25 June, 2012

Fish Pedicure

Why are fish pedicures cruel?
Fish need a stable environment, with the correct water quality and temperature range. Sudden changes in temperature must be avoided as they can severely compromise welfare and even kill the animals. Water quality is of paramount importance in maintaining healthy fish. Having people bathe in the water with the fish is likely to affect quality, particularly if they are wearing any lotions or other toiletries that could leach into the water. Similarly, chemicals used to disinfect tanks and to clean patients' feet beforehand are potentially extremely toxic to the fish.

Garra rufa fish are known for eating dead skin, but experts say that their inclination to do so is a survival instinct borne of necessity in their natural environments, where all other food is scarce. Thus, they are only naturally inclined to eat dead skin when other food sources are not available and then only in small quantities. In the case of fish pedicures
they are eating all day long, which leads to an increase in waste matter as well as an increased risk of death from overfeeding.

Garra rufa fish are native to southern Turkish river basins, they do not belong in barren tanks inside artificially lit salons. Turkey's government has now made the Garra rufa a protected species over concerns about over-exploitation by spas.

Many people set up fish pedicure businesses with little or no experience in caring for the large quantities of fish that are required to run the business. It is a money making exercise and as a result it is not uncommon to see a number of dead fish floating in each tank, with the primary cause of death being ammonia and nitrate poisoning or overfeeding.

Why are fish pedicures unsanitary?
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has issued new guidance after a panel found fish tank water contained a number of micro-organisms and that infections could be transmitted either from fish to person (during the nibbling process), water to person (from the bacteria which can multiply in water), or person to person (via water, surrounding surfaces and the fish).

People with weak immune systems or underlying medical conditions, including diabetes and psoriasis, are at increased risk of infection and have now been advised against the treatment. The HPA says that if a user is infected with a blood-borne virus like HIV or hepatitis and bleeds in the water, there is a risk the diseases could be passed on.

These types of pedicures have been banned in some US states, including Florida, Texas, New Hampshire and Washington amid fears that infections could spread through open sores or blisters.