Some tips for feeding your fish while you are away.
In a healthy, well-filtered aquarium with normally well-fed tropical fish, your fish could actually go several days between feeding sessions without any long-term effects on their health. After all, in nature fish do not have a regular feeding schedule and survive without eating for similar periods of time. Of course, there are always exceptions:
- If you are attempting to breed fish (which requires a steady source of nutrition)
- If the aquarium contains aggressive fish that will feed on other fish in the tank
For either of the above, you will need to make other arrangements for feeding.
Basic feeding options
If you are planning on being away from home for more than a few days, or if you simply would like to keep your fish on a routine feeding schedule, you have a few options.
- Fish sitter. If you ask a friend or neighbor to feed your fish, instruct them not to overfeed. If too much food is given, you may return home to a cloudy tank and/or a few dead fish. Measure out small portions in small plastic bags to prevent overfeeding, and only feed fish once every 2-3 days.
- Mechanical feeding device. These are battery-operated devices that contain compartments for storing up to a couple of weeks of dry food. The food is dispersed into the aquarium in controlled amounts by a built-in timer that moves the feeding compartments into position at user-designated intervals.
- Feeding blocks. Feeding blocks are designed for feeding a community tank and come in various shapes and sizes. These feeders slowly release pellets or other foods for continuous feeding for all different types of fish. Specific water temperature, pH levels and placement are important for optimal performance. The number of feeders required depends on the volume of your aquarium — use too many and the water will become fouled, creating a stressful situation for your fish.
Live feeding options
If you keep fish that require or prefer live foods, traveling presents a larger challenge. Keep the following in mind:
- On one hand, fish that require live foods tend to be able to go without feeding for a prolonged time (provided that they are well fed just before you leave).
- Unfortunately, if they become hungry in the interim, they may attack other fish in the tank.
- Never leave live food in the aquarium to fend for itself while you are away.
- If the live food dies before becoming a meal, or large remnants of it remain in the aquarium, you will have severe water-quality problems and/or sick fish upon your return.