Contemplation of fish in an aquarium seem to have a significant effect in reducing levels of stress and anxiety. The effects of the presence of an aquarium on patients awaiting electroconvulsive therapy were examined in 2004 study by Purdue. While statistically significant differences in blood pressure and heart rate between the test and control were not found, the patients demonstrated a 12% reduction in self reported pre-treatment anxiety. In a 1985 study of dental patients, both contemplation of an aquarium and hypnosis, used together or alone, produced a significant increase in relaxation in comparison to a control group and a group of patients who contemplated a poster. This study also found that hypnosis did not augment the effects of exposure to an aquarium. Degrees of relaxation were determined by both subjective and objective criteria, and included blood pressure and heart rate. Additional studies confirm that watching fish in an aquarium can be effective in reducing anxiety in patients awaiting dental surgery. Observation of aquaria has also been shown to reduce muscle tension and pulse rate in elderly subjects in comparison to control groups who watched a placebo video tape or a video tape of an aquarium.
Although aquarium owners often report problems with maintaining tank cleanliness and controlling temperature and water balance, they also claim that watching fish has a calming effect and creates a feeling of serenity.
Other Health Benefits
A Purdue study in 2009 examined the effect of aquariums on the nutritional intake of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The study followed 60 patients in three health care facilities. In two facilities patients were exposed to aquaria, and the patients in the third facility were used as a control group and exposed to paintings of seascapes. Patients exposed to the aquaria averaged an increase of 17.2 percent in the amount of food they consumed. Weight also increased significantly, and the patients required fewer nutritional supplements. In addition to the nutritional benefits, there was also a noticeable decrease in physically aggressive behaviors among the patients. The Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut has a program designed to help children with learning and developmental challenges enhance their social skills. The program uses “touch and learn” sessions with aquatic invertebrates to facilitate relaxation and development of social skills.
In feng shui, moving water is considered beneficial in balancing chi, and a well maintained aquarium in the right location increases wealth and luck]
What Scientific Studies have Found about Keeping an Aquarium
I found four health benefits of keeping a fish tank that are backed by scientific research. I tried rationalizing them, and here’s what I came up with.
We humans have a natural attraction to water. We cannot survive without it, and we cannot grow plants or domesticate animals to feed ourselves if water is completely absent from us. So perhaps its beneficial effects on us have to do with our survival instincts, or perhaps its embedded deep in our mind with our DNA composition.
This rationale might help explain the scientific findings about the benefits of keeping an aquarium at home:
According to Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D, aquariums have the ability to reduce stress and anxiety by bringing the calming effects of nature right into the home.
Dr. Schwartz emphasized that the effects of the aquarium has similar soothing effects that we experience when we listen to the “sound of ocean waves, rain storms, and running streams that is mesmerizing as well as relaxing.”
Having an aquarium is helpful in high-stress environments.
This soothing effect is especially helpful in high-stress environments. It is even suggested that work environments and executive offices install aquariums because of its stress-reduction effects.
Lower Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
A study by the experts from the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth University, and the University of Exeter found that staring at swimming fish lowers blood pressure and reduce heart rate.
They found that heart rate is decreased by 3% when people simply stared at an empty tank with just rocks and seaweed. When fish were added into the mix, they found that heart rate decreased by more than 7%. The researchers concluded that exposure to this underwater setting can greatly improve people’s well-being.
This is especially helpful for senior citizens who have problems with high blood pressure.
A few months ago, I was visiting a dentist and was about to get three of my teeth drilled. Even the thought of it now makes me miserable.
Looking back, it could’ve been worse. There was a fish tank in the waiting area, and I couldn’t help but stare at a pack of gold fish swimming aimlessly around that tank. Thinking back, I was completely mesmerized by them.
A fish tank in a dental office can calm you and improve your overall experience with the dentist.
According to marine biologist Deborah Cracknell, “fish tanks… are often associated with attempts at calming patients in doctors’ surgeries and dental waiting rooms.” They also found that patients require less pain medication after having watched those fish in the office. The full science report is called Marine Biota and Psychological Well-Being.
So even though I was hearing all those shrieking sound of teeth drilling or deep cleaning in the background (thinking of it still gives me the chills), I was completely taken away to another world when I was staring at those fishes.
A study by Purdue University found that displaying tanks of brightly colored fish may curtail disruptive behaviors and improve eating habits of those with Alzheimer’s disease.
The study found that patients exhibited more relaxing behavior and exhibited less physical aggressiveness, wandering, pacing, and yelling. They also found that patients ate up to 21% more food than they did before, with an average increase of 17% across all patients studied.
Science have found that fish tanks can help pacify Alzheimer’s. Source: Purdue University.
Further, they found that patients displayed better short-term memory, and they required fewer supplements and medications.
So if any of your family members are suffering from Alzheimer’s (hopefully not), a fish tank may work wonders for them. Sometimes, the positive effects are better than drugs and medication.
It’s amazing what scientific studies have uncovered about the health benefits of keeping a fish tank around. The soothing effects that they bring are natural remedies to some of the mental and physical problems we have, and are definitely something I prefer over any type of drugs.
Besides mental and physical benefits, fish tanks also bring about other benefits, according to feng shui.
The Feng Shui behind Fish Tanks
Keeping a fish tank or aquarium is very popular in feng shui practices. However, there are many considerations when keeping a fish tank, which you are about to find out.
To begin, let’s explore the feng shui benefits that a fish tank can potentially bring you.
Benefits of Fish Tank Feng Shui
Fish tanks are commonly used to activate and enhance your money and career luck. If used properly, it can bring wealth, money, and abundance to a person. This is why aquariums and fish tanks are commonly seen in Asian restaurants and banks, and they are usually located close to the entrance.
Luxis – an aqua bar and restaurant in Japan.
Fish tanks are also used as a feng shui remedy to counter negative energy. Other times, a fish tank can be used to bring more love affairs to a person by placing it at the “peach blossom” location. This may be desirable for those that are single but could spell troubles for those that are married.
If not used properly, however, fish tanks can cause a great deal of misfortune.
To help you avoid them, here are some popular tips I found about how to use fish tanks to improve the feng shui of your home. But let me remind you that these tips are very general, and some may even seem contradicting because its application and practice is very fluid.
Where to Place the Aquarium
Using the concept of the Four Celestial Animals, fish tanks should be placed at the front of the house for enhanced money luck. The front of the house is symbolized as the Red Phoenix.
If the front of the house is a door, you can place the fish tank towards the frontal left (assuming you’re standing in the middle of the house). The left side is symbolized as the Green Dragon, and it is said that this placement also brings luck because dragons favor water.
Using the feng shui Bagua, southeast is the best location to place the fish tank, because it is the area for wealth and abundance. Next is north, which is career, followed by east, which is health and family.
As for stars, some experts say that it is suitable to place fish tanks where the Star #8 reside. The stars rotate every year, and in 2016, Star #8 will be residing in the southwest area.
As for constellations, it is said fish tanks are suitable in east and southwest area. These constellations rotate every twenty years. For 2004 to 2023, east and southwest are suitable locations for fish tanks that can help enhance money luck.
Finally, you can put an aquarium in the wealth area of your home. However, finding the wealth area may require some expert consulting because its location is usually different in each house.
The hidden health benefits of marine aquariums and fish tanks
We all know how mesmerizing it can be to stand in the semi-darkness of a quiet aquarium and watch the slow undulating patterns of life flicker before us. But is that oversized fish tank at the doctor’s office anything more than just a distraction? It turns out you might be doing yourself good just by sitting there. According to new research from the U.K., spending time in aquariums and watching fish tanks can improve your mental and physical health.
In the swim
The study, published in the journal Environment & Behavior, suggests that losing yourself in the aquatic ballet can lead to a significant lowering of blood pressure and heart rate and that the higher the number of fish on display the longer people watch and so improve their health and mood. The study, which the researchers say is the first of its kind, brings together experts from the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth University and the University of Exeter.
The effects of so-called aquarium therapy have been previously debated by behavioral psychologists but, in this study, the team had a unique opportunity that helped them conduct their research. When the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth refurbished one of its main exhibits — a large 550,000-liter tank designed to contain a variety of marine life — and began a phased introduction of different types of fish, the researchers were able to record and assess people’s physical and mental responses in a controlled setting.
While previous research has shown that spending time in “natural” environments creates a calming effect, most of the data has come from what lead researcher Deborah Cracknell calls “greenspace” — that is, countryside, gardens and parks. There have been, she says, relatively fewer studies carried out in “bluespace” — for example, coastal regions — and fewer still in indoor aquatic environments.
The scientists looked at the mood, heart rate and blood pressure of study participants as fish numbers in the exhibit gradually increased. “As the exhibit was being gradually restocked over a period of time, we had a look at three different time points to see how people responded,” Cracknell says. “Just watching a tank with the light and the movement of artificial seaweed was quite relaxing for people, but when we added fish, it definitely made a difference.”
Cracknell believes the study provides an important first step toward understanding how we relate to these settings. “Fish tanks and displays are often associated with attempts at calming patients in doctors’ surgeries and dental waiting rooms,” she says. “This study has, for the first time, provided robust evidence that ‘doses’ of exposure to underwater settings could actually have a positive impact on people’s well-being.”
Further research is needed to show exactly what it is about the aquarium that helps relax people. Cracknell suggests it could be the effects of particular species, combinations of species or even the specific movements of certain fish that cause physical reactions in people. “When we were looking at different types of exhibits, there was a strong theme coming through that people really did like the tropical fish and particularly high numbers of marine life,” she says.
Her colleague, environmental psychologist Dr. Mathew White, says: “Our findings have shown improvements for health and well-being in highly managed settings, providing an exciting possibility for people who aren’t able to access outdoor natural environments. If we can identify the mechanisms that underpin the benefits we’re seeing, we can effectively bring some of the ‘outside inside’ and improve the well-being of people without ready access to nature.”
Get fin, get fit
Another member of the team, Dr Sabine Pahl, says: “While large public aquariums typically focus on their educational mission, our study suggests they could offer a number of previously undiscovered benefits. In times of higher work stress and crowded urban living, perhaps aquariums can step in and provide an oasis of calm and relaxation.” Cracknell argues that the research could lead to applications in the real world — increased use in hospitals and other environments where therapy and counseling occur. This could be through the use of an actual tank of fish or even just a video screen displaying a link.
We’ve already seen just how incredible some of our best aquariums can be — whether it’s the out-of-this-world animals at the Georgia Aquarium or the multitudinous displays at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Wherever your nearest aquarium happens to be, helping your health by looking at such beauty sounds to us like a win-win. For some instant health benefits, check out the National Aquarium’s Live Shark Cam. Don’t say we never do anything for you.
People who spend time in aquariums could improve their physical and mental wellbeing, a study has suggested.
As well as improving people’s mood, the experiment showed “significant” reductions in participants’ heart rates and blood pressure, the authors added.
Previous studies have linked contact with nature and improved wellbeing but this study is believed to be the first controlled experiment of its kind.
The findings appear in the journal Environment and Behavior.
“There have been a few studies that have looked at things like the number of bird or butterfly species in parks and researchers have asked people in those parks about how they felt,” explained co-author Mathew White from the University of Exeter’s European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH).
“Generally, people felt happier in parks that had more birds or more butterflies, although people did not really appreciate the levels of biodiversity.”
Dr White told BBC News that there were a number of reasons why the team of researchers from the ECEHH, Plymouth University and the National Marine Aquarium were interested in the potential impact of aquariums on people’s wellbeing.
“Firstly, we were particularly interested in aquatic environments,” he said.
“Obviously most people cannot see different kinds of fish because they do not dive etc, so aquariums are a nice way to make the invisible marine environment just outside our doors visible and accessible.
“More fundamentally, we were interested in how natural environments could be brought to urban populations and to people who might not be able to access nature very well.”
Collecting data from participants in the aquarium provided the researchers with a unique opportunity to examine the links between human wellbeing and contact with nature.
“What we were able to do here was – as far as we know in the world’s first controlled experiment: we knew exactly the number of species and the number of [fish] that people were looking at, and they were systematically altered over time – monitor people’s heart rate, blood pressure and various changes in mood over a 10-minute period while they watched the very large tank (500,000 litres), ” Dr White explained.
“As you might expect, people felt a lot more relaxed and significantly happier after watching the tank with more fish – in other words with more biodiversity – and there were significant drops in heart rates and significantly lower blood pressure.
“Most of the physiological changes happened within the first five minutes and then plateaued out, so it happened quite quickly and then stabilised. However, the psychological measures showed that the benefits continued over the entire exposure – people got happier and happier, basically.”
In order to rule out the possibility that the participants were responding to the biodiversity in the tanks rather than the tranquil environment, the first set of data was gathered while the participants looked at an empty tank, which only contained rocks and lighting etc.
The experiments were carried out during the day while the aquarium was open so people taking part in the experiment were experiencing the normal conditions of the aquarium, such as noise etc.
Dr White added: “The first thing to notice is that people relaxed, even watching an empty tank, and the benefits increased as we introduced more fish over the course of about a four-week period.”
The team were interested in exploring whether the experiment’s results could be replicated in a medical setting.
“For example, if we were to put a live (video) link into Derriford (the local hospital) into waiting rooms or even into some of the wards and we could show clinically meaningful reductions in heart rate and blood pressure among specific groups, such as hypertension for example, it could be really important for medical reasons,” Dr White suggested.
He also said the findings also highlighted another potential ecosystem service that humans received from biodiversity.
“If you flipped our study on its head, and you were to take fish away and be losing biodiversity, what we show is that the predicted losses in biodiversity over time as a result of climate change and other anthropogenic threats could actually undermine human wellbeing in a way that we have not really thought about.
“Potentially, the effects could be quite large and could be another effect of climate change etc that we have not really understood to date.”