Vacations - How do you maintain tank?

treehugr
  • #1
Hello all. My question is this: let's say you're going on a vacation for more than a week (but no longer than a month)...sure you can get an automatic feeder, but how would you handle tank maintenance?

I don't feel comfortable hiring a stranger to come in to our home while we're away. Would not doing weekly water changes for 3 weeks be really bad?

Any suggestions?
 
sirdarksol
  • #2
Your fish probably would survive a few weeks without water changes (can't guarantee anything, though). When you got back, you'd want to do a series of small water changes, a couple of times a day, until the water quality got back under control.
 
SereneReyn
  • #3
get one of the timer feeders tho, not one of those 'chalk blocks'... ick. and i'd do a pretty big water change just before I left... but not clean the filter, etc.
 
Dino
  • #4
With what we have (120+ tanks), we have to have someone taking care of the tanks if we are gone more than a day or so.

Good advice above.
 
COBettaCouple
  • #5
That's long enough that I'd actually think about setting the tank up at a friend's house who would help you out with basic care of the tank while you're gone.
 
susitna-flower
  • #6
If there was a service in your area that would sit your fish it would be best. It should be some one that really knows fish though, not just a friend. Friends are great, but if anything happened, it would stress the friendship.....

Expect the worst, be happy if the best happens...
 
Chief_waterchanger
  • #7
I agree with the best option be to have someone watch them, but if that is not possible:

-50% waterchange the day before you leave.
-Either an auto feeder (and hope it doesn't break and dump the whole load in at once) or the timed things. (We don't use either for our 120+ tanks, so I can not recommend one over the other.)
-The day you get back do a 50% waterchange
-Enjoy your fish.

Unless your fish are full size then you are understocked, I believe, so that is going to work in your favor.

Best of luck and let us know how it turns out.
 
sirdarksol
  • #8
If you can find one of the gel blocks (not the chalk ones. There is one user whose fish is believed to have died because the bits in the chalk ones were too big for it) that lasts several weeks, that would be advantageous. Otherwise, if you've got a friend you can trust who can stop by, have them drop a gel block in once a week, with instructions that they are not to do anything else.

CWC, I have a question on doing an immediate 50% water change upon immediate return. I know that a severe switch in water quality, even from extremely polluted to less polluted, can shock fish. Isn't this going to be a stress to the fish? (this is why I suggested numerous small water changes to adjust the fish back to normal water, but my suggestion is not based on actual experience, where I'm guessing yours is)
 
Dino
  • #9
We do 50% changes on the tanks each week.
This has been our practice for the almost 2 years the fishhouse has been set up.
We use well water that I have been keeping fish in for 28 years.
The stock we keep is geared toward our hard water.
 
SereneReyn
  • #10
I don't think he was referring to a 50% change being bad normally... I think he meant that when the water quality got so poor after the vacation, to suddenly dump a ton of clean water in might be a bad idea as far as a drastic change? if you habitually do that much in a change, no biggie, but after a long stint without any at all, maybe... smaller (25ish%) more frequent changes might be better?

not offering my own opinion, just trying to clarify what I think sir meant.
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
I was reading that, even though most LFS will tell you to only do a 10-15% water change every week, that the 50% water change every week is better as part of a regular routine. Basically because, after the same amount of time, your water has been recycled to a majority of new/fresh water.

So, when on vacation - a gel block once a week and, upon return, a 25% water change? Would we need to do smaller water changes, say every other day, upon our return? Or just the 25% the day we got back and then back to the 50% water changes at our normal weekly schedule?
 
Blub
  • #12
Hi!

50% day you go, 50% the day you get back. Never trust the LFS for advice. Their aI'm is to get you to kill your fish, spend money on products that claim to stop your fish dieing, say that it's OK to add fish so you buy more fish, but you come and tell them the next day they died, they tell you to add this and that... They really don't care what happens to your fish. As long as they get money!


 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
"Never trust the LFS for advice. Their aI'm is to get you to kill your fish, spend money on products that claim to stop your fish dieing, say that it's OK to add fish so you buy more fish, but you come and tell them the next day they died, they tell you to add this and that... They really don't care what happens to your fish. As long as they get money!"

Yes, unfortunately we are learning that the hard way
 
Blub
  • #14
Hi!

Well, lesson learned! You can ask us about these things. Believe me - we are the people who keep, breed and enjoy our fish.


 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
Thanks. I just hope it's not too late for my Gourami. I know all we can do is just "wait and see" but I feel helpless just watching.
 
sirdarksol
  • #16
Not every LFS is in the business to kill your fish. Many of them are actually interested in seeing you succeed. Petsmarts, and Petcos, on the other hand, are short-sighted in this aspect.

I still would like a confirmation on doing a 50% all at once after being gone for nearly a month. There's a huge difference between doing them every week (a commendable habit) and letting nitrates build up in the tank and then replacing it with clean water in one big chunk.
 
Blub
  • #17
Hi!

I meant DeathCo, DeadMart and Kicked-the-bucketSmart. Yeah, my local LFS is great at advising people.


 
sirdarksol
  • #18
Ah!
When referring to one of the horrible places, it is a "petstore". A shop that specializes in fish is a LFS ("local LFS" is a redundant redundancy, as you would be saying "local local fish store") This is not to say that all LFSs are good. There are at least two near me that are , but many more are good.
 
Dino
  • #19
I just do not follow the logic.
It would seem to me, that any improvement of the water conditions, should be beneficial to your fish.
Taking away harmful chemicals should always help your fish.
If temperature and pH are close in the new water, I do not see that a single 50% or a series of smaller changes, would make a difference.

But I have no experince to back that up, as my tanks do not go a month without a change.
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
The LFS I refer to in my posts is "Big Al's" - they're a big chain in the U.S. and Canada. There's also a PetCo here, but we've only bought one thing in there. I'll stay away from it now that I'm hearing your opinions
 
COBettaCouple
  • #21
I won't buy from Big Al's because they happily sell tortured fish.
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
What do you mean by "tortured fish"?
 
Blub
  • #23
Hi!

All the chain stores in the US sell 'tortured fish'. Basically, these are fish who are given conditions like making you live in your toilet (The acctual 'hole in the ground'!) or worse. They also put their Bettas in cups - the size of cup you tend to drink from!

 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
Oh, on the Bettas - I HATE seeing that. It REALLY makes me sick when I see florists, decorators and the like use those poor fish in vases and other small containers as decor. Those poor things I think that should be illegal! They're living creatures, not disposable art! I wonder how one would go about getting that categorized as "animal cruelty"?
 
Blub
  • #25
Hi!

Luckily in the UK the worst stores are 5 times better than PetCo!

 
COBettaCouple
  • #26
I mean the dyed and tattoed fish. Such a cruel torture that kills so many fish, I couldn't support a store selling them.

What do you mean by "tortured fish"?
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #27
I'd never heard of dying or tattooing fish. Strange.

BTW, How do you get them to sit still for the tattoos?
 
COBettaCouple
  • #28
You can find some information if you google it, but it's a pretty horrible and very painful process. 90-95% of the fish die in the process itself. Most of the ones that make it through the process die in less than a month. The ones that don't are mostly sickly and lose the coloring.
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #29
I don't want to Google it because I'd be sad it I knew anymore. What a horrible thing to do.
 
sirdarksol
  • #30
I just do not follow the logic.
It would seem to me, that any improvement of the water conditions, should be beneficial to your fish.
Taking away harmful chemicals should always help your fish.
If temperature and pH are close in the new water, I do not see that a single 50% or a series of smaller changes, would make a difference.

But I have no experince to back that up, as my tanks do not go a month without a change.

The theory (I have no recent experience in the matter, so this is based on what I've read in books, and seems to be backed up by the experiences of past aquarists, before people knew what a partial water change was) is that a fish's body acclimates to a particular quality of water. So far, so good. We know this to be true. If it weren't, a goldfish wouldn't even be able to survive in a little bowl.
So then, when a fish's body becomes acclimated to the much higher level of nitrates (and all of the changes that might cause, such as a lower pH), and then the water is quickly changed out, the fish's body goes through a minor shock. Usually wouldn't be problematic, except the fish's body was already weakened by being in too much waste.

This does make a certain amount of sense, figuring that osmosis has evened things out so the cells are pretty close to the water around them, then you suddenly change the water quality (even for the better), forcing the cells to go through a pretty rapid osmotic process to even things out again.

In the past (that time before partial water changes), fish would often go through shock when the owners broke the tank down and did monthly or bi-monthly maintenance, changing all or nearly all of the water in the tank. Sometimes the fish would die within hours of the change (not to mention the ones who died in a couple of days due to ammonia build-up. I'm guilty of that one).
Of course, this is a more extreme situation than 3 weeks, but it's closer than I'd like to worry about.
Actually, now that I think about it, I have killed one fish by doing this, but not in any of my tanks. When I took over caring for the tank at my brother's day program, I did a 30% water change, and one of the fish was dead by the next morning. Of course, this was a case of the water not being changed for months and months because the employees didn't know they were supposed to do it.

Honestly, I think it's a matter of determining the lesser of two evils. In this case, you're probably right that it wouldn't hurt the fish.
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #31
Thanks. I just hope it's not too late for my Gourami. I know all we can do is just "wait and see" but I feel helpless just watching.

Just a quick update: my Gourami seems to be back to normal. He is eating again and back to his normal behaviors. Hooray!
 
sirdarksol
  • #32
Excellent. Good news.
 
treehugr
  • Thread Starter
  • #33
Gel Block food

If you can find one of the gel blocks (not the chalk ones. There is one user whose fish is believed to have died because the bits in the chalk ones were too big for it) that lasts several weeks, that would be advantageous. Otherwise, if you've got a friend you can trust who can stop by, have them drop a gel block in once a week, with instructions that they are not to do anything else.

I bought the "Tetra Vacation Tropical Slow Release Feeder" plaster-free GEL formula. We're going on vacation on Friday so I thought I would test it out first while we were still in town. I put in half the block last week and within two days it was covered in a white fuzz. Is that normal??? Doesn't seem right.

Granted we are still (after 4 months) having water quality issues (tests are fine but water is cloudy and slightly green) so maybe that has something to do with the funkiness of it?
 
cousinav
  • #34
I am interested in the answer to the above question, as we are taking a weekend trip and was considering the gel feeder.

Our tank is still cycling and I put Biospore in two days ago. Would it be better to try the gel feeder or just wait the two days and feed them when we get back? We will be leaving on Friday late afternoon and returning Sunday afternoon. Ammonia is .5, Nitrites 0 and Nitrates 5.
 
Allie
  • #35
Vacation? What is that?
We never go away for more than a few days. With 4 cats and lots of fish tanks. I am not comfortable leaving them too long.
 
Sabi
  • #36
COBettaCouple
  • #37
Yea, I'd be thinking about the tanks, the bettas & angels getting attention, everyone getting fed right, water changes.. oy! :helpsmilie:

Vacation? What is that?
We never go away for more than a few days. With 4 cats and lots of fish tanks. I am not comfortable leaving them too long.
 
MagpieTear
  • #38
What a timely thread! I'm leaving for the Isle of Palms on Saturday and will be gone for a week.

I have someone staying at the house to take care of the dogs and guinea pig, but was worried about the water quality. After reviewing this thread, I'll do a 20 gallon change on the 55 and a 7 or 8 on the 20 Thursday night and again when I get home.

I did however, come up with the perfect plan for feeding while I'm gone. I had the wife bring home a Sunday through Saturday pill box from the doctors office she works at, and I'll set it up with all the dried foods ahead of time. That way all I have to tell the mother-in-law is "Dump in the proper day at 4 pm. If you miss a day, don't worry about it, but DO NOT double it up!"
 
COBettaCouple
  • #39
Nice plan for your 'fishsitter'
 
wolfman21
  • #40
plants

One suggestion that was not made before going on a vacation: put in some live plants (if you have the right light and possible CO2). They will help with "pollution control" and will knock the nitrates down to nearly nothing.
For feeding, I would suggest a timer automatic feeder (one that resists clumping of food...trust me from experience, spend a little extra dough on a better automatic feeder) because this will feed the fish a desirable amount at a desirable time (unlike the chalk blocks).
Same goes with the lights...put your light on a timer, then you can have it turn on and off when you want it to.
If in doubt, have a friend come over and check on it to make sure everything is ok, if you know someone who knows how to clean a tank, then that's just an added bonus!
 

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