Aquariums are truly one of the most unique purchases anyone can make. Like dogs or cats, they transform an owner into a caretaker – someone who the pets rely on for feeding and attention. On the other hand, some people like aquariums for the same reasons they like an old painting or television show – an aquarium can give its owner a way to relax. Perhaps it is the slow, steady sound of water, or maybe the swirling, vibrant colours of the fish, but the soothing effect of an aquarium is a rare and unique gift that many find worth the effort.
When choosing between pets, many parents do not even consider an aquarium as a possibility, due to the initial gratification of giving a puppy dog or kitten. But some fish such as Emperor Angelfish can be as friendly and can live for longer than 20 years, and can be treated more like house hold pets. Some say that these fish respond to verbal cues, coming to the top of the tank and grunting for daily feedings when their owners get home.
In the long run, dogs tend to add stress and pressure to the home, whereas fish tanks become a stable source of stress relief. Some people enjoy sitting down and watching the tank a few times a day, finding relaxation in becoming a mere observer of the aquatic universe. Others, whether the owners of small goldfish aquariums or saltwater tropical fish, gain a feeling of satisfaction from feeding and taking care of their miniature ecosystems.
A study conducted by Mary DeSchriver and Carol Riddick in 1990 corroborated that intuition, proving that watching aquariums causes a reduction in pulse rate and muscle tension, while increasing internal body temperature, in comparison to other relaxing activities, such as watching a relaxing video tape. So even if you are not a fish enthusiast, you may still want to own an aquarium, if only for the health benefits.
But even people who take no active role in keeping or watching the tank still have something to gain. Parents, for example, benefit from the effect fish have on their children. Aquariums improve the dispositions and attentive capabilities of all children, but are particularly effective with children who have been diagnosed with ADHD (Focus on Exceptional Children, Dec, 1997).
Some parents like to use aquariums as an educational tool, explaining some of the simple necessities of the ecosystem to their children. For example, every aquarium needs a bottom feeder to suck up the algae that grows in the tank. Additionally, keeping the right pH balance is important to the fishes’ health, and there is a simple test for this that children enjoy watching or taking part in.
So why do people buy aquariums? Some, who live in apartments, need to, just to be able to own a pet and ascribe to the landlord’s policy, but the rest choose them because of the value they add to the household, whether it be as a source of stress-relief, education, ambiance, entertainment, beauty, or improved focus. Aquariums are more involved than other pets, but they are well worth it.