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Unusual Pedicure Treatment Features Fish

Posted: July 22, 2008

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Customer Patsy Fisher, 42, of Crofton, MD, admitted she was nervous as she prepared for her first fish pedicure. But her apprehension dissolved into laughter after she put her feet in the tank and the fish swarmed to her toes. “It's a little ticklish, actually,” she said.

Ho said the hot water in which the fish thrive doesn't support much plant or aquatic life, so they learned to feed on whatever food sources were available—including dead, flaking skin. They leave live skin alone because, without teeth, they can't bite it off.

In addition to offering pedicures, Ho hopes to establish a network of Doctor Fish Massage franchises and is evaluating a full-body fish treatment that, among other things, could treat psoriasis and other skin ailments.

Ho spent a year and about $40,000 getting the pedicures up and running, with a few hiccups along the way. State regulations make no provision for regulating fish pedicures. But the county health department, which does regulate pools, required the salon to switch from a shallow, tiled communal pool that served as many as eight people to individual tanks in which the water is changed for each customer.

The communal pool also presented its own problem: At times the fish would flock to the feet of an individual with a surplus of dead skin, leaving others with a dearth of fish. “It would sometimes be embarrassing for them but it was also really hilarious,” Ho said.