Two week holiday = starving loaches?

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Two week holiday = starving loaches?

Post by pierydys » Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:57 am

Right. Am leaving to go to Finland at the end of the week. Holidays and family and all. We'll be gone for two weeks. Two weeks!

So I've gone on long trips before, but I usually have a roommate so there's somebody around to drop food in the tank every few days. However, with the new living situation, the closest person I trust with a house key would have to drive half an hour to get here, so I'm wondering what my options are.

My herd of loaches are currently what you would optimistically call "conditioned". Rotund. A bit jiggly, on occasion ;-) I've been feeding them extra bloodworms over the past week to give them a nice layer for fat, but I still am worried about leaving them to fend for themselves for two whole weeks. A few questions, then:

Do I need to turn down the temps a bit (they're currently sitting at 82F) to lower their metabolisms or should I leave it the way it is?

I've been told all the slow-release blocks (plaster and gel form) are crap that will just hurt water quality. True, or is there a hidden gem somewhere?

The big loaches (4 inches and over) will probably be fine, but I have a handful of babies (2") in there as well. Would they last without a feeding or should I have my friend drive out on a weekend? Would going a week without feeding be okay for the little ones?

Not so sure about the automatic feeders, because they'd be dumping food regularly but that might backfire without the thrice weekly water changes I like to do. Nitrates, oy. Anybody have luck with these?

My fish have been exceptionally active and friendly (practically sticking their noses out the tank when I'm nearby) since the frozen bloodworm treats started appearing. (I usually only give them that when there's tiny babies or skinny newbies in the tank.) The idea of seeing them all skinny and sulky by the time I get back is very distressing.

I need some advice and possibly sedatives, guys. If only I could pack them off to a fish auntie like we're doing with the cat :-(

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Post by starsplitter7 » Tue Dec 16, 2008 12:25 pm

Check and see if a local LFS does fish boarding. I had a great one that did an awesome job of taking fish while you are on vacation and for schools during the summer.

In my area there are businesses that do fish maintenance. I would call and see if they make home visits. Make sure they are legit, and hire them to do pop ins.

I would set up a webcamera, so you can watch your fish during yur vacation. You will feel much better. I don't worry about feedings, but I worry about the heater going crazy, a leak in the tank, filter shutting off, . . . And have your friend check on the weekend to make sure you didn't lose a filter and do a small feeding (with pre-measured food and hide the rest). Or if you see a problem on the webcam, call your friend to check the fish, and bring a nice tidbit from Finland. :)

I was gone 5 days for Thanksgiving this year. Halfway through we had a power interruption of a sec or two, and of my ten tanks, two filters went out. I even had a full-time fish watcher who didn't notice. One tank was fine -- Betta and guppy fry. In the other tank I lost 8 fish :( . The rest survived, but were up at the top of the tank. It was a horrible experience -- separating the dead from the severely distressed. And I consider myself lucky. I expected to lose them all.

I wish you all the best. I am not trying to stress you out. I am sure everything will be fine with your fish.

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Post by Martin Thoene » Tue Dec 16, 2008 1:23 pm

Well fed fish in an established aquarium will be ok for 2 weeks easily.

In '99 I went to VA for 3 weeks from England. I did a 50% water-change before leaving and the fish were all perfectly fine when I got home.

starsplitter7's comments about the Murphy's Law that states that things will/may break while you are away are obviously worrying and I can't honestly say unfounded.

I left Canada for 2 weeks back to England in 2006 and (fortunately) my ex popped in to check the fish every so often. She was a fishkeeper so knew what she was doing. She went up to the apartment door one time and realized that the carpet was wet outside the apartment!

It turns out there had been a powercut and a hose union on a filter wept water due to a back-syphon action. The filter fired up again and stopped leaking after the power came on, but she discovered quite a lot of water had leaked onto the hardwood floor. She mopped it up as best she could but the damage had been done.

That's the reason I now use stainless steel automotive worm-drive clips on all barbed hose fittings on external filters.

Having someone pop in to check the life-support systems are functioning ok is certainly a worthy consideration but they absolutely MUST know what they are dealing with to recognize any problems and deal accordingly.

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Post by newshound » Tue Dec 16, 2008 2:10 pm

I wouldn't trust the average LFS!
drain your pool!

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Post by starsplitter7 » Tue Dec 16, 2008 2:35 pm

Mine wasn't an average LFS. Mine was a Mom and daughter store. Really excellent care and attention. I agree the average LFS wouldn't do.

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Post by Diana » Tue Dec 16, 2008 2:47 pm

I have used an automatic feeder. Worthless.
I have worked with tanks where the owner used the Tetra gel food. Worked very well, but he has small fish and shrimp, nothing large.
The plaster things are bad news.

If your tanks generally require several water changes per week, then I would opt for no feeding, or maybe just one feeding, mid-vacation.
If your friend knows how to spot trouble (filter quit or other as suggested above) then ask that friend to check on things as often as reasonable, but offer to pay, at least cover the gas that such a trip will cost. If your friend can come once or twice during your trip then that friend could also feed the fish, but no more food than that. (Set amount of food, such as labeled baggies and hide the rest of the food)

The idea of an aquarium maintenance company is also a good one, but they are not likely to come over more than once a week, either. However, look into it, and perhaps offer your friend the same fee as the professionals would have charged.
38 tanks, 2 ponds over 4000 liters of water to keep clean and fresh.

Happy fish keeping!

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Post by qumqats » Wed Dec 17, 2008 7:40 pm

I've never found any feeders that work well for flake. I only automatically feed crisps/granular/pellets.

Forget the ones that spin slowly twice a day. The food gets wet and caked during the period of time while the feed hole is pointing down.

If you get one that spins around, you want it to spin all at once, not slowly over the course of the entire day. That way the feed hole is pointing up all day away from the humidity. The food doesn't get wet/caked. ... ndor~.html
This one is pricey, but the one I like the best. 2 bins, complete flexibility of when and how much food, and it uses a worm gear that forces the food out. ... ndor~.html
I don't have one of these, but this one is as flexible as the previous one in the feed schedule and should be top notch. ... ndor~.html
I have two of these and they work quite well. It does a complete spin twice a day. You can adjust the width of the slot that lets the food drop out.

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