You want to have fish as service animals now?

Fish are not what you think of when you think of most service animals. Fish are unable to fulfill many of the tasks that say, a service dog, can perform. They can't fetch something from the fridge or medicine cabinet; they aren't known to being able to sniff out when someone has low blood sugar; and they defiantly can't keep you from walking in front of a passing car. What fish are good at is calming a person during an anxiety attack or a "melt down"; their swimming around in their tank has a calming effect; especially for those with autism or other high anxiety developmental disability.

Although it is not discussed very much, there are health and emotional benefits that come from having a fish tank or aquarium. This is true whether its a fresh water or salt water tank. Why?

One of the environmental stimuli that people find very soothing is the sound of running water. There is a type of music that includes the sounds of ocean waves, rain storms and running streams that is mesmerizing as well as relaxing.

What owning and caring for an aquarium offers is the chance to bring the calming effects of nature right into the home. Once an aquarium is established and decorated with rocks, plants and fish; watching fish swim back and forth is stress and anxiety reducing. The gurgling sound of the bubbles add to the therapeutic effect of looking at the tank. Also relaxing are the colors of both the fish and background inside the tank. Studies show that it can reduce blood pressure and emotional agitation. That is why they are displayed in such diverse places as dentist offices, nursing homes, restaurants and doctor offices.

~Allan N. Schwartz, PhD


Exposure to natural environments can have calming and stress-reducing effects on humans. Moreover, studies suggest that these benefits may be greater in areas with higher species richness. These environmental preferences appear to be mediated by perceptions that nature provides elements of psychological well-being such as positive emotions, reduced stress, and cognitive fascination.

~Marine Biota and Psychological Well-Being
University of Exeter Medical School, UK
Plymouth University, UK
California Academy of Sciences, USA


"These Children" Will Just Get Bored And The Fish Will Be The Ones To Suffer.

In the twenty or so years that I have been collecting old aquariums off of Craigslist and Facebook; fixing them up and then giving them away to disadvantage children, several of those children having autism; it has been my experience that in nearly all cases, that involved an autistic child, the new hobbyist wanted and in fact craved to know all that there is to taking care of their new aquarium/fish; and in a few cases, even come back to show me up with what they have learned; knowledge that I did not have prior.

And, if a child ever does get "bored" or looses interest in their aquarium; we will take back their aquarium and fish; no questions asked and give them to another needy child. We can't guarantee that every child who enters our program will benefit from our program, but we can say that most autistic children with sensory issues will.

If They Can't Afford An Aquarium; They Don't Need To Have One.

The fish and aquariums that the Fish4Kids campaign grants to qualified children are primarily for the child's emotional and psychological benefit; they are intended to play a support animal role.

For children that don't qualify; the cost to obtain a trained support animal may cost more than $10,000+ (according to Autism Service Dogs of America); plus $100 or more per month to maintain. An aquarium with fish will initially cost around $300 with monthly expenses being less than $10 for properly cared for fish (regardless of species); the cost of which can be subsidized when they volunteer in our facility.

Should a child be forced to deal with life without the benefit of a support animal because of the financial difficulties of their family? I don't think so.

How Do "These Children" Cover The Cost Of Caring For Their Aquariums?

The monthly expenses for the care of an aquarium are quiet low. Weekly water changes of 25% on a 29-gallon aquarium equates to only a few cents per month... Think of it this way; a few decades ago; a toilet flush would use approximately 7 gallons of water... A single flush at that volume would be equal to the amount of water changed in an aquarium every week. It would also be like flushing your toilet eight times in one day, using newer toilets. At any rate, based upon the national average of water per gallon; doing weekly water changes is about 5 cents per month {source].

Between the four tank bundles that we give away; both goldfish and axolotl's are the biggest expense when it comes to feedings... However, the claim that goldfish must constantly be fed is in error and is equal to abuse in my book... With over 20 years of keeping goldfish; when you properly feed a goldfish, the cost should be less than $2.00 per month... I feed my goldfish 1/4 a teaspoon of high-quality goldfish pellets twice daily. I then supplement those two feedings with a fishy salad. 

I Think You Just Are Asking For Donations To Open A Fish Store For Personal Gain.

Not at all... The Fish4Kids store(s) that we plan to open is intended to support the charity; not any form of investor/owner... Many charities operate stores as a means of supporting their charity... Goodwill for example. Habitat for humanity is another. As the backbone of our program is us being able to give aquariums and high-quality fish to children in need; having a store that brings in revenue is just plain smart. Breeding our own fish in-house will save us hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

For example; Axolotl's can lay upwards of 1,000 eggs at a time (depending on water quality, age and time since last laying); and if only 800 out of 1,000 (at an 80% viability rate) and we are able to sell each axolotl offspring for around $28 retail; that would mean that we can earn around $22,400 per breeding pair. Subtract a few hundred for raising the Axolotl's and we still will profit over $22,000. Multiply that by about 8 and we have earned around $175,000 per year; which means, we could potentially help another 640 children.

There Is This Fish Rescue Over In ...; They Don't Have A Store; Why Do You Need One?

Like mentioned above; our charity primary works to help children with autism. Asking for people to donate their aquariums and unwanted fish can be very expensive; especially when trying to help out the most children possible. It would mean having to pay huge sums of money to cover transpiration costs from all across the United States, just to help out a few hundred regional children. We would need a team of donation seekers to be able to solicit the funds needed for such an endeavor.

Being a middle man too, can be irresponsible on the part of such a charity... If you are only arranging for the exchange of a pet and not assuring that the fish is healthy and the new owners are appropriate new pet owners, then you are not doing any good at all. The fish that Fish4Kids rescues are all brought back to our store; placed into quarantine; medicated, if necessary; and observed for up to six weeks before we will adopt them out... By the time six weeks are up, we have noticed if the fish has any special dietary requirements; if they need a special environment; and so on. This can't be done if we are just middle men.

Setting up public tanks in schools, museums, etc. is a great idea; and it is part of our plan to do so (with some of the used aquariums that are donated to our charity); but this is not ideal for many autistic children. Autistic children need a quiet place to go to and decompress; not be in a place full of noise, lights, etc.  They also need to know that they are responsible for the fish and tanks placed in public area's not good candidates for an autistic child to do that... For instance; a public aquarium denies an autistic child the ability to study the fish keeping hobby as they are likely to do. They aren't able to explore how altering the filtration system, lighting, and feedings can effect the fish. This means that the aquarium becomes a problem for the child and not a benefit. They have no control over their environment; something they are already lacking.