For any pet owner, going away on a vacation can be a stressful time. Constantly worrying about their safety and whether they are getting enough food can threaten to dismantle the purpose of a relaxing vacation. Fish owners have the luxury of vacation feeders to keep their pets satiated for that time. But are these products good for your pet fish?
Vacation feeders can be a bad method for feeding fish if there is not sufficient filtration and water movement. Under those conditions, the feeder will not dissolve properly. These products can also negatively impact water quality.
Despite their potential downsides, vacation feeders are still a popular choice for many fish owners. That is why we are going to examine these products a bit more thoroughly. We will look at how vacation feeders work and how to apply them properly. We will also be looking at some alternatives to vacation feeders for you to try out.
What is a Vacation Fish Feeder?
Vacation fish feeders are food materials that slowly dissolve over time in the water. Typically, you will find them in the shape of a block or gel-like substance.
When you place them inside the aquarium, the slow movement of the water will start breaking the feeder down. As this happens, edible fish food gets released into the water. So, instead of delivering all the food at once, the vacation feeder steadily distributes fish food over an extended period. Hence, they are also called “slow-release fish food”.
Vacation feeders come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There is also variation in how long these last. The ones that last for 2-3 days are preferred when going away just for the weekend. Of course, there are 7 or even 14-day lasting feeders that can keep your fishes fed through a long vacation.
Most of the feeders you will see on the market come embedded in a calcium block. But the actual shape of the item can range from rock-like to various fish-shaped. On the other hand, gel feeders are softer and have a lighter effect on the water.
The taste of the feeders will also vary, as these products are not universal. Meaning you have to pick out the right feeder for your fish tank or else your fishes will go on a hunger strike. So, it is best to check the description of the item as well as ask the supplier about the sort of fish that a specific feeder will attract.
Are Vacation Feeders Bad for Fish?
While vacation feeders are a cheap and easy way of providing food for your fish when traveling, they do pose some significant drawbacks.
First of all, if you want the feeder to be effective, your fish tank must have proper filtration and water movement. If the water inside the tank is static, the feeder will fail to dissolve properly, if at all. So, all you will end up with is a big piece of rock that does no good to your fish. The same applies to gel-based feeders.
Even if you have a good water filtration system for your tank, the feeder can still have harmful consequences. A fish’s survival depends heavily on the chemical integrity of the water it lives in. Especially for smaller fish, the water’s chemical balance has to be just right. Even a small variation can lead to infections
Now, these feeders are mostly made up of materials that the fish can digest. But there are also some other components mixed in as well. And all these can drastically alter the quality of the water in your tank. This could have disastrous consequences for your fish friends.
Gel-based feeders are a little safer in this regard. But you still need to be careful about the potential harm it can do to your fish.
How Many Fish Does a Vacation Feeder Feed?
This will depend on a few things, most importantly the size and diet of the fish as well as the size of the feeder.
The API vacation pyramid feeder is marketed as suitable for all types of fish. Typically, they will last for 14 days and can sustain around 5-10 fishes of average size.
There are also betta vacation feeders that are suited for one fish only. Meaning if you have two or three fish in the tank, you will need that many feeders as well. These betta feeders will last for up to 7 days.
Again, the number of fish a specific feeder can supply will differ greatly. So, make sure you ask the supplier or read the instructions carefully before you buy one for your tank.
Should You Feed Your Fish While on Vacation?
So, with all the potential downsides of a vacation feeder, what can you do as alternatives? Well, there are a couple of options for you to try.
The amazing thing about most of the fishes you typically buy for an aquarium is that they are incredibly tough. On average, adult fishes can live without any food for several days and even a couple of weeks. So, if you are planning for only a weekend in the sun, then you can safely leave your fish as they are.
Now, this mostly applies to adult fish. Because fish fries do need to be fed more regularly.
But if you are going away for a long time, you can hand your fish tank over to one of your neighbors or close friends. They can carry out the feeding duties for you.
And if moving the tank is not an option, you can get yourself an automatic feeder. This contraption can periodically feed your fish according to the timer you set.
One thing to remember is that overfeeding a fish is a far more likely scenario than underfeeding them.