Being a pet owner means that vacations require much more preparation for your beloved animals that are staying behind while you enjoy your time away from home.
Aside from tank cleaning and upkeep, fish are fairly low-maintenance pets, so you don’t have to worry about bathroom breaks or daily walks. But they will still need to eat while you are gone.
If you are wondering how to keep your fish fed during vacation, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn more about the options you have, the pros and cons of each, and how to best prepare before you take off.
The 3 Methods For Feeding Your Fish While on Vacation
1. Find a Pet Sitter
Most pet owners will find a pet sitter to look after their pets while on vacation. Regardless of what type of critters you share your home with, they will undoubtedly need some care and maybe even supervision while you are away.
Thankfully, fish sitting isn’t a very hard job. They aren’t going to require nearly as much as a dog or cat, but they will still need to be fed and checked on. Ask a trusted friend or family member to drop by your home during your vacation to feed your fish just as you normally would if you were home.
You may have to leave some instructions if they are not familiar with their care needs, but this is the best option since you won’t have to rely on the automatic feeder or the vacation feeder to do the job. The only downside to finding a pet sitter is that if you don’t have any friends or family that can help out, you will need to hire someone to come into your home and care for your pets.
While hiring a pet sitter will be more costly, it can be especially worth it if you have other pets in the home that need to be cared for and would like to have someone drop in to check on your home and alert you of any unusual activity.
2. Use an Automatic Feeder
An automatic feeder is another option you have when going on vacation. You don’t have to be present for an automatic feeder to get the job done and you can set the timer for a set amount of food to be dispensed whenever you need it to.
Automatic feeders are easy to use and aren’t very expensive. This makes for a great choice if you don’t have a trusted pet sitter to come to your home and feed your fish while you are out. They can also be used anytime to prevent you from having to feed your fish manually even when you are home.
There are some downsides to automatic feeders, with malfunction being the biggest. A malfunction could mean that the feeder fails to dispense any food or releases too much food at once. If it fails while you are away, your fish won’t be fed, and you will have no way of knowing.
Another downfall is that these feeders will only dispense pelleted or flaked foods, so if your fish eats any other type of food, such as frozen, this won’t work for you. There is also no one there to clean up any leftovers, so the tank is likely to need a thorough cleaning when you return.
3. Try a Vacation Feeder
A vacation feeder is another way to feed your fish while on vacation. These come with food either in a slow-release gel block or embedded into a calcium block. These feeders can be purchased to work over different time frames including 2 days for weekend trips, 7 days, and 14 days.
These food blocks will dissolve gradually after being placed in the water, releasing the food. Since they slowly dissolve, you don’t have to worry about too much food being released at once, but the calcium blocks will dissolve more quickly if the water is more acidic.
Of course, you will need to make sure that the block contains the type of food that your particular fish needs. They cannot be used in tanks that have stagnant water and should only be used in those with an active filtration system and consistent water movement, as circulation is needed to dissolve the blocks.
These are best suited for smaller fish and tanks that do not have many inhabitants. These blocks don’t contain enough food to sustain larger fish that require more food or tanks with many fish, as some may not get their servings. It can be much harder to gauge the quantity needed with the feeder blocks, and tanks with multiple fish may even require more than one.
Keep in mind that calcium blocks may have an impact on the chemistry of the water. Gel feeders are much less likely to impact water quality.
Aquarium Preparation Before Vacation
It’s a good idea to do some maintenance before you leave for vacation to ensure your aquarium is well-prepared during your time away. Here are things you can do to ensure things at home are all set before your trip.
Thoroughly Clean the Aquarium
Rather than waiting until you get back, you should perform a thorough cleaning of the aquarium, including a complete water change, before you leave. This will be beneficial whether you use a pet sitter or an automatic feeder.
If you clean the aquarium, it may prevent your pet sitter from having to do so, and if they aren’t as experienced, asking them to clean it could be counterproductive. On the other hand, if you are using an automatic feeder or a vacation block, this will ensure your water is as clean as possible in case the feeder results in leftover food within the tank.
Stock Up on Fish Food
It won’t matter if you have a pet sitter coming over to feed your fish or not, you will need to have enough food on hand for your fish while you are out. If you use an automatic feeder, stock it up as needed. For vacation blocks, make sure you have a suitable amount to last the time frame that you will be away.
Monitor the Water
After you have changed out the water, make sure you monitor the temperature to make sure the heater is working properly and the temperature remains where you need it. You could also test the water to make sure it is the proper pH for your fish. This should help eliminate any water-related issues while you are away.
Make Sure the Feeder is Working Properly
If you are using an automatic feeder during your vacation, you should start using it before you leave so that you can observe it and make sure it is working properly. If you were to wait until right before you take off to start the feeder, it could have an undetected malfunction that could be problematic for your fish.
Make sure you are very familiar with how it works and set it properly to feed the right quantity of food at the times you need it dispensed. As for vacation blocks, it is recommended that you test them out beforehand to see if they are dissolving properly, feeding the fish as needed, and aren’t interfering with water quality.
Leave Instructions for Pet Sitter
If you have a pet sitter coming in to care for your fish and/or other animals while you are gone, you should leave them detailed instructions on feeding and care requirements so they can reference them as needed. You may not be reachable during your trip, so you want to make sure they have clear directions to handle the job.
Make sure the list includes feeding instructions, and a list of things to check for (temperature, pH, any issues with your fish, and any other necessary information). It’s a good idea to give them a thorough walkthrough before you leave so you can answer any questions and show them where all the supplies are.
Quick Feeding Tips for Pet Sitters
There are three different options for feeding your fish while you are out on vacation: a pet sitter, an automatic feeder, or a vacation feeding block. Each has its own list of pros and cons, so you will need to determine which option is best for you and your fish. Since fish are unique, you will also need to consider the specific care requirements for your species.
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