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FAQs About Vacations and Freshwater Systems, Livestock

Related Articles: Moving Freshwater Systems,  Treating Tapwater for Aquarium Use, General Freshwater Maintenance,

Related FAQs: Moving Freshwater Systems,

Avoid the "chalky" food "blocks"... they're worse than worthless... No food value and pollute your tanks.

Out of town fdg. concern, FW      8/28/15
So...I am going to be leaving tomorrow evening and be out of town for 5 days, and while I have an automatic feeder for the main tank,
<Wouldn't bother for 5 days. Risks outweigh the benefits. Do see WWM re: the use of holiday feeders.>
I don't have one for the quarantine tank (where the blue Acara still are).
I am reluctant to put them in the main tank until the service comes to clean it out more thoroughly than I can. I was wondering whether I could put a large algae wafer or two in the QT for them to eat while I am gone.
<You could. Or just add some lettuce leaves, a couple slices of cucumber, a piece of courgette/zucchini... let them nibble away on the softened vegetables over time. Much healthier, and because these foods are low protein, the risk to water quality is minimal. Fish can go weeks without food, and if they're hungry, they'll eat algae and soft aquarium plants
(floating Indian Fern is ideal). Some will even take down a few snails!
Absolutely no need to worry about feeding standard community fish for trips two weeks or less.>
I'm not sure if this is normal, but I have noticed the blue Acara sort of nibble throughout the day instead of gobbling up their food immediately like some of my other fish.
<Correct. In the wild these fish are bulk omnivores, grazing on algae, organic detritus, and sifting sediment for small bits of plants and insect larvae. Concentrated, high protein foods like we give them simply don't exist in their lives in the wild.>
(I have found the zeolite lasts a long time, even while having to feed them frozen food, so if I put a fresh batch of zeolite in the filter before I leave I think I can get away with this.)
<Quite so, and if you don't feed quarantined fish during a few days' absence, or add floating Indian Fern that will absorb ammonia while providing food, so much the better. In summary: if aquarium fish are a chore during vacations, you're keeping them wrong! Cheers, Neale.>

Automatic Feeder        1/5/15
Hello Crew, Hope all of you had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I wanted to know if you would tell me your advice on which automatic feeders you think as best for a fresh water tank.
<None.>
Also, please tell me what types of fresh water fish can withstand 81 degree temps.
<The high-end tropicals, tending to be those adapted to very sluggish or very sunny environments. Examples include Cardinals, Discus, Common Ram cichlids, Sterbai Corydoras, and most Mollies and Guppies. Pretty much anything from the Rio Negro (though alongside heat these also need soft, acidic water, so they're not options for hard water areas). In
non-community settings, some specialist desert species can be considered as well, such as Pupfish and their Eurasian analogues (such as Aphanius mento) though these will need an alternation between hot daytime and cool nighttime temperatures, so may be best suited to an unheated tank (or at least one with a heater installed to keep it getting too cold).>
My tank gets that high sometimes in the summer months.
<If it only gets warm for a few hours each day, for a few weeks each summer, then don't worry about it. Pretty much all community fish will tolerate this.>
Thank you. James
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Automatic Feeder...        1/6/15

Thanks Neale, If I cannot find anyone who would be willing to feed my fish when my wife and I are away for several weeks what would you recommend?
James
<Small community fish can go 2-3 weeks without food, no problem at all. Add some livebearers and they'll turn algae into live food for the carnivores (evil grin). Herbivores and omnivores (Plecs, barbs, livebearers) can/will consume algae and small quantities of organic detritus in the tank, possibly even a few odd leaves from plants. You can leave half a head of lettuce or a few slices of sweet potato in the tank for these fish to nibble on while you're gone. Green foods may well decay into a right mess, but they contain so little protein their impact on water quality is much less significant than it looks. Certain carnivores (Synodontis, Botiine loaches) can/will consume small snails (which again can convert algae into live food). The only real problems are obligate predators and/or community fish that feed from the surface only. These are things like danios,
Hatchetfish, halfbeaks and tetras. These can/will go without food 2-3 weeks no problem, but after that will start to look a bit thin. Bigger fish are even more resilient, carnivores especially, and very large fish (gars, lungfish, giant catfish) can easily go a month or two without food. A huge variable is how well they have been fed beforehand. My comments assume the fish are in good health and properly fed for a few weeks before your vacation. "Fattening up" is not really necessary, but you can do this to a slight degree so long as water quality doesn't decline. Fish are infinitely more likely to be killed by overfeeding and the resulting water quality problem, which is why it's usually better NOT to feed than to have someone else feed you fish, at least for the usual 2 week vacation. Above 2 weeks it's up to you. Having someone come in once a week to add a couple algae wafers or a few floating pellets will do no harm, but getting people to feed every day is often risky. Either way, hide all the food, and only leave measured amounts out in airtight containers for use. Hence, if you only have your pal feed them 2-3 times over the holiday, you only leave 2-3 portions of food, with a much reduced risk of overfeeding if they forget
one day and decide to use two portions on their next visit. You'd be surprised how many people do this when babysitting fish tanks. Feeding blocks are a total waste, so avoid those, and as for timers, they're okay I suppose, but usually get dirty. Humidity above the tank causes the flake/pellets to soften, so the food just gums up the mechanism or goes stale/rancid. Does this help? Neale.>
Re: Automatic Feeder... now chatting re stkg....        1/6/15

Thanks Neale, the fish I plan on keeping are pearl gouramis, swordtails, a single angel and a red tail shark if compatible. I haven't researched that yet.
<How big's the tank? Red Tail Sharks are very variable -- most are quite peaceful, but some are psychotic -- and they invariably need a fair amount of space. They're more territorial than nasty, and if given plenty of space tend to be okay, largely ignoring active, dissimilar fish. Gouramis and Swords should be fine, Angels usually so, assuming a tank upwards of 55 US gallons, ideally more.>
My tank has no fish at this time so I have no algae. James
<The Gourami, Swordtail and Red Tail Shark are partially herbivorous and will eat algae, soft plants (floating Indian Fern for example) and any green foods you add during your absence. Angels are carnivores, but somewhat adapted to oligotrophic conditions, and consequently able to go without food for long periods if needs be. Feed adequately well beforehand,
and 2-3 weeks starvation will be no risk to any of these. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Automatic Feeder       1/6/15

Thanks again Neale, the tank is a 29 gallon long innovative marine. So you think this would be too small to have a single angel and a shark? If so, what would you recommend to go with 2 female pearl gouramis (and maybe a single male) as well as one male and two female swords? James
<Ruby Sharks are usually less aggressive than Red-Tail Sharks, but even in a 40-gallon tank you might be pushing your luck. What about one of the smaller Garra species? For example, Garra flavatra, called the Panda Garra.
Colourful, peaceful, widely sold (in the UK at least). Or alternatively a small group of Siamese Algae Eaters? Would also consider one of the smaller Loricariidae, especially Whiptails, which are contrasting fish with what you have and completely peaceful. Small groups are highly entertaining.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Automatic Feeder. chatter stk.
        1/7/15
Thanks again Neale, if I left out the shark do you consider the tank still too small for 1 angel? James
<No; one Angelfish together with appropriate tankmates will do fine in 20-30 gallons. So too will mated pairs of Angels, but they're tricky to get and obviously territorial. Groups of random Angels need more space. Cheers, Neale.>

Hello, could you please advise me on 10 days vacation freshwater fish solution?    1/9/13
Hello everyone, sorry for my English, as I am from Czech Republic. I am new to fishkeeping, and I am sorry to bother you about this one but I've looked at FAQ's and through many Google links, and still couldn't find an answer for my case...:/
<Your English is great!>
I have a 60 l freshwater fish tank, fully cycled, which has been running for 3.5 months. Out of all 5 original fish bought without knowing if they were sick or even compatible (learned my mistakes the hard way), only 2 have survived cycling and Ich (which they were infected to start with from the lfs, as I found when came to that shop for medicine and found out that out of all 5 fish tanks where my fishes were taken from, all were quarantined within 2 days and they had Ich as well and dropsy too), well, anyway these 2 fishes and are now big, happy and healthy- Bristlenose catfish (he is around 7 cm now) and a Lyretail silver molly about 6 cm in length. I know here you may start think oh no, they need different pH etc, but I found they both feel pretty good at pH 6.8 they have now, due to the driftwood which I cleaned and soaked for 2 weeks separately and put into the tank for my Bristlenose Pleco. My water parameters are very stable, and are : Ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate always less than 10. Water temperature 26 C.  I change water 50% every 5-6 days and vacuum the gravel (my Bristlenose is one lil piggy:) and he poops a lot) I use Tetra Aqua safe to dechlorinate my tap water. Also every 4 weeks I put Tetravital according to the dosage. There are only plastic plants,  no algae growth or anything in our tank, and the water is clear, no smell. There is Eheim combined filter with airpump inbuilt.
<Okay.>
Now about my prime question- we are going away on holiday for 10 days and there's absolutely nobody around who could look after our fish or who we would trust to look after our fish, better say.  After all the effort put into cycling the tank and in saving those survivor's lives, I really don't want them to get sick or anything. All of the lfs sell only 7-10 days food blocks, they look like some white stuff pressed together, and the minimum amount of fish they are supposed to feed is 15, not 2 which I have... So I am afraid if I put a minimal sized block into the tank for 10 days, it will pollute the water as the food won't be eaten in certain amounts. Last time when we went on holiday for 5 days, I used a similar holiday food block, but the one which is designed for 3-4 days, and when we came back, our fished still looked very hungry, and even though the block appeared to look like it was "melted", it seemed no food was eaten by the fish. Now that we go on holiday for double amount of days, I am seriously worried about leaving them, and need to know if there is any good food block (which they will actually eat) or any other option  to keep our fish happy.  Also another issue that worries me, last time the holiday food block lowered ammonia and nitrites normal levels, and that may have affected some beneficial bacteria which feeds on them. 5 days it was alright, but it may be different in 10 days... Please help me, what should I do before I go on holiday and what is not recommended considering I have only 2 fish? Also should I use Tetra Easy Balance just to be on a safe side, or not? I know it will affect cycling...Thank you for any advice you could give me, much appreciated:)
Katarina
<These fish will be absolutely fine without food for up to 14 days. By all means put some courgette ("Cuketa" in Czech) into the tank and the Ancistrus catfish will nibble on it. So will the Mollies if they get hungry. No need to use the "feeding blocks". In fact using feeding blocks is almost always a bad idea. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re[2]: Hello, could you please advise me on 10 days vacation freshwater fish solution?    1/9/13

Dear Neale,
Thank you so much for your advice!
Regards,
Katarina
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Leaving Walstad tank unattended over summer. 10/9/12
Dear WWM crew,
<Helen>
I am responsible for a small tank at our local kindergarten (preschool), where my 3 year old attends. I set it up for them about 6 months ago, stocked it, and do all the maintenance. The teachers and kids chuck in some food (measured out by me into one of those weekly pill containers) every now and then (not every day, by any means - I think the tank ends up getting fed 3 or 4 times a week).
<I see.>
The tank is 20 litres and set up in a "Walstad" style arrangement, with a substrate of soil, then gravel, then plants. There is an airstone and a heater but no filter other than the plants. I have planted it with elodea densa, some Hygro species which is called "green temple" around here, but I don't know the real name, Hygrophila difformis (called wisteria around here) and I have Indian water sprite (ceroptris something-or-other?) and a tiny bit of what looks like duckweed but is not growing as fast as I'd expect floating at the top).
The plants are growing solidly but not really fast. Presumably the system isn't getting enough food to fertilise them much, but they are very green and healthy looking, especially the elodea. The tank gets some sunlight in the mornings and a lot of indirect light through the day.
<Sounds nice.>
The tank temperature is around 23 degrees and the last time I checked it the water parameters were ammonia = 0, nitrite = 0, ph 7.0. I haven't checked the nitrate level in months (I tend to be rushing in and out very quickly), and I do water changes very infrequently, to remove tannins that were leaching from the soil. As I am sure you are aware, the Walstad philosophy is to reduce or eliminate water changes and rely on the plants to filter the water.
<Okay.>
I have stocked the tank with some small guppies that I believe are a "wild type' guppy, but they look something like Endler's livebearers. Certainly they are smaller than fancy guppies and they have markings a bit like the Endler's but longer tails. I have found them to be hardy fish and they are breeding with enthusiasm, to the delight of the kindly children and their teachers. I more recently added some red cherry shrimp and they too seem to be doing OK, though there hasn't been a population explosion, as far as I've noticed.
<Probably wild or feeder guppies. If any of the coloration is pastel, then it's not an Endler's.>
Anyway, my problem is what to do with the tank over the summer holidays, which are looming.
<Australia?>
The holidays are about 8 weeks long. I'm not sure if I can get access to the room to feed the fish every now and then and top up the water. I could tear down the tank, move it, and set it up at home, but I don't have a good spot for it and it would get less light, so there would certainly be some disruption to the "cycle" in the tank, I fear. Also it would be a hassle to have to do this. So I am seriously considering just feeding it well beforehand and leaving it alone for the 8 weeks. Is this idea insane?
<It could make it.>
I think I can cover the tank a bit better to reduce the evaporation to acceptable levels.
<This would be my main concern. As the water level gets lower, the waste concentration will go up. Will the mini-ecosystem be able to handle it?>
My worry is the food. I know both guppies and shrimp will happily eat algae and microfauna, but I'm not sure whether there will be enough in the tank to feed them for several weeks without human intervention.
<As the waste concentration goes up with the lowering water level, the algae growth should increase. I suspect this might be what allows you to leave the tank.>
I think that the system overall is pretty stable (it doesn't get much attention at all
and I've left it for 2-3 weeks in previous holidays with no trouble), but I'm of course a bit worried about the risk of finding it a soggy stinking mess of dead plants and rotting fish after 8 weeks.
<One way to find out.>
I could try setting up an auto-feeder, but I'm worried about the prospect of overfeeding with one of those - the volume isn't big enough to handle a great dump of food nicely.
<I wouldn't do an auto-feeder if nobody will be there to check up on it.>
What do you think? Do I have a hope or not?
<I think you have a fair chance of success, mainly because both species in the tank will eat algae. If you can keep the water from evaporating away, the tank might make it. Keep the airstone running to make sure there is dissolved oxygen in the warmer water, since there probably won't be any cooling in the building. Personally, I think it's worth leaving the tank set up to see what happens.>
Thanks,
<Welcome.>
Helen
<- Rick>

Feeding question, vacation, FW - 5/7/2012
Hi Neale or whoever is reading this,
WWM: Hello Denise,
Just a quick question really. We have a gourami, male Betta, phantom tetras, harlequins, danios and Glowlight tetras (not all in the same tank - we have 4 tanks, the Betta is in one by himself). We're going on holiday for 6 days and no one is going to be around to look after the fish. My husband seems to think they'll be ok without food for the 6 days
WWM: Will be fine.
but I'm a bit concerned so thought I'd send you an email. If needs be I can ask someone to come round but they live half an hour away so would only pop over if needed. Any advice about feeding would be great so I can make any arrangements if I need to. Thanks Denise
thanks Neale! appreciate the experience :) Denise
WWM: Welcome. Have a nice vacation!
Cheers, Neale.
Re: feeding question - 5/7/2012
WWM: If you feel a burning need, put a regular portion of flake food into an envelope or Ziploc bag, seal it up to keep it from going stale, and leave out for someone to add to the tank around day 3. Hide the rest of the food! But otherwise, there's really no need to worry. Fish are fine without food for 2 weeks or more. Cheers, Neale.

Holiday feeding   12/13/11
Hi crew
<BJ>
Trust you are all well and getting into the festive spirit.
<Oh yes! Out w/ my sis today for two parties/events; the Bromeliad Study Group, and Zoo Volunteer do's>
I am going away for 10 days soon and wanted to ask about feeding.
<Okay>
After a long time I have got my planted tanks stable and are thriving :-)
<Good>
I have house sitter over the period I am away, although I will show them what to do and leave clear instruction will my tanks be ok for this period without feeding?
<Mmm, let's see what you have for livestock....>
I have Platies, Guppies, Fork tail blue rainbow, and Dwarf Gourami in various tanks.
<I see... these should be fine, however we're they mine... I WOULD measure out portions for each tank... to feed some minimum amount of dried food every third day (three times)... AND provide contact info. (including to us!) in case your care-taker has questions, concerns. I am decidedly NOT a fan of "block" vacation feeders... more chalk/pollution than nutrition>
The other issuer I have is that one of the females is due to birth b4 we go away and we usually rescue as many as possible and out them in a floating tank with plants will they survive?
<Likely so>
Many thanks in advance.
<Enjoy your trip! Bob Fenner>
Re: Holiday feeding   12/13/11

HI Bob
<Ms. H>
Many thanks for your reply.
<Welcome>
Wow sounds like the party season is well and truly under way for you.
<Ah yes>
Will follow advice as below. I usually up the feeding for they fry to help them grow - would they be fine for 10 days without any feeding (fine dry flakes)?
<Better to have the care-giver feed these as well... again, via pre-measured, labeled portions>
I usually give them micro worms which are great.
<For holidays... I'd go as you suggest, w/ dried/prepared food. Cheers, BF>
BJ

Freshwater Vacation Feeding  3/22/10
Bob & Crew:
<Hello,>
First of all, thank you for taking the time to put together such a great website and for taking the time to answer hobbyists' questions, such as my own. Your dedication is truly appreciated!
<Thanks for saying so.>
My question is this: I'm going on a 7 day vacation shortly and don't have anybody to "fish sit". I've read the FAQ section on vacation feeding, but I'm the paranoid type with my tank, and prefer to be safe rather than sorry.
<This is easy. Don't feed at all. Add a sheet of Sushi Nori or a couple of slices of cucumber if you want, but that's about it. For 7 days, your fish will be fine without food.>
I know that the "vacation feeder blocks" are rubbish that foul the tank water, especially in a tank of small volume, such as mine.
<Correct.>
Are the new gel feeders by Tetra any better?
<No.>
The reviews I've found online are mixed at best. If they are of value, I'll use one in the recommended amount. If not, I plan on doing a 20% water change and rinsing pre-filter sponges, leaving a slice of zucchini in the tank for the Otos, and feeding everybody else just before I walk out the door.
<What I would do in this situation. Even for 2-3 week holidays, I simply leave 3-4 portions of food in the freezer, and have my neighbour chuck one in every few days. I hide all the rest of the food.>
Will my fish be OK for 7 days using that approach, or should I invest in an auto feeder, just to be safe?
<They will be fine without any food at all. Feeders are definitely not "safe" in any meaningful sense.>
Tank Specs: 10 gallon standard. 50w heater. 2 x 100 gph HOB filters with pre-filter sponges(Aqueon 10). Temp 76F. pH 7.2. NH3 = 0, NO2 = 0, NO3 = 20ppm (day before water change, normal 5-10 ppm). Tank up and running for 6 months.
<Fine.>
Tank is moderately/heavily planted with: Cryptocoryne Wendtii (x2), Cryptocoryne parva (x2), Java Fern, Java Moss, Eleocharis acicularis, Ceratopteris thalictroides * *(rooted),
<Likely will be nibbled... my Ameca splendens seem to eat almost nothing else!>
& some hitchhiker duckweed that is here to stay despite my best efforts.
<Ah yes, I know it well. Still, never seems to do any real harm.>
Inhabitants (everybody seems happy and healthy):
2 x Anetoma helena - Predator Snail (love these guys!)
12 x Boraras maculatus - Spotted Rasbora
6 x Corydoras pygmaeus - Pygmy Cory
3 x Otocinclus affinis
Countless small pond snails or similar.
<Fine.>
Thanks in advance for your help!
Ben
<Enjoy your vacation. Cheers, Neale.>

Question about vacation feeding, FW  -- 01/03/10
Thank you in advance for providing such great guidance on your website, which has been very helpful to this beginner in the world of aquariums.
<Happy to help.>
I would like to pose a question that I did not see addressed in your FAQ / Articles about vacation care and feeding. I maintain 3 aquariums -- a 20-gallon display tank with a variety of inhabitants (no need to elaborate on this since this tank is not the center of my question) and a small quarantine/hospital tank that is currently vacant. My question pertains to an established/cycled 6-gallon Eclipse tank in which I am attempting to raise a number (approx 8 currently) of panda Corydoras fry,
<Just as an aside, the Corydoras is singular or plural... it's from the Latin name, so it isn't one Corydoras, two Corydoras.>
hatched from eggs I rescued from my display tank before being eaten by its inhabitants. The fry range in age from about 2-3 weeks to 2-3 months, the largest one being less than an inch, and half of the fry being about a quarter of an inch long (or smaller) at this point. I also have one new egg I just put in today which should hatch in about 4 days or so I suspect. I routinely perform water changes at least once per week on that tank, sometimes twice per week. They are fed twice per day, once with fry food (NutraFin max) and once with fry food plus a small amount of finely crushed adult food (Omega One freshwater flakes or TetraColor tropical flakes) for the bigger ones. About once a week they get frozen food (like baby brine shrimp).
<Fine.>
I have read the advice about vacation care with regards to tank care and feeding (mainly, to NOT feed rather than use commercially-available feeding blocks).
<Indeed. Or failing that, use plant foods that won't pollute the tank.>
I will be going away for about 6 days. The day prior I will do water changes on my tanks and be sure everything is in working order. I have a timer system for my lights and aeration stones (which I typically turn off at night). I am arranging to have a family member (who maintains several very large aquariums in his home and is very knowledgeable in this field) stop by every couple of days to check on the systems and feed the fish. However, I am concerned about the frequency of feeding the fry and am asking for advice on how best to address that issue (other than having someone come in daily to feed them). I would not think leaving a slice of cucumber or a small wad of worms would do for the tiny fry.
<In the case of Corydoras, these fish feed primarily on algae and organic detritus in the wild. While there's no perfect solution here, my recommendation would be to add some cucumber and a few strips of Sushi Nori (easily bought in big grocery stores as well as Asian food markets), and hope that these do the job. I feel your pain here: somehow, my fish always seem to spawn just prior to a two-week trip abroad. On the other hand, water pollution is a more immediate threat to these opportunistic feeders than starvation.>
Thank you for your assistance.
Regards, Laura
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Question about vacation feeding

Thank you for your response, Neale. I will give the cucumber and Nori a try, and hope for the best for the fry. Happy New Year. Laura
<Good luck and happy new year, yourself! Cheers, Neale.>

Vacation question. 12/23/09
First let me thank you again for the wonderful resource you are providing.
<Kind of you to say so.>
I am going out of town for 4 days and I don't normally make arrangements for feeding my fish for these short periods but recently I had a gold Gourami quit eating for a two week period for unknown reason. Water quality was great. 0 ppm ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, stable ph of 7.6, and 71.6 ppm kH. I do 25% water changes weekly. The 18 other fish in the tank never had a problem. The gold Gourami in question started eating again a week ago but is still thin. Just wondering if you think she will be ok to leave for 4 days. I have had her for about 15 months and would hate to lose her.
Thanks in advance,
Dave
<This one's easy. Yes, the fish will be fine without food for 4 days, a week even. Get around the food problem by adding a piece of blanched lettuce and a slice of cucumber. Omnivorous fish will nibble at these happily enough, and because they contain almost no protein, even if they decay in the water, there's zero risk of water quality problems. Weight cucumber down with lead weight (the sort used on bunches of aquarium plants is ideal) and rubber bands can be used to hold lettuce leaves to stones.
Cheers, Neale.>

Tetra vacation slow release feeder - the new kind  12/20/08 Happy Holidays! i know this is extremely poor form but I am going away for 9 days and i have no one to help feed my fish (tetras, puffer, Cory, barbs, and a few Endler's livebearers in a different tank). I investigated automatic feeders but got cold feet after price and reports of unreliability/clogging (and also my tanks are pretty small, 15 gallons and 3 gallon for Endler's). i am currently testing out this newfangled tetra vacation slow release product that is not chalky (it's the gel formula in a tin). Anyone report success or failure with this? is it better than the other dreaded products that spoil the water? I haven't seen any discernible difference after 1 day. My Endler's in small tank eating it (I broke off a tiny piece for the small tank), the rest of the fish are staying away. my black Neons are suddenly in mating behavior chasing each other around so maybe it has somehow made the Ph better for them - either that or they have lost their mind chasing each other. Thanks... B <Hello Bob. Holiday feeders vary in quality, and by far the best thing to do is leave them unfed. If you can put something green in there, like algae sheet or sliced cucumber, that will help too. Because plant foods contain minimal protein, the risk of nitrogen cycle problems is next to zero. For the small Endler's tank (too small in my opinion) I wouldn't even dream of adding anything protein-rich if you're going to be away a while. Puffers become nippy when hungry, but if your tetras can cope with that, that's the main problem. I can't really see puffers either [a] eating dried/gel foods; or [b], if they do, leaving anything for anyone else. Once puffers learn that something contains food, it's in their genes to peck away at it until they get to the goodies. That's what they do in the wild! If you must feed the fish, leave sealed plastic packages of food in the fridge or freezer, and supply enough that the fish get food every 3-5 days. Hide all the other food! Let your friend use these packages of food, secure in the knowledge the risk of overfeeding is minimal. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick goldfish... "feeder" blocks, sys./Env. dis.    12/02/08 I have two orange head Orandas in a 15 gallon tank. All was fine until a few days ago. I put a long term feeder in while away on the holidays and when I returned I noticed a white film on the fins of both of them. The water is clear, the tank is clean and yet they have this film and are lethargic. The only thing new was that feeder. Very Truly Yours, Amy <Amy, "feeder blocks" should NEVER be used. End of story. They're rubbish, in fact worse than rubbish. All they do is make the aquarium dirty. Fish can go a couple weeks without food, even longer if there are some aquarium plants for them to eat. Moreover, your tank is too small. What the feeder block has done is tipped the balance, and likely what you're seeing is a reaction to poor water quality. Goldfish should be kept in tanks upwards of 30 gallons, and provided with decent filtration. The clarity of the water is neither here nor there, and can't be used to judge whether the tank is "clean" or not. Broadly speaking, the stuff in the water that kills fish is invisible. Lots of fish are perfectly happy in water that looks like milky coffee, but you can have crystal clear water with ammonia in it, and that ammonia will quickly stress and kill your fish. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/goldfish101art.htm Cheers, Neale.>

Vacation, Tank Maintenance 8/14//08 Hi there. How are you today? <Hello> I have a question that I hope you can help me out with. <Will try.> I have a ten gallon tank with 2 danios and one dwarf Gourami. I have a box filter plus another filter that filters up to 15 gallons I believe. I am about to go on a 3 week vacation, but I usually clean it at least once every week. I am not worried about the food as I can drop the feeder blocks in. <Those can be quite problematic, I would either invest in an automatic feeder or get a friend to stop in every few days to feed. Also allows them to make sure everything is still working.> But is it fine to not clean it for 3 weeks? <Not ideal, but should be ok.> I know it sounds like a long time. I am not sure what to do. I also have a heater to keep the tank warm. Thanks so much for your time. <If it puts your mind at easy you could hire a maintenance company to stop in and give it a water change, however I would guess that as long as the fish are healthy and the tank is in good shape it will be fine.> <Chris>

Re: Daughter's Goldfish, help... fdg.  -- 08/17/07 Well, Thunder looks better and is living higher up in the tank...away from the bottom. There is nothing IN the tank with him, I threw it all out the other night, having understood the gravel and such was a bad idea <Mmm, no... not necessarily. Is often useful for providing needed biological filter area...> .....we are going away for the weekend. Do you think he'll survive if we leave him, should we bring him, should we get a neighbor in to feed him??? Again, you rock. Thanks. Annie <I would NOT feed this fish over the weekend... NOR provide "vacation food" in its system... BobF>

Betta... non-feeding while owner's on holiday  -- 6/17/07 Hello <Greetings.> I have a male Siamese fighting fish very happy and in an ideal environment. <By which you mean a 5-10 gallon tank with a filter and heater, right? Check the nitrite is at zero and the pH where it should be -- you want ideal water conditions before you leave.> He is fed everyday (Hikari and sometimes bloodworms). <OK.> I am in a situation where I must leave him for a week. Would he be OK with that? <Absolutely fine, assuming he's well fed and in good condition. Do a 50% water changes the day before. A largish tank will dilute any potential problems, such as the heater or filter stopping. Check the filter is working properly and not clogged up. Siphon out any uneaten food so there isn't an "ammonia bomb" ticking away in your absence. Make sure the lid is securely fitted so he can't jump out. Even small fish can manage 1-2 weeks without food, and larger things, like big catfish, much longer without food.> Maggie <Cheers, Neale>

Betta vacation feeding    5/11/07 Ok, I'm just going to bother you one more time and that's it!  Is it ok if the fish goes w/o food for 3 days?  If I have to go away for longer, how would I feed the fish? Thanks again- Margaret <Mmm, for three days I would not bother with such feeding... not likely a problem for a healthy Betta to go w/o feeding for this interval. Some folks might proscribe some live Tubificid worms, even an automatic feeder (with pelleted food), but I would just leave the fish be for this time. Bob Fenner>

Any Tips? Feeding FW on vacation  3/16/07 Hello, I just wanted to know if you could help me with my situation. I have ! red platy,1blue platy,1 crystal platy, 2 sunset platies, a lot of platy babies, and a fancy tail guppy in a 10 gallon tank. The adult platies aren't fighting or eating the fry, they just swim happily LOL ^_^. Well I am going on vacation and just wanted to know what I could use to feed the fry, and also the adults. I currently use liquid fry food for the fry and flakes for the adults. Could you recommend something for me? <Best to have an automatic feeder (Eheim is what I use)... if gone more than a few days... Second best to have someone come by, leave out pre-measured portions, and have them put in... About the worst is to use the in-tank "vacation feeders"... almost non-nutritive and stuck together with chalky material that is deleterious to livestock. Bob Fenner> <<Oh! I've just seen that Tetra has some new entries in this category... I would try them. RMF>>

Betta on Spring Break? 2/14/2007 Hi- <<Hello Claire!>> I'm not quite sure which category this falls under, but my friend and I need some advice about our Bettas. We are going on a trip for Spring Break and need to bring our Bettas with us (I have 2, she has 1, and we'll be taking our roommates' as well). <<Is there really no one that can come care for them while you're away>> We are wondering if it is safe to take our Bettas in the car? It is a fairly long trip (10 hrs) and we didn't want to take them originally, but we don't seem to have much of a choice. <<Well, assuming they are in heated, filtered tanks now, you have a few things to consider.  Battery powered air pumps and heaters are one, as temperature stability is a concern, as is oxygenation, even with atmospheric respiration.  The vessels they are transported in must be stable, and you need to bring along proper housing (tank, heaters, filters, de-chlor) for when you get to your destination, which includes an active bio-filter, such as the sponge from the filter on their tank (transported in tank water).  Furthermore, their care while you are on spring break is an issue.>> Is this safe? <<Perhaps, if you take the care required. I personally would opt for a fish-sitter.>> Thanks for your help! Claire <<Glad to help. Lisa.>> Thanks so much for your response! <<You are quite welcome.>> We live in a college dorm so everyone is leaving, or we would leave our boys and girl here. <<Ah, understandable.>> Thanks again for your help, it is much appreciated! <<My pleasure.  Good luck with your pets, and do let me know how it went and how you went about it :). Lisa.>>

Cycling, on nitrite spike, going out of town   6/18/06 Greetings WWM folks! <Cris> I've got a 10g planted tank (w/ Eco-Complete) that is on the nitrite spike part of the cycle, NH4 not all the way down yet. I will be away for 10 days and have a friend who will stop by to feed the three Corys (C. habrosus) every couple of days. I'm trying to figure whether to assume that the cycle will complete soon, or to put in some zeolite and risk it stalling/clobbering the cycle, or to ask my friend to check the Ammonia Alert and put in the zeolite if there's a spike. <I would just be very, very light on feeding... like "one flake" per, per day> The third seems like the best plan to me - any thoughts? Thanks for all the good information, Cris <Just good guessing here, but this is what I'd do. These Corydoras won't starve, but might easily be poisoned by over-feeding boosting nitrite concentration (I would not have placed them in an uncycled system). Bob Fenner>

Aquariums During A Vacation  - 02/25/06 Dear Wet Web Media, You have a great website, which  I have been using constantly with my new aquariums.  I have a couple of questions I would like to ask. I will start with my 27 gallon aquarium.  I have a Emperor 280 BioWheel filter, a 100 watt heater keeping a temp. of 78 degrees, and fake plants. Our fish include: 2 Angel fish,1 Powder Blue Gourami,1 Dwarf  Gourami  (It is just a orange-red color with white and orange-red fins.  The LFS said it was a Neon Red Gourami, but while researching I have questioned that it isn't a Sunset Gourami), 2 Guppies, 2 Yoyo loaches, 1 Bumblebee Goby (I know it is supposed to be brackish water.  I was told at the local fish store that they could be either freshwater or Brackish.  I already have the fish, so I am just keeping my husband from buying more -He loves them). We just got done medicating our tank for Ich (Aquarisol), about 3-4 weeks ago, and it appears we lost whatever beneficial bacteria we had.  The tank has been cycling ever since we finished the medicine.  We have been doing a lot of 30-40% water changes (with 1 tsp of aquarium salt per 10 gallons of water) at first to keep the ammonia levels down and now to keep the nitrite levels down.  Currently, our levels are Nitrates approx. 30 ppm. Nitrites less than 1.0 ppm. GH   300 ppm. Alkalinity  180 ppm. pH  7.8. Ammonia  0 ppm. Our tap water is very hard, has a rather high pH and has some Nitrates.  Sometimes we use some R.O. water along with the tap water when we do a water change. We are stationed here with the military and have never lived anywhere with water this hard, so we are trying to cope (The water is horrible, you fill a glass of water and the sediment in the water settles to the bottom).  My husband has been putting a lot of pH down in the water trying to get the pH to more normal levels, but I am worried about the fish and all of the chemical change to the water. (The water levels I gave you are since I changed the water with just tap water and no pH down). We have started accumulating Brown Algae in the tank.  From my research on your website, I gather it is brown and not green because of the nitrites still in the water.  As my nitrite levels get to zero for a while, will the algae become Green Algae? < It may turn green or stay brown. Either way it is an unwanted plant growth that detracts from the tank.> Also I am going on vacation in 2 1/2 weeks (going to South Louisiana for a wedding, and I was worried about feeding the tank.  I do not want to use the vacation feeding cubes.  I used them in a 1 gallon with a Betta in college, and my water was gross when I returned.  My husband wants to buy an automatic feeder you hang from the side of the tank.  My concern is the Bumblebee Goby.  I feed once a day.  I give 1/4 cube of frozen Brine Shrimp (are vitamin fortified according to the packaging) and a few flakes.  All the fish in my tank love the Brine Shrimp, so I give enough so that a few will trickle down to the Goby at the bottom.  If I don't, my white Angel fish and the Loach will eat it all, and the Goby doesn't get food.  We will be leaving on a Thursday and returning on a Tuesday.  Do you have any suggestions?  The Goby ate flakes when I first bought him, but recently seems to spit them back out of his mouth. < Use a combination of floating and sinking pellets in the automatic feeder. The goby will eat if he gets hungry enough.> Lastly, I am waiting on my nitrite levels to reach 0ppm and nitrates to be 20ppm or less for 2 weeks before I buy anymore fish, but I would like to ask about what else I can put in this tank.  My husband wants a Pleco, and there was another small algae eater at the LFS (I don't know what it is called. It is about 1 inch long, white, skinny, and looks a little like a Catfish.).  Supposedly, they are very good at cleaning plants of algae.  I would like a small school of Tetras, but I am not sure this is wise with the Angels. I was going to buy one of the larger varieties (Lemon Tetras).  Do you think they would become dinner for the Angels?  My daughter already lost a couple of baby Mickey Mouse Platys to my white Angel.  If Tetras would be okay, how many should I get as a minimum.   My husband would like a couple of Mollies as well.  I am worried about overloading the tank.  What do you suggest with this combination of fish? < The angelfish will pick on slow and small fish. The lemon tetras would do OK but they like to be in schools and your tank is already starting to get pretty crowded and already has high nitrate levels. The albino Chinese algae eater really doesn't do that good a job eating algae. Some Plecos get pretty big and don't even eat algae. Go to planetcatfish.com and check out the Plecos available in your area.> My other tank is a 10 gallon with 2 Mickey Mouse Platys and a Guppy (He does not get along with the Guppies in my other tank.  For some reason he likes the Platys, so I have left him in this tank).  This tank has been set up for a month and also has a BioWheel.  I had to swap to fluorescent lighting, because the incandescent heated the water by 2 or 3 degrees during the day, while the lights were running.  It is also kept at 78 degrees.  The levels are nitrates 20 ppm, nitrites less than .5 ppm, GH    300 ppm, Alkalinity  180 ppm, pH  7.8 and ammonia  0 ppm. I have a lot of the Brown Algae in this aquarium as well.  When we leave for vacation should I buy a powered feeder for this tank or just feed it well before we leave? < If I go on vacation for a week or less then I don't worry about feeding the fish while I am gone. If I am really concerned about a tank I will put a glob of black worms in the tank. They will live there in the sand until they are eaten.> Also, I would like some advice on how much to put in this tank also.  I don't plan on putting anything else in either tank until we come back from vacation and our levels are normal.  I don't want anything to happen with ammonia levels, etc. while we are gone.  It is my daughter's tank and she wants a Betta, a snail, and Tetras (probably Neons).  We also thought about getting her one of those small algae eaters at the LFS to clean her ornamental plants.  I don't want any problems with overloading.  I try to stick to the 1 inch per gallon rule, but I would still like a second and more experienced opinion. Thanks for all your help, Leslie < The trouble with Bettas is that other fish like to nip at their fins and would eat and kill smaller neons. The key to stocking a tank is compatibility and nitrate levels. Make sure all the fish are pretty close to the same size and have similar water requirements. If the nitrates exceed 25 ppm per week then you need to reduce them with water changes. If you placed a 100 fish in this tank you would probably have to change 100% of the water every day to keep the nitrates levels down. If you had 10 fish in there then you might get by with a 25% water change every two weeks. It all depends on how much time you have available and how much work you can put in to it.-Chuck>

Oh no!  Maybe it wasn't dead!! Ropefish, the lack of utility of "vacation feeding blocks" 6/29/05 Hello, I'm writing on behalf of my husband.  He's really the aquatic enthusiast.  I've spent the last hour or so reviewing your site and reading over the BichirFAQ's.  Before I get to my dilemma, I want to commend you on a spectacular and informative site. <Welcome> Also, I am glad to see someone demand better grammar in their postings.  This is the first time I've ever taken the time to post on any site as I am usually quickly turned off by the sheer volume of grammatical errors.   <Me too... err, I as well!> My husband and I were on vacation about two weeks ago and had my mother in law come to feed our pets.  Because his mother would not be able to feed the fish for the first weekend we were away, we purchased a 7 day feeder for the fish. <Mmm, most of these are bunk nutritionally... as well as caustic to water quality> He has a Bala shark, two bottom feeders, and two other semi-aggressive fish, but I'm not sure what they are.  Until we went on vacation, he also had a rope fish approximately 12 inches in length.  This was by far my favorite fish.  A few days into our vacation, his mother called and said that the fish appeared dead.  She said it was floating on the top with its head down and the fins were not moving.   <Perhaps just "natural behavior"> After reading the information on the site, I am astonished at what hardy fish they are!  I am afraid that my husband's rope fish was not in fact dead, but simply ill.  Is there anything you can tell me that would indicate if this was the behavior of a sick rope fish? <That it did not move at all... would not respond to the top being lifted, being prodded... That (ultimately) white, reddish marks occurred on its body> Tragically, she removed the fish from the tank and disposed of it, so it's too late now to save it, but we are trying to replace it and wouldn't want to have a repeat performance.  I was hoping you could tell me the likelihood that the feeder was the culprit. <It was at least a contributor, I agree> The feeder made the water very cloudy.  We changed the filters right away and this seemed to remedy that problem.   We usually fed it frozen bloodworms and pellets.  Is it possible it didn't like the new food and starved?   <To some extent, yes> The other fish all seem unscathed. <They likely just went w/o food as well...> My husband is very upset because he has only lost one fish in over two years.  He also changes the water and vacuums about once a month. Thank you for your help. Danielle       <A lesson learned re "feeding blocks"... I will post your input... know that you have saved many other organisms through your writing. Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Cleaning Bio Media/Vacation Feeding Hi. I have some questions about cleaning the biological filter material. Am I supposed to wash the biomedia every once in a while? When should I replace the old media with new one?  I have two Firemouths (1.5 inch) and a gibbiceps (2 inches). I am about to leave for 5 days and I can't get anybody to take care of my fish. I don't know how to get my fish fed during my absence.  If I use a feeder, much of the food would sink to the bottom, as the Firemouths can consume only 1 pellet at a time. Moreover I would not be able to set the feeder up, so that a proper dose is distributed each time. It always happens that the Pleco's pellets drop all at the beginning (and polluting the water) or clog the feeder's exit, leaving no food to pass through. In every way feeders have many serious drawbacks, according to my experience. Should I use those food tablets that last for a week and dissolve slowly in the water, or would it pollute the water a lot? Is it too much to leave the fish without any food at all? <You should never clean or replace the bio media. If this is a sponge that gets clogged, swish it around in some old tank water after a change. Never rinse under the tap. The chlorine will kill the bacteria. To replace or clean it would require you to recycle the tank. For a five day trip I would just feed them well for a day or two before hand and not worry about it. They will be hungry, but alive and healthy, when you get home. Don>  

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