How to Feed Aquarium Fish When On Vacation?

What do you do with your fish when you go on vacation? While you are away, you still need to feed your fish and maintain the aquarium environment.

There are different options to feed your fish while you’re on vacation.

Here’s an evaluation of the different methods that you can use and some precautionary measures that you must take while you are on holiday.

Feeding Your Aquarium Fish While On Vacation

Here are some ways you can make sure your fish are fine when you’re on your vacation

Don’t Feed Your Fish (2-3 Day Vacation)

This might sound a little harsh, but it’s actually quite not. Creatures like fish can survive and even function pretty well without food for a few days.

So, if you’re going for a weekend getaway, you don’t have to be all that worried about feeding your fish.

Many fish only eat after every 2-3 days anyway, so this is not cruel in any way.

Some healthy adult fish can also survive up to one or two weeks without feeding. However, this doesn’t imply that you’re allowed to skip their routine feedings.

This information is only to make you aware of how long your fish will remain alive under certain special circumstances.

Also, the appetite of each fish species tends to vary, so make sure you know how long the fish you have can go without food.

Get a Fish Sitter (Ask Friends/Family or Hire)

Just like you find a babysitter when you have a date night with your partner, you can hire a fish sitter when you’re away.

It’s normal to leave your fish for a few days (obviously less than a week) without food.

However, if you’re going away for an extended period of time, then you have to look for someone to tend to your beloved fish.

You can ask a family member, friend, neighbor, or even the kid down the block who wants some extra money.

Make sure that they’re aware of aquariums and fish needs/requirements; otherwise, it could be detrimental to your pet’s health.

Ensure that your helper knows not to overfeed your fish. Excess food can cause environmental issues within the aquarium and even prove to be lethal.

If you can’t find someone in your close circle to rely on, you can hire professional fish feeders.

This might be a little expensive, but it will help ensure that your pet remains safe and healthy.

Automatic Feeders

If you’re heading out on a long vacation, you can also install automatic feeders in your aquarium.

EHEIM Everyday Fish Feeder Programmable Automatic0;Food Dispenser

These feeders can easily be attached to your fish tank and can hold and dispense dry-food items over a certain period.

Automatic feeders are available in an extensive number of designs.

The best part about them is that they can be programmed to feed your tiny pets according to their eating schedule.

This can range from feeding them once a day to once every couple of days.

Automatic feeders function and dispense food based on the rotation of a compartmentalized plate that relies on a timer.

Hence, these feeders dispense food at intervals set by you.

You just have to fill up the feeder with dry food or pellets and set the intervals. Naturally, set the timer based on the feeding requirements of your fish.

There are two types of automatic feeders— barrel feeders and portion-control feeders.

Barrel Feeders

A barrel feeder comprises a compartment and feeder.

This compartment is filled with food and the feeder dispenses a specified amount of food depending on how much you open the front compartment.

Portion-Control Feeders

Have you ever seen a labeled plastic pillbox with small compartments? A portion-control feeder is very similar to this.

You can place the exact amount of food to feed your fish within the small compartments.

While this may sound like the ideal solution for feeding your fish whenever you leave them alone, it does have a few cons.

It’s important to consider that if the aquarium filter stops functioning, food will be dispensed into a polluted aquarium.

This can lead to a highly unfavorable and even possibly life and death situation for your fish.

Feeding Cubes

A feeding cube is another feeding method that you can use for your fish while you are on vacation.

They are pretty similar to automatic fish feeders because their job is also to disseminate food into the tank at intervals.

The major difference between the two is that one is an automatic feeding machine, while a feeding cube is like a block you have to drop into the fish tank.

Then again, there is an issue of uneven food distribution or no food distribution at all.

Even though it will probably do the job, it isn’t a trustworthy method, especially when it comes to your pet fish.

Moreover, typical feeding cubes can feed your Betta fish, but they cannot provide the proper nutrition they need to stay at their optimal health.

The pre-packaged feeding cube only carries basic nutrition, which won’t do much for your pet fish, especially if you’re away for long.

Feeder Fish Fry

Feeder fish fry is a great option to feed your fish if you are going to be away for a short period.

These small fish fry are a type of live food that you have to add to the tank.

Tetra Vacation Tropical Slow Release Feeder Fish Food, 1.06 oz (77150)

These feeder fish babies exist in the water tank alongside your fish. Your fish can consume them when they are hungry.

However, only choose this method if your fish tank is a large one and if you will be gone for only a short time.

If you are gone away for long, then the feeder fish fry would not be enough to feed your Betta/other fish.

Also, if you add too many feeder fish fry to your fish’s tank (more than they can eat), then they may grow the full size and invade your fish’s living space.

Pet Store Care

If none of these methods work for you, then opting for a pet store that can take care of your pet fish. Generally, pet stores don’t offer these kinds of services, but if you have a local one in your area, you can give them a try.

The good part about using this option is that your aquarium fish will receive constant care from people who know what they are doing.

On the other side, you’ll have to transport your fish from your house to the pet store, which can be an extremely stressful experience for your fish. If your car ride is bumpy, the situation can get worse.

Moreover, your fish will have to adjust to a new water tank all over again with new water temperature and quality. This can have an impact on the fish’s health and eating patterns.

Another thing to consider here is that by the time they are done adjusting to the pet store’s water tank, you’ll probably be back to pick them up.

Repeating the entire process will definitely take a toll on their stress levels, even if it didn’t the first time.

Lastly, there is a very high chance of your fish may catch some sickness or disease while they are at the pet store.

This is because some pet stores have connected fish tanks. If one fish or fish tank is infected, it can soon spread everywhere.

Feeding Tips for Your Aquarium Fish

If you’re planning to leave your fish on their own or in the hands of a sitter for a few days, you need to take some precautionary measures.

Here are a few tips to ensure the wellbeing of your fish pets while you’re away.

Lower the Temperature of the Aquarium

If you’re planning to be away for more than a week, you can turn down the aquarium’s temperature.

A lower temperature reduces the metabolic rate of your fish. This further leads to a reduced appetite. Cooler water keeps your fish sleepy, which means they’ll require lesser food for energy.

Setting a timer on your aquarium lights can help with the temperature. It will limit the activities of the fish which will, in turn, reduce its appetite.

Prep Your Fish

You will have to get your fish used to a certain environment.

This will ensure that they don’t experience a massive change when you’re not around. You can prep your fish a week before you adjourn on your trip.

You can do so by maintaining a ‘hands-off’ approach for a while.

Don’t feed your fish or maintain the aquarium while observing the behavior of your fish. Do this a few days before you change the water and filter the aquarium and set off on your journey.

Prepare Everything For the Fish Sitter

The biggest issue with having a sitter look after your fish is that they can end up overfeeding them.

This especially applies if the fish sitter has no prior experience or any related knowledge. You can prevent this from happening by purchasing a pill dispenser.

Get a plastic pill dispenser labeled with the days of the week. Fill every compartment with the amount of food your fish requires.

This will make it extremely easy for your helper to feed your fish as all they’ll have to do is take the food of each day and place it in the aquarium.

While commercial fish sitters are aware of what they’re doing, your friend whose help you’ve enlisted will require some instructions.

The fish sitter will have to keep a check on the aquarium at least every 3 days. It is recommended that you make a list of instructions and stick it near the aquarium for them to see.

Also, give them your phone number and ask them to contact you anytime they hit a roadblock.

Use Automatic Feeders

Automatic feeders seem like a highly attractive option for feeding your fish but can be pretty expensive.

Also, different feeders are better suited for different types of fish.

Ensure that you read reviews and conduct your research before purchasing one.

Set up your automatic feeder a few days before you leave for your vacation to make sure it’s working properly.

Know Your Fish Type

Most fish can survive up to 2 or 3 days without being fed. It’s normal for you to not feed your fish if you’re going for a weekend getaway.

Just make sure that you offer your fish pets a slightly larger meal before you go.

Also, as mentioned before, different fish types have different feeding requirements. Some fish can even go up to two weeks without eating.

Bigger fish can survive without being fed as compared to smaller fish.

Carnivorous fish also tend to go without food for longer periods of time as compared to herbivorous ones.

Look up information about the fish you own to know how long they can survive without food.

Also, it’s better to test out their eating capacity and feeding patterns while you’re around. This will probably be the safest option.

Avoid Feeder Blocks

While adding feeder blocks to your aquarium sounds like a good idea, it’s not.

Feeder blocks are meant to dissolve in the fish tank over time (approximately 2 weeks).

This can lead to rotting food, which can contaminate the water especially if your fish don’t like it.

Also, feeder blocks might not offer ample food for large fish as they may only dissolve into small particles suitable for small fish.


Don’t make your vacation a life and death situation for your aquarium fish.

While your fish can survive for a while without being fed, it’s important to remember that they still require care.

You will have to acquaint yourself with the type of fish that you have in order to set up an environment in which they can survive.

You can also opt for automatic feeders or pet sitters, depending on your preference.

The precautions mentioned above can help you enjoy a worry-free vacation.

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