I get hate mail just about every time I write about eating strange animal parts 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.
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.
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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