How Long Can Fish Survive Without Food (vacation)

Tykhe

Member
hi, slight problem. I am going on vacation this weekend for about a 9 days. I went to the pet store to pick up a seven day feeder but they only had three day feeders left. So I got a pack of those but I am worried what my fish will do for the remaining days. My tank is a 30 gallon freshwater set up for about 6 months with plenty of plants, duckweed, algae, shrimp etc. Should my fish be ok grazing on algae and duckweed for a while? They're mostly platys, mollys and one bolivian ram.

Are there any tricks to feeding while you're away? Like maybe leave a slab of cucumber somewhere?
 

Jaysee

Member
I don't feed my fish while I'm away. I've gone away for 2 weeks and the fish were fine....it takes a while for them to starve to death.
 

iloveengl

Member
I do not recommend tossing that feeder in your tank. It will more than likely just gunk up the place and cause an ammonia spike. The ones I've tried in years past are just rubbish. Fish don't even like them.

I'm also not a fan of automated feeders. Too hard to adjust small enough amounts, and too many horror stories of the entire contents dropping into the tank.

The best option is to separate 9 days worth of food in a pill box and ask a friend or neighbor to dump each day's worth while you're out. (Or every 2-3 days, however often you feed them.)

If it was my tank, and I was leaving for 9 days, and my friends & trusted neighbors were also leaving for vacation, then I would feed well (but not overfeed) for a few days before I left, and then just let them feed off the duckweed, algae, and whatever else they can find while I was gone. They won't starve to death in that time. Though you may very well lose a few shrimp to the mollies or ram. Actually you could purchase a few more shrimp before you leave just to use as feeders.

Jaysee.

Yeah, what he said.
 

Jaysee

Member

bubblynutter

Member
A slight hijack, but still on topic -

I'm heading to the States for 17 days over Christmas/New Years. With heavily planted tanks and well-fed fish leading up to my absense, how would the fish go without food?

I have a plan of a friend dropping by 3-4 times during that period, to top up our cats' auto feeder and the fish, but hypothetically, how would the fish go for that period of time?
 

sarahphim1

Member
Fish can actually go for about 3 weeks without food so I wouldn't worry. They are a lot hardier than we think! I see mine all at the top waiting to be fed and I swear they give me the "look"-ya know the big puppy dog eyed look where your heart just mealts and you swear they are starving....

But they're not.
 

iloveengl

Member
If they're being fed 3-4 times during that 17 days, it won't even phase them.

The key to having friend's come over to feed fishies is to set out each feeding separately, labeled, and then hide the rest of the food, so they can't accidentally over feed.
 

bubblynutter

Member
I asked the question hypothetically, because I know the friend dropping by is reliable (she has fish herself), and will follow strict instructions.

The question was to expand on the OPs basic question, in how long can fish go without food?
i.e. 1 week? 2 weeks? 3 weeks? At what point can we almost guarantee death from starvation, or irrepairable damage to their health?
 

Jaysee

Member
bubblynutter said:
The question was to expand on the OPs basic question, in how long can fish go without food?
i.e. 1 week? 2 weeks? 3 weeks? At what point can we almost guarantee death from starvation, or irrepairable damage to their health?
That really depends on the individual tank.

After 2 weeks the only losses I had were in the crayfish tanks, which was to be expected. I think around 3 weeks would be the tipping point at which things would start to go south.
 

iloveengl

Member
bubblynutter said:
The question was to expand on the OPs basic question, in how long can fish go without food?
i.e. 1 week? 2 weeks? 3 weeks? At what point can we almost guarantee death from starvation, or irrepairable damage to their health?
Without specifics, it's hard to say - there are too many possible variables. Fish will likely survive longer in a well established, well planted tank because it will be full of tiny edibles, like plant leaves, algae, and microorganisms. If there are shrimp aplenty, then the fish will survive even longer without an additional outside food source. At a certain point, fish will weaken. The larger, faster, more aggressive, or just plain hungrier fish will feed off the weaker tank mates. They will survive quite a while, until it's down to one. Very Lord of the Flies at that point. After that, . Mind you, this could now be 4-8 weeks past that last drop of outside food. I'd think the parameters would be doing as much damage if not more than not having an added food source.

Edit: *sigh* One of these days, Jaysee. One of these days....
 

sarahphim1

Member
And actually this is really weird, but I had a friend who had a Betta (this was years ago before I knew anything about fish and how to properly care for them so forgive me that I didn't advise this person to do otherwise) but they had it in a vase with a plant on top (I think a water lilly) and NEVER fed it. That thing lived for 3 years! So I'm guessing it ate the roots of the lilly.
 

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