Feeding cichlids while away

Plastic medicine cup. Photo from walmart.com.

With the holidays upon us, I thought about how many cichlidophiles will be traveling. Many of those will be gone long enough to need their fish fed while they’re gone. This sometimes creates problems. I was recently reminded of how often cichlid keepers return home only to find a tank with dead fish.

The length of time away should determine your feeding plan, i.e., whether you should feed and how often. There are options for making sure your fish get fed. You can use automatic feeders or have someone feed the fish for you. I posted a couple of years ago about how I address feedings when I’m traveling. I highly recommend it for a variety of reasons. I’ve used this method numerous times with different house sitters and never had a single problem.

Frankly, I don’t trust automatic feeders.  A competent human given a process that is practically fail proof is way more dependable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read where someone entrusted to feed fish accidentally “dumped” food into the tank. The results of that are predictable if said entrusted person doesn’t quickly remove most of the excess food. There are many other horror stories about feedings gone awry.

My fish don’t get fed every day and are fed just once a day when they are. Using medicine cups for each day I want my fish fed and having them filled with the exact amount I want fed is pretty safe. I prefill the cups before I leave. I then place the cups for each tank either on top of the tank or right beside it. Assuming the person doing the feeding can read and follow simple instructions, it’s hard to mess that up. If he/she accidentally drops one of the cups before its contents make it into the tank, there is no harm to the fish. If he/she drops the cup into the tank, the cup only has just enough for that feeding anyway.

Medicine cups are easy to get. You can pick them up at any pharmacy or places like Walmart.

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