Should you use automatic aquarium fish feeders when going on holidays? What’s the best type?

It’s the time of the year again when many people are going away for Christmas holidays. But who’s going to feed your fish? Can you use the weekend-blocks or gel food?

Well, it really depends on how long you’re away for, and your budget. And also, the type of fish you have. For example, if you have sedentary fish that tend to be ambush predators, you do not necessarily have to feed them daily when you’re away. A good feed should last them 2-3 days. This post will address the types available in general terms.

Available are blocks (food embedded in plaster of paris) and gel food (food embedded in gelatine-like substance). I’d recommend only if you’re going away for a long weekend (2-3 days). Be careful because there is potential to cause pollution. These blocks and gel are OK for small fish, since larger fish can devour the entire amount quickly. You may like to try these feed types before you go away, to see how your fish take to them, and the effect it will have on your tank.

Automatic fish food dispensers are ideal for longer vacations. There are 3 types of aquarium fish, automatic feed dispensers:

  1. Clock-movement type: slowly rotates like the hour-hand, and dispenses food twice daily (every 12 hours). These have single food compartments, and the disadvantage is the slow movement allows moisture to enter the food compartment. Works best with feed granules/pellets. Link to example.
  2. Full-rotation type: at specified time/s will make a full rotation, dispensing food. These have single food compartments, and the advantage over #1 is that the quick full rotation prevents moisture from entering the food compartment. Works best with feed granules/pellets. Link to example.
  3. Multi-compartment dispenser: Each compartment dispenses fully at specified time/s.The advantage is that allows the owner to pack compartments with different feed types (flakes, granules and chips). Link to example.

If you’re going ahead with auto-feeders, make sure you trial it about a month before you’ve to go away. Set you alarm clock to correspond with set feed times so you can check it works, and it doesn’t dispense too much, or too little food.

If you don’t trust technology and will get a fish-sitter in, then I suggest to pre-measure food amounts into multiple small containers, so that the fish-sitter will not be tempted to over-feed your fishes.

I’ve found on the internet, an interesting DIY fish feeder using a mobile phone match-sticks and a bottle – see link. Quite clever, but you won’t be able to be sure to remember, and you run the risk of the entire load dropping into the tank if not properly constructed.

What ever you do, make sure you give yourself enough time to try, before you go away.

I’m interested to hear your feedback on this post.

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Yours sincerely,

Dr Richmond Loh DipProjMgt, BSc, BVMS, MPhil (Pathology), MANZCVS (Aquatics & Pathobiology), CertAqV, CMAVA, NATA Signatory.
Aquatic Veterinarian & Veterinary Pathologist
THE FISH VET, Perth, Western Australia, AUSTRALIA.
Mobile Aquatic Veterinary Medical & Diagnostic Services.
Ph: +61 (0)421 822 383
Skype: thefishvet

President WAVMA 2014


Adjunct Lecturer Murdoch University | Secretary Aquatic Animal Health Chapter – ANZCVS | 2014 President WAVMA

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