60 Gallon Tank Three Week Vacations Are Great Until You Get Back...

McFly

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Thought I'd share a life lesson with everyone.

So, the CFO (aka 'the wife') decided that we had the fiscal freedom to go away for a few weeks.

Three weeks is a long time for a stocked aquarium to go un-monitored(60G). Fortunately, I had a family
member that lives close by to check the tank, and give a 'light' morning feeding every few days. A
vacation feeder fed one light portion of flake/pellet mix in the evening. Did a 50% water change to err
on the side of caution, and left for a European river cruise, and some extra sightseeing.
The tank parameters were spot on. About 10-20ppm Nitrates, zero Ammonia and Nitrite, and 7.4 pH...

Had a wonderful time... I recommend it highly if you have the resources.

Got back, wiped out, looked at the tank, everyone survived!! Woot! Decided to test the water.
pH was about 7.6... Ammonia very slight trace... negligible, nitrite 0ppm and Nitrate a dark crimson
red test tube... so much for relaxing. Did a 50% water change, and vacuumed the uncovered gravel.
Retest in the morning still crimson red Nitrate. NOT GOOD. Another 50% water change, and half
the rocks were lifted, cleaned, and gravel under vacuumed. Grey/brown NASTY water.
Proceeded with 30% water changes daily for 4 more days, removing rocks and vacuuming under
them systemically. This morning, day 6, and I've finally reached under 40ppm nitrates. Probably
another day or two of water changes, but the nitrates are back under control.

My maintenance routine is pretty thorough, with gravel vacuuming and water changes weekly,
so the tank was in good shape when I left. It only took three weeks of 'neglect' for it to go
dangerous...

Be diligent, don't put it off, maintain your tank(s). This was an eye opener for me, any long
trips in the future and I'll need someone that can perform at least one water change while I'm away.
 

bitseriously

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... or cut way back on the feeding.
Truth be told, however, I read this (feed less on vacation) everywhere, but how does it affect the stability of a community, behaviour wise? I'd be concerned that my normally placid gouramI and rummy noses would turn into killing machines from the hunger, and I'd come back to half the number of fish, and no more shrimps. Anyone run into this, or have the opposite experience?
 

Basil

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bitseriously said:
... or cut way back on the feeding.
Truth be told, however, I read this (feed less on vacation) everywhere, but how does it affect the stability of a community, behaviour wise? I'd be concerned that my normally placid gouramI and rummy noses would turn into killing machines from the hunger, and I'd come back to half the number of fish, and no more shrimps. Anyone run into this, or have the opposite experience?
I have the exact same concern. I’m going away for a week and a family member will feed the fish once daily so they should be ok. But I still worry that my hooligan barbs and loaches will turn on each other. I’ve been feeding somewhat heavily since the loaches are young and growing. But for the last week, I’ve cut back a bit. And some days only feed once a day. So hopefully they will be ok. I probably worry too much lol!
 

Mary765

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bitseriously said:
... or cut way back on the feeding.
Truth be told, however, I read this (feed less on vacation) everywhere, but how does it affect the stability of a community, behaviour wise? I'd be concerned that my normally placid gouramI and rummy noses would turn into killing machines from the hunger, and I'd come back to half the number of fish, and no more shrimps. Anyone run into this, or have the opposite experience?
I find my guppies get feisty after one day of missed feed (which I used to do on occasion just after feeding a pea if one of them seemed a little bloated) but now that I have shrimps and shrimplets I can't risk it any more.
 
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McFly

McFly

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bitseriously said:
... or cut way back on the feeding.
Truth be told, however, I read this (feed less on vacation) everywhere, but how does it affect the stability of a community, behaviour wise? I'd be concerned that my normally placid gouramI and rummy noses would turn into killing machines from the hunger, and I'd come back to half the number of fish, and no more shrimps. Anyone run into this, or have the opposite experience?
The vacation feeder and the tank watcher are variables that can't be accurately
controlled when it comes to feeding. I've had that vacation feeder 'jam up' so
it's portioning can only be estimated... It's a scrap shoot. I knew a minimum of two
feedings a week was definite, how much was fed ???? You can only show people
what to do. Then they approach the tank and they think they're starving from the
excitement, then womp!

I think a 100% gravel cleaning will be a pre vacation chore rather than post vacation.
That might slow the nitrogen loading.
 

bitseriously

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Another user posted a great idea, which was to pre-portion each feeding in tiny jewellery ziplocs, with dates labelled.
 

FishMommer

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I did a clean before leaving for a week with only a 16 gallon tank. My brother has fish and only came over 3 times while we were gone. That being said, had high nitrates when I got back. Thankfully I checked but not for another week (just busy and didn't think it would be so bad). Note to self check parameters ASAP upon return.

Before my brother said he would I was going to ask my mom. My plan with her or neighbor was going to be to use a week-long pill container. May do that next time with my brother.
 

ETNsilverstar

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bitseriously said:
Another user posted a great idea, which was to pre-portion each feeding in tiny jewellery ziplocs, with dates labelled.
I'd do the same thing, but with a pill container. My fiance loves to feed the goldfish extra all the time and he's not allowed to touch my shrimp tank. Since he'll have to feed them for me soon, that's what I plan to do so he doesn't go overboard...
 

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