If you’re going on a vacation, are your fish going to be OK while you’re gone? If you take the time to prepare ahead of time, your prized fish should be fine for several days or up to a week or two.
First, keep up with monthly maintenance of regular water changes and filter cartridge changes. It is important to keep the fish tank in its best possible shape before leaving it unattended for an extended period of time. It is also very important to keep the good bacteria working hard to eliminate buildup in ammonia and nitrites. If something goes wrong while you’re away, the life of your fish will depend on the good bacteria. Remember to check the temperature of the tank daily for any fluctuations—you don’t want to come home to a tank of frozen fish!
OK, you’ve done the regular maintenance—you’ve checked the temperature, filter and water chemistry—everything looks good. Now what do your fish eat while you are gone? The best thing to give them is what they are already used to eating (regular flakes and frozen food). If it is not possible to give them frozen foods while you are gone, have someone come by. Some fish only eat frozen or live foods. If your fish are frozen food lovers, them make friends with the neighbors or ask a relative who can stop by to feed them. It is best to portion the exact amount of food for your fish sitter to feed while you are out. Try putting the amount of food in a small piece of aluminum foil or individual cups so that your fish won’t be overfed. Your fish would be better off underfed than overfed. Too much food equals too much ammonia!
For flake food eaters, there are several choices. First, there are automatic feeders that dispense the same kinds of food. There are several different models, consisting of both battery and electric. They allow two or more feedings a day for two weeks or longer. Some models allow exact portions for each meal. The settings on these feeders should be set to slightly underfeed rather than overfeed the fish. The second choice for flak food eaters are dissolving food blocks. We call them “vacation banquets.” The blocks of food slowly dissolve, releasing flakes into the aquarium for the fish to eat. There are several types and sizes. Come and see us to choose the right one. Some last from three to four days, others for one week, and still others are good for two weeks. When using the banquet blocks, we suggest you do a small water change after you return. This helps to remove the white powder that the blocks may leave behind in the tank.
Another important item to have in the tank while you are gone is some live plants. They will help in keeping the water clean, produce oxygen, and provide as another source of food for your fish. So you see, with the proper care, your fish will enjoy your time away as much you will. Relax and enjoy your vacation!
Courtesy of Congressional Aquarium