Pet fish are one of the more under appreciated pets, especially when compared with their more popular rivals, cats and dogs.
But is their lower place on the totem pole deserved?
Or do fish have powers to make us happier and healthier, just like Kitty and Rover?
Being avid fishkeepers ourselves, we wanted to dive into the data and find out if there’s any science behind our pre-existing beliefs that our pet fish make our lives happier and healthier.
Well, it turns out science backs us up here! There are loads of benefits to keeping pet fish.
Below, we’ll outline all of the amazing ways pet fish can make your life better.
Table of Contents
1. PET FISH CAN REDUCE STRESS
Observing fish in an aquarium, or simply being in the same room as them has been shown to reduce stress to a significant degree.
From self reported stress relief (51% of pet owners in the 2017-18 APPA Pet Owners Survey) to anecdotal observations of a doctor to an actual scientific study in 2015, it’s been proven time and again that keeping fish and being around them reduces stress.
The 2015 study showed improvements in stress reduction in both a partially and fully stocked aquarium.
Dr. Allan Schwartz suggests that tropical fish and aquariums can relieve stress due to their nature-mimicking qualities.
However you get your fish fix, you can rest assured you’ll be less stressed!
2. FISH CAN CALM YOU AND REDUCE ANXIETY
This goes hand in hand with reducing stress, but a reduction in stress does not automatically mean an increase in calm, right?
Studies found that fish can reduce anxiety and help to calm you, bringing further evidence to the fact that fish are good for your mental well being.
This study outlines previous work done that shows that the presence of an aquarium reduced anxiety in patients waiting to get dental work done.
And while this treatment sounds scary to the casual observer, Electroconvulsive Therapy patients experienced a decrease in anxiety in the presence of an aquarium.
3. FISH REDUCE BLOOD PRESSURE
Oh, you thought fish were only good for mental health?
Fish have been shown to be heart-friendly, too.
In this study, observing fish helped to reduce blood pressure in a statistically significant way.
The study reports: “Watching the exhibit, irrespective of condition, generally decreased blood pressure…”
4. FISH REDUCE HEART RATE
And there’s more where that came from!
The same study that showed a reduction in blood pressure while viewing fish also reported a reduction of heart rate, by roughly 5-6 beats per minute.
Basically, if you need a little chill in your life, consider getting a pet fish!
5. FISH CAN IMPROVE YOUR MOOD
Again from the study that showed heart health benefits, they measured how viewing fish changed the mood of the participants.
They noted that the longer the person watched the fish, the better their mood got, and that the fish helped to put observers into a “mood quadrant” that they identify with being “calm and content”.
6. PET FISH HELP ALZHEIMER’S PATIENTS
While it’s been proven that therapy pets like cats and dogs help Alzheimer’s patients with things like loneliness, did you know that patients exposed to fish tanks were more relaxed and alert?
They focused more at meal time and ate more food, and impressively, they exhibited less aggressive and disruptive behavior compared to those patients without a fish tank.
When it comes to battling this terrible disease, every little bit helps, and it seems that a simple aquarium can do wonders.
7. PET FISH CAN IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY AT WORK
The calming, stress-relieving affects of fish can help workers, too. There are companies that specialize in the introduction of aquariums at work, and they report that fish tanks provide many benefits to employees, including the potential for increased productivity.
Next time your boss says no to bringing pets into the office, why not reach a compromise and suggest a couple of fish tanks?
8. PET FISH MOTIVATE KIDS TO RESEARCH AND LEARN MORE
Pets are amazing for children for many reasons.
One of the reasons that is perhaps difficult to study, but quite obvious, is that a child’s curiosity about the animal with whom she is living will naturally lead to research projects.
When children have questions about what they’re observing in their aquarium, they’ll take the time to look it up, enhancing both their knowledge and research skills.
9. WATCHING AQUARIUMS CAN HELP KIDS REGULATE
All of the calming and relaxation benefits aren’t just good for Alzheimer’s patients and workers…kids can also benefit from being around a fish tank.
When kids are riled up and need a way to calm down, the calming benefits of fish can be a great way to get children to take some deep breaths and center themselves.
10. FISH ARE LOW MAINTENANCE PETS
If you can’t manage the endless responsibilities of owning a dog or a cat, fish are a perfect substitute, and allow more people to experience pet ownership.
They require minimal attention…just feed them, ensure the water chemistry is right, and make sure they’re healthy. Perfect for people who need quiet, who live in small spaces, or who have busy lifestyles!
They’re the perfect apartment pet and they’re great for people who travel a lot.
11. FISH ARE CHEAPER THAN MOST OTHER PETS
Do you want a pet but can’t afford the massive expenses of a dog or cat?
Those furry friends can run you thousands of dollars every year between high quality food, vet visits, kennels, and more.
But when it comes to fish, the expenses can be much lower.
While it’s true that you can get a bit carried away (or at least I can) and spend a fair bit on your fish, the average cost is much lower.
Despite the initial set up cost being a bit higher than others, due to purchasing an aquarium, the yearly expenses are significantly less compared to most furry pets.
12. FISHKEEPERS HAVE A REWARDING HOBBY
Fishkeeping is less “hand on” than having a dog or a cat, in that you don’t need to walk or play with your fish.
However, because of that, fishkeepers can “geek out” a bit, looking at the latest gadgets and coming up with novel ways to make a fish’s life even more closely resembling it’s natural habitat (without the predator scares!).
This is a great way to combine both a love of animals with a fun hobby during your down time.
13. PET FISH ARE FUN TO WATCH AND COOL TO LOOK AT!
Another thing fish owners tell you (with data captured by the APPA Pet Owners Survey) is that fish are amazingly fun to watch and they’re very cool to look at.
In fact, this is one of the biggest reasons I hear from people who have just recently got into fishkeeping. There are so many different types of beautiful fish, you can stay mesmerized for a life time just looking into your aquarium.
They’re great conversation starters with new friends, too!
14. FISH TANKS ARE GOOD FOR FENG SHUI
Into Feng Shui?
You’ll be pleased to know that fish tanks are thought to increase money luck and are useful for other activations, too.
Of course, large ponds like koi ponds might be even more beneficial, but there’s nothing saying a smaller tank can’t boost your Feng Shui!
15. FISH TANKS KEEP YOU CHILL AT THE DENTIST’S OFFICE
Dentist’s offices are well known for keeping aquariums (although most are less traumatic experiences than the one in Finding Nemo).
This is because dentists, along with studies already referenced here, find that fish tanks help to keep patients calm and stress-free in the lead up to their usually unwanted dentistry appointment.
16. PET FISH CAN HELP CHILDREN WITH AUTISM
Many of the calming benefits help children with autism, but there is even an aquarium designed specifically to help calm people with autism.
The biOrb is well made and “kid-proof” and with it’s small size and blue light, allows for children to gaze into it any time of day, without parents needing to figure out how to care for a therapy dog or cat.
17. AQUARIUM THERAPY HELPS WITH ADHD
Finding ways to help children with ADHD is a massively important undertaking.
Too often, they are left to suffer in the school systems and are put on Ritalin before anyone tries to find more natural ways to help them calm and regulate. (Not that there’s anything wrong with current treatments!)
Children with ADHD are likely to benefit from the calming and stress relieving benefits that fish can offer in the home, suggests Dr. Marina Gafanovich.
18. HAVING PET FISH CAN HELP YOU SLEEP
Chewy.com had an excellent quote from a sleep science coach:
“Fish tanks not only lower anxiety and stress, but they can also help with sleep,” says Chris Brantner, certified sleep science coach at SleepZoo.com. “Studies dating back to the ’80s show that watching fish in an aquarium can lower blood pressure similar to other types of relaxation therapy and meditation.”Chewy.com
If you find it difficult to unwind after a stressful day at the office, why not try a small aquarium and having a meditative stare before bed?