The Benefits of Aquariums on Health and Mood
Written by: Tammy (@aquarist_tl) and Team Buce Plant
Have you ever wondered why we often see fish tanks in the waiting rooms of dentists and doctors’ offices? As a planted aquarium keeper, I would personally argue that aquariums can have a positive, calming, stress-relieving effect on both their owners and viewers, which may be helpful in a stressful environment like the dentist! In fact, there’s scientific evidence of aquariums being beneficial to both physical and mental wellbeing.
A study has suggested that people who spend time around aquariums will see an improvement in their health and mood. Previous studies have also linked time spent in nature with improved wellbeing, but this study is arguably the first "controlled" experiment of its kind. You can view the findings in the article, Marine Biota and Psychological Well-Being, published in 2015.
Basically, during stressful times, having a planted aquarium in your home will result in a positive impact. Here are some of the top health benefits that home aquariums could bring you:
Physiological Effects of Aquarium Keeping
1. Decreases Blood Pressure
Multiple studies and experiments have shown that watching a fish tank, or even just a tank with aquatic plants and other naturistic elements can reduce the blood pressure of those viewing it. The impacts are seen to especially improve the heart health of the elderly in comparison to other age ranges. This research has also shown that the more species of plants and fish the aquarium has, the more of a calming and relaxing effect it creates on those around it. Some of the results even revealed as high as a 4% reduction in blood pressure.
2. Lowers Heart Rate
Similar to decreasing blood pressure, staring at aquariums can also slow your heart rate. According to the same study mentioned previously, observers of fishless aquascapes decreased heart rates by 3%, while aquariums stocked with fish resulted in drop rates as much as 7%.
Fish tanks are great for people with high blood pressure and heart rate or other heart-related issues. The naturistic décor helps to keep your stress levels down, which in turn will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle!
3. Improves Sleep Quality
Sleep doesn't come easy for everyone. Having an aquarium in the bedroom has proven to help people fall asleep. The relaxing, trickling sounds of water flowing from the filter and back into the tank is very soothing. It’s similar to people playing recordings of rainfall or a running river in order to help themselves fall asleep. The sound of moving water typically calms people down. The sounds coming from an aquarium can also provide white noise, meaning they will block out other potential disruptive noises, helping you stay asleep.
In addition, the visuals of the fish tank itself can be relaxing. Staring at the aquarium fish gracefully swimming around the aquarium can help lull those having a hard time falling asleep.
Effects of Aquariums on Mental Health
4. Relieves Stress
Fish tanks can be found in high-stress environments like offices and hospitals because they provide a calming effect. Management of your stress and anxiety level is important for overall health, which means that spending time around the fish tank will help you relax while also getting your hands wet during routine maintenance!
Many aquascapers report that trimming and maintaining their scapes is a calming, rewarding experience. Life can be fast-paced as everyone is trying to stay on top of all of their daily tasks. Looking into an aquarium can trigger a switch in their body and mind, helping to reduce stress and provide a sense of relaxation.
5. Reduces Anxiety
Along with the reduction of stress, aquariums can also help lower anxiety. Fish tanks can arguably serve as a calming distraction. Looking into the tank and observing its inhabitants helps people forget about their present worries for a moment. Their focus is shifted from whatever is causing their anxiousness to fascination of the aquatic creatures in front of them. A study showed that the anxiety level of participants in a room with an aquarium was lowered by an average of 12%.
6. Redirects Negative Feelings
Once in a while, life can knock us down or we can get worked up over issues that we face. At times like these, it is good practice to have a healthy outlet to relieve these feelings of anger or sadness. Aquariums can be a great way to redirect these negative emotions! Not just by staring at them, but also by working to maintain them.
Performing the occasional maintenance required to keep your fish healthy and happy can, in turn, help you stay healthy and happy as well; especially those with planted tanks. Usually planted tanks need more maintenance than just the typical water changes. By focusing on trivial tasks like trimming aquatic plants, removing algae, and draining or filling the tank, your attention is diverted away from any potentially harmful feelings. In many instances, these feelings tend to simmer down over time, so it is possible that by the time one is done with their aquarium duties, they have had the time to enter a calmer state of mind.
7. Improves Mood
Studies have reported that people generally feel happier during contact with natural environments and in the presence of an aquarium. This could be due to a number of reasons. One could be all of the relaxing effects it has on us, while another could just be the joy and allure of seeing an animal (such as freshwater shrimp, fish, or aquatic snails) that we would not normally encounter in our daily lives.
Owning a fish tank could provide even more reasons to be happier! You would get to have a slice of nature in your home or office that you could see any time you want. The fish would also keep you company so that you wouldn’t feel as lonely whenever it’s just you in the house.
Additionally, fishkeeping is a very fulfilling hobby. As with raising any other pet, there is a sense of responsibility for their owners. When we are successful and see that our fish are healthy and happy in their tanks, we are rewarded with a great feeling of accomplishment. Even the layout or aquascape of the aquarium can boost the owner’s mood. Aquascaping can require hard work and a lot of creativity, so knowing they created a beautiful work of art is an achievement of its own. Every time they look at the tank, they could feel proud of what they constructed.
Helpful Tips for New Aquarium Keepers
Nature aquariums have the power to provide so many benefits to people’s health and happiness. This can come from both seeing one and owning one. For me personally, looking at my fish tanks helps calm me down when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Staring at the fish reminds me that life can be as simple as fish make it to be.
If you are debating on having a fish tank in your home, maintaining it doesn’t need to be stressful or time-consuming. It's really easy if we get in the habit of performing routine water changes and testing our tanks once per week! These tasks won't take too long at all - maybe just five minutes here an there'll save us from dealing with bigger problems later on down the line.
Here are some helpful tips to keep your aquarium a stress reliever, not a stress inducer:
- Make time for weekly water changes. Water changes are important for keeping a balanced aquarium! Don't skip them and you can prevent algae, poor plant growth, and loss of any fish.
- Put timers on both your LED light and CO2. Timers make everything easier and more efficient in aquarium keeping. You should have your LED light set to about 6-8 hours a day, with your CO2 injection starting one hour before the light turns on, and ending 1 hour before the lights turn off.
- Create a maintenance checklist on your calendar. Tasks like cleaning the filter or checking on all of your equipment can only be done once a month.
- Test your water often. Once a week would be best. This will keep you continuously aware of what's going on in your tank and whether any changes need to be made! Click here to learn more about water parameters in the planted tank.
We sometimes overthink trivial problems so much that they seem bigger than they actually are, but looking at colorful fish may keep us in check because those fish are not worrying about every single issue they may come across. They’re just in the tank, living their lives, simply swimming and thriving. So, here’s a friendly recommendation to take a deep breath, stare at an aquarium, and keep on swimming!
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