Aquarium Therapy


Some of our studies involve clients experiencing a range of psychiatric disorder and distress. Our mission, includes the goal of easing human suffering from mental health issues. As a part of this mission, we strive to develop practices and procedures that comfort the patients that we see. One project that we have to achieve this goal is our aquarium project. Research* has shown that as little as 5 minutes contact with nature features, like an aquarium, can significantly decrease stress, reduce anger and fear, and increase pleasant feelings.


An increasing number of pediatrician and clinics have been incorporating aquarium therapy in their waiting areas to promote positive mental health. This approach has not enjoyed widespread cross-over appeal in the mental health research arena, although it has implications for:

  • a calming effect on agitated patients
  • longitudinal retention for prospective studies



For our aquarium therapy program, we currently maintain two tank areas. 

  • In the NRLC Green Zone, we maintain an Aussie Aquarium’s Concave 9.5 gallon wall mount tank. The tank is fresh water stocked with Red-tailed Black Variatus, amazon sword, driftwood, and Marimo Balls (Cladophora aegagropila). This tank is maintained by Dr. Mathias.  
  • In the NRLC Welcome Center, we maintain a 55 gallon stand tank.  The tank is stocked with a variety of cichlids, Texas driftwood, and petrified rock.  This tank is maintained by Dr. Acheson






The effects of animals on human health and well-being.

Wells, D. L.  (2009).

Journal of Social Issues, 65, 523-543.

Effect of aquariums on electroconvulsive therapy patients.
Barker, S. B., Rasmussen, K. G., & Best, A. I. M.  (2003).

Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 16, 229-240.

Environmental Psychophysiology. In Handbook of Psychophysiology, 2nd ed.

*Parsons, R. & Hartig, T.  (2000).

New York: Cambridge University Press.  Pp. 815-846.

Benefits, problems, and characteristics of home aquarium owners.

Kidd, A. H. & Kidd, R. M.  (1999).

Psychological Reports, 84, 998-1004.

Health enhancement and companion animal ownership.
Beck, A. M. & Meyers, N. M. (1996).
Annual Review of Public Health, 17, 247-257.    PubMed    

Effects of watching aquariums on elder's stress.

DeSchriver, M. M. & Riddick, C. C.  (1990).

Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 4, 44-48.


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