If you’re planning on leaving your fish at home, it is critical to plan their vacation care. It’s a lot harder to take your fish with you on vacation compared to your dog or even cat. That means you’ll have to plan for them to receive care while you’re away. If you don’t have a neighbor or friend to look after your fish, you may need to hire someone.
I can already hear, “My fish will be fine for a week without me!”
I guarantee, no matter what type of setup or system you have, your fish will need their regular diet and maintenance regardless of your vacation plans. If your fish-sitter isn’t able to help with maintenance, you will need to hire a professional. Check out our criteria to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
How to Keep Your Fish Fed
Those stupid “vacation feeders” for your fish are the human equivalent of stale Chinese food stuck in a giant bread ball. They lack basic nutrition and will just gunk up your aquarium. There are many “auto feeders” on the market that will dump in food to your tank every # hours, but they are almost ALWAYS overfeeding your fish, sending up your ammonia and potentially crashing your tank. The only one we recommend allows you to separate out your fish’s food in specific meals. We have a betta with separation anxiety who loves it, and no, I’m not kidding. His amazing mom found this auto feeder and now we share it with everyone.
If you are having someone feed your fish while you are gone, pre-measure out the food in baggies or tupperware and HIDE THE CONTAINERS. I can’t count the number of times bad things happen while owner’s are away because the fish-sitter cannot abide by the owner’s explicit instructions. They think, ‘a little bit more won’t hurt them,’ dump in too much food and walk away. And again, your ammonia shoots up and kills your fish. So, pre-measure, label with date/time and hide the extra. This will limit any “accidents.”
How to Keep Your Tank Clean
If you are not hiring a professional fish maintenance company, the best way to train someone else is to have them help you once. After you do it together, have them walk you through it. Teaching is the very best way to learn something. If they need extra help, take pictures of all the equipment, you using the equipment and/or links to helpful videos. Here’s our award-winning Tank Cleaning Video.
Resist the urge to do a big cleaning right before you leave and assume everything will be okay until you get back. You never EVER want to do more than a 50% water change. If you will only be gone for a few days in between your usual cleanings, you don’t have to schedule extra maintenance (unless your feeder goes off script).
Vacation Care Extras
Want to spy on your fish? Set up a nanny cam! Watch your fish on your smartphone or tablet when ever you miss them.
Don’t leave the TV/radio on for your fish. The vibrations from the sound can stress out their lateral line and cause increased disease.
If your fish are undergoing treatment for a specific disease, do NOT modify the treatment around your vacation plans! Veterinarians create these plans specifically for the pathogen in mind. Let your vet know if you can’t complete the plan as discussed. Make sure any fish-sitters know if there are currently treatments going on, any precautions they should take and any repeat doses they may need to add.