When going on a trip for business or a vacation, it is best to make plans and arrange to have someone attend to or at least check in on your aquarium once a day while you are gone. There are a number of things you can do ahead of time which will make tending your aquarium while you are away much easier.
Things that can go wrong include a power outage, overflowing pipe, heater malfunction, and other unfortunate situations. You most likely have a substantial amount of money invested in your aquarium. It is good insurance to have someone checking and available to have any problems addressed before you lose everything.
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Find an Aquarium Helper
Ask someone to help you that you know is trustworthy, reliable, and preferably has some knowledge about fish keeping, especially if you have a saltwater aquarium. In all likelihood, your helper's daily jobs will be limited to checking to see that everything is running well, doing a few simple things like feeding the tank inhabitants, turning the lights on and off, and possibly adding supplements if you have a reef tank.
If you plan to be away from home for some time and are unable to find someone to help you out, consider hiring a professional company in your area that specializes in aquarium maintenance care or babysitting services.
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Automate Important Tasks
The most important tasks can be automated, leaving your helper very little to do other than to check to make sure things are running properly. The major tasks that can easily be automated are: topping off the tank, feeding and turning the lights on and off. Consider these solutions:
- Purchase an automatic top off system, or you can easily build your own DIY Auto Top Off.
- Purchase an automatic light timer to turn the lights on in the morning and off at night.
- Purchase automatic fish feeder.
Run your automatic devices for a week or so before you leave, just to make sure that they are functioning properly. You'll probably wish that you had installed these items long ago.
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Perform All of the Regular Maintenance Tasks
Do any necessary regular maintenance tasks several days prior to leaving. This includes water changes, glass cleaning, filter media cleaning, water testing, and other regular maintenance items. A system that is in tip-top shape will need little, if any care, and will give you peace of mind while making your helper's job much easier.
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Train Your Aquarium Helper
Go over the basics of how your aquarium system is set up with your helper. If you are going away for a substantial period of time, you'll want to cover everything in greater detail. For this situation it is a good idea to plan ahead and have your helper spend time with you and your aquarium, showing and allowing the person do any task that may need to be performed. This is useful because visual or hands-on demonstrations for many people are much easier to understand and retain, compared to just verbal or written instructions.
Put together a "things-to-do" checklist. This will make your helper's job easier for remembering what needs to be done, and when, and can help ease your mind that nothing is being overlooked.
If you are using any kind of an online tank minder or computer software program to keep a record of your aquarium's statistics, show your helper how to use it. The information provided in the log will tell you all you need to know about what took place in your aquarium while you were gone. Besides, many of these types of programs have diagnostic or analysis capabilities, which can provide some troubleshooting assistance if a problem arises.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Be sure you are stocked up on all the supplies your helper will need to use. Even though there is little chance your helper will have to do a water change, storing a premixed batch of saltwater is a wise thing to do in case an emergency arises.
If you are not using an automatic fish feeder, it is a good idea to pre-measure the daily food amount into zip lock baggies and put the date on each bag. That will prevent your fish sitter from overfeeding the fish, which is the main reason fish die when being cared for by a fish sitter: overfeeding causing an ammonia increase and fish loss.
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Away You Go
Leave phone numbers for where you can be reached, including an emergency number for a person or persons who may be able to assist with a problem if you cannot be contacted.
By making your aquarium system easier for someone else to take care of when you are not there, you will also be making it easier for you to maintain your aquarium when you are there. Now you can enjoy your vacation as well as your time at home with your aquarium.