Fish love food, and like many other creatures, they will take every opportunity to eat it that they are given. Big meals, small meals, treats, aquatic plants, and even other fish in the aquarium, they will feast upon it all. They get excited at the sight of food, fight for food, and may even beg for it, food has to be one of the most important things in their life.
You’re presented with the dilemma of whether you should leave your fish alone or under someone else’s care. In case you don’t find anyone to take care of your fish, you have no choice but to leave your fish alone.
There are a variety of factors that contribute to the survival of your fish while you’re away. It’s important for you to foresee the wellbeing of your fish beforehand and make all the necessary preparations to keep them alive and thriving
How Long Can Fish Survive Without Being Fed?
This is a very common question amongst individuals who are planning to travel soon.
The rule of thumb is that older and larger fish find it easier to survive without food for longer time periods as compared to younger and smaller fish. This is because older and larger fish tend to have more body mass and fat reserves. Considering this, an adult cichlid will live longer without food as compared to a golden pencil fish.
Many tropical fishes can survive a considerably long time period without having to eat. It’s not easy to determine the exact duration of time as it depends on multiple factors
Additionally, if your fish are herbivores then they’ll probably have to feed every day as they have to eat a lot to get enough nutrition.
How Will I Know How Long My Fish Can Go Without Food?
Truthfully, there is no real way of knowing unless you test them by not feeding and monitoring how they do. This, however, is not something we would recommend as it could be detrimental to your fish’s health, even causing death. Rather, we would suggest that you only, if necessary, leave your fish without food for three to four days and that you take a few steps to decrease their appetites.
The first trick you can use to slow your fish’s appetite down is to lower the temperature of the aquarium slightly. The second is to lessen the length of time that you have your aquarium lights on. Taking these steps will decrease the activity that your fish participate in, slow down their metabolism, and decrease their need for food.
Here are a few factors that determine how long your fish can survive without food.
• What Kind of Fish Do You Have?
There are different types of fish that fall into four distinguished categories based on their diet.
The four main categories are herbivore, omnivore, carnivore, and limnivore. While carnivores, such as cichlids, eat meat, herbivores, such as tangs, only consume plants and algae.
Omnivores tend to consume both meat and plants.
Limnivores consume mud-based food. In short, the feeding frequency of the fish depends on the type of fish you have.
Generally, carnivores tend to survive longer without feeding as compared to other fish types. Since they can go days without catching prey, they’re designed to survive through long periods of food scarcity.
The other categories of fish demand food more frequently in order to survive—especially Limnivores and Herbivores— they spend more time eating or looking for food.
• How Long Has it Been Since You Setup Your Aquarium?
If you’re departing on your journey and have planned to leave your fish behind, this factor is extremely important. Is your aquarium well-established, old or relatively new?
For more recently installed aquariums, there’s a high chance that the ecological balance between the aquarium and the fish load hasn’t reached yet. There may also be behavioral overstocking in the aquarium, such as territoriality or the production of waste.
You should be well-informed about the set-up of your aquarium as it will become easier for you to foresee how long your fish can stay without food. It’s considerably risky to leave your fish tank unattended or unmonitored while it’s still trying to establish an ecological balance.
• For How Long Will You Be Away?
Another crucial factor to consider before you leave your fish tank is determining the time you’re planning to be away. You don’t need to worry or prep excessively for you’re only going to be away for the weekend.
However, to make sure that your fish remain healthy while you are away on the weekend, you should clean the filtration system and change the water a few days before leaving. This will ensure that the fish survive the weekend without food and remain healthy.
• Lower the Temperature
Turning down the temperature reduces the metabolism rate of your fish, hence reducing their need for food. Before you leave, you will probably set a timer on the aquarium lights.
Make sure you set a shorter than normal daytime timer on your fish tank lights as that will limit the activity of the fish and decrease the need for food repeatedly.
• Automatic Feeders
These automatic feeders that can be attached to your aquarium are designed for holding and dispensing dry-food items. They are available in a huge variety of designs and can be programmed according to the feeding schedule of the fish.
It can be programmed to feed your fish once a day or every few days. They function by rotating a compartmentalized plate that relies on a timer.
• Vacation Feeders
Can’t find someone to look after your fish while you’re away? Another great alternative is a vacation feeder. Vacation feeders are available in multiple designs, shapes, and sizes and cater to the feeding needs of your fish for specific time periods.
Commercially packed feeding blocks are slowly released inside the aquarium. The main drawback of using vacation feeders is that they don’t dispense the kind of food your fish are used to eating.
To ease their transition, you can introduce your fish to these eating blocks a few days before you leave for your vacation. Once they are used to these eating blocks, the transition will not be that hard.
• Fish Sitters
A fish-sitter who knows how to manage a fish tank is also a good option. Anyone can be a fish sitter such as your relatives, friends or kids who’re looking to earn some extra cash. You need to choose someone willing and reliable to do the job.
Also, for an affordable fee, you can find commercial fish sitters who take care of aquariums in places such as hospitals, schools, offices, etc. They can do the same for you while you’re away on vacation.
If you are leaving your fish in the hands of your relatives or friends, make sure that they tend to the aquarium once every 3 to 4 days. It’s best to make a list of things that need to be done and hand it over to them so that they don’t forget the things they have to do.