When you think of a day at the spa, sticking your feet in a basin of fish probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind.

However, a spa in Gander is offering "fish pedicures" which involve just that.

Gloria Brown is the local franchise owner of Enlighten Laser spa in Gander.

Fish pedicure doctor fish garra rufa

These fish, called Garra rufa, nibble off dead skin for an unorthodox pedicure. (Keili Bartlett/CBC)

Her customers place their feet in a tub filled with small fish, which feast on dead skin.

"It's kind of like an exfoliation [and] acupuncture kind of thing because they release healing enzymes as they're nibbling," said Brown.

"It tickles a little bit at first, but then people find it really relaxing after that."

Banned in some provinces

Brown is using a controversial pedicure treatment that involves dozens of Garra rufa fish, commonly known as doctor fish. 

The fish don't actually have teeth, instead suctioning onto the skin.

The practice is banned in Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta, as well as in 18 American states. In 2011, the Vancouver Island Health Authority also banned the practice, saying that there were bacterial risks because the fish could not be sterilized.

However, Brown said she obtained full approval from the regional health board, and maintains that there are no risks to the pedicure.

A fish pedicure usually lasts around 30 minutes.

Clients pay $65 for a full treatment and $55 just for quality fish time. Customers are told they will usually see small white spots on their skin for a short time after the treatment.

With files from Julia Cook