Monday, February 23, 2009

Fish pedicures banned

Fish pedicures banned

TALLAHASSEE - Having a school of small fish nibble away calluses may be one of the latest trends in beauty salons nationwide, but Tampa Bay residents looking to try out these “fish pedicures” will have to travel out of the state.

The Florida Board of Cosmetology banned the service from the state’s salons during its January board meeting, saying there’s no way to properly clean the pools of fish in between uses.

The service also violates the board’s rule against having animals in a salon for purposes other than assisting a disabled person.

A.J.'s Salon and Spa in Sarasota was one of the first places to offer fish pedicures in the Bay area. About 100 to 200 small carp filled each of its tanks, where clients would soak their feet for 15 to 30 minutes before getting their toenails painted.

Salon owner Johnny Tran said he tried to convince the board that the pedicures weren't unsanitary, but it didn't convince the group. He doesn't plan on fighting the issue further, he said.

"I did call them," Tran said. "I said, 'hey, I have a way to sanitize the fish,' and they don't buy it."

To keep the area clean, Tran said he drained and replaced the water in the tanks with each use, using a special formula to prevent bacteria from growing.

Now that the process has been banned, Tran says the only way he can attempt to recoup his losses is by sending the fish back to the vendor he bought them from in California and try to sell the tanks on Ebay.

The fish cost about $500 per tank, according to a FOX 13 report from 2008.

Losing this service means losing a competitive advantage, Tran says, and in an economic recession, that could make it all the more difficult to attract customers.

"People used to bring people from out of town and people out of the country to come here because it's unique," he said. "We don't have anything different than other salons [now]."

The pedicure, which was popularized in Asia, involves putting one’s feet in a bowl or small tank. According to a report, the fish eat away at any dead skin on the feet, smoothing it as a pumice stone would.

Anyone caught offering fish pedicures will be subject to fines, the board said.

Copyright AP Modified,

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

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