Fishy tales: experiences of the occupation of keeping fish as pets

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Pet ownership is an occupation that has benefits for human health and wellbeing. However, research on pet ownership mainly addresses the benefits of interactive pets, such as dogs and cats. Some individuals are unable to participate in the occupation of interactive pet ownership and, therefore, may be deprived of the benefits that pets can bring to their lives. This research used a qualitative, phenomenological methodology to explore the ownership of fish as pets.

Data were collected using in-depth semi-structured interviews and were analysed inductively. Nine participants were interviewed and the following themes were identified from the data collected: the reasons for owning fish as pets; the fish environment; caring for fish; and the benefits of owning fish as pets. It was discovered that pet fish ownership is a meaningful occupation that provides purpose and enjoyment in life. The findings of this study suggest that pet fish may be an alternative to interactive pets, and one that therapists can recommend to clients who wish to own a pet.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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