When Winter Break Comes, What To Do With My Fish...
Since I am at college, there is Christmas break at the beginning of December. I will be going back home which is about a 2 hours drive away. The break will last for about a month so there is not an option of leaving the fish there without food. I heard that fish could last about a week without food, but that is a little out of the picture since I will be gone for a month. It's a 29g tank with 5 Black Skirts, 5 Pepper Corys, and 7 Rummy Nose Tetras. No live plants, just artificial. Artificial log, and sand substrate. What can I do if I decide to move everything back home for the month period of time? Is there any other options? I don't want to have to move it back because I also have to bring my sister and girlfriend back home along with all of our stuff...all in a Honda Accord :/
Maybe there is someone that is not going home for xmas? Failing this, you may be able to make arrangements with the college to have maintenance feed the fish a couple of times a week? Failing that, you could try the newer Tetra gel feeders, but a month is a bit of a stretch. I used them when I was gone for 4 days and when I came beck they appeared barely touched and the fish seemed fine. I don't know what would be the case if they were unattended for a month - perhaps others will have additional ideas-
How are you going to handle your weekly water changes with your fish in your dorm? You might have to make two trips but your fish should go home with you UNLESS you can find someone to feed them, make sure they're healthy, and change their water. Frankly, the gas for two trips might cost less that paying a pet-sitter.
Figuring out what to do with your fish over breaks is one of the hardest parts about keeping fish in college. If you are in an apartment you could consider making weekly drive up to feed your fish and change the water. If you are in a dorm, you will probably have to move them. You could see if you have a friend with an apartment and is willing to take your fish for the break. A last ditch resort would be to leave them in the hands of an automatic feeder if the electricity in your dorm is left on. I have used one a few times with okay results. I'd set it up and watch it run for a few days to make sure it will work fine for your tank.
I had fish all 4 years in college both in the dorms and in an apartment. Breaks were difficult. I eventually found a few fish that adjusted better than most to my college lifestyle. But I say if you can take them home, do it. No one will care for your fish like you do.
my plan would be to check craigslist for a cheap 20-30 gallon tank could be found very easily in my area for less then $20
you dont need a stand u can use a book case or a desk i am doing both right now
take a small "Tupperware" storage container for transport they make 5-10 gallon storage bins any would suffice and keep the filter and lights u are using now
the filter will have enough benifical bacteria in it to not need a cycling process
that would be the best and cheapest option in my opinion
the shallower you keep the water during transport the better it allows for the most surface agitation and oxygen diffusion
Vacations and school breaks are definatly a challenge. I had to deal with that kind of joy myself. My fishys and I have moved or vacationed about 12 times over the past 5 years and lived in 3 states. 4 are still with me today. :) I have note yet lost one to moving.
My suggestion if you are going to take them with you is a 5 gallon paint bucket, new of course (ace hardware or a lowes etc. They have good tight lids and are rather compact and fit well behind the seat in a footwell of a car. You can punch a hole in the top ( just an x with a razor blade) to feed the air hose through and just get one of the air stones that look like a round large marble something like 50 cents. :) and then get an adapter for your cigarette plug (power inverter). It converts the cigarette to a normal wall plug so you can plug the air pump in. This will run you about $15 at walmart, this is a desent one (bravo view 250 power inverter with usb port). Next since you have some sensitive fish I'd also suggest getting a small container (looks like white styrafome) of the amonia removing crystals that you'd put in a canister filer. (not realy expensive either but you'd will probably have to go to a petsmart or a local fish place, general stores wont carry it). There should also be some small thin bags to cover filter intakes with drewstrings, another 80 cents. and fill it with about 3/4 full something like half a cup. and place it in the water with the fish make sure to rinse it before you put it in with the fish to get the powder off. (if you can't find the bag, panty hose works just as well) Lastly a good heavy blanket or towels to cover the bucket to hold in as much heat as possible on your trip. This is the meathod I've used in moving my fishys.
The automatic feeders work okay but I'd worry about your guys being left to it. The rummy nose tetra are rather sensitive to water quality and the auto feeders are not that precise. You'l likely end up with uneaten food and over a few weeks it would gunk up the water.
Also I'd definatly wait till after your break to add any more fish. Fewer fish to move the better.
Another option instead of just the air pump you can get a sponge filter. start using it in your tank right away to season it. They just fit on an air pump which you already have and they are excelent biofilters so you wouldn't have to worry as much about the amonia in the water on your travel and it would really help when you set up the other tank at your home. They really outperform a regular filter in that department. They are pretty inexpensive too $8-10. Forigive me on the money thing if its of no importants. As a collge student I was always pinching pennies and having to buy a bunch of stuff just for a move can add up quick. But all this stuff can be used over and over. :)
A note on resettling your fish. Keep in mind they have been in the dark for the whole trip. When you get in just crack the lid a bit not much more than an inch off and let them get used to the light again. Once you have your house tank set up and the water temp is the same as the tank, use a lamp light instead of a sealing light, net out your fish into the tank and leave the light off on the tank the rest of the day. let your heater slowly bring the temperature back up to where it needs to be. Just think slow on any changes. The slower the changes to the fish the less the shock and risk of overstressing. Don't worry about feeding them the day of the move. If they area stressed they don't really eat anyway and it will dirty up the water. The day before the move go easy on the feeding too. This is just to help them stay in the cleanest water possible. Easy feeding the day after move and then normal feeding the second day. If you have amonia and nitrate/nitrite test kits test your water daily and change water as needed at least 1 a week or if no test kits, do 80% water changes daily for a week. You can also take advantage if there is a local fish place neer home. Most will check your water for you for free. If you take all your filter stuff with you it shouldn't take long to get your new tank cycled... but your tetras don't handle cycling which is why i suggest the daily water changes.
Hope its helpful, i do tend to ramble sorry. Consider the moving a labor of love even if it is just a nessesity. I know its a pain in the but. For what its worth though it gets a lot easier after each round. :)
IMO moving a 29 gallon home for a month then back to school is barely going to be worth the effort. If it was a 10 or something it would be different. Even though a proper move isn;t going to harm your cycle, you are still going to disrupt the tank. It would likely take a couple weeks to a month for it to rebalance to new waters and then your gonna be close to moving it back. This is going to be hard on your rummies and cories. I personally would find someone to just to minimal maintenance feed twice a week, figure out a way to get one water change done in the middle of the month.
If you do chose to move them, use bags not buckets. Bag them with 2/3 air 1/3 water, don't put too many fish in a bag. Fast the fish for a few days before and don't add any extra chemicals to the bags. Then put the bags in a cooler, if the cooler has extra space you can use some hot water bottles if you want, but this isn't necessary. Keep the cooler closed and dark. A 2 hour drive is nothing really. Bag your filter media the same way as the fish. If you were looking at a really long time in the bags putting a little cube of mature media in each bag is a trick shippers use. The sand and decor I would also bag, or you can bucket it. You can leave the sand in the tank, but its generally not suggested. I've transported many tanks before with weight in them, but I deal generally with pretty cheap used breeder quality tanks. Don't leave any extra water though, the sand is going to stay wet without it. You also don't even need to keep the sand wet or even moist.
I've moved my fair share of tanks. Most all my fish come from auctions though and these tend to last 6 hours or more. During this time all fish are in bags. They are laid out on tables and looked through/picked up by usually a couple hundred people. The vast majority of fish survive this including discus and a lot of young fish fry. My loss rate is normally 0 for whatever I buy and they spend about 8 hours in their bags. Healthy fish can take a lot of stress as long as it is not drawn out over a really long amount of time. Longest fish I've ever had in a bag were my 6 panda garras and they spent 4 days in the mail.
I've never really watched light adjustment. Most my tanks go from very dark to very bright instantly every morning when the lights come on.
Correctly done there should be no disruption of the cycle, however a cycled tank is not the same as a balanced or mature tank. Your loosing both of the latter when you move a tank.
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