Dean said a customer of Derek’s recently brought in their pet goldfish that was suffering from swim bladder disease, a disorder that prevents a goldfish from controlling its buoyancy in the water.
The swim bladder is essentially an organ helps the fish stay stable in water. When the bladder is deformed or affected/infected — by bacteria or parasites, for example — the goldfish loses its floatation stability. This can cause it to float to the top of the water, swim upside-down, or have a heavy lean toward one side.
According to Derek, this particular goldfish had an incurable swim bladder problem that prevented it from holding itself upright, and made it permanently stuck at the bottom of its tank.
After diet adjustments and water treatments were ineffective, Derek decided to try something else so the little guy could cope. He created a one-of-a-kind “goldfish wheelchair.”
Derek explained to BuzzFeed News how he engineered the “wheelchair”:
“I got some airline tubing that people usually use in their tank and just placed it around the goldfish. I added some valves to the bottom of it, which acted as a ‘chair’ to prop him up. I added weights to the bottom of the ‘chair’ and something to keep him afloat on top (styrofoam), and slowly removed pieces until I achieved just the right buoyancy to make it easy for him to swim around without feeling like he’s dragging around a chair.”
“The bottom weight is almost equal to the pull on top so it works quite well for him!” he added.
“Think of goldfish as the pugs of the fish world,” Derek said. “Pugs have unique features due to the way they were bred, but it also causes them a lot of medical problems — same with goldfish!”
Dean told BuzzFeed News that after Derek texted her about this crafty solution, she knew she had to share it with the world. “I’ve worked with several injured fish but him going out of his way to help this fish was just precious,” she said.
“To people who aren’t well-practiced in the aquarium hobby, they’d never imagine to see a fish in a wheelchair!” she said.
Dean’s tweet has over 21,000 retweets so far.