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Garra Rufa Fish

Discussion in 'Fish Keeping Chat' started by Fishy person, Nov 21, 2010.


  1. Fishy person

    Fishy person PetForums Newbie

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    As most of you are aware there is a growing trend for people to stick their feet in a tank full of fish, not just any fish but Garra rufa fish a member of the carp family originating from Turkey. I have no problem with people putting their feet into a tank full of fish as long as they are cleaned before they enter the tank. My concern is that some of these tanks are not designed to hold upto 200 fish in such a small body of water. I have now visited several establishments and looked at the filter systems basically there are two systems I have come accross the first is a canister filter bought off the shelf designed for much lower fish stocking levels. The second is a sump type add on filter medium housed in a chamber measureing around 150mm x 150mm x 250mm deep. Surely this should not be acceptable, I would have thought that the filter media should be at least 5-6 times more to cope with the 200 plus fish it has to handle. Speaking to the owners of these establishments they are unaware of conditions they are subjecting these fish to. All apear to have UV clarifiers/sterilisers fitted but looking at flow rates they can only operate as clarifiers but owners not knowing how they work told me they were sterilisers. Does anyone out there have more information on their local Garra Rufa shop and details regarding the filter system they operate. Please note I'm not for or against I just want information to hopfully enlighten and educate the people that are using these fish. I look forward to your comments
     
  2. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    My concerns are also based on stocking densities and the fact that these fish are kept in a completely unnatural environment for extended periods. The biotope in which Garra rufa is found varies, but they are commonly found in the Tigris and Euphrates river systems.

    I walked by one of these 'fish spas' yesterday, the filtration system was based on several tanks joined to a centralized filter, which each tank having a standpipe with an uncovered outflow through which the fish could quite easily have been sucked down. Sadly most of the fish (aroundd 100 or so for each tank) were dead.

    Many have also expressed concerns as to the hygiene and health risks of fish spas. Any open cuts or sores are prime targets for infection, and people who use these establishments are at a high risk of contracting diseases such as Fish TB, not only from the fish, but also from the water.

    Needless to say, the sooner these establishments are banned, the better.
     
  3. Fishy person

    Fishy person PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for your reply unfortunately i dont think this trend is going away soon but in the mean time if local authorities can raise the health standard high enough to ensure the best quality water is achived a majority of these places will not be able to conform with the standards unless they get a well designed tank and filter which costs a lot of money maybe to costly for them to continue. Or perhaps a course in fish keeping? with a certificate which has to be displayed.
     
  4. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    Most of the staff who work in these fish spas are sales assistants, they most likely have absolutely no experience whatsoever in fishkeeping or any knowledge on how to properly maintain the equipment required for the upkeep of these fish.

    A mandatory course in ornamental aquatics is a favourable suggestion, however regulations also have to be put in place which in turn would have to be enforced at a local level, and this means regular inspections by Defra.
     
  5. Fishyfins

    Fishyfins PetForums Member

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    im very much against these fish spas. simply put, i dont feel that the health of the fish is as much of a prioriy as it should be.

    the concept itself is interesting. i remember fondly being on holiday in various exotic locations, and the feeling of having fish/shrimp clean me. it is a good feeling, and i can understand why people would do it, and why there is a market.

    but still, the fishes welfare comes before the pleasure of the guests, and i honestly do feel disgusted that such places exist! plus, as has been said above, there is the questionable health and hygene of such places.
     
  6. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    You're absolutely right, the profits come first in these places, the welfare of the fish comes somewhere further down the ladder, if at all. It really is a sorry sight to see these fish die in such large numbers.

    I have read that these 'fish spas' can help to improve circulation in the limbs of diabetes patients. You may have heard stories of diabetes patients having whole limbs amputated due to a lack of oxygenated blood. However, no research has been done into this and Diabetes UK isn't currently advocating it.
     
  7. Fishy person

    Fishy person PetForums Newbie

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    It is said that the fish do improve psoriasis and improve other ailments which i must say if i suffered from psoriasis as a friend of mine does then i would probably try the treatment. As i said from the start i am neither for or against using garra rufa but i would like to see much better conditions in which they are kept.
    I have kept fish for over 40 years cold water, tropical and marine I have bred live bearing and egg laying fish, I have designed filter systems for large koi ponds, water features, fish tanks and natural swimming pools it just annoy's me that these people are being lazy and not taking the right care and time to give these little fish the best enviroment they can.
     
  8. Fishyfins

    Fishyfins PetForums Member

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    well, that didnt take long. went into my local primark to get some pieces i needed for a costume, and directly opposite has opened one of these very same fish spar establishments! first one in town, was its first day of opening today! will go back at some point for a good look.
     
  9. Polsander

    Polsander PetForums Newbie

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    Hi There,

    I wonder if anyone may be able to help me. I am an environmental health officer and along with my colleague an animal welfare officer we are respnsibble for enforcing health and safety and animal welfare in premises providing garra rufa for skin treatments. We both have concerns regarding the conditions in which these fish may be kept, such as stocking densities, water quality, filtration use of UV etc . i would be very grateful for any information members may be able to provide.

    thank you in advance.

    Polsander
     
  10. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    I would estimate that the average fish spa tank holds something in the region of 75-100 litres of water before displacement. When connected to a centralized filter, the water between all of the tanks would transmit potentially harmful bacteria, unless the water is filtered by a UV sterilizer. However UV sterilizers aren't guaranteed to kill all bacteria, and the effectiveness of UV tubes diminishes over a period of several months.

    The original post on this thread has quite rightly pointed out that the flow rates passing through the entire centralized sytem would be out of the limits for a UV sterilizer, leading the OP to believe that they are in fact Ultra-violet clarifiers. UV clarifers are much less powerful than UV sterilizers, as they are marketed by pond equipment retailers as intended for killing algal cells. Obviously some checks would have to be carried out to positively establish what type of UV devices are being used.

    Each tank would hold anything between 50-120 fish for this 'treatment' to take effect. For the estimated volumes that I stated above, this would of course mean that the tanks are overstocked which would result in a great deal of water pollution due to such a high bioload placed on the filter and the concentration of nitrogenous waste produced not only by fish metabolism, but also any flakes of dead skin that collect in the bottom of the tanks.

    It would be perfectly reasonable to say that these establishments take very little or no time to actively test the water by any means for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. While none of these factors will affect the health of any customers, high concentrations of pollutants ultimately cause the fish to contract diseases and eventually die. Going by the number of dead fish I've seen, I am not sure if the corpses are removed before they have a chance to start decomposingg. Fish are known carriers of Tubercolosis and Salmonella which can potentially be transmitted to humans. Even the water itself can carry TB.
     
  11. Fishy person

    Fishy person PetForums Newbie

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    I have looked at the problem with the filters locally I have seen a couple of salon's have been a sump type filter in around 100ltr tanks with around 2ltrs of filter medium in a central chamber of a three chamber filter whilst there I informed the owner how to boost the filter efficency to cope with the level of fish she had in the tank around 150, 2inch fish. Thinking of her original filter and stocking levels works out at 75 fish=150 inches of fish per 1ltr of filter media. even with a UV steriliser working properly with the correct flow rates it is still a disaster to happen. Setting myself some boundries making a single unit 1000mm x 500mm 150 50mm fish using my filter design which holds a minimum 30ltrs of media this bring's the stocking level down to 5 fish= 10 inches of fish per 1ltr of filter media. I have asked one salon if I build a tank system for them to try it out, so I can monitor how effective it would be, they have agreed. I'll keep you posted as to the results. Meanwhile I have spoken to my local authority they have asked me to write up some guidelines and specifications as to what they should be looking for so they can set a standard. Interesting stuff I am amazed how deep I'm getting with this. Looks like I'll be busy for a while.
     
  12. DJNB

    DJNB PetForums Newbie

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    Hi everyone. Newbie to the forum and I’ll explain what we would like to do – it would be good if anyone has any advice and recommendations.

    We intend to open a garra rufa spa. We are looking at 6 tanks each with a volume of 220 litres. Beneath each tank there will be a reserve containing 100 litres, with sump connection and filter systems capable of handling 1,500 litres per hour and a UV filter sterilizer to handle the same volume. We are thinking of 125 fish per tank, water at 30 degrees C and a pH of 7…after each 15 minute treatment, no clients would enter the same tank again for at least another 15 minutes. Additional food in the evenings and in the morning would be in algae pill form…

    Basically, we want to improve drastically on the welfare of the fish that you find in your average salon where the are crammed into the small prefabricated tanks. Any thoughts and advice would be greatly appreciated. Criticism is welcome as we want to see what areas we can improve. But to start with…do you experts think we are heading along the right lines?

    Cheers.
     
  13. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    Your plans sound better, but I still can't condone this as a business. The stocking densities are still sky high, and there's no mention of the total volume of biological filtration media to cope with waste.

    Oviously nobody can stop you from opening shop, however if there are just a couple of things I would suggest, they would be carry out several large water changes whenever possible and always try to buy the biggest tanks possible.
     
  14. DJNB

    DJNB PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks Luke.

    We are still sorting out the finer points of the filter system with our specialists, and obviously we want it to be as good as possible. Originally we were thinking of using Eheim Pro3e canister filters, but have discarded that after looking around - it seems the best advice is to have a large reserve tank and put in as good a filter as possible there. Any do/don'ts on that score?

    As you know, the more opinions we get the better our final decision can be. Lots of places recommend a 10-15% water change a week for normal aquariums. We are thinking that instead of large water changes we would do more regular water changes, possibly 5-10% per day.

    We are also trying to get the tanks as large as possible, including the reserve tanks so we have a more stable system. The size of our salon will impact on that, but so far these are the sizes we are looking at - with more study we hope to be able to boost tank sizes. In your opinion, what would be the ideal size/stock density?

    Thanks again.
     
  15. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    In an ideal world, it would be best to have each tank connected to it's own large sump. Connecting the tanks to a centralized filtration system would be the most cost-effective option, but it opens up the possibility of aquatic diseases (small background populations exist in all aquatic environments, including aquariums) being spread from one tank to another.

    For both options, it would mean soliciting the services of a custom aquarium manufacturer to design a glass sump tank, which would then be filled with different types of biological, chemical and mechanical filter media. The sump tank could be fed with water either by gravity, with each tank having a bottom drain and a standpipe, or using pumps. A UV sterilizer and any other equipment you may wish to use (e.g Ozone generator) could be fitted inline with the solvent-weld piping on the outflow side of the sump.

    Where maintenance is concerned, it wouldn't be a bad idea to close for about an hour to carry out periodic maintenance. A 5% daily water change would be ideal to help cope with the build-up of solid and chemical waste, and if you decide to choose a centralized system, the waste water can simply be taken from the sump.

    To help keep aquatic diseases under control, keep one net for each tank and always sterilize the nets before and after use using a dilute solution of Methylene blue (be careful with this, it stains clothes and skin).

    You'll also need another spare tank (a large food-grade plastic container would be fine) to hold water to top-up water lost by evaporation.
     
  16. DJNB

    DJNB PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks again for your useful suggestions - the ideal world is what we are aiming for...The design so far stands that each of the 6 tanks are connected to their own sumps with each one having 100 litres in reserve (in theory that would be 327 litres of water for 125 fish - I would love to increase the litres but i dont know if that is feasible). We have discarded the idea of a centralized filtration system exactly because of the possibility of infections spreading. Unfortunately for us the cost is rocketing because of it, but it is our fish, our reputation and our business we are trying to look after, so the investment will be worth it in the long run. We are currently searching for quotes from custom manufacturers to fabricate the tanks (any advice on where to go for that would be a big help as well).

    We hope to have the bio/chem/mech filters, thermostat/heater etc. all in place in the sump, and have been advised to have the sump fed by gravity. The gravity issue is causing us problems due to the amount of space available (we don’t want our customers heads banging the ceiling!) – is the pump system feasible on such an operation? Also, with the ozone we have been advised against it as not entirely necessary and could possibly bring additional problems. A lot more research on my part is needed for that one to be decided I think.

    We will have a top-up tank filled with tap-water and with its own filter system to de-chlorinate before it goes in to the tanks to replace evaporation and for the daily water changes in each one. Each individual system will also have UV sterilizers, as will the outflow pipe from all of them before it goes down the drain…and the waste water will come from the sumps. The water level in the fish tanks hopefully won’t be yo-yo-ing up and down with this system.

    Thanks for the advice on the nets – hadn’t realized that before. Anyway, we have lots of hurdles to overcome but slowly progress is being made…
     
  17. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    There are several custom aquarium manufacturers in the UK, one particular manufacturer that I would recommend is Seabray. They can design tanks exactly to your own specifications. Most modest-sized tanks can be made at their factory and then shipped out to you, but large installations will need to be built on-site wherever you plan to be based. They may give you a fairly sizeable discount for what would be a substantial order.

    Where gravity is concerned, you could raise the tanks off the ground by about 25cm using sealed wood, concrete etc. This would allow room underneath for the pipework and allow enough distance for the force of gravity to drive the water towards the sump. For the water return from the sump, if you chose a centralized system you could have one large pump (e.g one of the larger Sequence models) with the piping fed into that pump from the sump tank split into other smaller pipes leading to each tank. To make my definition a bit clearer, I have outlined a rough plan of my idea below.

    [​IMG]

    Ozone can be useful, but it can be dangerous. It's produced using a generator which passes an electrical discharge through air being drawn through the unit. This turns Oxygen gas (O2) into Ozone (O3) gas. After a short period of time of coming into contact with water it breaks back down into Oxygen gas. Typically, Ozone gas has a 'half-life' of 30 minutes, meaning that after 30 minutes, the Ozone gas injected into the water will be at half of its original concentration.

    Ozone is a highly effective sterilizing agent, and will kill off any pathogenic bacteria, fungi and viruses. It will also burn off proteins and organics such as ammonia and nitrite, and it can also inhibit algal growth near the point of injection. The use of this gas also raises the redox potential of the water, making aquatic pathogens much more susceptible to oxidisation.

    The use of Ozone gas can be dangerous as it is a powerful oxidising agent. Ozone gas leaking from the system in sufficient quantities can irritate the respiratory system and produce other symptoms such as nausea and headaches. However, providing Ozone gas is used properly and installed correctly, the benefits far outweigh the very minor risks.
     
    #17 Chillinator, Dec 2, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 2, 2010
  18. Fishy person

    Fishy person PetForums Newbie

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    HI djnb

    I have spoken to EHIEM and to be honest their canniser filters are not powerful enough to cope with the demands of a Garra rufa tank. The sump idea sounds the better way to go. I have found a number of makers of Garra tanks already use this idea but the size of the filter media must be large enough to cope. One company I have found have been very helpful Garra Rufa Centre designing and supplying complete foot, hand and full body spa unit they pay particular attention to water quality and filtration. If you are decding to set up a spa then do it the right way. Keep me informed what you decide to do
     
  19. Polsander

    Polsander PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for all the information which is extremely useful.

    Polsander
     
  20. Fishy person

    Fishy person PetForums Newbie

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    Another good source of information: Garra rufa centre.co.uk they build their own filter systems which is about the best I've seen so far. They are very knowledgable on different types of filtration, UV, flow rates and all their electrics are IP68 safety rated and each tank is individually filtered. They told me that they are designing a full body spa directed at skin clinics and the NHS. which involves Ozone, RO, UV, and much much more, looked like a professional set up unlike the one I went along to based at a market place in London very dissapointed with the conditions but customers were a plenty, even in this weather this place was offering a franchise I looked casually at their set ups very basic no heating in the shop/stall I'd like to know what the temp of the water would be at night? Also visited a spa in WARE great set up the owner was very knowledgable the tanks looked clean and the fish looked healthy. Filters could have been better. She has just opened a new shop in the high street not your average owner she seems to really care about the fish's health.
     
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