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Are Fish Tanks Good for Anxiety? [The Benefits of Having Fish]

When I first set up my first home aquarium in the house, I began finding myself somewhat dazed just watching the fish interact within the tank and found myself oddly soothed by the sound of the water and filtration system.

Naturally, I was curious at this point, if my fish tank was calming me down or reducing my stress and if fish tanks are suitable for reducing anxiety? I had to do a little research. Here is what I learned in the process.

The sound of running water has been known to soothe, calm and reduce stress for years. Fish tanks re-create this same sound of running water which in return can provide health benefits including reduced stress, anxiety and reduced agitation.

A Related Comparison- Why Fishing Is So Popular Worldwide


Take the comparison of owning an at-home aquarium and the health benefits of fishing as a worldwide sport.  I’m also an angler and always have been. Yes, it’s about catching fish. That’s not all, however. Fishing has always been an escape for me.

While I don’t have a Ph.D. hanging on my wall, I would surely be willing to attest that my overall stress and anxiety are significantly reduced during a day of fishing. Hearing and seeing the natural sounds and sights of the water are just a significant mood boosting and calming stimulus to me.

Therefore, I wasn’t overly surprised after conducting my research that owning an at-home aquarium carries many known health benefits.  We haven’t scratched the surface of all these moods and health-boosting benefits yet so let’s cover some other significant bonuses your body and mind will thank you for when you set up your first home aquarium.

Are Fish Tanks Calming?

Yes, fish tanks have been shown to have “calming effects” for several years. This is the main reason you notice nicely decorated fish tanks/ aquariums always located in dentist offices, outside of surgery rooms and in many other locations where stress levels tend to be raised.

I’m still waiting for fish tanks to show up at the DMV, Banks and the Post Office. I suppose it wouldn’t kill me to add one to my office either but no need to get greedy just yet.

Can Fish Tanks Help with Depression?

I was curious about this as well. Can fish tanks help with depression? I did some digging and here’s what I came up with. While no studies showed fish tanks help or cure depression, other studies did reveal that they significantly reduced the heart rate and that people did enter better “moods” after visually watching an aquarium.

Does Watching Fish Lower Blood Pressure?

If heart rate decreases, one would surely think blood pressure may decrease as, well right? I had the same thought, so I investigated a bit.  In an article published by the Washington Post, a study conducted at the National Marine Aquarium showed that some people watching the aquariums not only experienced lower heart rates, but their blood pressure dropped as well.

The study explicitly states that “Even Watching a Normal Tank” the lighting and movement alone of the seaweed was relaxing for individuals enjoying the view. Some believe that it’s the scenery alone such as the greenery inside the fish tank.

This would be the same logic behind outdoor gardens being soothing and stress relieving for individuals as well.

Others believe that the actual fish and life within the tank is what helps provide the calming feeling. I would argue it’s a nice combination of both.

While the sound of running water and some decorations within my tank swaying back and forth are a delight to watch, the fish interacting within the tank are the icing on the cake for me.


Another Interesting Benefit- Can Fish Tanks Help with Alzheimer’s?

This information I was utterly impressed by and not familiar with until completing my research about the health benefits my fish tank was providing to me.

Another study conducted back in 1999 by Purdue University even showed that fish tanks and aquariums could help correct behavior problems and eating habits with Alzheimer’s patients.

The study ultimately showed that when aquariums were introduced to Alzheimer’s patients that they had a 21.2% increase in food intake and experienced fewer behavior problems and displayed the ability to be more “attentive” for more extended periods.

With how stressful life can get, it’s starting to seem fitting to have fish tanks just about everywhere we plan to go.

Either that or make your next vacation getaway pulling up a chair at your local fish store.

an anemone fish or clown fish.

What are The Most Relaxing Fish to Watch?

If you are reading this, you are probably getting a little excited to get started with your first tank, but maybe you are growing curious what exactly to put into it. I did the same.  A common question you may have is, what is the most relaxing fish to watch?

Keep in mind that depending on whom you ask, you may get completely different responses but based on forums, other online communities and my research, this is what I put together and learned through the process.

Most Relaxing Saltwater Fish to Watch- In No Particular Order

·         Clown Fish

·         Blue Regal Tang

·         Bristle Tooth Tang

·         Midas Blenny

·         Hector Goby

·         Ribbon Eel

These answers were based on other tank owners stating that they swam with beauty and grace, interacted in calming motions and manners or were just plain fun to have in the at home aquariums.

If you are interested in a list of relaxing freshwater fish to watch I would recommend reading my article on cool fish for a 10 gallon tank. I find all of the recommendations I make in that article very relaxing to watch.

*Special Note

Don’t run out and purchase all these fish on the list. Be sure to check which fish can interact together and best practices before trying to re-create the most ultimate calming aquarium possible.

achieve calm and relaxation watching an aquarium at home

So Overall, Is Watching Fish Good for You?

After our previous discussion in this post, I think we can all agree that owning an aquarium stocked with beautiful fish will never do us any harm. The worst-case scenario is you might have one day filled with stress from the initial set up and a day of future stress if you ever need to relocate the fish tank or move.

Speaking of that, here is a great article to guide you through how to transport fish correctly.

Outside of that, the benefits of having a fish tank are all positive for various reasons.  It may be small benefits they provide but overall, a nice relaxing few minutes a day near our home aquariums may be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Are Fish Tanks Good for Babies and Nurseries?

This is a popular question I saw pop up frequently throughout my research, so I wanted to touch on it briefly. Fish tanks being used in nurseries for soothing babies is more of a toss-up and weighing the pros and cons compared to using fish tanks to sooth and reduce stress with adults.

Some individuals say it’s a bad idea due to possible bacteria and other harmful things that could impact a newborn and some believe it’s great for soothing the baby or eliminating those 4 am wake-up feeding calls.

Ultimately this will be up to you to decide if it’s worth doing or not. Now if your child is a little older, this is an entirely different story.

What If My Child Is No Longer an Infant

If your child is no longer an infant, it comes down to reasonably believing that your child can handle a fish tank in his or her bedroom and taking the necessary safety precautions to make sure it’s not a hazard for the child or the fish at any point in time. If your child is much older than an infant (closer to 5) than it may be a perfect solution.

At this point they are more responsible, its overall safer and the child could even help with feeding the fish.  Also, you may get your child experiencing better moods and sleeping through the night more frequently.  At this age, if you’re contemplating the idea of doing it, I’d say go for it!

Putting it All Together- Calm Your Mind and Lower That Blood Pressure

If you haven’t made up your mind yet and are still debating a fish tank, hopefully, this post showed some additional reasons and health benefits that you may not have been aware of.  After that initial stressful day of set up and acclimating the tank to your home, it’s all downhill and soothing from that point on. Best of luck with your new aquariums.


If you are ready to look at tanks please have a look at my recommended aquariums page. I have some complete aquarium packages to get you started posted there as well.