Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Singapore Night Safari organic gara rufa fish foot spa

 By Mona Sabalones Gonzalez

We just got back from Singapore, where among other things, we visited the Night Safari zoo. There will be a separate post about that. You aren't allowed to take photos during the Night Safari.

However, we did have the fish foot spa after, and we were allowed to take pictures of this.

Surprisingly, I was the one who insisted on our getting the fish spa. But the one who enjoyed it most was Ed, my husband. At the start it really TICKLES, but he didn't seem to be bothered by it at all.

 Above, you can see that I lifted one foot, but the lady encouraged me to soldier on. She said the first two minutes are really ticklish, but afterwards you get used to it.
 She was right. By the third minute, I found myself actually enjoying those gara rufa fish sucking on my feet. They take out the hardened skin and then leave your feet really soft afterwards. Once you get used to it, it can be really soothing.
 You can see that more of the fish were gathering around Ed's feet, since he kept them perfectly still the whole time.
 See what I mean...This was one of the times I lifted my feet.

Gara Rufa fish are freshwater carp fish that originate in Turkey. They have no teeth, so they really just suck on your feet. For some 400 years, these fish, which also abound in Syria, Iran, Pakistan and Iraq were used to treat people with skin problems like eczema and psoriasis. In some countries they have whole swimming pools where people can get in and the Gara Rufa suck at their entire bodies.
 But for me, the fish sucking on my feet were just fine. These fish have no teeth, and it is debatable whether they are actually eating all the outer skin of the feet. Some filter systems in tanks of these fish which were used for pedicures showed lots of skin that was not eaten. The theory behind this is that they are actually nibbling for food and when there is none underneath, they back off and other fish behind them get into the feet to do the same thing.

This would be similar to the tendency of fish to look around rocks and corals for food.
Many presume that gara fish are starved so that they will respond more to sucking out the outer skin layers of the body when used in spas. Actually, a reputable spa will feed the fish, and the tendency to gather around the human feet would simply be part of its instinct to look for food whether they are still hungry or not.
 There have been some health issues raised with these types of foot spas and a number of states in the U.S. do not allow them. Issues revolve around hygiene and the possibility of getting an infection. The way I saw it, this is a rare way to experience Singapore, and you can find hygiene issues in beauty parlors and dangers in crossing streets and flying planes. So I went for it.
I don't know if it was my imagination or not, but the fish struck me as an organic reflexology treatment. Afterwards, my feet felt very good, they didn't ache at all, and even a persistent back ache was gone. My husband and I felt completely rested.

Tonight I touched my husband's feet and they were softer than they had ever been before. So there was some good that came out of it. Certainly, for me it was a very interesting foot massage.

For more info on health and safety issues go to: One article says it's safe, another warns it may not be.

Here is also a video of a swimming pool of these fish where people dip their whole bodies inside:

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Finn said...

When in Rome, right? It looks like a feeding frenzy! I would imagine it would be a wonderful experience, but I am ticklish too and wonder how long it would take me to get past the initial sensation!

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

Oh wow, the Momster is squirming in her boots right now. She has to have the most ticklish feet ever, and she says she doesn't think she could ever do that. She would love soft feet, but fish sucking at them - eeewwwww!!!

Thanks for an interesting post.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

Frankie Furter said...

Last spring there were 3 places that were doing that in Columbus Ohio. BUTT I think they got shut down fur some reason.

I think it would be fun to CATCH the fishes though.

Inger said...

How interesting -- I never hear of a fish spa before. Never too late to learn and that's one reason I enjoy blogging so much, there is always something new. Looking forward to hearing about the zoo.

Kerri said...

Very interesting..... I can imagine that it would tickle a lot.

Priscilla said...

You're so brave! I still dare not put my feet in the pond, once Rosie tried it and she screamed and jumped up immediately.

Remington said...

That is SO interesting! Thanks for sharing!

Belle said...

It's weird, I thought I was already following you but something happened. It was either me or Blogger and I'm blaming Blogger!

This is very interesting. I've never heard of these fish or spas before. I would do it too.

BeadedTail said...

Our mommy has heard of that but we don't think she could handle those fishies on her feet! We'd like the fishes though!

scotsmad said...

There is no way SHE could get past the two minutes of tickling!!! On the other hand, Bella would love to swim in that spa and chase the fish.

XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

Max the Quilt Cat said... that must really make your feet tingle.... I know you have the most beautiful feet in the world now.

Have a great weekend.

pawhugs, Max

Sagira said...

Huh...what an interesting post. Not heard of this before.

Becky's Barnyard said...

Wow! The things you learn blogging. Love it.

Jazzi said...

That seems really unique!! Mom has ticklish feets to it would be hard for her. Can you e-mail us about the christmas exchange, we have a question for you


Doxie Rod said...

i have always wanted to try this!! great pictures and very interesting!

Tooki said...

we have fish spa here too but just recently the authorities have been warning people not to go because it could spread diseases, esp hiv! do stay safe...