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Finding Nemo at the dentist’s office: why aquariums are so popular


Have you ever wondered why many dentists have aquariums in their offices? It’s not just a coincidence! Believe it or not, aquarium therapy is a legitimate concept. The use of fish tanks, aquariums or even digital images of fish in aquatic environments can provide potential health benefits to people in various ways. Having an aquarium in a dental office gives patients something to watch and contemplate while they wait in the lobby. This can lead to significant reduction in their stress and anxiety levels. One study even found that dental patients required less pain medication after having observed fish in the office aquarium before their appointment. Another study that tested patient hypnosis versus aquarium therapy concluded that those who watched fish received the same or greater benefits than those who underwent hypnosis. Moreover, according to the principles of feng shui, moving water is beneficial to balancing chi, or universal energy.

Neek LaMantia, electronic editor of Mouthing Off and second year dental student, has already started her dental office fish tank!
Neek LaMantia, electronic editor of Mouthing Off and second year dental student, has already started her dental office fish tank!

Dentists aren’t the only health care providers to utilize this technique either. Studies dating as far back as the 80’s have shown that aquariums, both personal or office ones, are good ways to combat daily stress, insomnia, and high blood pressure. While statistically significant results haven’t been attained yet, many trials associate having an aquarium with lowering blood pressure levels in hypertensive patients, calming down patients with hyperactive disorder, and helping to establish appetite and reduce supplement dependency in Alzheimer’s patients.

Next time you go to the dentist and rifle through old magazines as you wait, take a few minutes to make some fishy friends. Odds are, you won’t have to travel all the way to the office of P. Sherman on 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney in order to find a Nemo of your own.

-Sachi Mehrotra, Los Angeles ’15, predental

Sachi Mehrotra

Sachi is a second year dental student at the UCLA School of Dentistry. She currently serves as the ASDA District 11 PreDental Chair and the UCLA ASDA Morale Committee Chair. Aside from denture and endo projects, her favorite things in the world are dessert, traveling, and Snapchat adventures.

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  1. Nice article Sachi. I think it’s therapeutic to have a fish tank in the office. Especially if you have little patients coming in and they have to wait. You already know they do not want to be there, but if they see the fish tank well it will make the visit more comfortable.

  2. We want our patients to feel comfortable in our office. When you walk in our office you find the atmosphere calming and I do believe it has to do with the fish tank and our friendly staff.

  3. Well we do have a relaxing, calm atmosphere, but we don’t have “Finding Nemo.” I think our staff makes up for that.

  4. I agree. By just looking at the aquarium, I feel relieved after a stressful day at work. And also whenever I go to dental clinics to have my dental checkups I find it amusing as well as relaxing to see aquariums with different fish species in them.

  5. There should be aquariums with spiders and snakes in waiting room. Most kids would feel a lot safer in the office then. 🙂

  6. Cathy says:

    Thanks for the information. I had no idea that aquariums are so popular at dentists’ offices. It’s cool to me that aquarium therapy is a legitimate thing. I’ve definitely noticed that I’m less nervous at the dentist’s office after having watched the aquarium for a while. I actually have a dentist appointment this week; hopefully the office has a fish tank!

  7. Having an aquarium is very relaxing indeed. I have a small one at home, thinking of expanding it.

  8. I agree. me neader had no idea that aquariums are so popular at dentists’ offices.

  9. those fish got funny looking teeth hahaha .. i love fish in fact i have them in my house..

  10. In our Dental Clinic we have an aquarium too!!! I love them!

  11. Jacob says:

    Where is the scientific research that was used in the article? We are performing a similar study and would love to see where some of these topics came from. Thank you

    1. Phil Galdys says:

      I checked out the website for the untanked system I saw.. and saw links that also showed research studies, it looks like they only sell for commercial use though…

  12. Phil Galdys says:

    I was at my kids dentist in Florida and they had a big flat screen in the waiting room showing a aquarium from Hawaii, it was very cool and the kids loved watching it.
    The receptionist said it was called untanked, but she did not think they sold it for private use, only commercial.

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