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A Betta fish is a hardy pet, perfect for both children and adults to learn the responsibility of caring for something. It’s not expensive to purchase or maintain, plus bettas are available in many pet stores.
However, their hardy-nature doesn’t mean the fish is foolproof. If you leave it for too long, you won’t have a beautiful fish to come home to after your vacation.
In my experience, most people will, therefore, want to know how to feed and care for a betta fish while on vacation in either of two scenarios.
One, you are packing up for the holiday but don’t have a betta sitter to watch your fish while you’re gone.
Two, you already left but forgot to feed your betta, shame!
Lucky enough I have been on one side of this conversation, plus I’ve done some research to at least guarantee worthy advice for both instances.
So, in this article, I’ll share insights on how to best care for your betta while away.
Also, in case you forgot to secure your fish a safe space before you left, I’ll tell you how long you have until you seriously need to worry.
That said, if your flight is due in a few hours, here is a short sneak peek into everything you need to know:
8 Quick Betta Fish Vacation Feeding and Care Tips
- The people at Betta Fish Org suggest healthy adult betta will go for two weeks without food. However, the fish will start using its food reserve from day five and can enter starvation mode a few days later.
- If you are going on vacation for less than fours days, it’s ok to fast your betta during that time period.
- Betta food feeders are perfect for keeping your fish healthy while you’re away albeit making an awful mess and have inferior nutritional value.
- Consider an automatic fish feeder device, some of which are programmable and wifi enabled. A good smart feeder should be compatible with your gadgets and allow you to feed your fish no matter where you are.
- Make sure your aquarium will remain within the appropriate tropical fish temperature, ideally 76°F - 81°F. Water that’s too cold or too hot can cause stress or even death.
- If your tank gets a little too chilly, buy an aquarium heater in case you don’t have one already. Alternatively, move your aquarium to a warmer part of the room.
- To keep your aquarium water in proper condition when you are away, change 50-80 percent of the water on the day you leave and immediately when you get back.
- Lastly, consider your aquarium lighting cycle. Your betta will need to experience a normal day and nights cycle without any significant changes.
How Long Can a Betta Go Without Food?
There is no magic number for how long a betta fish can survive without food because every fish is different, so I’ll refrain from giving a number pulled off a hat.
However, the most quoted maximum is 14 days, but by then your betta will be living on borrowed time.
So, long story short, a healthy adults betta should ideally survive up to two weeks without food before it dies from the lack of nutrition. This, of course, means he has used up all his reserves and has gone into starvation mode some time prior to succumbing.
That said, ordinarily, most people will go on vacation from four to eight days, meaning your betta should be fine anywhere within that time frame. Even if you accidentally forget to feed it before you leave.
Even so, the sooner you get back home after the fourth day the better, not only to feed your fish but to change the water too. Because the aquarium will get toxic after a considerable period of time especially in smaller tanks.
On the flip side, not only can a betta fish survive for long without food, but it’s also not appropriate to feed it every day. If you do, feed the fish with food it will finish in under five minutes.
This is partly because betta fish are slow and don’t digest food quickly. Overfeeding them will cause serious disorders and too much food might even kill your fish.
Follow the five minutes feeding rule every once a day for adult fish and twice a day for fry.
Of course, while on vacation, this is only possible with an automatic fish feeder that you can control remotely.
How an Automatic Fish (Including Bettas) Feeder Works?
An automatic fish feeder is designed to dispense the right amount of food into your aquarium at a specific time each day. This can help you ensure your fish is fed even while on vacation.
Usually, a feed chamber rotates on clock mechanism so the food drops into the aquarium at a predetermined time providing regular nutrition without overfeeding your fish.
Nowadays, there are some feeders that are fully automated as long as you leave them on when starting your vacation.
It will do everything on its own, from opening and closing the aquarium to dropping fish food.
Others will keep you updated with the details of the aquarium through a page you can access on your phone, tablet or PC as long as you have an internet connection.
However, while automatic feeders will provide a sufficient solution to your betta vacation feeding problem, below are a few things you should keep in mind:
Some lower-priced models of automatic fish feeders allow moisture to get in, which clump the food together instead of keeping it in flake or pellet form. So make sure you buy a fish feeder that will allow the moisture to escape.
Automatic fish feeders are either battery operated or run on electricity through a power cord. The advantage of battery operated fish feeder is there is no worry of electrical shock or power outages, whereas the advantage of electrical power feeders is there is no worry about the battery dying.
Automatic power feeders will drop food into the aquarium but won’t remove uneaten food. Meaning when using one, you need to stay ahead of your aquarium cleaning and water change schedule. Unfortunately, this is mostly the challenge when away on vacation, especially if you’ll be away for more than a week.
Granted these few cons of automatic feeders, if going away for long, ask a friend, family member, or coworker to check on your fish and do a water change at least once a week.
How Betta Vacation Feeders Work?
Betta vacation feeders blocks are vacation feeding solutions formulated to dissolve in a fish tank gradually.
They are basically formulated to release small food pellets that provide nutrition to feed your fish while you’re on vacation.
All you have to do is drop a tablet in your betta tank and the block will feed your fish for the design period set by the maker.
When buying betta vacation food, look for food ingredients that match with the number of betta fish you have in your tank.
Good quality betta vacation feeders need to be nutritious with supplements that betta fish love in their diet. Plus the feed should be formulated such that your fish will consume most of the block and create little waste.
A downside to betta vacation feeders is they create an awful mess in the tank thus they are not a long lasting solution if you’ll be gone for a while.
Most feeds are made for one block to feed one betta for up to 7 days.
How to Prepare Your Betta Fish Tanks Before a Vacation
After making sure your fish will be adequately fed when you are away on vacation, the other thing you need to consider is your betta tank condition.
Right from the general hygiene of the tank to lighting and what have you.
Below are two main parameters you’ll need to set up before you leave:
#1— Water Conditions
If you will be gone for a week or two, your betta will be OK as long as the filter in your aquarium is running and the heater is on. Your heater should be pre-set to maintain the preferred tropical freshwater fish temperature.
A filter with good biological filtration properties is most ideal. This will help convert the ammonia from fish waste to less harmful nitrates.
A good filter will also ensure your tank is properly oxygenated although betta fish are labyrinth species and should have no problem living in a low oxygen environment.
Another important thing to do is clean your tank before you leave and when you get back.
By and large, if you stay for more than two weeks, you will need to get a betta sitter or set something with a friend or family member. Make plans for them to stop by once a week and perform a water change.
Alternatively, gather your aquarium and you betta plus a few supplies and leave them at your friend’s house, this way, it will be more convenient for both your fish and the carer.
Assuming you manage to convince a friend, you want to teach them how to properly do a water change and feed your betta. If possible leave them a feeding schedule.
Just hoping they know how to take care of the fish equals wishing your betta dead. Most people have no experience whatsoever in taking care of fish.
#2 — Aquarium Lighting
I think before you try to figure out how to manage your betta tank light cycle while on vacation, a more important question is:
Do betta fish need light?
Well, the answer is quite simple, YES they do!
The same way the natural light cycle is important to you, so it is to your betta. Meaning the betta will need light, though not all the time. At some point, it’ll want time out.
And that’s where it gets challenging since you can’t leave your aquarium light on the entire period you are away.
Naturally, you will want a sensible hack to maintain a normal light cycle in your betta tank. I’d recommend using either of these two chops:
- Leave your aquarium in a spot where it’ll have good access to sunlight. This way you betta will acclimate to the natural light cycle. Awake and active during daylight hours and resting at night.
- In case your aquarium doesn’t have sufficient natural light coming through, get a programmable artificial lighting fixture. Since these lights come with timers, you’ll be able to time your light to turn off and turn on at a pre-set time.
Be that as it may, if you are reading this last minute, it’ll be easier to move your aquarium where there is enough sunlight to take advantage of the natural light cycle.
However, once you get back, consider buying an LED programmable light for the next time you are away on vacation, especially because the sun will sort your lighting problem but will sprout algae like crazy pants.
Good thing some LED aquarium light systems come with standard moonlight features. Which are awesome even when not on vacation.
Programmable LED fixtures with standard moonlight to churn out a subtle blue light which is usable at night without interrupting the fish sleep pattern.
So if you are at home you can still enjoy your aquarium at night and observe your fish behavior. Plus while on vacation it’s still appropriate for perfect light schedule.
My Two Cents
Conclusively, I’m convinced how you feed and care for your betta while on vacation is essentially dependant on the length of your holiday.
When you leave for less than a week, fasting your betta won’t exactly kill it. Just make sure you leave your filter and heater on and place your aquarium in a place with proper natural lighting.
Between one and two weeks, consider betta vacation feeder blocks and if possible have a friend do at least one water change. Still, leaving your filter and heater on is crucial. You can still rely on the natural light cycle for the period.
A vacation longer than two weeks is, however, trickier to work around. The best option would be to get a betta sitter or have a friend take care of your betta fish.
That said, if the time you will be away is only slightly over two weeks, maybe a day or two more to fly back, an automatic feeder and a programmable light system is fine.
However, consider a feeder system powered by a plug-in cord because I’m not sure battery power can last that long.
Still, have your filters and heater and someone to do one or two water changes, plus have them check that the feeder, lights, filter, and heater are working properly.
Enjoy Your Vacation