Texas bans fish pedicures

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The US state of Texas has banned the use of fish in providing pedicures over health and safety concerns.

According to a report in the Dallas News, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation has announced that fish pedicures - where customers pay to have the dead skin nibbled off their feet by small tropical fish - are no longer allowed in the state.

The Department said that, since the same fish are used to clean the skin of multiple people, that there are concerns that the practice could spread infections.

It said that the foot baths used to house the fish could also not be properly cleaned and disinfected if they were home to live fish.

However, it said that it did not know of any cases of people developing infections from the live fish pedicure process: "It is in the realm of possibilities. We are erring on the side of caution."

A number of salons and beauty centres have reportedly purchased the fish and now need to rehome them.

The use of fish to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis is popular in Turkey, where warm pools are stocked with a small cyprinid fish called Garra rufa, which nibbles flakes of skin from the body. The species is found in Turkey and Israel.

However, most of the fish pictured in the news reports covering the live fish pedicures in the US have not been Garra rufa. They have in fact been juvenile Tilapia - a species of cichlid which is commonly farmed for food and reaches a size of 30cm or more.

UK retailers have confirmed to Practical Fishkeeping that they have received a number of requests to purchase quantities of the fish for similar purposes in this country.