Aquarium and fish during your vacation

Aquarium and fish during your vacation: make preparations in time

A question that often passes is: How do you take care of your Aquarium and fish during your holiday? In this article, we will give tips and tricks about the preparation, instructions, feeding, lighting and much more! With these tips, you ensure that your aquarium and fish get through your holiday well.

The preparation

It is not necessary to mention that you have to start preparing for the holiday on time. Arranging things at the last moment causes unnecessary stress with the fish, but also with yourself. So start on time!

A month in advance

Make sure you ask someone in time to keep an eye on things. Do this well in advance so that you are sure that this person is actually available to care for your aquarium. You now have ample time to instruct your caretaker about feeding and how to handle your equipment.

Do you use a feeder? Then find it and prepare it. Clean the appliance if it has not been used for a while and test it briefly. Does he still work well? You still have plenty of time to purchase a new device.

Check all aquarium filters and equipment. If there are still things that need to be changed or replaced, do so now. For the aquariums with plants, CO2 and plant nutrition: make a plan on how to get the plants through the holiday, see also Lighting and Plant Nutrition later in this article.

Two week in advance

The feeder has been tested briefly but it does not hurt to test it for a longer time. Fill it for a few days and let it run for a few days as if you were on vacation.

Do you have a CO2 installation? Then check how much is left in your CO2 bottle. Is this sufficient or should it be refilled before you go on holiday?

Rinse your filter material. This is important to prevent your filter from silting up during your vacation. Do this on time so that your filter has time to build up enough bacteria before you go on vacation. Rinse the filter preferably in aquarium water. This prevents too many good bacteria in the filter material to die off.

Normally I only clean filter material when the filter starts to flow less. This is a sign that the filter is saturated. Before the holiday I clean the material for certainty. Prevention is better than cure!

Also, change slightly more water than you normally would. Make sure that the aquarium is tip-top. Remove dead plant matter, old leaves and anything else that could cause extra contamination.

Show your aquarium carer how to feed the fish. How much he or she can give. Also, explain that they may not feed more than what you have indicated. Some fish keep swimming hungrily in the front of the aquarium while they ate more than enough. Explain once again that feeding too much is more harmful than a bit too little for a short period of time!

One week in Advance

Change water as usual. Now let the filter rest so that it functions optimally during your absence. Remove all material that can contaminate water such as dead leaves and cut off old leaves from your plants.

Write a clear manual for your caregiver. Be clear in what you expect and state very clearly how much feed is to be given. So don’t write to feed a little but for example: feed a teaspoon (with or without a cup!). Better still, prepare the food in advance in pots or pouches for each day!

Check if your carer still knows that he can take care of your fish.

One day in advance

Change water one more time, this may be a bit more than usual. Remove all dead vegetable matter again. Leave the filter and the substrate alone.

Feed the fish one last time before you leave. Do not feed too much. Leftover fish food starts to rot after a few hours and is not eaten anymore!

Feeding fish during the holidays

Depending on how long you go on vacation, it may be necessary to feed the fish.

Less than a week on vacation:

Tetra vacation fishfood
Tetra vacation fishfood

Adult fish can easily survive a week without food. They usually have enough reserves to do without food for a while. In the wild, there are also periods when there is less or no food at all.

Our advice is therefore not to feed if you go on vacation for less than a week. The fish are indeed a little hungry when you come home but otherwise, you will notice little difference. The advantage of not feeding is that nothing can go wrong.

Longer than a week on vacation:

Depending on the size of the fish, it may be necessary to feed the fish. A family member or good neighbour can take care of the fish. There is also good equipment that can help you feed. Whatever choice you make: make sure you prepare well!

Help by family, neighbors or acquaintances

Ask in plenty of time if the person you have in mind is also available to feed during your holiday. You also have time to instruct the person properly. The most common mistake is not that they get too short fish food. Usually, too much is being fed. The fish still look hungry, so a little extra is given.

Provide clear instructions on paper so that they can read it. A vague instruction such as: Give them a little bit of food a day is asking for problems. It is better to prepare food per portion (for example in plastic bags). You can also, for example, put a teaspoon next to the feed pot. Indicate clearly in the instruction how many teaspoons of fish food the fish may receive. Also, explain why they should not have any more!

Automatic Fish Feeders

Aquarium feeder
Aquarium feeder

Good automatic fish feeders are also available in stores. You have fairly simple cheap automatic feeders from about € 13, – to the most luxurious of Eheim Twinfeeder of around € 62, – where you can put two types of food. You can find cool goods for you fishes on Some tips to ensure optimal operation during your vacation:

  • Before purchase, check how many days you can feed with the appliance and how much.
  • Some devices aerate the food to prevent clotting themselves, others must be connected to an air pump!
  • Make sure that the automatic feeder has new batteries.
  • Test the machine well in advance! Is everything still working properly? Try it a few times in the month before the holiday.

The advantage of the automatic fish feeder is that the fish receive the amount of feed that you have preset. Overfeeding by a well-meaning caretaker is almost impossible. The machine will deliver the set quantity at regular intervals. The disadvantage is that a malfunction can always occur. Clotting food or a device that does not work and batteries that drain can cause serious problems. In any case, make sure you have a good preparation so that there is as little error as possible!

Fattening before holidays

We advise against fattening the fish in the period before you go on holiday. It provides extra load and pollution of the aquarium water during the period in which it should be stable. In addition, fish in the aquarium are usually (much) too thick. This is because we feed them regularly and often too much. Our food is also very high in energy. Even more, fattening than we do inadvertently is not necessary!

Lighting and plant nutrition

Those with a Malawi, Tanganyika or another rock aquarium without too many plants can skip this part.

Plants under full lighting can grow very hard. They consume the nutrients present. These nutrients can be used up within a few days, after which the plants stop growing.

To allow the plants to grow less quickly and to let them spend longer with the nutrients present, you can take a few simple measures:

  • Reduce the number of hours of light. Make sure your lighting does not burn more than seven hours a day.
  • Reduce light intensity. If you have multiple fluorescent beams, loosen one or two. With a dimmer, you can reduce the intensity to a lower level or, for example, remove the reflector so that less light falls on the plants.
  • Despite the reduced amount of light, your plants simply use nutrients. Before you leave you can easily add a double dose to the aquarium of what you normally give.
  • Are you going on vacation longer? Then put a measured amount of plant food in a closed jar. Clearly state when your carer needs to give the plant food (be sure to use an exact date rather than vague terms like about 2 weeks ….)


It can of course always go wrong despite all precautions. The power goes off too long, the automatic feeder stops, the aquarium filter stops pumping or the aquarium starts to leak spontaneously. Scenarios that we do not want to experience ourselves let alone taking care of your home if you’re on holiday yourself.

Have you made an emergency plan?

In case of emergency, your caregiver must know what he has to do (approximately).

  • Write down the telephone number and address of the aquarium shop where you shop regularly. Specialized aquarium stores often have a lot of knowledge and are usually willing to help.
  • Do you have acquaintances, friends or Facebook groups that are involved with aquariums? Note how they can be reached in case of emergency.
  • In the event of (large) leakage of the aquarium, the insurance can help (at least here in the Netherlands). A telephone number and policy number are handy to have on hand.


With a good preparation, the chance of problems during the holidays is a lot smaller. Especially good agreements about feeding the fish will solve the biggest cause of dramas during the holidays.

Last but not least: Enjoy your vacation!

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