PREPARING AN AQUARIUM FOR YOUR VACATION
- doesn’t require you to make any changes to your tank or to relocate it
- allows your fish to continue with the routine to which they have become accustomed
- doesn’t require any changes in the type of food or feeding schedule
- an experienced pet sitter could potentially perform maintenance tasks while you’re away
- pet sitter may not be familiar with caring for aquarium fish
- could lead to overfeeding or underfeeding
- pet sitter might tamper with equipment or otherwise damage the tank
- the sitter may not be able to perform maintenance tasks
- requires you to give someone access to your home while you’re gone
- Vacation Feeders: These are sold at many fish stores and at first, they may seem like a good idea. After all, you can drop them in and feed your fish for days. The problem is that they are not very effective at delivering food to your fish and more often than not, they just end up clouding and polluting your water. Avoid vacation feeders at all costs.
- Automatic Feeders: These are a better option than vacation feeders and can be used in special cases where you have no friends that can watch your tank and you will be away longer than 1-2 weeks, but make sure it is a last resort. The problem with automatic feeders is that they can easily get stuck or malfunction in which case they will either dump a ton of food into your tank or stop delivering food at all. Without you there checking on it from time to time, some pretty disastrous things can occur. If you do have to use one of these, make sure you buy a high-quality one and don’t be cheap. Saving some money now could cost you a ton in dead fish later. Also, be sure to insert brand new batteries into the feeder before you leave on vacation so you can ensure the feeder does not run out of power.
- Overfeeding Before You Leave: Some people think that if they feed their fish a bunch of food before they leave, they will be able to go without feeding them while they are on vacation. As mentioned above, this is completely unnecessary. You can feed them just like you always do and then just go on vacation. They do not need to be overfed and in fact, overfeeding right before vacation will cause problems. It will probably cause water pollution and will be bad for the digestive systems of your fish. Avoid this practice completely.
- Perform a water change and tank cleaning a day or two before you leave
- Monitor tank temperature before you leave to ensure heater is working properly
- Set lights on timer (lights on for 6-8 hours/day
- If you will only be gone for 1-2 weeks, do not worry about feeding
- If you will be gone longer or are having a friend watch the tank, divide up each day’s food amount into Ziploc bags so your friend does not overfeed.
- Leave detailed instructions on how to top off water if you will be gone long enough for this to become a problem
- If you are having a friend come to check on the tank, leave them a list of what to look for (check floor for leaking water, check thermometer to ensure temperature is xx degrees, check for dead fish or fish gasping at the surface, check water level, etc.). In fact, it is best to arrange a quick meeting with your fish sitter before you leave so you can walk them through everything.
- If you are leaving in the summer or winter, be sure your air conditioner or heater is set to an appropriate temperature such that your aquarium heater can maintain the water temperature.
- Visual inspection of the tank (check for leaks and ensure that the water level has not gotten too low)
- Check all equipment to make sure it is functioning properly – replace filter media if needed
- Test the aquarium water to check the water quality and chemistry levels (compare to your tank’s “normal” levels)
- Make adjustments to water chemistry as needed, indicated by the results of the water test
- Observe your fish to make sure they are all still alive and well – look for any changes in physical appearance as well as abnormal behaviors
- Perform a 25% water change to remove accumulated toxins from the tank and to improve water quality – be sure to use a gravel vacuum to siphon out accumulated waste from the bottom of the tank
- Refill the tank with dechlorinated water (make sure to match the water temperature in the tank)
- Resume your normal feeding and maintenance schedule
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