Aquatics Unlimited: Articles: Tip: Who's Gonna Feed The Fish?
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Tip: Who's Gonna Feed The Fish?

for the week of 5/28/98

With summer vacation time rapidly approaching, we get a lot of calls regarding the feeding of aquarium fish when the family is gone for the weekend or longer. Here are a few options:

  • Just forget about 'em. Many common community fish can survive without food for an occassional weekend or so, provided they are peaceful species of similar size. This does not work for aggressive or mis-matched collections; hunger seems to make these species more likely to attack or start thinking of their former "friends" as "snacks."
  • Have a friend or neighbor stop in. Often, someone is selected to check up on the house occassionally anyway, so why not have them feed the fish as well? If the helper is not an experienced aquarist, it's wise to measure out appropriate feeding-size portions, and seal them in individual plastic bags. Then there is no doubt as to how much to feed.
  • Use commercial "feeder blocks." These inexpensive little blocks slowly dissolve to release granular bits of food, and generally last either a weekend or about two weeks. Many common fish that would otherwise eat flake or granular foods consume these readily, but they are obviously not suitable for fussy eaters. Make sure to use an appropriate number of blocks for the quantity and size of fish to be fed. Some hobbyists combine this option with the previous, and have a friend or neighbor stop in every few days and add more feeder blocks as needed.
  • Set up a mechanical feeder. There are several excellent automated feeding machines available that are either battery operated or plug into an electrical outlet. Some models feed twice per day, twelve hours apart; others can be programmed rather precisely as to times, numbers and even sizes of feedings. Most are designed to deliver flake foods, but some can be used with pellets or other dry foods as well.

Avoid the temptation to feed the fish a huge meal just before leaving. Fish can't really store food, and poor water quality from overfeeding is far more dangerous than going hungry for a few days. Also, take care not to close up the house so tightly that the room temperature soars to 90 or even 100 degrees, which again is much more critical than a couple of missed meals.

Submitted by: Jim Kostich

"Tip of the week" appeared regularly in 1999 and 2000.

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