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Animal Assisted Therapy Ideas

Aquatic: Beta Fish Therapy
submitted by Rebecca Neeley of Methodist Healthcare, Skilled Nursing Facility on February 25, 2002

Size: 1:1 In-Room Therapy

Equipment: Male Beta Fish;clear glass bowl or vase;colorful flat floral marbles;small artificial aquarium plant; Stresscoat Water Conditioner;aquarium salt;Aquarisol drops(guards against ick infection);small cart for transport of fish; Rubbermaid rubber shelf-lining to put on top of cart for non-slip surface;small fish net.

Objective: Multiple outcomes that may be expected: 1) Lowered blood pressure; 2) decrease in depression 3)reminiscences of animals that patient may have had in the past

Description: Beta fish are also called "Siamese Fighting Fish"; for this reason if you have more than one they MUST be kept in individual containers or they will fight and kill each other, BUT---they are very "socially oriented"little fellows with people and for this reason are perfect to use for animal-assisted therapy. ;I have even taught mine to jump up and take a piece of food off of my finger,and my patients think that is SOOO GREAT! They see in color, which sometimes makes it possible to get their attention with certain colorful objects. They are very inquisitive and constantly interested in what is going on around them!

The facilitation of the activity is quite simple...once you have "Beta" in his new home just put him on the cart and take off for room visitation, but there are a few things you need to know about putting the bowl together and the care of Beta

Always clean bowl with WATER ONLY---NO SOAPS!!! Just use a soft Handi-Wipeor washcloth to wipe off the residue on inside of bowl and rinse well. Next, place artificial plant in bowl, then add marbles. Next, fill bowl with tap water that is between 70-80 degrees F (it is a good idea to purchase an aquarium thermometer). Add appropriate amount of Stresscoat according to package directions---this is CRUCIAL because this product removes the chlorine from the tap water, and if you are unsure of using enough, it is OK to use more...it won't hurt and might even be beneficial since different water supplies have different chlorination levels. As simple preventatives I also add a tsp. of Aquarium salt to water...this helps Beta's gills function more effectively, and I add a few drops of Aquarisol to guard against ICH. After all has been added to water, place Beta in bowl. Change water once a week. Wherever you plan to keep Beta, it should be in a draft-free location and not in direct sunlight; fish are very sensitive to sudden temperature changes and will get sick very quickly if subjected to extremes. I feed my Betas twice a day, 7-8 pellets at a time, but you might want to start out with less and see how much your individual fish wants to eat. This may sound like alot of trouble, but it really isn't!

Good luck and happy aquatic therapy!

 

 

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