I am about to leave for a 1 week vacation and my aquarium care will be left in the hands of my girlfriend. She has no knowledge of aquariums. After 20+ years in the hobby i have learned the easy way to handle this situation, so i thought i'd share with anyone who is interested.
My basic setup is a 37 gallon fish & invert w/ live rock. Details are available on my profile.
Obviously the biggest concern is feeding. To prevent overfeeding, I have premeasured flake food into dixie cups and labeled the cups for each feeding. All she has to do is add some water and pour the food in. The extra food is hidden, so that she is not tempted to feed more than i have given her.
Second, I need her to replace evaporated water. I prepared evaporation replacement water and have 1 gallon jugs ready to pour in the tank. Additionally, i have added a buffer to the evaporation replacement water, so it will be added gradually during the week. This is a preventative measure, since i will not be available to do my weekly pH and alkalinity tests on Saturday.
My biggest fear is livestock death. If something were to die in my absence, then the skimmer could potentially overflow. The skimmer is a venturi model, which I have adapted to also run an air driven wooden airstone. I have labeled the outlet for the power head that operates the skimmer, and have instructed her to unplug the unit if the collect cup were to fill, until she can contact one of my emergency contacts to come service the unit in my absence. I have left her a list of names and phone numbers of experienced hobbyists. Should an unexpected death occur, she can call one of them to diagnose the situation until I am home.
Everything else is on autopilot. The lights and power heads are on timers.
With a little planning ahead, taking a week long vacation does not have to be intimidating to you or to your fish sitter.