Did you know that having fish is good for your physical and mental health? Well, according to the findings in a recent study, the benefits of an aquarium include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, as well as improving mood. So it’s no wonder that, according to the National Survey of Pet Owners, fish are the third most popular pet in US households after dogs and cats.
So should you get a fish, and do fish make good pets? In this article, we explain how the hobby of aquarium hobby can help keep you and your family healthy, as well as improve your mental health.
What are the benefits of keeping a fish aquarium at home?
It’s truly amazing how many benefits can be enjoyed by maintaining a home aquarium, so if you’ve never considered fish farming as a hobby, here’s why you should!
1. Reduced blood pressure
Researchers have found that the presence of a home aquarium can help lower blood pressure, especially in older people. In fact, by comparison, the presence of a fish tank containing live fish produces a greater reduction in blood pressure than tanks without fish or those containing artificial creatures, such as synthetic jellyfish.
Interestingly, the more species the aquarium contains, the more relaxing the experience will be for observers, resulting in significant drops in blood pressure and heart rate.
In one experiment, a live video stream was linked to local hospital waiting rooms and wards, showing that patients with hypertension experienced clinically significant reductions in their blood pressure.
And you don’t have to have a real aquarium to reap the benefits of watching fish. Scientific studies have shown that simply watching a fish video has been shown to have relaxing therapeutic effects. No wonder fish screensavers are all the rage in busy offices!
2. Dental office
Not many people enjoy a visit to the dental office. However, studies have shown that dental patients in clinics that have an aquarium in the waiting room were more relaxed and required fewer painkillers than those who underwent hypnosis.
The study revealed that patients were more relaxed when viewing an aquarium containing live fish than when they were shown the typical waiting room poster. Furthermore, when the patients underwent hypnosis, they were even more relaxed when seeing the fish swimming in the tank.
Therefore, it is not surprising that many medical centers, dental clinics, counseling centers and even veterinary clinics have an aquarium in the waiting room.
3. Calming effects on people with ADHD
If you have a child in your household who suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), you may be interested to know that seeing fish swimming in an attractively decorated aquarium can have a calming effect.
That’s according to an NIH/Mars Partnership study on the effect of pets on children with ADHS and autism. Even if you don’t want to have a real aquarium in your home, swimming fish DVDs can be an equally effective substitute. Seeing a computer screen saver image of brightly colored marine fish swimming across the monitor also has a similar relaxing and calming effect.
4. Alzheimer’s disease
According to the American Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans are living with some form of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and that number is expected to rise to about 16 million by 2050.
But research conducted at Purdue University shows that viewing an aquarium has a variety of health benefits for those with Alzheimer’s.
One study found that displaying aquariums filled with brightly colored fish can improve eating habits and reduce disruptive behaviors in people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The allure of the fish tank even sparked positive interactions between patients and staff that had not been previously experienced.
5. Stress relief
According to figures contained in the latest American Pet Products Association Survey, 67% of those who keep fish as a hobby report that simply keeping an eye on their pets helps relieve stress and improve their mood.
I can attest to that! I find it incredibly relaxing to kick back in the evenings, enjoying watching my two huge fantails glide around his tank. It’s also very satisfying to see my fish friends enjoying their pristine environment after I’ve spent some time cleaning it up.
And while having cats and dogs also have stress-relieving benefits, you won’t have the hassle of walking Fido in the rain after a busy day at work or taking Tibbles to the vet because she’s sick.
Why have fish as pets?
So, given the indisputable health benefits of keeping fish as pets, you may now be seriously considering buying a fish tank.
But wait! Before you make a final decision, check out these other reasons why fish make great pets.
1. Peace and quiet
Compared to traditional pets like dogs and cats, fish are a no-brainer if you want peace and quiet.
Dogs have a habit of barking, often during the night, disturbing your sleep or waking up your children when you have just taken them out for an afternoon nap. Even cats can be noisy, especially if yours is a bully who enjoys causing a stir by fighting every Tom in the neighborhood.
By comparison, fish make no sound at all. Always.
Modern filtration systems are also virtually silent. All you’ll hear is the soft, reassuring hum of the filter pump and the soothing sound of trickling water, which I think creates a super soothing backdrop to the sounds of the street outside my living room.
2. Educational for children
A small community of fish in an aquarium makes a great alternative pet for children and can be a great educational tool as well.
Children learn to take responsibility for caring for a living being. The health and happiness of the fish depend entirely on the quality of care that the child gives to their pets. That is an important lesson to learn.
Your kids will have fun feeding the fish and making sure the tank stays clean. Older children can learn to recognize and treat common fish diseases and understand what steps they can take to prevent their pets from getting sick.
There is also a science lesson to learn about the ammonia-nitrite-nitrate cycle and why it is so critical in fish farming, as well as what pH levels in water mean and their importance. Unfortunately, there will also be fish victims, and the loss of a beloved fish is a useful way to teach children about death and how to deal with it.
Once you have purchased your aquarium, the cost of maintaining it is incredibly inexpensive compared to maintaining other popular pet varieties.
For example, the average annual cost of keeping a fish, including the purchase of an aquarium and the fish, is about $227. Compare that to the cost of owning a cat, which costs about $1,174, or a dog, which comes out at $850 to $4,605 a year.
Virtually everything you need for fish farming is inexpensive compared to what you would spend on other pets. For example, fish food is much less expensive than cat or dog food, you don’t need insurance for a goldfish, and you won’t have vet bills for shots, deworming, etc.
4. Little space
In many cities, space is at a premium and our homes are getting smaller. Many families are downsizing in an attempt to cut costs, and living in an apartment or living somewhere with no outside space often makes it impossible to own a dog or cat.
You don’t need a lot of space to keep fish. And you don’t need to buy a huge tank either. Some medium-sized tanks come with a cabinet or stand that doubles as a handy storage space for fishing accessories and food, and you can even purchase aquariums that are also designed to be used as coffee tables.
Although there are many micro-tanks for sale online, many are totally unsuitable for fish. A fish tank must have a proper heating and filtration system, and there must be enough space for the fish to swim. Ideally, you need a five gallon tank as an absolute minimum.
Therefore, I recommend that you decide which species of fish you would like to keep and then do some research to find out. What size tank do you need?
5. Low maintenance
The fish do not need to walk or entertain themselves, although if you decide to keep a betta you will find that they can be quite an interactive pet that can even learn a few tricks.
Unlike dogs and cats, fish can be left alone while you go to work, and it’s usually quite easy to find someone to care for them while you’re on vacation.
That said, you do need to invest some time in maintaining your fish tank.
Unless you buy an automatic fish feeder with a timer, you’ll need to spend a few minutes twice a day feeding your fish. Most importantly, you should spend up to an hour a week cleaning the aquarium substrate, using a gravel vacuum, scraping algae off the glass, and performing a partial water change.
6. Great pastime
Fish farming is a brilliant hobby, which can even become an obsession!
Most hobbyists, myself included, take pride in presenting their tanks to visitors and pampering their fish like children. Some enthusiasts continue to breed fish of their favorite species, and there are many societies and clubs where you can share tips and advice.
And, if you’re competitive, you can even enter your home-bred fish in shows. You can even make money from your hobby if you are a successful breeder. For example, take a look at AquaBid.com, and you’ll see plenty of home-bred betta fish for sale at auction. The record price of $1,500 for a gold betta fish was set a few years ago on that site. That’s a great return to your hobby!
The main reason people have an aquarium is that a tank with an attractive aquascape that is teeming with beautiful fish is a stunning focal point in any room.
Seeing a thriving community of fish gliding serenely around their habitat is a balm to the soul after a hectic workday. There are so many species of freshwater and marine tropical fish to choose from, not to mention the elegant coldwater goldfish, you’ll never be short of inspiration.
When it comes to aquariums, there’s a mind-boggling variety of styles and sizes to consider, and you’re sure to find something to fit your budget, room size, and the look you want.
Now you know all about the countless health benefits and other benefits of keeping fish as pets; you will need to know where to start.
- Decide which fish species you want to keep and learn about their care needs.
- If you want to keep multiple species, do some research to make sure the fish you want are compatible.
- Calculate the size of the tank you will need.
- Consider where the tank will be placed and make sure the aquarium you want will fit there.
Once you have purchased your tank, you will need to set it up and allow the filter to mature for about ten days before you can introduce the fish.
Finally, take a trip to your local fish store and pick out your pet!