Aquascape and your holidays!
We can go on holiday again at last, but what should I do with my aquarium or aquascape? This is the question we've been asked the most over the last few weeks. Should I trust my neighbour or better not? But who else to ask?
You can easily go away on holiday for 2 to 4 weeks without a problem, providing you do the following to your aquascape.
- Water change
- Fish food
- Plant food
It's best to do a water change two days before departure, rather than at the last minute. Departure stress makes it likely that you'll hurry and miss something otherwise. A tap that's not properly turned off can have serious consequences. You'd rather that the neighbours didn't call you up on your travels to tell you that your house had flooded ;-)
You'd do best to do a major water change of 50 to 80%. This way you can be sure that your aquarium is freshened up before your departure. If the next day you notice that the plug on your lighting has come loose from its socket, you can still put it right. And make sure too that the filter inlet is completely blockage-free.
Any of the aquarium plants you might have can do just fine with 6 hours of light a day if there is no one there to enjoy the aquarium. Six hours is perfect, even for the most high-maintenance aquariums.
The likelihood of getting algae is reduced and plant growth will slow down. You and your holiday sweetheart have other things on your minds than pruning plants. You can dim the lights too. If you have strong aquarium lighting for your aquascape, you can dim it to 50%. 25% is enough for a community aquarium.
You can ask the neighbours, but unless they've got an aquarium of their own, I wouldn't recommend it. An automatic feeder is a better choice. Do this a week ahead of time, so you've got all the time you need to get the dosing right. It's better to under- rather than overfeed. Fish really don't need much to survive 2 to 4 weeks. You can find "holiday food packages" on the market, but these are not recommended. They are usually used up in a week and they often contain a substance that increases the KH value enormously. The water values in your aquarium get thoroughly disrupted as a result.
If you are going away on holiday for 2 weeks, just give your plants a double dose of plant food. You've just done a water change, your lighting is less strong, your fish haven't got too much to eat so the likelihood of algae is small.
If you are going to be away for more than 2 weeks then it's better to use an automatic dosing system. You are sure to use it on another occasion. You can use this to dose 4 different substances, for example, one for the macros and one for the micros. This system has the option of using one of the channels to maintain the water level, so that you can compensate for any water evaporation immediately.
Also check that your CO2 cylinder is adequately filled. You can do this by weighing the bottle. A lot of aquascapers always keep two CO2 bottles so they can change them quickly and easily. Two days before departure you can replace the used bottle with your second, full bottle, so you be sure that your aquascape won't suddenly find itself without CO2 during your absence.
All these little gestures will help you enjoy your well-deserved rest. And if everything goes smoothly, you'll return home to a beautiful aquascape which will help you put off the post-holiday blues for a bit.