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Yachaq

How do you plan for vacation or time away from home?

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Hi all,

As I am about to start cycling, I am interesting in knowing how different reefers plan for family vacation. Do you ask a friend, train the neighbor kids or hire a service? What can of instructions do you leave behind? I am trying to plan wayyyy in advance once the system is finally sustaining livestock in it. 

Thanks.

 

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If you have everything automated and the trip is just a few days, the question is more about how afraid you are that something will fail in that amount of time. The longest I have been gone with no one checking the tank, was 4 consecutive 24 hour periods (a 6-day trip, but I saw the tank the first morning and the 6th evening).

Edited by treesprite

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I put a web cam in front of my tank and my tank sitter (neighbor, Supermodel, friend etc.) has my number and face times me if there is a problem or I can see the tank and call them if I see something like a cat or Duck Billed Platypus diving in the tank.

 

I recently watched my tank from Hawaii. :smokin:

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I feed heavily for a week or ten days before a trip. Fish can go a week or more just grazing through the tank. Don't make any changes to your setup for a week before as they're bound to break while you're gone. A webcam is a good idea. Having a friend and a WAMAS member backup on hand to stop in and to check is also good if one can get into the house. Also, if the friend has Facetime or Skype, they can walk you through the issue remotely if there's an issue.

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I usually set up auto feeders for the tanks. Run them at least a few days before vacation and check it daily to make to they are  function properly.

To me, an auto top-off is much  more important than feeding. I estimated how much water needed for the top-off for just the vacation duration and upped a gallon or 2 as a safety net. These are the only 2 things I needed for my vacations. Also, have a friend as a backup in case of power outage. Other than that I don't want to think about my tanks while on vacation!

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I typically don't feed pellets. My fish are OK for about one week without feeding. But if I plan to be away for longer than a week, then I set up the Eheim auto feeder. 10-15 small pellets twice a day for five adult fish is better than nothing.  

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Feeding was the least of my worries when I was on vacation but when I was auto-feeding I used some of this as the food with a feeding ring under it since it initially floats.  I felt it was healthier to do freeze-dried than pellets:

 

https://www.avastmarine.com/products/reef-jerky

 

and a feeder like this that has an auger in it to push the food out

 

https://www.eheim.com/en_GB/accessories/installation/feeding_fish_feeder_TWIN

 

For longer trips I would get some small plastic vials, put a cube of frozen food and a bit of water in each, label them with the day of the week and put them in the fridge.  Then the cat sitter would open one each day and dump it in the tank. 

 

I also had power outage alerts set up, and a neighbor who was willing to facetime me while I was gone if needed.  

 

 

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Whew, okay, here it goes...

 

I leave my tanks (24g and 65g) for 2-3 days fairly often. And have left them for as long as 2 and even 3.5 weeks (last summer and last month) several times.

 

For short trips (2-4 days), I set up Eheim auto-feeders just enough to last 3-4 days longer than I'll be gone. I make sure my normal ATO and dosing containers are all topped off. And I leave my filter floss in (I don't run skimmers currently, I just use floss ... which I change once a week.).

 

For the long trips - 1 week or more, I...

  • Set up the auto-feeders
  • Place a large heavy-duty RubberMaid-type container next to each tank filled with enough RODI water to last 20% longer than I plan to be gone so each ATO has plenty of water to draw from while I'm away
  • Remove my filter floss and run 'au naturel'. My nutrients are low and my biofilter in each tank is healthy, so I don't worry about mechanical filtration while I'm away. If a bit of algae should bloom, I'll slowly and steadily bring things back into 'check' upon my return.
  • As my son to stop by halfway through my absence (so ~ the 2 week mark) just to make sure the house isn't flooded or being stunk up by a malfunctioning tank of death.

Last but not least, per a piece of advice I saw Origami post when I first started out in the hobby 5 years ago, I try to avoid making any changes in equipment or settings on the tank for at least 2 weeks before I leave - with one exception...

 

If my coral is in an aggressive growth phase -- e.g. hasn't been trimmed back in a while so there's a lot of it, and my alk consumption has been on an uptrend -- I'll drop my lighting back a bit  just before I leave to ensure the growth doesn't outpace the daily two-part dosing while I'm away.

 

I should also mention that...

  • I don't use a controller like Apex or anything, but have confidence in my equipment and little worry about failure.
  • I test my plumbing/reverse siphon whenever I do water changes and so know with 100% certain that, should a return pump fail or power outage occur, my sumps have plenty of capacity to hold any back flow/reverse-siphoning that occurs.
  • I feed my fish pellets occasionally in lieu of the clam, fish eggs, or LRS they normally get just to ensure they'll eat what is dispensed from the auto-feeders when I'm gone.
  • I do not have tens-of-thousands of dollars invested in corals and livestock and feel comfortable with the level of risk I'm taking by not having someone regularly check on the tanks while I'm gone. If worry from lack of knowing what's happening while you're away will overshadow your joy of being on vacation, then find/hire a tank sitter.

 

 

Edited by malacoda

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I have always found someone to tank sit for me. Usually a neighbors kid or a college student that is looking for a little spending money. I don't however leave anything to chance or to their discretion. i do this by leaving simple but detailed instruction, have a controller installed on my tank and I also put the following in place to insure there is not a mishap.

 

1. My ATO has a 10g tank that gets auto filled 2x a week via a storage tank in my garage. This way, no more than 10g of fresh water can be introduced into the tank at any time

2. The lights are automatic but can be controlled remotely if the need arises.

3. The skimmer has collection vessel that also has a float that will shut the skimmer down if it overflows.If this occurs, I get an alert from my controller informing me of a potential issue.

4. I replace the filter socks prior to leaving and make sure the feeding is light while I am gone so the chances of them clogging is low. 

5. I pre-package frozen food in 4oz specimen cups and keep them in the freezer. The instructions are that the fish get fed 1x a day while the lights are on and all they have to do is pour some water in the cup, wait for the food to melt and then pour the food in the tank.

6. I leave Nori and Veggie chips near the tank and the rule is that they can attach either one to one or both of the chip clips in the tank anytime they want. I currently feed this treat 2-3x a day so I am not afraid that there would be an issue with feeding too much. Plus, I don't leave an unlimited supply.

7. I pay them well. I find that if I do this, they feel accountable and will take the job seriously. 

8. Place a wifi or web cam focused on your tank to monitor your tank and room (tell them that you have done this or you will send a message that you don't trust them or are just a weirdo creeper). Some of the new cameras available are super easy to set up and I even got one that I set mine up so that it senses motion and I get an alert to notify me that there is movement in the room. I can then watch that they have fed the fish or have a visual if they have an issue that I might be able to solve by having the visual.

 

That's about it. I make it easy and I have never had an issue.

 

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Thank you all. These are all great recommendations and I will be referring to this thread multiple times.

Just a crazy idea that came to mind while reading these posts: Has anyone in the past thought about having a WAMAS "emergency response team"?

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Yes, but the time someone books a trip to my house, gets on a plane, calls an UBER and comes to my home,  my fish would all be Sushi.  :eek:

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3 hours ago, madweazl said:

What is this, vacation, you speak of? 

 

Aaron.... it sounds like you need one.

 

On 8/5/2019 at 6:18 AM, paul b said:

I put a web cam in front of my tank and my tank sitter (neighbor, Supermodel, friend etc.) has my number and face times me if there is a problem or I can see the tank and call them if I see something like a cat or Duck Billed Platypus diving in the tank.

 

I recently watched my tank from Hawaii. :smokin:

 

Paul.... Supermodel?

Edited by TrueTricia

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I have been asking Christie Brinkley to come over to tank sit, but so far she has been ignoring me.  I think she only tank sits for tanks that are all SPS.  :why:

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Yes, we desperately need one. I'm always on the road for work and my poor wife is always at home. I want to vacation and home and I'm sure she wants out of the house LOL. 

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