Flesh-Eating Fish!?!

Hundreds of tiny fish rushed at my feet and legs, hungrily eating the flesh as I tried to suppress the screams! Piranhas? Horror flick? No, the latest craze in spa treatments, Fish Therapy!


I love a good day at the spa with a massage, manicure, pedicure and facial as much as anyone.  There is a new spa in town that everyone is talking about.  Friends raved about it, my students giggled and could not stop talking about it and my student’s parents invited me to join them at the spa. However, fish eating the dead skin off my feet and legs was just too weird for me to try. Garra Rufa fish (aka: doctor fish, nibble fish, Chinchin or kangal fish) are stocked in a large tank and you stick your legs inside the water and let the fish eat off the dead skin.  Seriously, how gross is that?


My family and I were just too curious and decided to try it.  We walked into the spa and it was a gorgeous peaceful atmosphere. Quiet music played in the background, candles were lit, beautiful water fountains flowed and lovely art hung on the walls. We paid RM 38.00 (US $12.00) for a thirty minute session. We washed our legs and sat on the plush cushions beside the wooden pools lined with lilies and candles.  I plunged my feet in the water and had to refrain from squealing as hundreds of fish rushed at my legs and toes! It was the strangest sensation, but quite pleasant. It felt just like leaving your legs in front of Jacuzzi jets. We were able to relax after a few minutes and at the end of the thirty minutes my legs felt soft and rejuvenated! I can feel the line where my legs were not submerged in the water!


Garra rufa fish originate in the river basins of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq.  The practice, called Ichthyotherapy, was discovered a century ago to treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It is becoming a new trend in spas which are popping up all around Asia and Europe. My husband, my son and I all loved it, but my daughter took her feet out within ten minutes.  She could not tolerate the tickly feeling.  I have gone back again and enjoyed it as much as the first time. I highly recommend it. This is one spa treatment you will never forget!





  1. Preyanka said,

    June 12, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Oh my gosh! I don’t even know what to say. Scary and cool at the same time. Must try this:)

  2. buttonnose73 said,

    July 16, 2008 at 4:19 am

    Hi, may I ask where this spa is??
    Ive been to 2 already in shopping complexes but I find the environment lousy…it’s often packed and not relaxing at all.

    I read about a spa in Bangsar Telawi from Tatler magazine called GarraRufa fish therapy. Is this the one you went to? Thinking of taking my girls next week…

  3. Laurie said,

    September 2, 2008 at 2:01 am

    WOW! I totally want to try that! Does it get the calluses off, too? That would rock.

  4. globalanni said,

    September 3, 2008 at 2:38 am

    Yes, this spa is on Telawi Street in Bangsar. It is very clean and relaxing! The fish at this spa are small too!

  5. Elle said,

    October 20, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    I love your blog and have read every entry to date. Please blog more about your experience in Malaysia and your wonderful side trips within it and other SEA countries.

    I am currently doing research about Malaysia and may consider moving my family from Michigan to KL(or another city) in 2011.

    Thanks again,


  6. November 21, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Warmest greetings from Garra Rufa Fish Therapy 🙂 Thank you for your recommendation and looking forward to see you in our fish spa again 🙂

  7. Brandon Chang said,

    February 22, 2009 at 1:04 am

    do you have to pay a fee for accidentally stepping on them?

  8. whatever said,

    January 10, 2010 at 4:23 pm


  9. Caylin Kelly said,

    November 6, 2010 at 3:48 am

    OMG i want to try this so much can you bye this fish how much???

  10. Sufiyan said,

    March 16, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Scary and cool at the same time. Must try this:)

  11. Adam said,

    September 15, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Hello! Don’t you use Twitter? I’d love to follow you if that has to be fine. I’m absolutely enjoying your website and look forward to new posts.

  12. Rich Green said,

    May 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Thanks for liking 2 of my recent posts.

    • globalanni said,

      May 24, 2012 at 9:47 am

      You are welcome Rich! Thanks for coming to see me here!

  13. Judy said,

    May 18, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Definitely not for me, I think it would give me nightmares! But I heard of this treatment in the Middle East and it certainly was popular.

  14. May 21, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Thanks for the following Anni 🙂

    • globalanni said,

      May 24, 2012 at 9:46 am

      You are welcome. I LOVE your blog! Thanks for stopping by mine.

  15. Rich Green said,

    May 28, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Thanks for liking my post Flatiron Building.

  16. June 6, 2012 at 8:37 am

    I heard about these before and it sounds cool, but I don’t know…

  17. adinparadise said,

    June 15, 2012 at 5:26 am

    I saw these fish pedicures on offer many times in Phuket. I wondered how hygienic this could be, as perhaps many other people had been in that water before me. I wasn’t tempted. 😉

  18. June 22, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I have never heard of such a thing and I have to admit, it would probably feel a little strange but maybe strangely erotic!

  19. Paula said,

    July 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    A useful information for sure 🙂

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