FEATURE! …THIS MONTH - VACATIONS
By Bill Wymard, Marine Biologist, Aquarium Adventure
It’s that time of year, summer, warm weather, schools out and the family is packing up headed for vacation. Mail and newspapers are getting picked up by neighbors; the grass is cut and lights in the house are on timers for that “lived in” look. All that is left are the fish and the aquarium---what to do?
In most cases the fish in the aquarium will be just fine, especially a “well established” aquarium that has been up and running for a long time. The week before your trip perform a nice water exchange (about 30%) as this will help make the environment and water quality in the aquarium very stable keeping the fish happy. Check all filter systems to insure they are in good working order (not clogged and running smoothly).
The next consideration is the aquarium lighting. If you do not have the aquarium light on a timer, now is the time to get one. This will enable you to control the amount of light the aquarium gets and also help control algae growth in the aquarium while you are away. The fish also need to get “sleep” time and darkness is important (they don’t have eyelids and can’t close their eyes to sleep) – constant bright light 24 hours a day is stressful for the fish.
Feeding the fish is always the biggest concern while being away on vacation. The best and easiest solution is to use a battery – operated automatic fish food feeder. Like the timer one uses for the light, these feeders are programmable to feed once or twice a day up to two weeks or more at a time. These feeders have a “hopper” that is filled with the type of food to be fed (i.e. flake, pellet or freeze dried) and dispense according the feeders settings. If your trip away is only for a few days, not feeding the fish at all will be fine. Begin to feed the fish several times a day to “fatten them up just a bit”. Most fish can go for a time without food, as in nature there are those “lean times” where they conserve energy when food availability diminishes.
If at all possible, it’s always nice to have someone check on the aquarium while being away for an extended period. They can feed fish if you would like them too (I would suggest leaving “pre-measured” feeding amounts so the right amount of food is provided and not overdone). They can also check and keep an eye on the filter system and over all health and quality of the aquarium. A shutdown of the filtration system on a well established aquarium that is not over loaded with fish would be fine for a few days---after that you would want someone to get it up and running again so as not to endanger the fish.
An aquarium service company that offers aquarium maintenance may be an excellent choice for customers on vacation or extended trips away from their aquarium---they will monitor the health, quality and feeding of the fish in the aquarium (they’ve even been known to take care of the lizards and feed and water the cat) insuring you are at ease and enjoying your time away.