This past Saturday after brunch with Oneika The Traveller and Natalie from Montgomerys in Berlin, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to get a fish pedicure. I had never had a fish pedicure but heard good things about them from friends who ventured to Turkey and other parts of Asia. Basically, you put your feet into a fish tank and little carp like fishies make your feet nice and smooth by nibbling away at your dead skin. The skin eaters are called Garra Rufa fish or “doctor fish” because they use their mouths to exfoliate the skin, alleviating various skin ailments.
My fish pedicure was not my first encounter with doctor fish. The Panda’s children keep them as pets to help treat the skin allergies on their hands. (Although the fish are treated to dead skin on a regular basis they still need to be fed with fish food.) Last Christmas I attempted to get acquainted with the doctor fish but I squealed and chickened out, startling the fish and deafening my boyfriend’s eldest son in the process. Here is a really short, loud video. I have warned thee.
Recently, fish pedicures are losing popularity and even banned in the US and the United Kingdom due to safety concerns. Health officials are still unable to determine the level of risk involved with the fish treating various feet a day and the spread of diseases. Over here in Germany the pandemonium has not hit yet and a cute little spa called Fussfetifisch has made a name for itself in Prenzlauerberg.
I was lucky enough to get the last free tank of the afternoon. I went with the 30 minutes fish pedicure for 15 Euro. Before getting started I had to fill out a medical questionnaire, asking me if I had everything from diabetes to open wounds. I then had to sign off with my name and address and say that I had declared the truth. It was pretty intense for the pedicure. After this I was led to a small foot bath where I had to wash my feet with anti-bacterial soap. Once I was all clean it was time to feed the fish…with my feet.
I slowly lowered my feet into the water and like moths to a flame, the fish attacked. Being the squealer that I am, I put up a bit of a fuss and I totally wanted to yank my feet back out of the water. I was really freaked out! It took a while for my mind to recognize that the sensation I felt was not painful even though little fish were nibbling. That does sound traumatic but it was actually pretty mundane after you got past the creepiness of something non-human sucking on your toes. Once I decided to not look in the tank I could have easily imagined my feet were in a jacuzzi.
The doctor fish were all over, on my heels, in between my toes, they were putting in work. At the end of my 30 minutes my feet were definitely smoother but not as smooth as if I had a traditional pedicure. I was a bit disapointed because I left feeling like I needed a “real pedicure” in order to get my nails maintained and painted. In my opinion, the “fish pedicure” would be more aptly named, “fish exfoliation”. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable experience, I walked out with all my phalanges and no communicable diseases. SWEET!
Would you ever get a fish pedicure? Why or why not?