As a child who grew up in the country I thought absolutely nothing of jumping into a “not so fresh” pond with mud, rocks and God only knows what else in there. The fish would swim around us and we (my sister and I) would just shew them away and keep on playing. Who would have ever thought that there would come a day where someone would ask me to pay $50.00 to stick my feet in a bin full of fish for a half an hour?
It may sound insane but in Alexandria VA at Yvonne Hair and Nail Salon, that is exactly what people are piling in to do. Okay, so maybe these little swimmers aren’t exactly the same as the guppies that I kicked away but hey… a fish is a fish, right? Maybe not. These fish are called ‘Doctor Fish’. Also known as nibble fish or lickers. They grow to be about 19 centimeters long and they are gold in color with no teeth… don’t worry, they don’t actually bite you!
They do however used their crescent shaped mouths to nibble away dead skin on your feet. If there is an actual infection on your feet they may even go so far as to nibble until you bleed. I must also mention that the water they are in at Yvonne’s contains very high levels of selenium which helps heal wounds by protection cells against free radicals that can be found in untreated waters.
The big questions seems to be, why in the world would they want to eat dead skin instead of fish food! The answer, they don’t. The temperature of the water makes it difficult for any type of nutrient to survive. That turns these little swimmers into vicious little guys who will attack just about any thing that is foreign in their domain. If they aren’t given any feet to nibble on… they will even start to eat each other!
Does it hurt? Not at all. It actually kind of tickles!