One of the major “problems” with the keeping of aquariums (and pets in general) is when you leave for that long trip to Hawaii. Sure you can take Fido to the local kennel, but what about your fishes? This article will help you sort through all the options for keeping your finned pets fed and healthy during your vacation.
The main problem aquarists confront when it comes time to pack, is feeding. With you 568 miles away, who/how will your fish be fed? And you cant just let them starve. Or can you? Well it depends on how long you are gone for. A weekend? Yes. A month? Probably not. Fish can go for long periods of time without food. Did you really think that they found something to eat three times a day? One can usually leave fish without food for about 1-1.5 weeks without facing adverse affects. There are exceptions. Certain fish (especially if they are fry) need daily feedings, but for the vast majority of fish this is not the case. Now say that this vacation is not an ordinary one. Say you will be gone for an entire month. What do you do? Well there are three paths you can take. Path one is an auto-feeder. These nifty doodads will automatically feed your fish dry food at certain chosen interval(s) through out the day. What about the cons though… For starter the evaporation from you tank can (and usually does) get into the feeder getting the food wet. This will both clog the thing and make the food go bad. Another problem is that unless you get the pricey auto-feeders, the amount of food you want it to feed is preselected. Which means that it will usually over-feed. A lot. These guys are, unfortunately, usually your best bet, unless path number 2 is promising. Path #2 is your friend/neighbor. You simply ask them to come and feed your fish. Its cheap, true, but there are “flaws.” The elected person “forgets” (even though you remind him a thousand times.) and when the do show up, they over-feed. Other then some reminders there is nothing you can do with the “forgetting” but you can make sure they do not over feed. Take measuring spoon and tell them to feed one tsp/tbs/whatever once a day. If that isn’t feasable, fill containers with the amount of food you want the person to feed in a day and just let them dump it in. Make sure you have enough containers though, so they don’t run out. Even with these precautions, it is a good (slash that, great) idea to walk them through what they need to do. The third and worst path are vacation feeders. These guys cost next to nothing and you simply plop them into the tank the day you leave. The problems? They are made form plaster-of-paris and create a hug mess in the tank. Use these as a last resort… only.
The fish are covered, so what about the plants and your rigorous fertilization regime? Well you can do two things. One, follow path two in “Feeding” only use fertilizers. Or two, buy an auto liquid doser. With these guys, simply fill the container with your fertilizer mix, put it on a area higher then your tank and let gravity, a valve and some tubing take over!
What about the all awesome water change? With larger setups you can buy auto-water change systems. (Do they not make an automatic everything!) These babies are on the expensive side and must have access to a water pipe, but can be used even when you are not gone. They must be meticulously put together and take alot or planning to pull of, but are well worth it. The other option is to have a friend from the local fish club come over. If you have this luxury, you are lucky. If these option are not available to you, just don’t change your water. If you under feed and do a decent amount of cleaning before you leave you should be fine.
Follow these steps, and you should be able to come home to happy healthy fish!