Are you going on vacation and worried about leaving your guppies unattended for a few days? Or perhaps you have a curious toddler who likes to stick his fingers in the tank whenever he sees it. Whatever the reason, I’m here to help! So, how long can guppies go without food?
Ideally, guppies can go up to two weeks without food, but this is far from ideal and depends on several factors. For example, your healthy adult guppies will be able to survive longer without food than your guppy fry, as they have more energy reserves.
In this article, I’ll cover some strategies you can use to ensure that your guppies stay healthy and nourished while you’re away. Let’s dive in!
What Is the Maximum Length of Time Guppies Can Go Without Food?
Guppies can handle 14 days without food. However, this doesn’t mean it’s an ideal situation – you should always aim to feed your fish regularly.
In fact, this period of time is often too long for guppies, as they are very small fish and need to be nourished regularly.
If you have a smaller aquarium or don’t feed your fish enough during the week, your guppies may struggle to stay healthy while you’re away.
Also, remember that guppies are very sensitive to changes in water conditions, such as temperature and oxygen levels.
If your aquarium is not properly maintained while you’re away, your fish may not be able to survive for 2 weeks without proper care.
Further, this period still depends on your guppies’ health, age, and size. If you have a larger aquarium with healthy fish, it is more likely that they will be able to survive that long without food.
How Long Can Baby Guppies Survive Without Food?
If your guppy fry go without food for more than 2 to 3 days, they will likely die. Although conditions could allow them to survive long periods of time between feedings, it generally decreases their chance of surviving.
When you leave your baby guppies for extended periods, you’re risking their growth and development.
Also, this might disrupt their natural feeding patterns, leading to permanent malformation of their digestive system.
How To Prepare a Guppy Aquarium for Short-Term Absence?
Before you leave your guppies unattended, here are some tips to prepare your guppies for this time period:
Leave Them in a Cycled Tank
A cycled tank is a tank that has been running for a few months, allowing the beneficial bacteria to establish themselves.
Thus, any waste your guppies produce in the tank will break down and be absorbed by the bacteria.
Also, remember that uncycled aquariums have a higher risk of ammonia spike poisoning. If you’re unsure whether your aquarium is cycled, you shouldn’t leave before checking your water conditions.
If you discover that your aquarium is not cycled, you should do it before leaving for vacation. To do so, add gravel from an established aquarium or a source of bacteria to the tank.
Then, perform regular aquarium water changes and monitor your water parameters until you see that the aquarium is ready.
Clean/Change Filter Media a Few Days Before Leaving
As your fish consume food in the aquarium, they will also produce waste. This waste gets absorbed into the filter media, so you should clean or change it before leaving for vacation.
Ideally, you want to do this a few days before leaving to ensure the bacteria have time to colonize the new media. Then, when you return from your trip, you can clean out the old media and replace it with the new one.
Use a dedicated aquarium cleaner (such as a siphon or powerhead) to clean the sponge filter or canister filter media. Start with the dirty areas and move towards the clean parts so you don’t disturb bacteria.
Finally, leave your aquarium running while you’re away to ensure that your fish have access to fresh water.
Perform a 50% Water Change
Aside from the usual water changes you perform, you should do a big water change before leaving on vacation.
To perform a big water change, start by calculating the total volume of your aquarium.
Then, use a siphon to remove 50% of that water and replace it with fresh, treated water.
Also, make sure to match the temperature and pH levels of the new water to your aquarium so you don’t shock your fish.
You can test for these parameters with a water test kit and make any adjustments as needed.
Install a Light Timer
When you’re away from home, keeping your aquarium lights on the same schedule can be tough.
This can disrupt your guppies’ normal feeding and sleeping patterns, leading to poor health and growth.
To avoid this issue, you should install a light automatic timer that keeps your aquarium lights on each day.
You should set the timer for about 6-8 hours per day and use the same schedule your fish are used to.
Lower the Water Temperature
This hack will lower your buddies’ metabolism, making it more likely that they can survive longer without food.
If you plan to leave your tank for a couple of weeks, lower the temperature to 72°F instead of keeping it at 78°F.
However, be careful not to lower the temperature too much, as this can negatively impact your guppies’ health.
Also, you should do it gradually, over the course of a few days, so your fish have time to acclimate to the new temperature.
Remove Any Dead Plant Leaves/Fish
Can you imagine living in the same house with your dead relative’s body? How would you feel? How would you be able to live?
This is how your guppies feel when dead plant leaves or dead fish are in the tank. Over time these dead organisms will decompose, leaving harmful chemicals and toxins behind.
Remove dead plant leaves or fish from your aquarium to avoid this issue. Then, clean the tank and replace the filter media according to the guidelines above.
Don’t Overfeed Them!
You might think it would be ideal to leave a bunch of food in the tank before you go away, but this can actually do more harm than good. In fact, your guppies aren’t camels!
Typically, your fish can only eat a limited amount of food before they start to produce excess waste. So, if you leave too much food in the tank, the uneaten food will break down and pollute your aquarium.
To avoid this issue, you can use an automatic feeder, which can dispense food at the same time each day.
Alternatively, you can ask a friend or a neighbor to do feedings for you while you’re away.
Is It Okay to Use an Automatic Fish Feeder on My Vacation?
An automatic fish feeder with a feeding station is perfect if you know you’ll be away from your tank for a long period of time.
Not only can this device dispense freeze-dried/dry food, but it can also be programmed to feed your fish once per day or according to a schedule.
However, one downside to using an automatic fish feeder is that it might not be suitable for all types of fish.
For example, if your guppies are used to receiving live or frozen food on a regular basis, they may struggle with the transition to dry food while you’re away.
Another thing to consider is that it can be difficult to get a consistent flow of food with an automatic feeder.
If one device malfunctions or runs out of food, your guppies may go hungry while you’re away.
Are Vacation Feeders a Good Option?
If you don’t want additional equipment in your guppy tank, vacation feeders could be a viable option.
They are simply pre-packaged slow-release fish food blocks that you can place directly in your tank.
However, the main issue with vacation feeders is that some fish will ignore the food if they don’t enjoy it. If your guppies, for example, are used to eating live or frozen food, they may be less likely to eat the dry food in the feeder.
To avoid this, you can test several commercial vacation feeders to find one your fish are interested in.
Once you find an option that works, you can stock up on these blocks, so you don’t run out while you’re away.
Guppies are robust and hardy fish, making them well-suited for life in an aquarium. However, this doesn’t mean you can neglect or ignore their needs while you’re away.
To ensure that your guppies stay healthy and happy while you’re on vacation, you should follow the tips mentioned above.
These include lowering the water temperature, removing any dead plant leaves or fish from the tank, avoiding overfeeding, and considering using an automatic fish feeder or vacation feeder.
With some preparation, you can ensure that your guppies are well taken care of while you’re away on vacation!
Do you still have any questions about keeping guppies healthy while away? Let us know in the comments below.