Get a Fish Pedicure in Sitges, Spain

I get hate mail just about every time I write about eating weird food or visiting animal attractions and I am certain that this will be no different. Even when I mentioned getting fish pedicures in Spain on Twitter I immediately received a hostile 140 character message and was defriended by a few. Or unTweeted. I mean unfollowed. Whatever.

Some consider fish pedicures to be animal cruelty due to claims that you have to starve the fish in order to have them feed off of the dead skin on your feet. The Garra Rufa fish, also called Doctor Fish prefer algae to skin. I prefer Filet Mignon to skirt steak. Most dogs would prefer anything besides their daily kibble.

And, before I forget, I confess to having had one of those Goldfish that you win at the fair as a short term pet. That’s considered animal cruelty too. So, please just include all fish in one hate mail.

I took it upon myself to do some hands-on, or feets-on, research. You can be the judge. 

After having my first Pintxos experience in Sitges, Peter and I spotted the Fish Spa Bonaire, which had several smiling patrons and an environment that looked relatively clean, the perfect place for research.

Walking in we did notice how crystal clear the water was in the tanks and the running filtration system. No buoyant poop. Or floating fish.

For €15,00 each we would have our feet nibbled by fish in order to remove the dead skin and make them silky smooth, a technique that became popular as a relief for eczema and other skin disorders.

How to Get a Fish Pedicure

The first step was to thoroughly wash our feet to rid them of all the lotion and in the middle-of-the-toes yuckiness. This is done in an effort to reduce the spread of germs and eliminate any lotions from contaminating the water.

Annette getting fish pedicure

While scrubbing my lowest extremities, I noticed this certification on the wall claiming that the Garra Rufa fish provided at this spa are authentic specimens bred in captivity to preserve the environment. Looked official.

After our tootsies were seemingly parasite-free, Peter and I slowly dipped them in the tanks, being careful not to step on any swimming critters.

The fish immediately darted for our feet and anchored to different territories. In-between the toes seemed to be a favorite in my tank

I would not classify the experience as soothing, more ticklish, odd and interesting. At this point, I was missing the vibrating back chairs that were provided at my typical pedicure shop.

After twenty minutes of noshing, the owners dried and lubed our feet. Were they silky smooth? I didn’t notice much of a difference, but Peter gave the fish pedicures a thumbs up.

From a relaxation standpoint I would much rather have a spa pedicure where I get a five minute foot massage and pretty painted toes in the end.

Did I feel that it was animal cruelty? Let’s just say that I felt much worse watching the Salmon spawn in Lake Tahoe. I wanted to pick up those battered fish and help them upstream.

Would you get a fish pedicure? Do you consider it animal cruelty?


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26 thoughts on “Get a Fish Pedicure in Sitges, Spain”

  1. I don't know if I would get one…regular pedicures are hard for me to take after reading the children's book An Unfinished Angel.!  As for cruel, I participated in an armadillo race so I shouldn't throw stones.

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  2. I would totally do it.  I was trying to look for one of these places while I was in Asia, instead I got the painful $5-10 90 minute Chinese massages. 
    You won't be getting any hate mail from me!

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  3. Encouraging people to take animals out of the wild and use them for their own selfish gains will only lead to animal cruelty. Taking animals out of their wild environment is taking away their dignity, freedom and happiness. Is it really worth treating living things with so little respect just for our own pathetic self indulgence? Humans talk about freedom so much, yet they take it away from pure animals without thought or care. Humans talk about beauty so much yet they have little appreciation of it beyond their looks. This is not cruelty but it still shows how many humans lack a soul. One day this planet will be all concrete at the rate we are going and there will be no animal cruelty because there will be no animals, even then humans will still pack themselves on the back for their freedom and beauty.

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  4. I saw Samantha Brown do this on one of her episodes and knew right then that I probably wouldn't. I jump out of creeks as soon as I see fish swimming around my ankles. I'm just too squeamish and figured it would be ticklish and odd. I'm not the type of girl to let fish nibble her feet. Give me the massaging chair any day!

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  5. I had fish spa treatment in Thailand for the sake of trying it.  Many fish devoured my skin simultaneously.  After the initial tickling shock, I felt a soothing sensation.  I was told after that people there had gotten infections from places that didn't clean the water daily.  That's apparently the key.   As you mentioned, your place looked very clean, as you'd expect in the EU. I never thought of it as animal cruelty as the fish seem to enjoy nibbling on human skin.

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    • I had read about the sanitary issues in relation to fish pedicures, but I have read that about normal spas too when it comes to the cleanliness of the manicuring tools. The Fish Spa Bonaire did seem clean and they were very professional.

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  6. I would definitely try it! I would be a little leery putting my feet in there, I love fish – but when I'm in the water with them they make me nervous that they will try to eat me (no matter how small they are) haha! I don't think it is animal cruelty, from the pictures it looks like they took great care of the fish.

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    • I always get a little nervous about fish biting me when I am swimming in the lake and there isn’t more than an inch of visibility!

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  7. really?  people sent you hate mail about this?  I don't think I would do it, but only because I think it would feel too funny around my toes :)

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    • It wasn’t as ticklish as when they scrub the dead skin off my feet with the stone during a normal pedicure, though definitely odder.

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  8.      It seems like any time a human has contact with any sort of animal, it has the potential of being considered animal cruelty. What about the vegetation? They don't have feelings?!
         Obviously I'm kidding! I don't think I'd go out of my way to do this, but if I came across it for a reasonable price I would totally do it!

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    • People are very passionate about animals, which I can understand. I suppose animal cruelty means something different to each individual.

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  9. I think I would be a little bit afraid, I can't tell why. Perhaps I would try it for once, see how it feels. I don't think it's cruelty to the fish.

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    • I was a little scared, but then I figured other people wouldn’t be doing it if it was absolutely terrible. And the nibbling doesn’t hurt at all, it’s just so odd that it startles you for a second :)

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  10. Who cares about fish?! I think this sounds like a lot of fun, it's always fun to try something new and different.  I wouldn't worry about the fish- they don' live that long anyhow. 

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  11. My mom had fish ponds on our deck when I was growing up. In the bottom one I could put my finger or feet in the pond and the little goldfish would nibble on me. It is an odd experience for sure. I am always afraid being in a lake or in the ocean because I don’t know what is underneath me. I am afraid of the unknown.

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    • This was just like having a dozen of those goldfish nibbling on you. I am not sure if I am more scared of not being able to see the bottom of the ocean or being able to see the sharks directly below where I am swimming!

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  12. My fear of the unknown is a big reason why I began my own bucket list. Being unable to see most of the world has a lot to do with that fear, but I don’t want it to let that stop me one moment longer.

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    • I used to have a lot of fears about the unknown too. Mostly, because my thoughts would create a terrifying picture of what the unknown could be, which 99.9% of the time was not the reality!

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  13. I don’t think it’s animal cruelty at all. Those fish are bred in captivity so they’re used to being in enclosed areas and they enjoy eating the dead skin!

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