There’s something fishy about this ward, but the patients think it’s fin-tastic.
Registered nurse Joseph Toussaint has proven himself a skilled carer for humans and aquatic creatures alike, supplying and maintaining a spectacular six-foot, 400-litre tank home to more than 70 exotic, colourful fish in Blacktown Hospital’s Bungarribee House.
Many patients in his care have schizophrenia, psychosis or are manic, and Joseph said the fish can have a positive impact.
“I’ve always liked having a fish tank filled with colourful fish – it has a calming effect on people with their memorising gracious movements weaving throughout the tank.
“Maintaining a clean, healthy, visually impressive fish tank is not easy. The secret is adequate filtration and not to clean the filter using tap water.
“Some of our patients help change the water and keep the tank clean – they also like to feed the fish but I need to remind them they don’t require too much food. I prefer to oversee feeding the fish as someone once thought the fish would like some pizza!” Joseph said.
Joseph started work at Bungaribee House in April last year and has already left a lasting impression with the popularity of this underwater world.
Most of the tropical fish and accessories he has supplied from his own personal collection of striking colourful African Cichlids.
“Some people just sit in front of it watching them for hours,” he said.
“Tropical fish are fussy and can be difficult to keep alive. They can be an expensive and time consuming hobby for some people but they are worth it. I’m always happy to give advice to anyone who’s interested.”
Joseph is delighted the fish bring people so much joy and feel at ease, and even admits to slight tank envy.
“I’ve got a tank at home but it’s not as big as this – I would love to have one this size but just do not have the room for a six-foot fish tank at home.”
Bungarribee House patients, visitors and staff are grateful for this aquatic wonderland. If anyone is interested in donating any fish or supplies to the unit, please contact WSLHD-CorporateComms@health.nsw.gov.au