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What to do with your aquarium while on holiday

Introduction

Holidays are booked; everything is packed but what about the aquarium? How will the fish cope without food, water changes? This is a problem that all fish keepers face every time that they go away on vacation, in some cases it becomes such a worry that several keepers will not even consider leaving the tank while they are on vacation.

If everything is organized properly it is not a problem keeping the tank in order, feeding the fish etc. so a vacation need not be avoided. While you are away the last thing you need is to be worrying about your aquarium all of the time.

The main concern that most keepers have is worrying that the fish will not be fed and will suffer because of this. Let me give you some facts about fish feeding that many people do not realize.

Fish do not need to be fed every day, even while keepers are at home tending the tanks themselves, one day of the week is set aside for not giving the fish any food so that it will aid the fish to clear out their digestive systems, this does work, even when we are careful about how much food we feed the fish we are often giving them more than they need without realizing it. Fish can actually survive without food for a long time, even up to three weeks if necessary, no ill effects are incurred, in fact it will reduce the amount of waste and uneaten food lying about in the tank. This will actually have a beneficial effect on the tank in general.

How do I feed my fish while I am on holiday?

If you don’t fancy the idea of leaving your fish for a week without food then there are a couple of solutions that can be used. Ask a relative or neighbor to pop around to the house and feed the fish for you. Show them how much food to add for a couple of days so that they now what they are doing, another solution is to pre measure the food into small containers and mark them up with the day that they are to be added to the tank. It may seem an obvious idea but there are many people who wouldn’t think of doing it. Frozen food does not create the same problem as you can leave a list of how many cubes to add and on which day, while you are away it might be a good idea just to let your tank sitter give flake or pellet food-just in case!

Automatic food dispensers are available to buy, these simply clip onto the tank and when they have been filled with the appropriate dry foods (never add live foods to these), every meal is then catered for. They normally run on battery power and can be set to give one meal per day or several meals per day. I think these are a very good item to have on hand even if not needed straight away; there may be a time when you just cannot get a tank sitter. There are some keepers who use these feeders all of the time, especially if they have busy lifestyles and wish to set up a regular feeding regime for the fish.

Water changes are not so much of a problem as feeding the fish but it is still important to try to keep the water quality as high as possible while you are away. As with the feeding, show your tank sitter how to perform a mid week water change if required, show them a couple of times and let them do one while you are there, this way you can be sure that they have understood your instructions.

Yet again if you cannot get a tank sitter, water changes are not such a large problem to overcome. With my discus tank I normally change 10 % of the water daily. Obviously I would not expect a tank sitter to perform that many water changes, so in preparation for me leaving, the day before the vacation I do a 25% water change so that the water quality is high initially. I prepare more of my water mix in a barrel so that all the tank sitter has to do is top up the tank if required as there will be evaporation occurring while I am away. All of the filters in my set up get a good rinse out and the media rinsed in old tank water so that I know there is no danger of the filters clogging in my absence. Upon return from my vacation I always perform a large water change, up to 50%, just to bring my water parameters back into line.

Lighting is required as a must for planted tanks and reef aquariums. Most keepers will have their lighting on timers to switch the units on and off at the correct time of day. If these are not fitted them you have to rely on your tank sitter to manually do the job for you. Timers are to me a must not as luxury and its one aspect less to worry about. The basic plug in models can be purchased for a relatively cheap price and are very easy to set. Once in place they will do their job and can be forgotten about, unless there is a power cut of course, then they will need re-setting to work correctly.

In most cases the appointed tank sitter will enjoy looking after your tank, they have taken in everything you have told them but as a last precaution there are still a couple of things you need to do:-

  • I always leave a checklist attached to the front of the tank so that the sitter has a reference to check with.
  • I always leave my contact no. on the checklist just in case there is an unforeseeable breakdown that they have to deal with, so that I can talk them through it.
  • I always praise and thank them when I arrive back for their help.
  • I never automatically assume the tank sitter has done something wrong if there is a casualty in the tank, there are many reasons why this could have happened.

And the last thing to add is “Happy Holidays”.

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