Aquarium Manager Who Designed Goldfish Wheelchair Needs to Name Him
The common household variety goldfish that we buy in a pet store usually meets its end at the bottom of a toilet bowl when it exhibits unhealthy behavior such as not swimming around, or not going after its food at the top of the tank. That’s why the story of the Ranchu Goldfish that got a second chance — after aquarium manager Derek Burnett of Aquarium Designs in San Antonio, Texas fashioned a wheelchair — is causing somewhat of a tidal wave across the internet.
Ranchu Goldfish, known as the “king of goldfish” by the Japanese. are generally considered to be among the less hardy of goldfish types. They require a more experienced aquarist to maintain their rather delicate health. Their lifespan ranges from 15-20 years — but they are high maintenance. This fish is often inbred, leading to genetically weak specimens.
One such Ranchu Goldfish was exhibiting swimming issues when it was brought into Aquarium Designs by a woman who was not able to care for it any longer. The fish found a savior in Burnett – who has a background in marine biology – when he took it upon himself to help.
“Unfortunately there was one little goldfish that couldn’t seem to keep himself upright. He was stuck on the bottom upside down,” Burnett told San Antonio television station WCSH.
The prognosis — the fish had a permanent bladder disorder and couldn’t float like the rest.
Burnett engineered a rig that would enable the fish to float. His friend Taylor Nicole Dean — who is a “full time pet mom” and YouTube videographer — took to Twitter on March 10 to announce his contraption.
“My friend made a wheelchair for a goldfish,” she tweeted — which rippled throughout the viral community with 27,660 retweets and 78,909 likes.
My friend made a wheelchair for a goldfish pic.twitter.com/QghXTY7rme
— Taylor Nicole Dean (@taylorndean) March 10, 2017
“I just started messing with some things and tinkering with different items and troubleshooting, and came up with the wheelchair that became famous. The goldfish wheelchair!” Burnett told WCSH.
He used scraps from around the store such as airline tubing connectors, plant weights and zip ties to hold it down, while the styrofoam top acted as a floating device. His goldfish wheelchair did the trick as the Ranchu responded well.
“[The fish] went from being upset, stuck on the bottom to be swimming around and zipping around,” Burnett told WCSH. “His tail got to going super fast. This is the happiest I’ve seen him since we’ve had him in our possession.”
Burnett — who virtually had no prior presence on social media — embraced his responsibilities by opening up accounts on Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness for other Ranchu owners with a similar plight.
He tweeted, “Out of all the love and support for my brave little ranchu goldfish I started a page to provide updates and help others with similar issues.”
His Facebook account bares the goldfish as his profile picture.
One of Burnett’s first tweets show the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures. For ‘before’ he posted a video and tweeted: “This is how wheelchair goldfish used to spend his days. Wanted everyone to see how much of an improvement his quality of life is now.”
This is how wheelchair goldfish used to spend his days. Wanted everyone to see how much of an improvement his quality of life is now. pic.twitter.com/jKB8I6uvzS
— Derek Burnett (@DerekDaFishDude) March 18, 2017
Even though his invention seemed to be working swimmingly, Derek Burnett decided to make a few changes. The newly fashioned ‘wheelchair’ now looks like a more humane gauze sling.
He tweeted, “Original wheelchair and his recent upgrade for those who haven’t seen yet. He’s getting a tank upgrade today so more pics and videos coming”
Original wheelchair and his recent upgrade for those who haven't seen yet. He's getting a tank upgrade today so more pics and videos coming pic.twitter.com/Zhp5INIDuH
— Derek Burnett (@DerekDaFishDude) March 17, 2017
The only thing left now for Derek Burnett is to give the wheelchair goldfish a dignified name. San Antonio television station KENS started a naming campaign on Facebook on March 15. Aside from the obvious, “Dori,” — the top suggestions so far have been — “SteFINHawking, Wheelie, Lightning McFin and Professor Xavier.”
If you have any suggestions, you can tweet them to Derek Burnett @DerekDaFishDude.