A life vest for a fish? Last week, a UK TikToker went viral after making a custom “lifejacket” for his girlfriend’s 23-year-old sick goldfish.
The TikTok video shared by Aidan Cramer has 8.2 million views, with viewers happy that the goldfish has recovered and is “back on its fins” again.
In the video, Cramer explained how, one morning, his girlfriend's goldfish, Sally, "…couldn't get off the bottom of her tank". He then added how he then built "a little life jacket" using a cork and an old bikini string to "…give her some buoyancy".
In the first video, posted on March 12, the goldfish named Sally was seen flapping around at the bottom of a tank, struggling to stay afloat. However, once the life vest was around her, she started to swim upright and picked up speed.
Sally soon returned to swimming normally.
Tiktokers appreciated Cramer for helping the goldfish.
TikTok user @sailorrich commented: “That’s the best thing I’ve seen all day.”
And, TikToker Feli Ann replied: “As an owner of four goldfish… this really warms my heart.”
Many could not believe that the goldfish was 23 years old.
“No shot this goldfish is older than me, I refuse to believe I’m not older than every goldfish on the planet,” wrote Logan Anderson
And a user named Terry wrote: “There's no way that's 23 years old.”
To which, user @lil_willow replied: “Very possible. I won a goldfish as a child… I was around six or seven... It died when I was 27. Looked after, they last years.”
Some TikTokers pointed out that the goldfish had a ‘swim bladder’, a condition that commonly affects goldfish. Some suggested giving Sally some boiled peas, to "clear out their digestive tract", a few times.
TikTok user @WarriorLouise wrote: “My mum had a fish that was 20 when it used to go to the bottom like that she would give it frozen peas, and the next day [it would be] back to normal.”
Cramer explained that they had tried this trick previously with Sally and it had worked, but stopped working for the goldfish in her "old age". So, he resorted to the latest measure of making a life jacket.
In a later video, he illustrated how he had made the life jacket using a drawing.
To users who were concerned about how small Sally’s tank looked, he clarified that it was a, “…holding tank, where we put sick fish, so we can treat them and try and get them better.”
In a 2017 article on PetMD.com, a veterinary resource website, Jessie M. Sanders, an aquatic veterinarian explained that the swim bladder helps maintain "neutral buoyancy at the fish's desired depth”.
The swim bladder is "very significant in the overall health of fish," said Sanders.
“In addition to aiding posture and swimming ability, some fish use their swim bladder for sound production and detection. This organ is very significant in the overall health of fish. However, it is not exempt from disease and dysfunction,” he explained.
Due to their round body shape, and in the case of some fancy varieties, a very curved spine, swim bladder disorders are not uncommon, he added.
“Many contributing factors can cause swim bladder disorders. One of the most overlooked components is water quality. Poor water quality can result in sudden and chronic stress in fish. Stress causes disruption in regular homeostasis, which can result in negative or positive buoyancy disorders. If your fish presents with a buoyancy disorder, water quality should be checked immediately and corrected if necessary,” according to Sanders.
However, the aquatic expert recommended that owners discuss their options with a veterinarian before attempting buoyancy compensation devices, such as floats or weights. “Tying foreign structures to a fish’s body can have catastrophic effects on its skin and mucus production. Any sort of external device will not provide a long-term cure,” he explained.