Are Vacation Feeders Bad for Your Pet Fish?


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If you’re in a tight spot and have to leave your pet fish overnight, for a weekend, or even longer, you may have heard that vacation feeders are the best solution to keep your fish happy, well-fed, and healthy while you’re away. But are they bad for your pet fish?

Vacation feeders are not bad for your pet fish, but they can sometimes cause problems that you’ll need to be aware of. Vacation blocks should have the adequate nutrients your fish needs to survive. However, you shouldn’t use it for more than two weeks at a time.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss what vacation feeders are, the benefits and disadvantages of using them, and what other alternatives you might need to consider for your fish while you’re away. Keep reading to learn more about what you can use to keep your fish happy and healthy while you’re away.

What Are Vacation Feeders?

Vacation feeders are small, compressed blocks of food that can be left in an aquarium for a specified area of time. They slowly release food into the tank so that your fish is fed appropriately until such time that you return. 

There are two main types of vacation feeders: 

  • The weekend feeders, which can last up to 3 days. You’ll want to use these if you’re going away for a few days.
  • The vacation feeders, which can last up to 14 days. If you’re going on a longer vacation, you’ll need to find these feeders instead.

You can buy a feeder block in either a calcium block or a gel package, both of which have specific differences that you’ll need to check before you offer it to your fish.

Not to be used for periods longer than two weeks, it’s vital that you understand exactly how many vacation feeders you’ll need for the number of fish in your aquarium, what their needs are, and whether or not you should consider another option. 

The Benefits of Vacation Feeders

Of course, having a fish means having to feed it every day, and going away on vacation or a short trip shouldn’t leave your pets going hungry. If you’re in a tight spot and you don’t have someone to come and feed your fish while you’re away, then they can provide you with a bit of peace of mind until you return.

They’re also relatively inexpensive, very straightforward to use, and, most of the time, will provide your fish with everything they need. For up to 14 days, the block will gradually disintegrate in the tank, leaving behind the food for your fish. 

You’ll need to bear in mind that if you prefer a calcium block over a gel package, it’ll dissolve much quicker in acidic water than in natural water. 

If you have only a small number of fish in your aquarium, vacation blocks may be the best way to go if you intend to leave your fish. It’s also an excellent option for those fish who aren’t particularly greedy eaters. 

If your aquarium has a well-filtered tank and lots of water movement, this will help the vacation feeder do its job.

The Disadvantages of Vacation Feeders

Unfortunately, there are a few disadvantages to these otherwise-lifesaving feeder blocks. 

For example, it’s almost impossible to know whether your fish will eat from the feeder blocks unless you try one out before you leave. Since they’re often made up of food that’s different from your fish’s daily diet, they may refuse to touch them at all.

In addition, there’s a chance that some feeder blocks may completely throw off the atmosphere in the tank, affecting the quality of the water, overfeeding your fish, and potentially killing them.

Furthermore, some types of vacation feeders are renowned for clouding up and polluting the water in aquariums. If you’re leaving your fish for a weekend, this might not be such a big problem. 

However, if you’re going for over a week, you may need to consider other options. 

Regardless of what the reviews tell you, you’ll want to do your own research about vacation feeders with your fish in mind. If you can, purchase a couple of different ones and try them out in your tank before you leave. 

If you do that, and any issues crop up, you can quickly rectify them before you end up killing your fish. 

Other Alternatives for Feeding Your Fish While You’re Away

Should you decide that vacation feeders are a last resort for your pet fish while you’re away, there are a few other options you might be able to consider.

Automatic fish feeders are a great option, not just for those times you’ll be away but also for everyday use. They work on a timer, releasing food from a small container that can be fixed either to the top or the side of the tank. Using this option every day before you go on vacation allows you time to adjust it should you encounter any problems.

You can also use a fish sitter, or ask a friend, relative, or a kind neighbor to come in and feed your fish while you’re away.

If you’re going away for less than 3 days, you’ll likely not need a vacation feeder at all. The majority of fish can last 3 days without food quite comfortably, so unless you have a very large fish that needs lots of food and care, you’ll likely be fine leaving them for a couple of days without food. 

For example, Angelfish, Goldfish, and Tetras can survive without food for a week. Bearing this in mind when choosing how to feed your fish is essential to their wellbeing.

Final Thoughts

In short, vacation feeders aren’t necessarily bad for your fish. But you’ll need to do some research before taking the plunge and make sure you know exactly what your fish needs, what kind of tank you have, and how long you are going to be away.

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