Feeding Tropical Fish While on Vacation

Aquarists face one of the greatest challenges when traveling with tropical fish; however, with some preparation and careful planning they can leave their aquatic friends safely behind.

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Consider investing in a feeder block filled with flakes or pellets; these can be programmed to release food at specific times.



If you’re planning a multi-day vacation with fish, then feeding can become challenging. Your fish is used to being fed regularly at set intervals and any changes could lead to stress for both themselves and you!

Finding someone else to feed them may be easier than expected – many will know someone willing and happy to feed your fish while you are gone. Just ensure they only receive what they require to avoid sudden ammonia spikes or food rotting.

Holiday food blocks contain nutrient-rich freeze dried fish food designed to slowly release it over the duration of your trip, however these may get eaten much sooner than planned, leading to gorging and possible bloat in fish.

Water Changes

Tropical fish require a diet composed of both plant and animal-derived foods, so purchasing commercially available flakes or pellets tailored specifically to their species and nutritional requirements may be best. Look for foods containing proteins, vitamins and minerals appropriate to them.

Frozen food may also be useful in supplementing an all-flake diet for certain fish species that do not take to flake food readily. Live foods, such as blackworms, daphnia, scuds and snails, may be purchased to feed young fish or supplement an existing one.

Vacation feeder blocks, made up of solid blocks that release small amounts of food over time, may also be a viable solution if you can’t find someone to watch your tank while away on an extended journey. Just ensure you purchase high quality feeders; cheap ones have been known to overfeed fish or dump too much into the tank which could cause water pollution and disease while you’re gone.

Water Temperature

Most tropical fish require heated water of approximately 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive, otherwise their health could deteriorate quickly and cause them to be unhealthy and slow growing. If your tank doesn’t meet this threshold, they could quickly become lethargic and unhealthy.

Submersible thermometers, available from most pet stores, are best for monitoring tank temperature. Their readings won’t be affected by sunlight and drafty windows/doors that might alter its readings.

While maintaining a regular feeding schedule on vacation is essential, be careful not to overfeed your fish. Two or three flakes should suffice each day as overfeeding can cloud tank water and create environmental issues for other inhabitants.


Some aquarium and fish shops provide vacation food grazers to feed your fish while you’re away, but their use should only be temporary as it can create unnecessary waste in the environment and may not suit all species. If necessary, purchase an attractive yet high-quality model like Vitalis 7-day grazer before trialing it to see how your fish reacts.

If you are leaving a friend or pet-sitter in charge of your aquarium and fish, make sure they understand their diets and feeding schedules for each species you have as well as how much to feed daily. Plastic pill boxes with compartments for every day of the week would make this task simpler – simply ask them to place a specific amount of fish food into each compartment each day of the week.

At times it may also be helpful to have someone come by just to check on the fish and aquarium, even if they’re not taking care of it themselves. This will help ensure a clean environment, and detect problems before they become major issues.