As we move into spring, one of the more common questions I am asked by aquarium owners is is how to take care of the aquarium while they are away on vacation. I enjoy answering this question because while there are a few steps involved, they are all simple to do.

The very first thing I tell them is to make sure that whoever they have watching the house has a professional aquarium manager’s phone number. Questions often arise, and sometimes they need professional answers.

The next thing I advise is having written instructions for their sitter, detailing the day-to-day care of the aquarium. It’s one thing to show them everything that needs to be done and for them to say that they understand it. However, showing them and then giving them written instructions is a different matter entirely.
These instructions will mainly be about the feeding of the animals. If you feed different foods on alternate days, then this will need to be explained in detail. The more detailed the instructions are, the better your sitter will be able to help you and to keep your fish happy while you are on vacation.

Speaking of feeding, there are a couple other options beyond having your sitter feed your pets. There are solid vacation feeders which dissolve food over a few days and dispense food to the tank’s inhabitants. I know that some people have had success using these, and others didn’t see anything that showed them that the fish were being fed.

Another option is putting an automatic feeder on the tank while you are gone. Although I prefer this method, it makes a couple of assumptions, namely that the fish are eating pellets. This seems to be more of an issue in saltwater tanks with certain fish which haven’t completely become acclimated to captive life, or with certain types of fish.

The downside to automatic feeders is that they can be tricky to program. There is a wide variety of feeder brands, and it can seem like they each have their own way of programming.
My go-to feeder is the Eheim Everyday Feeder. The instructions are somewhat easy to follow, and they can be set to feed up to four times a day. They are compact units and their batteriesseem to last for a long time compared to other feeders. They are also much easier to feed than any other automatic feeder I have used.
It is that simple! With a little bit of planning, your fish will be well taken care of while you are enjoying your vacation.

Contributed by
David Green
Co-Founder of
ReefTechs Aquarium Consultants.