Posted by: Kath Usitalo | April 1, 2010

Michigan Spa Uses Asian Carp For Fish Therapy

Fish Therapy tickles the toes

In my March 3 Carping About Carp post I mentioned the controversy about the potential invasion of the Great Lakes by the Asian Carp, a non-native species that may enter the inland seas via the waterway at Chicago.

Coincidentally, the next day Frank Beckmann of Detroit’s WJR radio interviewed Mike Schafer, owner of Schafer Fisheries in Thomson, Illinois, about the business he’s made off of the giant “flying fish,” so called because the aggressive species is known to leap out of the water (see the video by clicking through to my earlier post).

Rather than diss the fish Mr. Schafer said that the Asian Carp is a nutritious source of protein, and that the U.S. is the only nation that looks at it with disdain. His company makes it into pate and sells carp fillets, even exporting them to countries around the globe.

He doesn’t believe the species is a threat to the Great Lakes, anyway, and says the big water habitat is not conducive to the carp. They prefer the Illinois River’s plentiful food source, shallow water, and spawning conditions. That is where the fingerlings are found for yet another effort to turn this lemon of an invasive species into fish flavored lemonade.

Asian Carp fingerling

It’s called “Fish Therapy,” and although it sounds fishy, it has proven successful in Asia where it originated. The concept is simple: put your feet into a fish-filled tank of water and allow thousands of “kissing fish” to nibble away at your callouses, leaving your feet as smooth as a baby’s. Some spas offer full body immersion for all-over dry skin removal.

Fish therapy, which is popular with people who like to be tickled, has reached the Great Lakes region with the experimental use of Asian Carp fingerlings in place of the tiny Gara Rufa or “doctor fish” favored in Asia and India. Funded with President Obama’s stimulus funds the first Carp, Eh? Diem Spa will open next week in Carp Lake, Michigan and will be studied as a means of utilizing the Asian Carp should the current efforts fail to keep the fish from proliferating in regional waters.

Depending on its success (and availability of additional stimulus funds) Carp, Eh? Diem Spas are planned for several locations across the state including Bath, Bitely, Bliss, Climax, Nirvana, Wetmore, and the Fishtown area of Leland, Michigan.

All communities have committed to hosting regular fish fries, as Asian Carp are a fast-growing species and will quickly outgrow the spa pools.

More than 50,000 "kissing fish" treat visitors to Fish Therapy dry skin removal at this resort spa in China. ( photo)

NOTE: All of the information above is true, except the part about Asian Carp being used for fish therapy, and that stimulus dollars being used to open Carp, Eh? Diem spas. April Fool’s!



  1. Great report Kath – but I sensed something fishy from the beginning. ; )

    • You gotta fin sixth sense.

  2. Ha! Good one, Kath! I’ve actually heard/seen this….I don’t mind fish, but I’m not sure I could lay down in a pool of them!?!?

  3. Next? The Sandbox & Cockroach Cleanse?
    Gerbils? Hampster Hickies?

  4. Oh my goodness this is great! Barry’s been quoting a lot of possible positive uses for Asian Carp. Can’t wait to tell him this one. (Although we still don’t want ’em in the Great Lakes, right? They can stay in the Mississippi.) But truly there has to be some positive benefits to the leaping aqua-lizards!

  5. well done. you got me. Kind of a bummer that it isn’t true, however.

  6. Where are you located? We had the fish detox done in Canton and wanted to get it done in Michigan.

    • Hi!
      Thanks for checking in at Great Lakes Gazette.
      Note the publication date of the post: April 1.
      Just a gag; I don’t know of anyplace here to get it done.

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