How do I feed th­ese fish while I’m away?

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Advice -

I have a 45cm cube reef tank, set up about nine months. It has a nano skim­mer and live rock fil­tra­tion and I also use car­bon and a Poly­fil­ter. It is home to two Yel­low coral go­b­ies, plus a her­mit crab and an­other very small stow­away crab I see from time to time. The tank con­tains Xe­nia and mush­rooms.

I’m go­ing on hol­i­day for 10 days in the au­tumn and I have no one to feed the fish. They won’t touch any of the dried foods I’ve tried, so an auto feeder is out of the ques­tion. A shop about 20 miles up the road sells live ro­tifers in bags. If I buy a cou­ple of bags of th­ese and add them be­fore I go away, will they last long enough for th­ese fish to be OK?

I don’t want to trust a neigh­bour as I had a bad ex­pe­ri­ence in the past with a trop­i­cal tank be­ing badly overfed and this is such a small set-up that I would sooner not risk it.

SI NI­CHOLLS, EMAIL

DAVE SAYS: Your corals and crab will be fine for 10 days with no ad­di­tional feed­ing, so I wouldn’t be con­cerned about them. How­ever, this is def­i­nitely go­ing to be push­ing it for the go­b­ies, so you’re right to be con­cerned about them. Th­ese lit­tle fish will start to starve af­ter a few days of not feed­ing, and they lose con­di­tion rapidly. The tank should pro­vide some nat­u­ral zoo­plank­ton that they’ll eat with­out sup­ple­men­tary feed­ing, but al­most cer­tainly not enough to jus­tify leav­ing them for more than five days with­out ad­di­tional food.

Blitz­ing the tank with live food be­fore you go away is a good idea, and will prob­a­bly be suf­fi­cient for four or five days (ob­vi­ously de­pend­ing on how much you add). Adding live ro­tifers would help in some way as any cope­pods present can use th­ese as a food source. Live ro­tifers are very small in­deed, how­ever, so you’ll want some­thing larger as food for the go­b­ies. Cope­pod cul­tures will be the best bet as they’re much larger than ro­tifers, so speak to your lo­cal fish shop and ask if they can sort you out with some – ide­ally, both Ti­gri­o­pus (‘Tiger pods’) and Tisbe; of th­ese, Ti­gri­o­pus are slightly larger.

You might want to start adding cope­pods a week or two be­fore go­ing away to make sure you’re happy with the amounts and to get the sys­tem re­ally seeded with them. Add them to the tank just be­fore go­ing away for sure, but I think it’s best to ask a trusted neigh­bour to check on the fish and add a fur­ther shot or two of cope­pods around day five or six. Cope­pods will sur­vive for a long time if kept in the fridge – la­bel up what you want your des­ig­nated fish-sit­ter to add, and ask them to re­move it from the fridge about half an hour be­fore feed­ing and float the bags or bot­tles in the tank (this will help to pre­vent the cope­pods be­com­ing shocked). They can then sim­ply tip the con­tents into the tank. I don’t think you’ll have any prob­lems with the tank be­ing overfed in this way.

It’s prob­a­bly a good idea to also leave the num­ber of your lo­cal fish shop with the neigh­bour if any­thing does need sort­ing while you’re away – just in case. I hope this helps. Have a good hol­i­day!

Build­ing up stocks of live foods is the way to keep th­ese go­b­ies fed.

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