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These 'Wheelchairs' Help Goldfish Swim Upright And It's Actually Life-Saving

No matter what kind of pet people decide is right for them, the work of taking care of it will likely come with some hurdles.

Whether this has to do with how they were bred, how they were kept, or just the kind of trouble they get themselves into, it's not unusual for them to eventually have some health issues to deal with.

And although we may focus more on land animals that go through these problems, it's true that fish can get sick too. And sometimes, that sickness can mean the difference between life and death for them.

Fortunately, there may be a fairly simple solution for one of their most common, and most dangerous ailments.

Henry Kim of Seoul, South Korea is about as passionate about his fish as he is about his career as a fashion designer.

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As The Daily Mail reported, he has over 20 goldfish in three different tanks throughout his house.

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Unfortunately, he noticed that many of these fish were prone to dying due to swim bladder disorder.

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According to The Smithsonian, this is a blanket term for the various issues that can affect the swim bladder, a gas-filled sack connected to the esophagus that controls a fish's swimming patterns.

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If something disrupts the health of this bladder, a fish can end up floating at the top of the tank, swimming upside down, or tilting to one side.

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All of these can eventually spell doom for the fish and it's surprisingly easy for them to develop.

For instance, feeding fish pellets can contribute a lot to swim bladder disorder, as they're low in fiber and cause constipation, which can put pressure on the swim bladder.

Not only that, but the fact that these pellets tend to float at the surface, which means fish have to take in more air to eat them, which then inflates the swim bladder.

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Another problem is if a fish isn't in a clean, well-maintained tank, that can cause a bacterial infection that affects the swim bladder.

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As Kim told The Daily Mail, swim bladder disease commonly affects fish imported to South Korea from China and Thailand, which suggests that these fish may not have lived in water of adequate quality before they came to him.

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Normally, fish with swim bladder disease only live for a couple of months.

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However, after researching the issue and mixing together information he gleaned from different tutorials, Kim was able to use some plastic components to construct a "wheelchair" that corrects a fish's buoyancy and balance.

As a result, one of his fish has already lived to be five months old.

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And Kim isn't the first person to use this technique effectively.

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As The Smithsonian reported, an aquarium employee who goes by "Derek" used airline tubing and a piece of Styrofoam to make a similar "chair" back in 2017.

As 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."

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At the time, Marine Biologist Catherine McClave had some concerns about the chair's potential side effects.

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She told The Smithsonian that it had the potential to chafe the fish's skin, which would then open it up to whatever bacteria is lurking in the water and cause a systemic infection.

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However, Derek hadn't noticed any abrasions on the fish while conducting his daily checks.

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He also said he's stop using it if he had and added that changing the fish's diet and giving it medication hadn't worked before he came up with the chair.

Indeed, it seems that both Derek and Kim found a way to safely keep their fish upright and improve their lifespans.

h/t: The Daily Mail, The Smithsonian

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