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What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

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What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by alexmtl on Sun Jul 05, 2015 5:45 pm

What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Its summer time, at least for a few weeks now in July, and many of us will be taking the time away from our homes to go on vacation/ a family trip/ some time away to refresh. Well whatever you are doing, what do you do when you decide to get away ?

Do you have some one feed your fish ? Maybe a friend or a club member. Perhaps a relative whom you have given sufficient schooling on how to feed your treasures. Maybe a neighbour.

Do you use vacation food blocks ? I saw a 7 day block at the LFS today. I have never used them. When I was young and we had an infamous goldfish bowl, I remember my Dad dropping a copious amount of food to ensure that the poor fella had enough to eat.

Do you have automated feeding timers ? If you can afford them and get enough of them for all your tanks, they may help to make a difference for long term trips away. Have you been successful in finding one that meet your needs ?

For breeders, what do you do with your prized fish ? How do you manage the more delicate and fussy eaters ?

It would be great to see what options you are considering and have had success with. Ultimately the best is to have an informed and knowledgeable "tank sitter", but for some of us, that is not an option. Looking forward to your replies and hints on what you can do to calm the worries while away.
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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by Shell on Sun Jul 05, 2015 7:18 pm

All of our tanks have timers for lights. Blue lights come on first, then brights (with the exception of the smaller tanks, only brights come on, but the lights are up very high). This is important for our planted tanks. Blue lights just make a nice transition from dark to light! 

As for feeding, I have heard positive feedback on the food blocks, just never trusted them! So, my father-in-law usually feeds the fish once every day or two while we are away. I put food in pill boxes from the dollar store for each tank, enough for each day we are away!

Another important point is to tell the fish sitter to wash hands (no soap) in between feeding tanks! 

We have only done this twice - we don't go away for a long length of time too often!

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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by GaryE on Mon Jul 06, 2015 6:03 am

I don't usually get away for more than a week or so. So for me, with multiple tanks, I feed twice a day for a week or two before the trip. I do water changes within a day or two of leaving. I turn off most of the lights (they are on timers) and I leave.

When I return, the fish are great, the fry have grown and that's all. If you have plants, lightly stocked tanks and healthy fish, a week is nothing to them. If your tank isn't overstocked, there is a lot of food in the plants that we don't see. Fish can be tuned in to a world of micro-organism we don't see with our big mammal eyes, and if a tank isn't a bare, sterile dead environment, there is enough in there to keep them going for 10 days without any weight loss, and up to 2 weeks without problems. At 3 weeks, apparently things do downhill fast. I have never gone anywhere near that.
Fish do react to the change in diet - very often, they will spawn in the week after you return, on what I suspect is a 'let's populate the world quickly in case of famine' urge. So it isn't ideal, but in the natural swing of things, when you read of fish stomach content analysis during scientific studies in the wild, they are often pretty well empty. They can survive and thrive on a lot less food than we give them.
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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by vince0 on Mon Jul 06, 2015 7:06 am

Gary,

I will be trying your method for the first time this year. I am in the process of reducing stocking levels for a trip in the fall. I didn't think about turning off the lights, that's a good tip.
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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by Biulu on Mon Jul 06, 2015 9:35 am

I have used both automatic feeders and fish sitters. And most of the times I lose fish but then I am away for a month or more.

Automatic feeders seem more reliable but cannot be used for fry as you would drop too much food into the tank.

Personally I think that the lack of water changes during these long periods do my fish in together with a generous feeding. The generous feeding wouldn't be a problem with weekly water changes, but they do become a problem without them.

My lights are already on timers anyway and the only thing I do is lower the light period to 4 hours/day instead of the 6 to 7 that they get normally.
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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by Sbenson11 on Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:13 am

For me it's a three member team effort to look after our zoo...

We have one person that comes by and looks after everything inside the house. Which involves feeding the dog, and taking her for a walk. Feeding the cat, rabbit, Chinchilla, turtles, etc. We will usually have the first few days prepared, but they have to cut up lettuce, tomatoes, etc. For dried foods we will have ziplock bags measured out for each pet for each day. Frozen food will be in the freezer the same way.

We have another person who comes by later in the day and feeds the pond fish (all premeasured in ziplock bags)and takes the dog for another walk. He will also do a water change in the ponds after the first week.

The tanks at work are handled by someone there. Once again the food is all premeasured in ziplock bags for two feedings per day. There is also a schedule for water changes. These tanks are fairly densely populated so there is a water change scheduled for ever two days.  

I leave very detailed instructions as to how to do things and I have them printed, laminated and posted next to each tank/cage/pond. I have have a frightening amount of money invested in my fish and it has to be done right.

We are usually only gone for a few days at a time, but in August we go on a family vacation and we are gone for up to three weeks.

Steve
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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by Biulu on Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:24 am

In your case Steve @Sbenson11, but also in mine, maybe we should set up a similar service as the 'house exchange' but then include the fish care.

It has become very popular to change house/apartment for the holidays. So, you find people that are interested to have a holiday in your area while you go want to holiday in their area.

You agree on the dates and exchange houses. Sometimes there is even a third party involved in the case you are more interested to go somewhere else.

Maybe we should do something similar between us fish lovers; we get to see other parts of the country and we ensure a good care of our fish while away on holiday!
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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by fish lady on Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:53 am

i have someone come in and look after my fish feeding and WC as well as the dogs and snakes how ever i never leave if i have betta fry so the breeding is worked around now i dont often go anywhere
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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by Fishypastor on Mon Jul 06, 2015 11:17 am

I'm going away in August for 2 weeks and with my planted tanks all I will be doing is reducing the lighting. With my other two tanks I will be reducing the stock (giving some fish away) and using one of those 2 week plop in gel feeder thingamabobs.
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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by CAAIndie on Mon Jul 06, 2015 1:49 pm

I have a lighting timer that I run, so I don't need to worry about that. If I am gone for a weekend, I don't worry about the tank. If I'm gone for more than a few days, I usually have someone come in and feed them every other, or every third day. If I've gone further, I've had family come in an do a little water change. Smile

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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by cephalotus on Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:57 pm

I am never usually gone for more than a few days at a time. All the lights are on timers and I'm lucky enough to have a long term roomie who is familiar and willing to keep up with my pet feeding routines (cats, fish, AND herps). He hardly ever goes anywhere lol so is pretty reliable. I haven't ever been gone for long enough for litter boxes, tank cleaning, or water changes to be an issue.
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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by alexmtl on Mon Jul 06, 2015 4:50 pm

In the ideal world, someone to tank sit is perfect. I pre measure the flake food into Dollar store baggies and tape the supply to the tank, that way there is no confusion into what goes into which tank.

TIMERS
I have all my tanks on timers so lighting is not a issue. I do however check the light bulbs and make sure that both bulbs are working so that no tank is without light. Floating plants seem to suffer if they do not have the lighting. The only thing that would create an issue is a long term power failure. While lighting is no too much trouble, I hope that an 8 hour failure and the subsequent mistiming in the middle of the night does not give thieves an indication that someone is not home.

WATER CHANGE
Of course, I have at least a 25% water change the same day that I am leaving. Makes for a busy day but that extra day may make a difference for extended periods of time. Water levels are always topped up and check for air line issues, making sure that if the airline becomes detached that there is no opportunity for a slow siphon.

PLANT TRIMMING / ALGAE CONTROL
Another check to make sure that algae is kept a bay. Even two weeks is enough to promote overgrowth. Plants should be checked and for certain delicate ones, perhaps move to another tank if in danger of fish feeding on them.

HEATERS
All my heaters are currently unplugged as it is summer and the house temperature is fine. In the winter I hope that there is no long term power outage, and pray that there is no catastrophic heater malfunction. I have four controllers in that case but they do not cover all my tanks.

AUTOMATIC FEEDERS
I have four automatic feeders which meant that I had to consolidate all my livestock into four tanks. This takes a bit of decision making and sadly not all make it through with the pairings. In the best case, I would have automatic feeders for all the tanks; I just was not able to get enough in time. More on my automatic feeders in another post.

STOCK DISTRIBUTION
If I have some prize fish I put a few in each tank, hoping that all will make it through, reducing the risk of a complete die out should one tank malfunction. This may not be a strategy that you may wish to employ, but for me it has worked. Others have sent their fish away to other hobbyists, or even put some into the backyard pond / outdoors. There are probably several strategies to use to ensure that you do not lose stock.

Recently I was away for a few weeks so I had to map out what to do. Last winter I had to move my tanks into the garage and I really had to think how I can automate as much as possible while being remote and with infrequent access.
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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by GaryE on Tue Jul 07, 2015 5:12 am

If, Like Alex, I had to leave for several weeks on a regular basis, I'd be in trouble. I'd certainly have to keep different fish and scale back. I have a friend who sometimes travels for extended periods, but I go in a couple of times a week and take care of the fish. They only NEED to be fed every second or third day, as long as that doesn't become a pattern that repeats too often.


I think more in terms of a week or so away. I have a fishtank in my class. I visit it once a week or so and it runs with an electric feeder. The fish did extremely well last summer, and seem to be fine this one. They are barely visited for 6 weeks.
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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by alexmtl on Tue Jul 07, 2015 6:47 am

@GaryE wrote:If, Like Alex, I had to leave for several weeks on a regular basis, I'd be in trouble. I'd certainly have to keep different fish and scale back. I have a friend who sometimes travels for extended periods, but I go in a couple of times a week and take care of the fish. They only NEED to be fed every second or third day, as long as that doesn't become a pattern that repeats too often.


I think more in terms of a week or so away. I have a fishtank in my class. I visit it once a week or so and it runs with an electric feeder. The fish did extremely well last summer, and seem to be fine this one. They are barely visited for 6 weeks.

Three days is an easy time away as most fish can take the lack of food. Going away for two weeks or more means losses and hoping for the best. I agree with Gary that most fish only NEED to feed every two or three days, especially since we as hobbyists tend to overfeed and pamper our pets.

The critical part is feeding. While you can condition your fish to somewhat build up food reserves in their body, at some point they have to eat. I began to look int electric feeders last year and I was not completely convinced that they work satisfactorily for what I needed. Aside from that what I saw in the pet stores was quire expensive, or more than what I wanted to pay out. Besides, I needed not just one or two, but several. One of the major issues was humidity, creating an issue with food clumping. The second seemed to be food type.
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Re: What do you do with your aquariums when you go on vacation ?

Post by Biulu on Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:16 am

I have used automatic feeders with success but never put flakes. I ensure to have pellet food at the right size for the fish in the tank. In this way I don't have a problem with the food getting stuck in the feeder due to humidity.
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