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Feeding & caring for your fish while on vacation

June 26, 2016
feeding fish while on vacation

It doesn’t matter whether you’re just going away for the weekend or leaving the country for a month, if you’re a fishkeeper your aquarium is always one of the things you have to think about before leaving. How are you going to keep your fish fed and water values in check?

Keep reading for everything you need to know about feeding and caring for your fish while you’re on vacation!

Feeding

Even if you won’t be there in person, there is no reason to worry about your fish starving while you’re away if you’re well prepared. There are a few great options to keep them healthy and happy. Just keep in mind that you may want to feed a bit less than you usually would to minimize the bioload of your fish, the chance of sudden ammonia spikes and food rotting away.

Note: Weekend/vacation fish food “blocks” are unnecessary and can be dangerous. They can really affect water quality and some fish aren’t even interested in them. The options listed below are a much safer idea.

  • Automatic feeders. The first and probably the best option is installing an automatic feeder like the one pictured to the side. While this is not always cheap, if you invest in a quality feeder you won’t have to worry about feeding ever again while you’re away. Just fill it up, set the times you want it to feed and you’re all done! Eheim has an automatic fish feeder with great reviews.

  • Fish sitter. If you’re away for more than a few days, you should always have someone come in once in a while to check whether everything is still okay and your fish aren’t upside down. If you don’t have an automatic feeder you can also ask this person to feed your fish.Because most non-aquarists tend to overfeed, be sure to leave detailed instructions. I prefer using pill boxes and putting the correct portions of food in there and I also leave a note explaining when the fish should be fed, my phone number and what other things they should check (automatic feeder not jammed, temperature still correct, etc.).
  • Don’t feed. Most fish can go for up to 14 days without feeding without any issues, so if you’re only going away for a short period of time you can consider not feeding at all. If your fish are healthy and well-fed this is the best method because it minimizes the risks of anything going wrong with your fish sitter as well as the chance of ammonia spikes or rotting food.

Before you go

  • Set an automatic timer for your lights. Your fish and plants won’t really appreciate being in the dark or light 24/7, so you’ll need to regulate that when you’re gone. These timers also come in handy on days where you’re just home very late and are not expensive at all.
  • Talk to your fish sitter. If someone will be looking after your fish, explain the feeding schedule and everything else you feel they need to know. If you’re going away during the summer months and your aquarium temperature may become dangerously high, let them know which steps they should take to prevent fish deaths. This article contains a list of six methods to cool an overheating aquarium down.If your fish sitter will be performing water changes or aquarium maintenance while you’re away, be sure to have them come over beforehand so you can show them how to do it! I also like to leave them a note with everything they need to know, just in case.
  • Do a water change. Don’t overdo it; a sudden large water change may mess with your cycle, which is the last thing you want before going away. Just do a regular water change and tank maintenance as you usually would.
  • Last minute check-up. Before you go, check everything that may be of importance. Do a water test, check the temperature, check whether all equipment (including your automatic feeder and timer) is working as it should and take a good look at your fish to make sure they’re all healthy.

If you follow these steps, your fish should be absolutely fine when you come back after a long or short vacation. Just do a water change and another check-up as soon as you get home and slowly return to the regular feeding routine! If there has been unexpected fish death, equipment malfunction or another problem, keep a very close eye on the tank and water values to prevent things from escalating.


If you have any more questions about caring for and feeding your fish while you’re away on vacation or if you want to share more tips, be sure to leave a comment below. Happy fishkeeping!

Cover photo: IMG_7146 by Matthew Stinson


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2 Comments

  • Reply Chris August 1, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    Super article Mari, some great info in there! We included it here in our monthly betta roundup: http://www.bettaboxx.com/bettaboxx-july-roundup/

    • Reply Mari August 2, 2016 at 11:48 am

      Thanks a lot!

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