“A fish tank is just interactive television for cats,” wrote Oliver Gaspirtz in “A Treasury of Pet Humor.”
An aquarium is not just good for cats, but kids too.
The primary behavioral problem diagnosed in kids is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Treated with Ritalin and other mood altering drugs, ADHD can remain active into adulthood.
Focusing in the classroom is frequently seen as an early indicator of ADHD. Students with ADHD want to succeed and do their best — within their limits.
Research distributed in the “Journal of Attention Disorders” noted children’s focus improved after a stroll in the park when compared to a stroll through an urban setting. Researchers suggest adding natural elements, such as ornamental trees, flower gardens or aquariums to educational facility environments to improve the attention span of ADHD students.
Taking that idea one step further, researchers are finding links between looking at an aquarium fish tank with live fish and the positive effects on human health. Observing fish in an aquarium lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and boosts relaxation. When someone feels less anxious, they have more energy to focus on other tasks.
The same benefits have been shown in children diagnosed with ADHD. The feeling of calm from watching fish can be a diversionary tactic to redirect from hyperactive activities. Research, conducted by Perdue, has also shown that setting before a fish tank for 15 minutes each day is beneficial as it stimulates serotonin neurotransmitters which lead to increased endorphin production. Endorphins being the body’s natural “feel-good chemistry” which produce feelings of happiness. The hormones also reduce anxiety as they increase other health benefits.
Scientists are not sure why the reaction, but the tank must contain fish. Subjects that stare into a tank sans fish don’t have the same results as ones who stare at a tank containing fish. Some researchers think it is a blending of the sounds of water, the movement and the steady motion of the fish which stimulates hormonal release.
In Perdue’s research, researchers found both contemplations of an aquarium and hypnosis, used together or separately, produced an increase in relaxation when compared to a control group who contemplated a poster of a fish tank.
Other Health Benefits
The Purdue study also examined the effect of aquariums on the nutritional intake of persons diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The study, which followed 60 patients, exposed some patients to aquariums with fish and other patients, used as a control group, were exposed to seascape paintings. The patients shown the live aquariums averaged an increase of 17-percent in the amount of food consumed and their weight