Q & A: Where can I get a fish pedicure in Perth?!


Nom. Fish pedicure. Two words that really look a little strange together don’t you think? The beauty world is abuzz with these little feet eating fishies.

I recently received an e-mail from a reader that I’m going to share with you:

“Hi, I am interested to know if there is a place in Perth where I can get a fish pedicure. I had one of these in Thailand and found it to be the best pedicure I have ever had. I would really appreciate your response to this.
Many thanks”

So first of all lets get some fast facts about what a fish pedicure actually involves!

♥ Feet are placed into a small pool or tub of warm water, where Garra Rufa (commonly known as Doctor Fish) are present.

♥ Dr Fish are toothless, love eating dead skin flakes & are used because they leave the living skin untouched!

♥ Your feet are nibbled at for 15-45 minutes.

♥ It is reported to be VERY ticklish at first!

♥ When the pedicure is over, you are meant to be left with baby soft feet.

The treatment is extremely popular in many Asian countries, especially in high-tourist areas.

Now here is where I break your heart a little bit after building you up to be all keen on some critters munching on your tootsies…

There are some prevalent health, hygiene & cruelty concerns when it comes to fish pedicures.

♥ Investigations in the United States have led to the banning of fish pedicures in Florida, Texas & New Jersey.

♥ “Unlike standard pedicure procedures, which have strict sanitation and equipment sterilization standards mandated by state laws nationwide, it is impossible to sanitize or sterilize the hundreds of fish used in the fish pedicure treatment.” (source)

♥ “the study found that fish pedicures are unsanitary and may lead to the spread of fungal and bacterial infections through small cuts or lesions in customer’s feet”

♥ The fish are starved when pedicures aren’t being performed, in order for them to consume an amount of dead skin considered adequate for a ‘successful pedicure’.

♥ As they thrive in a warm water environment, there are questions as to whether salons keep the water heated during times when the salon is not operating.

So it appears unlikely that fish pedicures will be making their way to our shores (legally in any case) anytime soon, due to these concerns.

We’ll just have to stick to our regular deluxe salon pedicures & ped-eggs, which really isn’t so bad now is it?!

If you’ve had a fish pedicure, leave a comment and let me know how you found it!

Be well,

xoxo

68 comments

  1. Margie says:

    Just recently returned from Bali, and had the best fish pedicure ever, as I suffer with a swollen left foot I found the experience very relaxing the fish removed all the dead skin and even cleaned my cuticules, the vibrating that they do as they are removing the dead skin was invigorating, my circulation was improved and my skin was so soft as well, all for 100,000 rupiah which is around about $9.50 compared to $45.00 I pay every time I have a pedicure done and cringe with the thought of them with a blade scraping away scared they are going to cut me. My whole family had a go especially my son who suffers with eczema, and we used this service 5 times in the 7 days we were there….Thanx Garra Rufa you little miracle fish, don’t think I can face having my feet done by those nail and pedicure places….So please bring them in to Australia Surely by having guided rules and regulations it should be possible.

  2. Val says:

    I too just came back from KL & Singapore this is the best I would love to open up one of these spas as reading everyones comments it would be great. I am in Perth.
    Going to do some more investigations on this

  3. Michelle says:

    Hi we have recently returned from a trip to Thailand and saw a place that had these little fish and thought we would give it a go…… We decided to do the whole body treatment for a half an hour…. Ha ha ticklish is not the word…… it was the strangest feeling but my skin has never felt better especially around my chest aera. If there was a place either in Perth or down South I would definatley be a regular customer

  4. Lorna says:

    Val, I was wondering what you discovered about fish pedicures in Australia, I too would like to open a fish pedicure spa. Are they illegal in Australia?

  5. Val says:

    Unfortunately, all investigations I have found is that these lovely little fish are illegal to Australia, but if they ever are allowed in I would be very interested what a lovely experience.

  6. jenny says:

    Iam just back from a short break at Crieff Hydro Perthshire where I had a fish pedicure it was lovely and so relaxing but it is a long way to go for a fish pedicure is there somewhere in perth that does fish pedicures

  7. Martina Claus says:

    I experienced this treatment at a small spa shop in country UK and instantly thought what a great idea to offer that in Australia. Went through a lot of research to also find out that these little creatured cannot be imported. What a shame and missed opportunity.

  8. Brad Clinch says:

    Two weeks ago my wife Julie and I spent a week on the island of Koh Samui, where also fed our feet to an aquarium full of the Garra Rufa fish… and it was an experience that I think we’d never forget, and we’d certainly repeat.
    We noted the fish ‘clinics’ (for want of a better word) were virtually everywhere on Koh Samui, yet surprisingly we saw none in Bangkok. Neither on this, nor any of our previous visits.
    Anyhow (back on Koh Samui); as we were a bit apprehensive, we first visited Dr Fish in Chaweng Beach as they promoted regular water changing, filtration, etc. This certainly appeared the most hygienic, yet also the most expensive of what we saw.
    We considered the alternatives, and after walking past a few shops that I would kindly describe as, ‘the opposite end of the scale’ (i.e. murky tanks in dingy little places… that I might add; had no chance of seeing our feet!), we came by a clean little shop (and also located in Chaweng Beach) that had 3 tanks, and was half the price of Dr Fish.
    And so we returned the following day around mid-morning for our initiation.
    It is likely we were nearly the first customers of the day to offer our feet as live bait, and the little suckers seemed very grateful for our visit! Though they ate away, they weren’t upon us as if they were starving… more so like grazing.
    Yes it tickled somewhat at first (to downplay our reactions!), yet we became accustomed to the point that I didn’t want to get out, and consequently extended our ‘treatment’. We also encouraged a few passing on-lookers to give it a try, and the little shop soon became full of people giggling and carrying on! We ended up getting a considerable discount!
    After about 40 minutes of dangling our feet in the water, we found our feet missing… no only joking! We found our feet were softer and smoother, and we too thought it a great idea for Australia.
    Though regarding the ‘full body immersion’ offered by Dr Fish… having experienced the feet immersion, the thought of ‘full body immersion’ gave me recollections of Barbarella being tortured in the ‘Excessive Machine’! Thought I’ll give that a miss!
    My wife was going to give it a go, but opted out. Though next visit I’d say it would be on the cards.
    Well, we gathered some information while there, and headed back to Bangkok.
    Now having returned home, I have read some of the forums on the topic, and unfortunnately conclude that currently there is little chance of importing the little suckers into Australia.
    Though hope that one day it be allowed (subject of course to there being no adverse risk to the environment, should any make their way into the waterways. We all are well aware of the cane toad problem… though that is quite an extreme case of an environmental disaster).
    Regarding a comment in the reply by the ‘Wellness WA’ respondant, “The fish are starved when pedicures aren’t being performed…”; I ask, how fequently are fish usually fed… once a day maybe?
    The fish in these businesses seem to be fed from morning to evening, and then again the following morning. They can feed as much as they like during the course of a day, so it would seem there is more risk of them over-feeding. Should these practices be put into play in Australia, I consider it unlikely that the operators would risk ‘starving them’, as they could not allow the fish to die. I understand they are relatively costly, as approx. 500 to 1000 may be in each tank (tank size dependent) at up to about 15BHT per fish + associated importing costs. I.e. it is in the operators best interests to feed the fish during closures such as weekends, if they are not to be open for business.
    As for the people out there that mock the concept (whether it be from a conceived health risk, or disbelief that there may be any benefit in the practice), I would like to comment that I feel there is more health risk taking a bare-foot shower or a bath in a hotel, or sitting on the toilet… or swimming in a public pool (at least there is no urine in the fish tanks!). And additionally, from the Australian summer… when flies crawl from one person to another… yet we don’t seem to worry about that.
    Though there are benefits in regulation, I feel Australia has in many ways become too bureaucratic.
    From what I’ve read (and from ‘commonsence’), it would seem that there are some health benefits in the practice, yet even if not… from my own experience, they do ‘tidy up’ the feet, make them feel soft and smooth and relieve otherwise tired feet, that have often been doing some miles.
    If nothing else, this could be provided as a novelty… and those that have already tried it, are consequently likely to be customers.
    Basically… if you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it!!

  9. Brad Clinch says:

    In addition to my post above, I forgot to mention;
    Regarding another comment in the reply by the ‘Wellness WA’ respondant; “the study found that fish pedicures are unsanitary and may lead to the spread of fungal and bacterial infections through small cuts or lesions in customer’s feet”;
    I understand any risk would be largely dependent upon operating procedures.
    Please note that the operator of the business where we went, ensured that each person thoroughly wiped their feet with a sanitising cloth prior to immersion to reduce risk of infections.
    The water was well filtered through, what I understood were very fine filters, which should be capable of removing impurities, bacteria, etc. (just as as filters do under our kitchen bench).
    I wonder under what conditions ‘the study’ was conducted, or whether it was referring to the potential effects of the most unhygenic practices. And also whether they have tested shower basins in hotels as a comparison.
    I am a relatively cautious person when it comes to health, but not paranoid.
    Regards, Brad

  10. Annette @ Wellness WA says:

    Thanks for your input Brad, good to know that the place you went to had hygiene practices in place 🙂

  11. We have just returned from Europe via Singapore & we decided to have the Dr Fish treatment after seeing it on the way over. After much trepidation we decided to bite the bullet. We had ours done at a place in the Singapore Flyer complex which was in pristine condition. It may have been a bit more pricey but well worth it for the piece of mind.

    First our feet were sanitized then rinsed & dried before immersing them in the pool. At first I thought I would not be able to bear it but it soon settled down & having a shoulder massage at the same time got me in the snooze groove, Highly recommend.

  12. Julie says:

    What about the poor starved fish?!?!

  13. Antoinette says:

    Loved my first fish spa in Santorini. What a good idea! Would love to start one in Sydney when it’s legal. My research shows healthy patients have very little to worry about in terms of infections when hygiene methods are followed. However people with psoriasis and any cuts on their feet or legs have an increased chance of getting or spreading infection. But, those people should just not get a fish spa in the first place. All comes down to the operators who should educate their customers. Let’s hope Oz relaxes their rules soon!

  14. Janne says:

    I have seen the Fish Spa advertised by Groupon in Perth WA but still cant find a location 🙁

  15. Rob E says:

    In Brunei there is a stream where the nibbling fish live naturally

  16. Natalie says:

    I’ve just gotten back from Bali where they have dr fish everywhere I have to admit I did it twice cause I suffered a really bad infection on my left foot a few years ago now it left a nasty scar plus very bad skin pigmentation the dr fish helped getting the dead skin off it was fantastic but you can’t help to wonder how well these little fish are treated being an animal lover of all kinds


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