Let’s be honest — most people faced with the prospect of nursing a poorly pet goldfish back to health might first think of heading straight for the toilet with plans for a full-flush send-off.
Not US aquarium worker Derek, who has become a global internet hero after pictures emerged on Twitter of the tiny ‘wheelchair’ he made for a fish suffering from swim bladder disease.
The disease, also called flipover, is common among aquarium fish and affects their ability to control their own buoyancy and stay at depth without wasting vital energy.
A fish with swim bladder disease can float nose down, tail up, or can float to the top or sink to the bottom of the aquarium.
The pictures of the fish in the ‘wheelchair’ were shared by Derek’s friend Taylor Dean.
Derek told Buzzfeed News that the fish could not hold itself upright, and was permanently stuck at the bottom of the tank.
“I got some airline tubing that people usually use in their tank and just placed it around the goldfish,” he said.
“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.”
Derek added: “Think of goldfish as the pugs of the fish world. Pugs have unique features due to the way they were bred, but it also causes them a lot of medical problems — same with goldfish.”
Clearly a friend to creatures great, and small. Derek, we salute you.