Worried about how to care for your fish while away over the holidays? Take the stress out of worrying with these holiday feeding and care tips.

How to care for and feed fish while on holiday

As long as you plan ahead before you go, you’ll be reassured that your fish will remain healthy and happy while you’re on your trip. Here are some things to prep before you go.

What’s the best way to feed pet fish while on holiday?

If you’re only going on holiday for a few days, you actually might not need to feed your fish during that time. Some fish breeds can survive without food for a long as two weeks so research this beforehand to see if it’s the best option for you as it’s important to not overfeed them.

Generally, carnivorous fish such as Jack Dempsey cichlids and bettas can go without food for longer than omnivorous species like goldfish, while herbivorous fish such as tetras and tags will need to be fed the most often. Similarly, large, adult fish can go without food for more time compared to smaller, younger fish. The more active a fish is , the more you need to feed them; so little, active fish like tetras need to be fed daily. If you’re not sure what’s best for your pet fish don’t hesitate to come in store and just ask a friendly Petbarn team member.

For fish who will require food while you’re gone, you can provide them with a holiday feeding block that matches the breed of fish you have. Make sure to trial the feeding block before you go on holiday to see how fast it dissolves and how your fish react to it. Some fish may not perceive this as food which can cause the block to negatively affect the water quality when you’re gone.

An alternative is using an automatic feeder which can portion out dry food at regular intervals or engaging a fish sitter to feed them the correct amount while you’re on holiday.

Clean the aquarium before you go

You’ll want your aquarium to be in the best possible condition before you leave for your trip. Complete a water change with a gravel vacuum and consider changing a half to two-thirds of the water in the tank so it has the best chance of staying fresh and uncontaminated while you’re gone.

If you’re going to be gone for longer than a week, top up the tank with more water before you to go ensure that the water levels don’t dip too low.

Remember to check the filter and replace the sponge or pads on your mechanical filter if necessary. Clean the tubes and the area surrounding the filter to help prevent it from becoming clogged during your time away.

Finally, check your water parameters including the pH, nitrate, nitrite and ammonia levels to make sure they’re at the correct levels before you leave using a water testing kit or bringing a 100mL sample to your nearest Petbarn where we’ll test it for free.

Check your equipment

Make sure your filters, air pumps, aquarium lights, heaters and chillers, and other devices that require electricity are properly plugged in and replace any batteries if necessary.

Set light timers

Much like how you wouldn’t want it to be daylight 24 hours a day or be constantly plunged in darkness, your fish also prefer to have a standard day and night cycle. Use a light timer to provide your fish with 12 hours of daytime and 12 hours of night for example.

Maintain the water temperature

As cold-blooded animals, fish are particularly sensitive to sudden changes in temperature. Ensure that their environment remains in the same temperature it would be if you were at home. If you’re going on holiday in summer, make sure your air-conditioning automatically switches on when the room temperature rises above a certain level and ask a friend to come over and check on your pet fish during heat waves.

Use a fish sitter

If you’re going away for more than a week, it’s recommend to have a friend drop by your house to check on your fish and aquarium.

Provide them with all the necessary information such as what to feed your pets, when and how much. To make sure they don’t overfeed your fish, a great tip is to measure out each day’s serving size for them and put it in a pill box so all they have to do is put that set amount into the aquarium.

Make sure to also give them tips on what to check for such as leaks, if the filter’s running as it should, the water temperature in the tank and who to contact if they notice a problem such as your local Petbarn or Greencross Vets team.

Written by: Dr Aivee Huynh, Greencross Vets Punchbowl