Aquariums are truly one of the most unique purchases anyone can make. Like dogs or cats, they transform an owner into a caretaker, someone on whom pets depend for food and care. On the other hand, some people like aquariums for the same reasons that they like an old painting or a TV show – an aquarium can give its owner a way to relax. Maybe it’s the slow, steady sound of the water, or maybe the swirling, vibrant colors of the fish, but the calming effect of an aquarium is a rare and unique gift that many find worth the effort.
When choosing between pets, many parents don’t even consider an aquarium as a possibility, due to the initial gratification of gifting a puppy or kitten. But some fish like emperor angelfish can be so friendly and can live for more than 20 years, and can be treated more like household pets. Some say that these fish respond to verbal cues, climb to the top of the tank and grunt to feed daily when their owners come home.
In the long run, dogs tend to add stress and pressure to the home, while fish tanks become a stable source of stress relief. Some people enjoy sitting and observing the tank several times a day, and find relaxation by becoming a mere observer of the aquatic universe. Others, whether they are owners of small goldfish aquariums or tropical saltwater fish, get a sense of satisfaction from feeding themselves and caring for their miniature ecosystems.
A 1990 study by Mary DeSchriver and Carol Riddick corroborated this insight, showing that looking at aquariums causes a reduction in pulse rate and muscle tension, while increasing internal body temperature, compared to other relaxing activities, such as watch a relaxing video. So even if you are not a fish enthusiast, you may want to have an aquarium, if only for the health benefits.
But even people who don’t take an active role in tank maintenance or surveillance still have something to gain. Parents, for example, benefit from the effect fish have on their children. Aquariums improve the supplies and attention span of all children, but are particularly effective with children who have been diagnosed with ADHD (Focus on Exceptional Children, December 1997).
Some parents like to use aquariums as an educational tool, explaining some of the simple needs of the ecosystem to their children. For example, every aquarium needs a bottom feeder to absorb the algae growing in the tank. Also, maintaining the proper pH balance is important for fish health, and there is a simple test for this that children enjoy watching or participating in.
So why do people buy aquariums? Some, who live in apartments, just need to be able to have a pet and adhere to the owner’s policy, but the rest choose them for the value they add to the home, either as a source of stress relief. , education, environment, entertainment, beauty or enhanced focus. Aquariums are more involved than other pets, but they are worth it.