Aquarium owners love their fish. They love them so much that they rarely leave them unattended. Eventually all hobbyists will face a time when they need to step away from their aquariums  for vacation, work or an emergency.  With this comes the need to make a decision to leave the fish to fend for themselves or have a friend look after the tank. If you plan ahead, you can make this as painless as possible and ensure continued good health for your fish.

There are a few simple steps you can take if you are planning on going away for a weekend. First, check the filtration system for maintenance and make sure all water pumps are operating at full capacity. Then you’ll want to double check the thermostat and make sure the tank heater is functioning properly. Lastly, you’ll need to consider the feeding schedule of your fish. You can use a 3 Day Feeding Block as a diet supplement for your fish although most fish can go 2 to 4 days without food.

Prepping for a longer trip:

A longer vacation or absence may require some additional steps. If possible, put the tank lighting system on a timer to keep your fish on their regular schedule. An automatic feeder will also come in handy while you’re gone. Make sure to run it for several days before you go to calibrate the amount of food it will feed. Most automatic feeders will work with flake foods or small pellet foods. It is better to underfeed your fish than to risk polluting the water from excess food and waste. It may be hard to believe, but your fish may miss you feeding them and even become lethargic!


Find someone to entrust the care of your fish while your on vacation or during an emergency. First, you’ll want to set a schedule of how often and when to feed.  An easy option to premeasure dry food is to place it in an ice cube tray. For frozen foods, we recommend chopping it up into feeding portions and let them watch how you feed the food. Maintaining a mini-reef may require more “training” for feeding supplements. It is important to be as clear and detailed as possible (we encourage step by step instructions). Don’t forget to have some new water ready to top off the aquarium if your trip is longer than one week.

In case of an emergency, show your fish sitter what to do with detailed guidance. This includes showing them how to clean the filter or system parts if needed. You can also request to see if a local store employee would agree to be on “emergency call” for a crisis. Only do this if you have a trusted source with a pet store that you frequent. This is also a good time to make sure you have a spare power head or air pump system to at least keep the water moving and oxygenated, even if you have to shut off the filter system.  You can always perform an extra water change to make up for the lack of the filter running, but the fish need oxygen all the time.

If you plan ahead and get everything lined up before hand, you will be able to enjoy your time away and not have to worry that your aquatic buddies are in peril.

About The Author Don Roberts

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