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Garra Rufa Fish

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


  1. c4roline

    c4roline PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for this long thread, I have read it all with great interest after googling garra rufa fish. I have long wanted to have this done to my feet after seeing bits on Tv about this and today while walking through York down stonegate I was handed a leaflet from a new shop opening , I went in to check it out and it was packed with women with their feet in the tanks and was very excited about going back when I get time, however as I walked away I started to ask myself about the welfare of the fish ( I have been an aquarium and pond keeper for over 20 years, so not sure why this question didnt enter my head immediately really!) I was worried about the filters and how often water was changed etc etc and about those little fish and secondly I started to think about what about other people with diseases and catching anything from the water ! so that is why I decided to google it. I have decided after reading all the different sides about this on this thread I certainly will not be going in to have my feet done now and will advise others against this. I really did love the idea and had always said I would have a go but do not feel happy about the whole franshise idea and people who are not qualified looking after the animals and the possible contamination, I feel they are just doing it because its the latest trend and money can be made. I just had not thought very deeply about it until I actually saw these fish and these questions had bothered me, So thank you for all the different points of view on this thread and I hope others take a step back and look into it further before jumpin in with both feet!
     
  2. aquaticstore.com

    aquaticstore.com PetForums Newbie

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    If you check out the the goverment agency, Health Protection Agency (hpa)that has carried out test on these spa's they have concluded, that as yet there is no evidence of cross infections.

    If the spa is using a good, high standartd proffesional system, there are a lot that arn't, then the filter and steralizer system, should eradicate any disease spores, infact i go swimming a lot and have never caught any dieseases from the water, so try not to let this worry you.

    As for the fish, in our spa and the many we have supplied and installed, the fish seen to be very happy and thrive in thier environment, infact once you open the lid, they are lining up in antisipaction.

    aquaticstore.com
     
  3. new westie owner

    new westie owner PetForums VIP

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    Ive seen mums letting kids as young as 6 yrs use them WHY :confused:
     
  4. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    The tests by the HPA are still ongoing according to a source at Practical Fishkeeping. Originally the main fears were HIV infection, but it now includes Mycobacteria, Aeromonas, Fungal and Verruca infections, to name a few. In the warm, humid conditions of a fish spa, these infections thrive and UV sterilisation doesn't kill Mycobacteria. I'd suggest reading the article by Nicolette Craig in the May 2011 issue of PFK.

    A swimming pool isn't a fair comparison to a fish spa tank, a pool isn't grossly overstocked with fish and the bacteria and waste that come with them.

    I seriously doubt the fish are 'very happy' as you describe, given that upto 150-200 or so of these fish are crammed into tanks with volumes that barely hit the 100 litre mark. The amount of waste produced by Garra rufa - which can grow upto 15cm/6" in length - is phenomenal. In the average fish spa tank, only 3-4 fish should be stocked given their adult size.

    They're probably 'lining up in anticipation' due to their burning desire to escape from a polluted cesspool!

    The sooner people (and businesses) get the message that fish are not a beauty treatment and do not belong in such an environment, the better.

    Sent from my iPhone
     
  5. aquaticstore.com

    aquaticstore.com PetForums Newbie

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    Can't comment on spa's that I have not seem, just baseing my conclusion on our own spa's but you are right in your assumption that a couple of hundred fish in a tank of only 100 litres would do harm to its inhabitants.

    Now far be it for me to contradict or disagree with the PFK or its authority on health issues, but below is the latest info from the HPA:

    HPA statement on fish spa pedicures

    10 March 2011


    Based on theoretical evidence and expert opinion, the HPA deems the risk of catching an infection from a Garra rufa fish foot spa to be very small. However, following a number of enquiries to the HPA from local environmental health officers, the HPA, Health Protection Scotland and the Health and Safety Laboratory are currently examining the most up to date evidence and will publish practical advice to help both salons and the public to minimise any possible risk in due course.

    aquaticstore.com
     
    #65 aquaticstore.com, May 14, 2011
    Last edited: May 14, 2011
  6. dentman

    dentman PetForums Newbie

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    Dear All
    I have noted everyone's comments on the Garra Rufa and do agree with the comments posted on this site. I run an Aquatic shop specialising in Marine, Tropical and Coldwater Fish. I have also set up 2 Garra Rufa Spas, but there is a huge difference between my 250 litre pools and the standard 70 litre spa sold for exhorbitant prices to salons who know no different. We all are aware that a 70 litre tank can not support 50 fish, whatever the filtration - the same old rules still apply - one inch of fish per gallon of water. One spa owner is at her wits end - nitrite and ammonia levels are off the scale, especially with feet in there all day, and despite my trying to help with extra filtration, nitrite and ammonia treatments, the fish are actually attacking the smallest and eating them in a race for survival of the fittest - that or trying to jump out of the tank!
    The solution is simple:
    To run my shop it is mandatory that I have a Pet Shop Licence. This not only gives the Local Council extra income, but means I am controlled by the Environmental Health Department who can check at any time. If the Spas were put under the same rules, there would not be the problem of 1000's of fish dying in the name of profit!
     
  7. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    The 'one inch of fish per gallon rule' is little more than a guideline, not a 'rule' and it has never received any form of scientific backing. It's regarded as a pile of crap by the majority of responsibile fishkeepers and you'll hardly find it being recommended by any reliable source. If fishkeepers followed it, we'd be seeing 30cm/12" Oscars in 12 gallon tanks.

    Despite the requirements of a Pet Shop License, I've seen my fair share of aquatic stores with filthy tanks containing diseased (which should be in quarantine) or dead fish. It seems that councils fail to thoroughly inspect the a large number of stores which fail to meet basic standards and are consequently still running.
     
  8. andyc22

    andyc22 PetForums Newbie

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    Just a question about the Garra Rufa Fish,I know you have your feet cleaned and inspected before they allow you to enter the tank where your feet go<but what about people who have the likes of "Athletes foot" and "verukas" would they be allowed to still use the service.........
     
  9. Polsander

    Polsander PetForums Newbie

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    Andycc22,

    I am an Environmental Health Officer and along with my colleague an Animal Welfare Officer have responsibility for the inspection and enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and various other pieces of legislation in these premises. We are currently undertaking inspections of the spas within our area and as you would expect, are finding different standards of controls regarding the inspections of customers feet prior to using the service. Most businesses state on their literature no open sores or wounds , athletes foot, other fungal infections or verrucas however the standard of inspection varies considerably. Many employees are not keen to thoroughly inspect a customers feet which would include spreading and visually examining the webbing between the toes where first evidence of the athletes foot fungus is found. So standards vary considerably across the business.
     
  10. Polsander

    Polsander PetForums Newbie

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    Animal Welfare Act Enforcement:

    As a continuation from above : After frank discussions with individuals and knowledgeable bodies we are focusing on water chemistry within the tanks initially testing for Nitrites, Ammonia etc with test paper and if readings are not satisfactory we are taking water samples for analysis with a view to enforcement action if the results are unsatisfactory. However the concern is that the chemistry of the water sample can change between the time of sampling and submission to the analyst which may have legal ramifications in the event of enforcement. Any further advice on this matter would be very welcome.
     
  11. fish spa

    fish spa PetForums Newbie

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    We generally don't allow people with Verrucae into the spa unless they are in an area that can be covered with a waterproof dressing. Not all verrucae look the same, and may need a trained eye to diagnose them! Re. Fungal infections; they are not always obvious either. We, as Podiatrists carefully check to make sure that the feet do not have any splits, wounds, blisters or vesicles present. We also check medical history to assess medical risk.
    Good Luck
     
  12. fish spa

    fish spa PetForums Newbie

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    Its great that you are doing all this, but surely its best to educate the operators of the spa before the fish are harmed or die so that they can prevent cruelty!
    M
     
  13. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    To add to the relevant text which I've highlighted in bold:

    'Test papers' - which usually come in the form of a strip with several small reagent pads which change colour according to the concentration of the substance (e.g. ammonia) or chemical parameter (e.g. pH, dKH) being tested - are infamously renowned for their lack of reliability, despite their widespread use in the medical profession for testing concentrations of substances such as glucose in urinalysis. The degree of accuracy provided by these test strips is not normally greater than around +/-1ppm (mg/l.), providing inaccurate or anomalous results. The accuracy of test strips is further decreased by degradation from exposure to high temperatures and humidity.

    Far more accurate test results can be obtained by taking samples of water and storing them in sterile containers at a constant temperature before they are taken to a lab for analysis. The concentration of toxic nutrients such as ammonia and nitrite are always likely to be above 0ppm (mg/l.) in tanks that have inadequate filtration, insufficient maintenance, disproportionately high bioloads and large amounts of dead organic waste in the form of skin cells that aren't consumed and consequently collect at the bottom of the tanks.
     
  14. loosefeet

    loosefeet PetForums Newbie

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    @chillinator

    Sorry Luke, but you are a biggot and a hypocrite.

    Every post I have read from you contains your one and only message viz these places are wrong and should be banned.

    Like battery farmed chickens, these places are here to stay. What they need is more legislation to ensure animal welfare. This should be your priority not a one man campaign to 'close em all down' which is doomed to failure. Get over it.

    Any animal in captivity is never going to experience the lifestyle they were created/evolved to experience no matter how big your hutch/field/tank/enclosure etc. They just aint free.

    Its not just fish and chickens either, we all eat bread and never wonder how closely the wheat is packed in the fields!!!

    I am assuming from your obvious level of knowledge that you have several pieces of glass bonded together, filled with water and containing captive fish simply for YOUR enjoyment. How hypocritical is that? I have no doubt your water conditions are perfect and your fish are well looked after and your tank is not overstocked but does that give YOU the right to decide who can and can't keep fish based on your very own set of morals?

    I am a former fishkeeper (about 25 years experience). I only do not have fish as the conversion of my house here from barn to dwelling still isn't finished after 10 years of living in it! hence my intention to return to fishkeeping has to wait.

    My wife wants to open a garra rufa spa. I support her BUT animal welfare IS my priority NOT profit. Lets face it, the margins here are so great we can afford to send all the fish to Tenerife on their holidays once a year if that's what it takes.

    Yes there is sufficient money in this business but there is also ignorance. This needs to be stamped out. Good animal husbandry HAS to be the priority and it needs to be up to environmental health/defra etc to come up with rules and regulations to make it so.

    Lets get rid of the cowboys but don't put every spa owner into the same boat. There ARE good guys out there who DO care for their animals.

    To be continued..... (I suspect)

    Steve
     
    JANICE199 likes this.
  15. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    Curious, you live in Cumbria (as I do) and I know a fishkeeper by the name of Steve who runs a well known aquatic store in the Lakes area. I don't suppose we know eachother?

    Firstly, to address your claims that I'm a 'bigot' and a 'hypocrite', you've very clearly missed the point. My message is that fish spas should be closed down - not only for health risks - but because it my moral duty as a fishkeeper. Ask any fishkeeper on a reputable forum (e.g. Practical Fishkeeping) or read some current threads on other forums on the matter - they'll give you the same answer and you'll see that I'm not running a 'one man campaign'.

    Unlike in fish spa owners/employees, I spend a considerably greater proportion of my time to ensure that water quality in my aquariums is paramount; which is easily achievable in an average home aquarium with sensible stocking. Spa tanks on the other hand, are grossly overstocked, have inadequate filtration and are run by new and inexperienced staff with no formal training in the care of ornamental fish. There's another contrasting difference: I don't keep fish to scrape dead skin off my feet all day.

    Fish spas themselves admit that their fish barely last beyond the 2-3 week mark.

    You've again missed the point and digressed away from the main point of the argument by referring to chickens and even wheat. This argument is not about farm animals or wheat (both of which provide basics for human survival: food), it's about fish.

    Spas are using these fish for profit in a practice that has no current scientific basis to show that it is 100% effective without other forms of treatment being required. How, I will ask, can you as a fishkeeper honestly condone using fish as a cosmetic treatment?

    Take a very close look at the article I posted from PFK May 2011. It is a basic biological fact that dead skins cells contain little more than Keratin, an indigestible protein which no nutritional value. Garra rufa don't normally resort to scavenging behaviour until all other food sources have run out.

    You are biased to support fish spas because of your wife's desire to open one. Voicing against it would possibly put you in ill-favour with your wife, so by supporting it you are biased. Look up the definition of the word if you are unaware of it.

    I don't dictate to people who want to keep fish, I advise. Prospective fishkeepers come to other fishkeepers - like me - for help and I give it. This is one issue where I will advise from my own experience and my opinion, whether or not the person on the other end will take the info and use it is not my problem.

    This subject has been open for discussion elsewhere for some time and the facts have been around for even longer. Ignorance is not an excuse where the spas are concerned; they are businesses run by businesspeople exploiting a niche in a market fuelled by people who are unaware of the reality.

    I have provided scientific facts to back up my argument and my opinion which I have every RIGHT to express without being labelled a bigot or hypocriticial.

    I suggest you observe this more closely and start providing some facts if you want to sustain your side of the argument.
     
  16. Polsander

    Polsander PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for the information Chillinator, we have decided to initially test the tank water with a fluid reagent which i have been informed has a greater (be it marginal) degree of reliability. Any premises that fails that initial test will be required to address the matter forthwith and undergo an unanounced re-visit and re-tested. If the second result is unacceptable then a half litre water sample will be taken into a sealed sterile sample bottle and stored in a chill box whilst transported to the public analyst. The purpose of the exercise is to drive standards of animal welfare upwards and where necessary use legislation to do so. I appreciate that there are businesses out there whose priority is the welfare of the fish and they should have nothing to fear from a visit and infact we hope to learn from them. However, we have concerns regarding some business who appear to have sprung-up overnight and need to question their knowledge base of animal welfare, water chemistry, hygiene, etc. Again, thank you all for your advice and information it is very much appreciated.
     
  17. loosefeet

    loosefeet PetForums Newbie

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    Chillinator - just in case you don't know the definition of bigot, it is "a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own"

    Can you show me scientifically how you are tolerating other people's ideas?

    Your comment about the life expectancy of a fish being 2-3 weeks does not make economic sense. I can not believe it. £100 per week or so spent on replacement fish per tank just becasue the owners cant be bothered looking after them? No way.

    I HAVE read your PFK article. My understanding, and I may be wrong of course (see thats something I am capable of admitting), is that the fish are not actually eating the dead skin. This is why the filters have to be cleaned every day and the fish fed twice a day. Yes hey are scavanging. They are looking for food under the dead skin as they would in the wild if they were hungry.

    However, the bottom line of your post seemed to be - Fish dont have saliva therefore these places should be banned as soon as possible.

    You ask for facts. Here are some I can personally guarantee are 100% accurate.

    1. I do not have psoriasis
    2. I do have exzema but its on my elbows, behind my ears and a bit on my neck and I have no intettion of sticking those parts of my body in a fash tank.
    3. I have had a garra rufa foot spa.
    4. After the 30 minutes, my feet felt relaxed and refreshed. Walking back to the car, I felt like I was walking on cushions. It was a very pleasurable experience and not at all cosmetic.
    5. In thailand, I had a thai massage. After my body had been pummeled for a while, it too felt similarly relaxed and refreshed. Did I complain afterwards that I was not covered in the masseuse's saliva? ABSOLUTELY NOT

    It is also a fact of life that animals are kept in non too ideal surroundings for human gain. You are correct, battery chickens are not fish, that was well spotted. The wheat comment was sarcasm - not so well spotted. Unless you know a scientific fact I do not, Salmon and Trout ARE fish and they ARE farmed and kept in overcrowded conditions - I myself prefer wild caught alaskan salmon but it is a taste preference, not a moral decision. I do eat battery chickens.

    Presently, there is no fish spa in my town. Mark my words, there WILL be one soon. Either we open one or somebody else will. If we open one, I can guarantee the fish will be our priority and cared for. If somedody else does, I can't make any such guarantees. As a fish keeper, I want to see fish kept in the best possible conditions so would it not actually be moraly wrong of us NOT to go ahead.

    You can not change the fact that these places are open the world over. You CAN help ensure that, in the UK at least, they are run as fish friendly as is reasonably practicable. Surely THAT is your moral duty, not waging a war you can not win.

    @Polsander - Keep up the good work. Root out the cowboys and push for compulsary licensing of all garra rufa spas in the UK. Listen to level headed, unbiased opinions like 'fishy person' This industry needs regulating, not banning.

    Steve.

    PS - Luke, I dont own an aquatics store, you do not know me (I don't think).
     
  18. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    A fish spa is not an 'idea' as such, it's a simple desire wanted by a few people who don't know what exactly lies beneath.

    Fish spas purchase their stock wholesale, which means its dirt cheap. It's undeniable that a single Garra rufa isn't going to survive for long in poor water conditions that inevitably result from gross overcrowding. I've seen some spas stocking Goldfish in their tanks - for what purpose I don't know aside from the fact they too are very cheap to purchase in bulk.

    How many fish spas do you see actively feeding the fish? If the fish are being fed, why would they scavenge? The point stands that many fish spas are deliberately not feeding their fish to induce scavenging behaviour for a 'food source' that has no nutritional value, as I have proven from a reliable source in the PFK article.

    By the use of the term 'facts' I am referring to scientific facts in support of the advantages (e.g. medical) of fish spa 'treatment', not conclusions drawn by yourself.

    Once again, you've drawn another pointless and irrelevant comparison, this time by using commercially-farmed fish as an example. The stocking densities in fish farms are surprisingly lower than inside a spa tank; I can safely say this from a personal experience as my uncle is a marine biologist working for UCLA, giving me the opportunity to see a salmon farm in the flesh. This holds true even further for fish that are farmed at sea in netted enclosures; poor water quality isn't an issue in an environment as large as the oceans due to the volume of water involved.

    The simple fact is, you can't guarantee that the welfare of the fish is being prioritized when they're being crammed into such small tanks. Water quality suffers and fish die at an uncontrollable rate, FACT.

    I'm not fighting a one-man war, most of the responsible fishkeeping community share the same sentiments.

    To put it very bluntly, I am getting sick and tired of your sniping remarks implying that I can't tolerate being proven wrong. I have been proven wrong on many arguments, and in the process I haven't been insulted as you have done in this case. If you've got anymore of these remarks, leave them in my PM inbox.
     
  19. Chillinator

    Chillinator Guest

    Where did saliva (or salivary glands) come into the equation? Have I mentioned saliva anywhere in my posts?

    Oh, and by the way, I don't need anymore definitions of words that I already understand very clearly. You've deduced from my posts that I'm not allowing any other opinions on the matter, which is not the case. People (including yourself) have been reacting with a hostile tone to my posts which I've backed up with FACTS. Obviously they can't argue like mature adults.

    A sensible debate was started, and a few idiots are keen to bring it crashing down. The future looks bleak for the 'pro' fish spa lobby given their pathetic excuses.
     
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