Tiny, live carp used in the salon industry's latest trend — pedicures by fish — has been deemed unsanitary and illegal, state officials said today.

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There’s something fishy about letting fish give a pedicure. That’s what the state says.

Pedicures by fish — the use of tiny, live carp to clean feet — has been deemed unsanitary and illegal in this state.

The state Department of Licensing issued a statement Thursday saying officials were “greatly concerned” that customers, in their quest for smooth heels, are willing to soak their feet in a tank of toothless fish that feast on dead skin.

Christine Anthony, spokeswoman for the department, said it’s impossible to sanitize the live fish. “You can clean the tank, you can clean the water, but there’s no guarantee that the fish aren’t carrying something from the previous customer.”

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Officials hand-delivered a letter to the Peridot Nail Salon at Kent Station in Kent that was the only spa, to their knowledge, offering the treatment, Anthony said. Inspectors visited Peridot last month after it was featured on a television news report. According to its Web site, the salon just started offering the fish pedicures Sept. 19.

In the notice given Thursday, “we asked them to stop using the fish immediately,” Anthony said. Letters are also being sent to licensed salons across the state informing owners it’s unlawful to perform the treatment, she said.

“Hopefully, we can catch other salons before they buy the fish,” she said.

“I am shocked and surprised and disappointed, and not happy,” salon owner Tweety Bui said Thursday afternoon. “I am so overwhelmed with all this that it’s not even funny.”

Bui said the salon phone had been “ringing off the hook” with calls for appointments. “I’m booked two months out,” she said.

By late Thursday afternoon, Peridot staff members were telling patrons fish pedicures had been put on hold indefinitely. Bui said she had canceled six appointments for fish pedicures for Thursday and would cancel 16 appointments for both Friday and Saturday, and eight others for Sunday.

People also have been calling, asking to buy her fish, she said. But she says she plans to keep them, at least for the time being.

And what will she feed them?

“We have fish food.”

According to a Web site, state-licensed staff at the salon also offer nail and waxing services.

The pedicures, popular in Turkey and Asian countries, started gaining attention in the states after a Virginia-based spa talked to the media this summer about the benefits of using the fish instead of razors to slough away scales and calluses.

At Peridot, an employee who declined to give his name, said he was “speechless” about the state’s ruling.

“We’ve been getting a pretty good response, because of the fact that it’s such a novelty,” he said. The pedicure costs $30 for 15 minutes.

The employee said he had tried the pedicure once.

“It feels good, it’s very therapeutic,” he said. “It’s almost like a massage.”

Seattle Times reporter Charles E. Brown contributed to this report.

Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or skrishnan@seattletimes.com