This is Taylor Nicole Dean from Texas. She is 19 years old and she makes educational videos about caring for her exotic pets, which range from tropical fish to reptiles and hedgehogs. She’s quite popular on Twitter, with 64,5000 followers.
But she probably gained a couple thousand more after one of her tweets about a goldfish went viral.
Taylor’s friend Derek, 20, works at a local aquarium in Texas. A customer brought in a fish who had trouble floating and Derek made a custom wheelchair for the little fish. After Taylor tweeted the photo of the fish, it was shared 28,000 times and liked 79,000 times.
Usually when your fish goes belly up, it’s time for their trip down the porcelain drain to heaven. But sometimes a disorder, called swim bladder disease, can cause fish to lose control of their buoyancy. It occurs when the bladder is deformed or infected by parasites. That’s why Derek’s fish needed his help.
This was the first wheelchair Derek made for the goldfish.
“A customer brought in a goldfish with a permanent bladder disorder so I made him a custom wheelchair and he loves it. Wasn’t able to hold himself up right and was stuck on the bottom,” Derek texted Taylor. “Not anymore! Thought u would get a kick out of it.”
In this video, you can see how Derek gets the wheelchair on the goldfish. The fish seemed to know that Derek was approaching and swam up to the surface to get ready to be harnessed in. The whole process took about five seconds and the little fish was ready to go.
This is how Derek made the first wheelchair, as he explained to Buzzfeed News:
“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.”
For the second chair, it looks like he replaced the tubing with a weighted-mesh, so it could be wrapped more comfortably around the goldfish.
While Derek’s idea was brilliant, it wasn’t completely unheard of. There have been other people who created “wheelchairs” for their aquatic friends. About a year ago, this Reddit user posted his simpler version of a wheelchair for his goldfish.
When Einstein from Blackpool, England got swim bladder disease, his owner wasn’t going to leave him hanging (well, that’s what he helped him do). Back in 2013, his then 32-year-old owner, Leighton Naylor, came up with a pretty elaborate wheelchair for him.
Einstein’s owner clearly really loved him and didn’t want to see him suffer.
“Einstein’s been suffering with ill health on and off for about two years,” Leighton Naylor told The Daily Mail. “He’s always been a fighter so when he sunk to the bottom one day and couldn’t get back up again it was a very sorry sight. It broke my heart to see him so helpless. He looked so depressed.”
It took Leighton three hours to make Einstein’s chair. Einstein was a bit hesitant about the whole thing at first, but after Leighton moved the plants in the aquarium around to be “disability friendly," Einstein was much happier.
The wheelchair Leighton used works great, but it keeps Einstein from feeding from the surface of the water. To counteract this, Leighton feeds Einstein through a straw.