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-   -   While on Vacation??? (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-aquarium-equipment/while-vacation-11713/)

sweetcaroline 02-09-2008 05:00 PM

While on Vacation???
 
Hi all,
I am brand new to this site and somewhat new to this hobby. I have had a 75g freshwater tank set up for about 8 months now, with the help of my boyfriend who is very experienced in freshwater tanks. I have [and am extremely happy with the exciting group] in the tank:

1 rainbow shark (still only a few inches but getting longer and plumper by the minute!)
1 sunset gourami
2 catfish, forgive me, I forget their actual type, but they are light gray and black spotted and have the long whiskers...they are currently only a few inches but i think are expected to get to about 10"...i love them and they leave each other alone!!
1 weather loach (i expect he is almost full grown at about 8" and quite plump and he is hysterical!!)
3 small loaches...i believe they are kuhli loaches, but my BF knows for sure

Everyone has appeared extremely happy and the water is always within proper parameters. (I am VERY anal!)

My Qs are related to the fact that we are going away for 10 days next month and although my BF is relatively knowledgeable, he has never gone on a long vacation while owning fish.
Since I have heard so many different things to do while away, I am writing to see what you guys suggest about feeding, lighting, etc while I am gone.

I currently feed them once a day a varied diet of a few flakes (mainly for the gourami), several sinking bottom feeder pellets, occasional algae wafers and freeze-dried krill, and once in a while some peeled pieces of veggies such as peas or cucumbers.

Q: What should I do for feeding while away? I have heard so many differing thoughts on the feeder block things and with the constant eating of fish like the gourami and rainbow, I don't think it's the best choice.
People suggest having a neighbor boy come to feed them but I am nervous about the amount, reliability, etc. I could get very anal and separate daily food for him into plastic bags or something, but idk. I don't really like this idea...entering house and all!
My boyfriend thinks the automatic feeder is the way to go. What do you think and what is a good brand?
Q: What about lighting? I generally have the light on 6-8 hrs a day, give or take couple hours on certain days. Should I invest in an automatic light switch? I have read articles that say it is ok to leave light off the whole vacation??
Q: last one! I have read so much info on when to do a partial change before I go. Since I do about 15% or 20% changes with partial vaccuming every week or week and a half, should I do this right before I leave?

ANY HELP WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!!
I really love my fish and tank and would hate for anything to happen while away!
SORRY FOR THE LONG QUESTION!!

Thanks!

okiemavis 02-09-2008 05:09 PM

Hello,

Welcome to fishforum!

Your tank sounds lovely. I wouldn't image you'll have too many troubles on your vacation- the tank is well stocked for the sizes these fish will become, so the bioload is pretty low right now.

As for feeding, I'd go with a neighbor. The best way to prevent overfeeding (because neighbors ALWAYS will) is to get one of those multi day pill boxes. That way you can measure out the exact amount you want added every day and even vary the food from day to day. As for automatic feeders, there are LOTS of crappy ones. I think eheim makes some good ones, and there are a few others, but I don't think you'll get one for under $50 (that's half decent anyway). I tend to prefer a human looking after my tanks because in case (god forbid) a fish should die while I am away, they can scoop it out so that the fish doesn't completely destroy your water quality while you are gone.

Timers are great, I've got one for my tank just because it's soo much more reliable than me being home at the same time every day to turn it off. Just don't bother getting one at the fish store! They're twice as much and they sell the same brand at radio shack ($6-8).

You should be fine just doing a standard tank cleaning right before you leave. You might want to do closer to 25-30% and make sure the water level is extra high, just to account for water evaporation, but I wouldn't worry at all about it.

Best of luck! I'd love to see some pics of your tank in the photos section!

Jasey 02-09-2008 05:59 PM

Welcome to the FishForum! Some things in addition to okiemavis' advice: If you don't feel comfortable with a neighbor and don't want to invest in a automatic feeder, you could get a gel slow-release food tin. They are cheaper than the plaster ones and are a lot cleaner, plus they have ones that can last up to 14 days. For your size tank, I would get 2 of the gel feeders if you decide to go with them.

Also, I got a cheap lamp timer for $5 at Home Depot. Just plugs right into the socket and I plugged an extension cord into the timer so I could plug in both of my hood lights.

Have a nice vacation. :)

thespiff 02-10-2008 08:46 PM

If you decide to go with an automatic feeder, test it thoroughly first. Set it up and run it on your aquarium for a week before you go. If it's one of those deals with a big hopper of food that spins and dumps some out, monitor the quantity it dumps. I learned the hard way about those spinning hopper feeders when I came back from a 10-day trip home for the holidays to find a war zone full of decaying food. Lost 2 cories. It sucked. It amazes me how much money it will run you to get a decent feeder.

When in doubt, I'd suggest that you err on the side of underfeeding. The fish will be more likely to survive a few days of hunger than a few days of ammonia poisoning from too much food floating in the tank.

Those catfish sound like the Synodontis Eupterus that I have. He's awesome! Anyway...I'm curious about your weather loach. I have one that's about 4 inches and he's a complete paranoid spaz. He's terrified of everything and especially me. He hides under his rock all day, and darts out briefly at feeding time before spazzing out and running back to his rock. I think he needs a friend. Does this sound like your loach, or is he a bit less of a sociopath? I'm wondering if mine will mellow out with age. I can't seem to find another one at the LFS's to be his friend.

I hope your fish do well while you're out of town.

Falina 02-10-2008 09:14 PM

I actually thought your catfish sounded like a pictus catfish. Try googling this and the syno and see if either seems to match.

I would probably go with the neighbour. You wouldn't need to get them to come in every day, even twice during your vacation would be fine. A healthy fish can go a week and more without food. They will be hungry, but it won't have a detrimental effect on their health. And putting some food in a small bag sounds like a good idea to make sure they don't overfeed.

sweetcaroline 02-10-2008 09:20 PM

thanks everyone...lots of good advice!
I think we are going to go with the neighbor kid across the street. i will do the pillbox to avoid him the urge to overfeed! that way he can monitor any (God forbid) tragedies while we are away)
will def put up some pics when i get a chance!

SPIFF...i asked my BF. the cats are Pictus and i guess they don't get as big as i thought...about 5" (but who knows!)

and no, i think you may have a different kind of loach...sounds more like my black kuhlis (keep in mind there are tons of varying colors including the regular striped kind). they are much smaller and thinner and only get to be about 4". since they [all loaches] are scavenger bottom feeders and ALWAYS find something to eat, they grow soooo fast, especially the weather loach! i bought him about 2 months after cycling finished (so maybe 6 months ago) and he pretty much looked like the lil kuhlis...about 3 or 4" and thin. then before we knew it...he was like 8" and super plump! he is hysterical and always hanging around...literally! he hangs from the filter, hangs on top of the castle, etc! loaches typically always prefer to be with some of their own kind...we lucked out with the weather loach in that he seemed perfectly happy...but my anal self wanted to get him some friends. unable to find some weathers (and concerned about his huge size) we saw some healthy kuhlis at the LFS and bought 3. All four hang out and love each other...but the kuhlis i think are full grown now and still pretty thin. all in all loaches are truly amazing to watch.
My advice would be to get some more for your little guy (to make at least a group) of 3, have tons of fun hiding places, and though loaches are very hardy, ALWAYS keep your water stable. i have heard they can adjust to temps, and other settings, but it is most important to keep it stable.
My loaches love sinking shrimp pellets, algae wafers, and pieces of steamed veggies like broccoli stems, peas, and even banana! sometimes they even come up for flakes i put in for my gourami!

by the way, since they are such good bottom feeders, my tank is unbelievably clean...even bigger plus to having loaches.

hope some of this helps with your loach! keep me posted...as you can prob tell they are a minor obsession!

sweetcaroline 02-10-2008 09:26 PM

thanks falina....they are pictus as you can see form the last post...i was writing while you were!
love love the pictus...such amazing faces!!


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