Holiday Time For Me And My Reef Aquarium

That time of year has arrived again. My wife and I are going on holiday. All the preparations – packing etc – are nearly complete, thanks to my wife. Among other things, I’ve been paying some attention to my reef aquarium.

Holiday time can be quite stressful for the reef aquarist (fish only too). The attitude I take is that when I’m many miles away there is nothing I can do anyway, so forget it and enjoy! I do prepare though.

A month before I leave I never add any livestock to the aquarium of any type, fish, coral, or shrimp etc. I also do not move any rocks – though in truth I have to admit rocks have not been messed with for years (I believe in ‘leave alone’ unless there is absolutely no option). Routine maintenance continues as normal.

Four, or at the minimum, three days before departure I set aside time to inspect the reef. That is all I do on this occasion. I run my eye very carefully over the rocks and see if I can spot unwelcome intruders. Two examples are sailor’s eyeballs (small round green algae) or glass anemones (Aiptasia). If anything is spotted it is dealt with.

The next day I complete a full maintenance exercise even though it might be early. This includes cleaning the glass, feeding the DSB (deep sand bed), siphoning and a water change. All pumps are looked at, the skimmer is cleaned, and the lights are given a wipe.

Usually this runs smoothly. Not this time though. One circulation powerhead had moved, it was falling out of place. So I manufactured a plastic collar and put it on, a ten minute job, and it works fine. So that was worthwhile.

This leaves me with a free day or days before departure. If anything was badly wrong I would hopefully have time to deal with it.

I’m pleased that Peter is going to watch the aquarium while I’m away. My other son, Michael, is also going to assist in the latter part of the period. I leave a good supply of RO (reverse osmosis) water in a bucket in the kitchen, along with a couple of cloths and fish food etc.

So, with fingers crossed, we’ll go off and on return it will be time for another routine maintenance exercise. Where are we going? To Oregon, US. Hope there aren’t any airport delays!

  1. What should i do if i am going away for two weeks and i have no-one to look after my marine aquarium?

  2. Hi Jamie.

    Oh, dear, no-one at all? You haven’t a friend or neighbour who could care for it for two weeks? A relative? They wouldn’t need a lot of knowledge, just some simple clear instructions and not many of them.

    Have you a local LFS (local fish shop)? Some of these could be willing to babysit for two weeks, or be talked into it. They may make a charge, but that would be fair enough.

    If there is really no-one at all, and that would be unusual, then you will need to automate. I don’t know anything about your system but one or two things could be done.

    One of the problems will be evaporation. So fit an auto top-up device. Make sure there is plenty of top-up water available for it during your absence. you’ll know the average loss per day. This can be left in position when you return home saving you a small daily job.

    Your lighting is probably already automated with electric timers – if not, this could be done.

    Feeding the inmates is a problem. Obtain a feeding device which fastens on the top of the aquarium. These can operate for around two weeks, feeding as programmed. The downside is that they are only any good with flake and other small dry food. Again you could continue to use it when back home if necessary.

    They are the main ones – evaporation, lighting and feeding.

    Everything else hopefully should be ok…for example heating is already automatic and the protein skimmer should make it through though it will probably be very dirty and desperate for a clean on your return. If there is a pipe connection point on the collection cup to take an overflow, then fit one.

    Hopefully you’ll think of someone to assist in your absence though. Try a bribe!

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