Help…the hungry fish are eating away my feet!

Woah…lookie lookie. That’s me, my first moments of having my feet savored by Doctor Fish. Nicknamed nibble fish, they are imported from Turkey and they love to feed on dead skin. I think many of you have tried this treatment before but this is my maiden trial. I didn’t really have too much desire to try this until I was invited along this tour to learn more about the beauty offerings at Changi Airport. So as part of the tour, we were invited to Fish Spa & Reflexology and I opted for the fish spa over the other treatments out of curiosity.

Nibble away dead skin
According to the spa, Doctor Fish therapy originated in the hot spring resorts of Turkey and such a therapy provides you with micro-massages, stimulating your reflex and acu-points, for enhanced blood circulation. The fish gently nibble away dead skin from your feet, and that is supposed to leave you with the healthy skin to grow and glow. Well, I’m not sure about the growing and glowing but my feet did feel kind of light after the session.

Thrive in warm water
Interestingly, these fish, named Garra Rufa, are most active in warm water temperature and that’s why the spa offered a choice of both warm water and cold water pools. The latter, is meant for first timers who might find a swarm of fish nibbling away at their feet the first time unnerving. Well, it was my first experience as I’ve mentioned but I bravely ventured into the warm water pool, where they thrive best. I mean, come on, these are small fish and are not Piranhas what.

Slight tickling sensation
Okay, not to sound too smug but yes, I did feel somewhat squeamish initially when the fish all swarmed to my feet. But other than the slight tickling sensation, I was fine and did not squeal, much to the disappointment of the other girls watching on. Heheh. There were a couple of bigger ones who bit our toes but I didn’t really feel any pain. I think I wouldn’t mind a fish spa session for my body if presented with the opportunity. (^o^)

Location and charges
Fish Spa & Reflexology is located at Terminal 1 in Changi Airport. A 20-minute fish spa session is S$22 but apparently, they’re pretty flexible about the time as they understand that travelers may have a longer time to kill while waiting for their flights or while in transit. And if having fish nibbling at your feet is not your kind of thing, you can also opt for other treatments like foot reflexology or back massage.

A fun R&R
Anyway, I probably spent like 20 minutes or so at the pool with the fish. I think it’s kind of fun to do this with your family or friends sometimes. But my family isn’t really gamed. When I showed some of the pictures I took with my hubby and boy, they both went “EEEEWW”. (-__-)

You tried?
Have any of you tried fish spa? Where did you try yours? I also know that such treatments are widely available in the other countries as well so international readers, do share your experience!

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  1. sos says

    I have tried it an year ago somewhere in Singapore. It felt weird having all those fish nibble away at you but to be honest I couldn’t really tell any difference. I guess the difference would be more obvious in people with eczema or something like that.

    On a side not would you have any recommendations for a light facial moisturizer for combination skin, not too ex though. I heard that La roche posay toleraine fluid is good but it tests on animals and hence I am not too keen on that.

    • sesame says

      I couldn’t tell the difference too even after feeling my feet. But it does feel lighter…maybe there was some improvement in the blood circulation.

      For your combination skin, you wanna try Kimberly Sayer? I tried it not too long ago and found it to be quite comfortable for my combination skin type. However, one reader did find the moisturizer drying for her.

  2. says

    Tried it a few years ago locally. A couple of times actually but I never quite took to it because in some places, the fish nibbled and in others they “suck” and I’m told the proper fish should be the sucking kind not the biting kind which some places use because you can’t actually import Garra Rufa out of Turkey or wherever they come from. Still, its a fun experience although one does hear of stories.

    • sesame says

      They suck or nibble, not bite but the big ones seem to bite a little or maybe they sucked with their teeth. LOL. (seems that they have no teeth afterall)

      Was told this spa imported the fish from Turkey…google the pictures and yeah, look the same so I think they may have changed the regulation or something.

  3. chenyze says

    Huh am I the only one who is concerned about hygiene for this? I mean, the fishes are biting everyone with those same sets of teeth… so wouldn’t that be the easiest way to pass infections etc? I don’t see how we can ever work around this aspect. o_O

    • sesame says

      Okay, found out that the fish have no teeth so they don’t bite although we seemed to feel like the big ones bite. Think their mouth are too big. Haha.

      Also read that they’re hygienic but well, I guess your concern is valid and should be addressed by the experts. I didn’t really give much thoughts about this point when I put my feet in.

  4. says

    I am with chenyze…one thing that blocks me from trying this is the hygiene. Though the lights in the tank all UV( to kill of the bacteria ), I am still not convinced lor..

    • sesame says

      I guess it’s better to check and verify if you’re uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable with some of the fish spas as they didn’t look too clean to me. This one looks nice and I didn’t think twice about dipping my feet in.

  5. says

    I wouldn’t have the courage at all to do this. Plus I read some reviews of people who went into those spas and the spa carried fish that weren’t of the proper species and actually had teeth. One blogger posted that he/she got beaten by a weird big fish and he/she bled.

    I’m glad you enjoyed your experience though.

    • sesame says

      I think we were mistaken when we were at the spa, thinking that the fish bit us – although I can’t be certain. To me, the whole session was more nibbling and sucking and the big ones probably had really big mouth. Hahaha…

  6. says

    I saw this on TV when I still was a kid. Seems like the fish spa has successfully made it into the Asian market. ^^

    To tell the truth I’m not so eager to try this out because I probably won’t like the feeling of little fishes nibbling at my feet. O__O;; Honestly, I’d be scared!!

    • sesame says

      I was like you, not so eager and that’s why I never tried this although this fish spa thingy has been around for years. But fun for some experience sake. :)

  7. says

    Wow, I was just looking at Manila Ocean Park where they also have the similar Fish-eating-away-my-feet experience! thanks for sharing! At least if I get the chance to try it myself, I know what to expect 😀

    • sesame says

      I asked the girls what to expect before I placed my feet in and they said- you’ll feel vibration! LOL. I don’t know about vibration but it was ‘ticklish’ at first.

  8. Leila says

    If they were biting and there wasn’t much difference, they definitely weren’t the right fish. They aren’t supposed to have teeth and you’re not meant to feel biting at all. Unfortunately this seems to be an issue in many places.

    I hope you don’t mind, I’ve included a link to another account here:

    • sesame says

      I read the account – interesting. I was told these fish don’t grow more than 14 cm (if I remember correctly). I think the biggest I saw at that pool was like 9 or 10cm and there were just a couple of them. Most of the rest were small ones.

      But her concerns are definitely valid. And I agree – feet don’t feel a lot difference and that’s why I wouldn’t venture to call this a pedicure. But it might have some effects on the blood circulation based on how my feet felt afterwards. To me, it’s more for the novelty and fun and also perhaps good for tired feet.

  9. Ann says

    I was cringing n squirming the whole time!!! Esp the bigger fishes, they really suck. Pun intended. Haaaaa. But my feet did come out smoother.

    • sesame says

      I replied earlier thinking it’s just pedicure. I love to have pedicure every month but for the fish spa, maybe just once a while for the fun.

  10. says

    I must say, it’s my first time to hear of fish spa. Thanks for sharing. You are so brave to try out such a thing!! And you look peaceful in the pictures.

  11. says

    HI Sesame, I wonder what other beauty offerings there are in Changi Airport and I am sure you’ll be sharing on that soon!
    I live just 5 mins from the airport and right now, it is a regular playground for my Tod where she can run free. Would be great to check out some beauty places/goodies there too!

  12. Cee says

    I’m 50/50 on this. I want to try it but I’m pretty sure I’ll be extremely squeamish ones the fish starts nibbling. Wonder how much it will costs here in the U.S.?

    It must be weird seeing groups of little fish gathering around your feet. =D


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