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Therapeutic Health Benefits of Aquariums

Page 2 - Research Findings

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There is much being done around the world to research the therapeutic benefits of aquariums, as the following reports reflect.
  • At Purdue University, researchers have found that displaying tanks of brightly colored fish may curtail disruptive behaviors and improve eating habits of people with Alzheimer's disease. A Purdue News August 1999 Report states that, "Nursing Professor Nancy Edwards" tracked 60 individuals who resided in specialized units in three Indiana nursing homes. She found that patients who were exposed to the fish tanks appeared to be more relaxed and alert, and they ate up to 21 percent more food than they had before the introduction of the fish tanks. The average increase in food consumption was 17.2 percent."
  • In the August 1997 issue (no longer archived online) of the Monitor on Psychology, a publication of the American Psychological Association, Rebecca A. Clay wrote about how "Psychologists Find Animals To Be A Helpful Adjunct To Therapy". Rebecca discussed Dr. Aubrey Fine's pet therapy approach. In Fine's practice a golden retriever named Puppy typically greets patients, while several fish tanks help soothe agitated feelings. Rebecca stated that, "Fine also uses the animals metaphorically. The birds, for example, can prompt discussions of flight, freedom or clipped wings. Often the animals become symbols of the children themselves, especially when the patients have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A particularly playful cockatoo, for example, gives Fine an opportunity to point out ADHD-like behaviors such as impulsiveness and an inability to sustain attention in a non threatening way. And a particularly active inhabitant of one of Fine's three fish tanks caused one patient to blurt out, "That fish reminds me of me!"
  • From Holistic-Online.com, their Pet Therapy page outlines the benefits research have found in relation to pet ownership. They say that, "Research has shown that heart attack victims who have pets live longer. Even watching a tank full of tropical fish may lower blood pressure, at least temporarily."
From a personal point of view, we saw the beneficial health effects of a fish aquarium while a loved one was confined to a hospital for two years as a stroke patient. On the list of things to do each day, my mom Betty would excitedly ride in her motorzied wheelchair to visit her fishy friends in a freshwater aquarium at the end of the hall. She looked forward to this trip every day, and just talking about the fish made her smile and laugh as she told Stan and I all about each of them. We could plainly see that the bond she had with the fish gave her great joy, a fun adventure to look forward to each day, and contributed to the overall positive attitude she had.

You can draw your own conclusions as to the health benefits of using fish aquariums for therapy as we have, but here are some other resources that further confirm that many researchers are finding that there IS something to it!

Now, another question we have to ask is, can an aquarium actually be stress "inducing"?

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