Texas Goldfish with Swim Bladder Disease Gets Little Wheelchair and the Internet Cannot Handle

Posted by Stacey Venzel

A custom wheelchair turned this goldfish into an international celebrity.

There is hope for the world, and it comes in the form of a handicapped goldfish.

A ranchu goldfish in San Antonio, Texas was struggling to swim to the surface when Derek Burnett came to the rescue. Burnett is friends with 19-year-old YouTube sensation Taylor Dean, who tweeted the viral photo of the goldfish in his wheelchair.

Five months ago, the fish started hanging out at the bottom of its tank. His fins, too, began to atrophy. Burnett, who adopted the orange and white water dweller, set his creative skills to work.

Fish essentially have a built-in SCUBA tank called a swim bladder, which controls their buoyancy. Swim bladder disease occurs when they lose the ability to control the uptake and release of air.

Diet is a leading cause of swim bladder disease--which is actually not a disease, as the name implies. Therefore, it is not contagious. Addressing dietary needs can often improve the fish's situation. Other times, a custom-made wheelchair does the trick.

Burnett first fitted airline tubing around the goldfish. Then, he changed out various sizes of styrofoam until it was just the right amount to allow the little guy to reach the surface.

"Wheelchair goldfish," as the Internet named him, has had numerous improvements to his underwater cart since its debut two weeks ago. Previously, he spent his days tilted in the bottom corner of his tank.

However, because it has been so long since the fish was able to swim properly, he needs to slowly build up muscle. In time, he should be cruising like a champ. All of cyberspace anxiously awaits.

When "wheelchair goldfish" debuted to the world, the Internet was, understandably, overwhelmed.

He became a news sensation:

Hearts around the globe melted:

He even became an artistic muse:

Dean's channel, which has over 320,000 subscribers, aims to educate people on animals. She has quite the menagerie of unique pets, from hedgehogs to seahorses, geckos to axolotls. Dean is currently majoring in marine biology and zoology.

"Wheelchair goldfish" is currently seeking name suggestions, which can be tweeted to @derekdafishdude. According to Burnett, Lieutenant Dan and David Buoy are rallying for the win.

Do you know of a handicapped animal whose heartwarming story needs to be told? Share with us in the comments below!

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Texas Goldfish with Swim Bladder Disease Gets Little Wheelchair and the Internet Cannot Handle