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Originally published Thursday, October 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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State says fish pedicures are illegal

Live, tiny carp used in the salon industry's latest trend — pedicures by fish — has been deemed unsanitary and illegal, state officials said today.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Pedicures by fish — the use of live, tiny carp to clean feet — has been deemed unsanitary and illegal by the state.

The state Department of Licensing issued a statement this afternoon saying officials were "greatly concerned" that customers, in their quest for smooth heels, are willing to soak their feet in a tank of toothless fish that feast on dead skin.

Christine Anthony, spokeswoman for the department, said it's impossible to sanitize the live fish. "You can clean the tank, you can clean the water, but there's no guarantee that the fish aren't carrying something from the previous customer."

Today, officials hand-delivered a letter to the Peridot Nail Salon in Kent that was the only spa, to their knowledge, offering the treatment, Anthony said. Inspectors visited Peridot last month after it was featured on a television news report.

In the notice given today, "we asked them to stop using the fish immediately," Anthony said. Letters are also being sent to licensed salons across the state informing owners that it's unlawful to perform the treatment, she said.

"Hopefully, we can catch other salons before they buy the fish," she said.

The pedicures, popular in Turkey and other Asian countries, started gaining attention in the states after a Virginia-based spa talked to the media this summer about the benefits of using the fish instead of razors to slough away scales and calluses.

At Peridot, an employee who declined to give his name, said he was "speechless" about the state's ruling. The salon just started offering the fish pedicures on Sept. 19, according to its Web site.

"We've been getting a pretty good response, because of the fact that it's such a novelty," he said. The pedicure costs $30 for 15 minutes.

The employee said he had tried the pedicure once.

"It feels good, it's very therapeutic," he said. "It's almost like a massage."

Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or skrishnan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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