In addition to helping with generalized issues, aquarium viewing can actually help partially treat a number of diagnosed medical conditions.
One such case is found in a National Marine Aquarium study (Cracknell, White, Pahl). Aquariums' benefits of reducing stress and anxiety as well as blood pressure and heart rate are exemplified when visitors viewing a large aquarium restocking were tested before and after viewing. Significant improvements in all of these areas were consistently seen in almost every participant after only a few moments of viewing.
One of the lead researchers of the study, Dr. Mathew White, talks about these benefits of aquariums when he proposes, “For example, if we were to put a live (video) link into Derriford (the local hospital) into waiting rooms or even into some of the wards and we could show clinically meaningful reductions in heart rate and blood pressure among specific groups, such as hypertension for example, it could be really important for medical reasons.”
The final case is rather interesting (Edwards and Beck). This study examined the effects of aquarium viewing on patients with Alzheimer's disease, a disease characterized by loss of memory and other brain functions. A popular quote which is referenced on the first page of Edwards and Beck's study shows the widespread severity of Alzheimer's disease by stating that it, "affects 1 in 10 people at age 65 and nearly half of all people age 85 and over" (Hingley & Ruggeri, 1998).
Aquariums were placed into 3 different treatment facilities, each containing colorful fish and placed at eye level for easy viewing. One of the more common side effects of Alzheimer's disease is loss of appetite, so the aquariums were placed in the dining rooms of the facilities to observe the effects on patients' appetites.
The researchers were surprised to find a very significant increase in appetite (~21.1%) after the tanks had only been in place for a week, and following weight gain averaging 1.65 pounds per patient.
While far from a cure, this is a fantastic step in the treatment of patients with Alzheimer's or similar conditions!