Fish Pedicures. A live debate?

Amongst all of today’s hoo-hah over fish pedicures (the Government’s Health Protection Agency says they could spread diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C: the Terrence Higgins Trust reckons the risk is minute at best) one thing seems to have been overlooked and that’s the ethics of a ‘treatment’  that uses live animals to achieve its results.

I’ve never had a fish pedicure, nor do I ever want one. I remember coming across some tanks in Selfridges, on the menswear floor, and seeing an assortment of knarled men’s feet being plonked into them while girls hung around squealing like five-year-olds. The spectacle – for that’s what it was – put me off for life.

Do fish have feelings? Who knows but I still don’t think they should be exploited in this way. I mean, my cat has a rough tongue but I don’t get it to exfoliate my face. I do the decent thing and use a face scrub. Know what I mean?

8 thoughts on “Fish Pedicures. A live debate?

  1. Salon Boss

    The Fish are not being exploited, they are doing what comes naturally! They actually get quite excited. Do maggots get exploited when used to clean wonds, or leaches when used to clean blood? All clients have to sign a health declaration that they are free from any disease, and must not have open sores or cuts. The fish do not ‘bite’ and are therefore not going to come into contact with any blood. And to date there has not been any recording of persons being infected in this way.

      1. Salon Boss

        No they would be cleaning bigger fish! They are a ‘cleaner fish’ who naturally attend to their cleaning duties on bigger fish :)

  2. So glad you’ve written this post Lee. What Salon Boss is forgetting is that in the wild cleaning bigger fish would be their natural existence no doubt in a pond (or sea – not sure which) with freedom of movement basically just doing what fish do. I think it is a pretty miserable life for a captive fish to be sent from sterile tank to tank to eat human skin. That is not natural and nor is it kind. What’s next.. will it be okay to have birds nibbling out our ear wax – they are natural preeners after all? I doubt that the fish have a long life cycle in the wild and I’m guessing they probably don’t have much of a life in the tanks, but at least in the wild they live a natural life, with freedom of movement and I expect that’s quite important to a fish. I have no idea whether fish have feelings either but whether they do or they don’t is no excuse to ship them thousands of miles to come and nibble our feet in tanks. Leeches are a slightly different thing because nobody has a leech treatment for vanity or novelty’s sake, but for medical reasons. It isn’t kind either, but at least there is a solid reason for it. Sorry, but it is no life for a fish and I’d never, ever have it done.

    I have however, had my feet nibbled by fish in the wild who swam off when they’d finished and got on with doing whatever fish do. In tanks in captivity, it’s a whole other thing. Unethical and distinctly unkind.

  3. Great comment. I too have had my feet nibbled at in the sea and agree, that’s a completely different thing. What I object to is the fish being bred for this specific reason and, certainly in the example I cite, being used as some kind of freak show for people to gawp at.

  4. I saw these small fish in a rather dodgy shop in London China Town the other day and thought it looked interesting but didn’t have the time to stop and try, have you? I think what also put me off a bit was that it just seemed a bit wrong, I felt a bit sorry for the small fellas.

    Thanks for writing this post and please feel free to visit my new site

      1. Love it, haha! Yes, a bit shameless but thanks!

        Really, I’ve been thinking about these fish ever since I saw them on an episode of Dragons Den where this Chinese couple tried to get money to set up this fish tank empire. That really put me off the entire thing it nothing else. No more promotion, promise!

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