A dad is causing an unexpected splash in the world of health after a chance encounter with flesh-eating fish on a family holiday.
Giles Barlow first discovered the Garra Rufa fish, which beautify feet by eating dead skin cells, after taking his two children to Borneo earlier this year.
Now, along with business partner Matt Cameron, Mr Barlow is feeding an international beauty craze with his new Accrington-based business Garra Fish Systems.
Giles said: "I took my two kids to Borneo, where the Garra Rufa occur naturally in spas. We decided to give it a go and I remember thinking it would be really popular back home.
"I was already running an aquatics business and I started receiving lots of enquiries from people having problems with how to keep the fish – so we decided we’d do it properly.
"The response so far has been incredible and we can barely get our hands on enough fish. It may be that it’s only a fad that lasts a couple of years, but right now it's just getting more and more popular."
The pair boast more than 50 years of industry experience between them having previously worked together at Giles’ Accrington shop, Barlow’s Aquatic Trading.
Despite having been in business just a few weeks, Garra Fish Systems, which supplies both fish and tank systems, is distributing throughout the UK and has even secured its first export into mainland Europe.
Mr Cameron said: "We’ve been receiving some massive enquiries, some wanting thousands of fish at a time so demand is certainly outstripping supply.
"We’ve just taken an order from Spain and are currently branching out around the UK – we’re rushed off our feet.
"It’s going to be a busy Christmas but we really feel like we’ve hit the ground running. We already know a lot about importing and keeping fish which means we can do it properly. Some companies are buying in newborn fish and they’re just not surviving, whereas if you get them at the right age and look after them properly they can last a long long time."
As well as ridding your feet of dry skin, the fish also improve blood circula tion and have a healing protein in their saliva, making it an effective alternative treatment for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.