In March 2020, the COVID-19 crisis became real in the United States. Having seen the devastating consequences of the disease in China and Italy, American lawmakers took steps to protect the public by closing non-essential businesses and encouraging social distancing. In a time when millions of Americans are working from home and anxiety levels are running on high, any method of stress relief is a help.
It’s no secret that owning a pet has measurable benefits for your health, but these benefits are typically associated with traditional pets like dogs and cats. There’s a reason, however, that doctor’s offices and health clinics all over the world have fish tanks in them. Your home aquarium could be just as beneficial for your health as the family dog. Here’s what you need to know.
The Top 6 Health Benefits of Home Aquariums
Though cats and dogs are seen as the typical pets, the 2019 National Pet Owners Survey shows that aquarium fish are kept as household pets in over 13 million American homes. This makes them the third most popular type of pet, after dogs and cats, of course. Keeping a home aquarium is a big responsibility, but it does have its benefits.
Here are the top 6 benefits associated with keeping a home aquarium:
1. Reduced levels of stress.
It’s difficult to feel stressed when looking at a thriving home aquarium. There’s just something peaceful about it that calms you and those around you. This is part of the reason you’ll find fish tanks in high-stress environments like offices and hospitals. Managing your stress level is very important for your overall health and wellbeing. Not only can spending time around your tank help calm you down but having a routine you follow in taking care of it can be beneficial as well.
2. Improvements in sleep quality.
A good night’s sleep is the key to long-term health. Sleep is how your body recharges and repairs itself – it also gives your brain time to consolidate memory and build new connections. For many people, sleep doesn’t come easy. Watching your fish tank before bed may help calm your body and your mind enough to fall asleep, saving you from spending half the night tossing and turning. If your fish tank is in the room you sleep in, it may also provide some white noise to help you fall asleep.
3. Lowered blood pressure and heart rate.
When you feel less stress and get more sleep, your body will feel and function better. More than that, however, having a fish tank can actually improve your heart health. Looking at a fish tank can slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. According to one study, looking at an empty tank reduced heart rate by 3% while a tank with fish present yielded a 7% reduction. If you struggle with high blood pressure or other heart health issues, having a fish tank in your home could help you immensely.
4. Decreased pain and anxiety.
Watching a fish tank is almost hypnotic. Not only does your heart rate slow down and your blood pressure normalize, but you may find your stress and worry slipping away as well. The presence of an aquarium has been shown to reduce anxiety and pain in dental patients. According to a scientific report, having an aquarium in the waiting room decreased pain felt during dental procedures as well as the amount of pain medication needed afterward.
5. Improved focus and creativity.
The presence of a fish tank can calm both your body and your mind, freeing you from the stress and anxiety that might be holding you back. Having a fish tank in your workspace could actually improve your focus and boost creativity, helping you maximize your productivity. The visual stimulation of an active fish tank may have therapeutic effects as well, giving your mind something else to focus on for a few minutes while you work through an issue.
6. Calming effect for children and Alzheimer’s patients.
Though fish tanks provide visual stimulation that might boost your focus and creativity, they can also have a very calming effect. This particular benefit has been observed in children with hyperactivity disorders as well as Alzheimer’s patients. In one study conducted at Purdue University, the presence of a fish tank at home improved mood, alertness, and appetite in Alzheimer’s patients while reducing aggressive behavior. Children who struggle with behavioral issues, may find a fish tank calming. It may improve concentration and sleep, two things which may in turn boost performance at school.
The health benefits of aquariums extend beyond the simple fish tank at home. Studies show that spending time in public aquariums can improve both physical and mental wellbeing as well. The first controlled experiment testing the impact of aquarium on heart rate and blood pressure was conducted in 2015. Study subjects became relaxed even when watching an empty tank and the health benefits increased as more aquarium fish were introduced.