating as well.

  6. I did this at the Hakone Yunassen in Japan last November – it was included in the admission fee. It was a bit like getting tickled. But, I didn’t notice any difference in my feet afterwards. As far as safety goes, we had to wash our feet beforehand in a disinfection solution, then a clean water rinse. I was quite happy with the attention they paid to this.

  7. That is my mom’s worst nightmare. She’s already got sensitive feet, and she doesn’t like swimming in lakes because she’s freaked out at the idea of the fish swimming past her feet.

  8. fellers, we bin doin this in the crik ever since I cud walk – ceptin for Uncle Earl who did it in South America once and came home widout a foot.

  9. I think it’s adorable! They’re very hungry fish. Look at how they circle as they check out what he’s doing very intensely, then dart in to try to get good positions on the yummiest skin.

  10. I was wading in the Sea of Galilee once, trying (and failing) to walk across it. I felt a weird tingling sensation on my legs, and saw a school of St Peter’s fish nibbling at the dead skin. Later that day, I enjoyed nibbling on them, deep-fried at a local restaurant. What goes around comes around.

  11. You’re dipping your feet in a pool of water that fish have pooped the dead skin of people with skin problems into.

  12. I found it to be really relaxing. Though I’ll admit I didn’t look much at the fish devouring my flesh.

    The fish in Japan that do this have been doing it for so many generations that they’ve evolved to be incapable of eating anything else. It’s once case where visiting tourists are essential to the survival of a species.

  13. from the article you posted the link to…

    “The HPA and Health Protection Scotland is currently unaware of any cases of infection associated with the use of the fish spas pedicures in the UK.”

  14. In Cambodia it only costs $3, you get a free beer and a neck message while your feet are in the pool.

    1. I was going to say the same thing about Thailand – costs about $3 for an hour. I wouldn’t do it myself but there are places all over the place that do it. $23 is a total rip-off, but I guess since it’s in an airport it would have to be :)

      Many streams in Thailand have fish that eat your dead skin for free, too – here’s a photo of my girlfriend while being eaten by fish in a stream just outside of Chiang Mai. I think it’s probably better to do it in a stream… I dread to think what’s in the tanks, and I normally don’t take any precautions at all regarding germs and so on.

  15. I got to do this while at a festival last summer (it’s pleasant if you’re hungover), the stall generally had more people stood outside watching and asking ‘what does it feel like’ than actually having their feet nibbled.
    Personally I giggled for about five minutes solid (they REALLY tickle), which is a good thing in my book. My feet felt pretty normal afterwards though.
    (We had to have our feet washed before we sat down)

  16. A friend of mine owns a salon and has just got these in.

    In most UK and US salons, the water is constantly pumping through a UV sterilisation filter which, short of boiling the fish themselves, is about as hygienic as you can expect it to get.

    The only hygiene problem I can see is if you (and the last guy) have wounds – If you have broken skin, I’d give this a miss (although, If I had open wounds on my feet, I’d probably refrain from dipping them into water full of fish shit, even if I was the first human to go near it).

    As far as I understand it, the bans in the US are on a technicality that requires all salon equipment to be sterilised between clients – the fish are classed as equipment, therefore the treatment doesn’t meet this requirement (even though the water itself is near-sterile).

  17. Hi! Our fish spa (the one that Mr Bob Harris visited) actually has a very strict hygiene policy. We ask the customers to wash their feet before heading into the fish spa and at the same time, observe if there are any open wounds.

    At the fish spa, we have UV lights in the pool to minimize bacteria growth and transmission. Also, at the end of the session, we advise customers to spray a sterilizer onto their feet to further minimize any possible bacteria.

    This way, we ensure the safety of our customers to the best of our ability.

    It usually takes a minimum of 20mins in the fish spa to see a significant difference to your skin. The fishes nibble away the dead skin and their saliva aids in skin rejuvenation.

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