How long can my tetra go without food? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
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How long can my tetra go without food?

Hi!

I'm a college student and currently have a cardinal tetra and 3 otos in a 5.5 gallon relatively heavily planted aquarium. As of tomorrow, I will be leaving to head back home for winter break, which will last approximately four weeks. I used to have 6 other cardinals in here but they all died off within the first week after bringing them in from the store some months ago as juveniles. Unfortunately, the nearest store isnt that close so this guy has been making due in his lonesome for a few months now. With that said, I was wondering what his chances are of making it through the break without being fed. I plan to slightly overfeed right before leaving, in addition to leaving two cucumber slices for the otos. Additionally, I have an incredibly dense java moss foreground that I've found to have several ~5mm macroinvertebrates which seem to have thrived since the tank has been set up, in addition to some microscopic worms which seem to flick about in the water column whenever they are disturbed after I pour in water from a water change. I was hoping that all of this in tandem might serve the tetra well as a food source until I get back. Additionally, the tank temp is at 76' consistently, so I figured the slightly slower metabolic function of the tetra might give it a fighting chance as well (as opposed to keeping it at 82' or so).

Anyways, I'm sure it's most likely anyone's guess as to the little guy's chances, but I just wanted to see if there's any more informed comments that you guys might have, as an automatic feeder is unfortunately out of the question...

Thanks so much

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 06:54 PM
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Man, that's a loooooong time. Is there anyone you can have feed the poor little guys?

My son's 29 Gallon - 1 Firemouth, 1 Albino Bristlenose Pleco, and 6 Bloodfin Tetras
55 Gallon - always in need of some new plants - 1 Pearl Gourami, 7 Zebra Danios, 3 Albino Bristlenose Plecos and 4 really old Amano Shrimp
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 07:01 PM
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Most fish can go at least a week or two without being fed and would probably be fine. 4 weeks is a pretty long time; but I'd be more concerned about the lack of maintenance (water changes) throughout that time rather than the lack of food. The fish will likely pick at the plants a bit and find the creatures in the tank to eat. Which means they'll still be producing waste throughout your absence. What kind of maintenance schedule are you on currently? Where do you go to school? Is it potentially feasible to just bring the tank home with you? (5.5 gallon tank shouldn't be too hard to transport depending on how your physically travelling home).

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lksdrinker View Post
Most fish can go at least a week or two without being fed and would probably be fine. 4 weeks is a pretty long time; but I'd be more concerned about the lack of maintenance (water changes) throughout that time rather than the lack of food. The fish will likely pick at the plants a bit and find the creatures in the tank to eat. Which means they'll still be producing waste throughout your absence. What kind of maintenance schedule are you on currently? Where do you go to school? Is it potentially feasible to just bring the tank home with you? (5.5 gallon tank shouldn't be too hard to transport depending on how your physically travelling home).
I agree. I think your best option would be to take the tank home if at all possible.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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@Dave in the basement @lksdrinker @BettaBabe

I'm a sophomore at Boston College and I live on Long Island so it's about a 3-4 hour drive. The tank is relatively heavily planted but I do 50% water changes between once and twice a week and have a ZooMed 501 running on the bank, which is ideally suited for 20 gallon turtle tanks but serves its purpose well. The bioload I don't think is an issue to be totally honest.

I would bring the tank home but the driftwood I have comes out of the water and I would ideally not want to uporoot everything and turn back a few weeks later to do it all again. I don't have a picture file on hand but you can look at my post history where I posted some pictures about a month ago I think.

I just did a relatively sizeable trim earlier today in preparation for the month away but my java moss and ludwigia repens take heavily from the water column so I hope that can assist in filtration (albeit only marginally). I just wanted to gauge the possibility of the cardinal tetra making it. The otos, to be totally honest, I'm less worried about, as they're much more sessile and the cucumber, historically, has lasted at least a week, so I'm relatively confident that two will be enough to keep them fed the first two weeks and then they can hold on and subsist for the next two.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboy87 View Post
@Dave in the basement @lksdrinker @BettaBabe

I'm a sophomore at Boston College and I live on Long Island so it's about a 3-4 hour drive. The tank is relatively heavily planted but I do 50% water changes between once and twice a week and have a ZooMed 501 running on the bank, which is ideally suited for 20 gallon turtle tanks but serves its purpose well. The bioload I don't think is an issue to be totally honest.

I would bring the tank home but the driftwood I have comes out of the water and I would ideally not want to uporoot everything and turn back a few weeks later to do it all again. I don't have a picture file on hand but you can look at my post history where I posted some pictures about a month ago I think.

I just did a relatively sizeable trim earlier today in preparation for the month away but my java moss and ludwigia repens take heavily from the water column so I hope that can assist in filtration (albeit only marginally). I just wanted to gauge the possibility of the cardinal tetra making it. The otos, to be totally honest, I'm less worried about, as they're much more sessile and the cucumber, historically, has lasted at least a week, so I'm relatively confident that two will be enough to keep them fed the first two weeks and then they can hold on and subsist for the next two.
If you're doing weekly 50% water changes (or more) and then ignore the tank for 4 weeks there is a good possibility you're going to encounter a problem. While your bioload might not be that high, your setup only has so much beneficial bacteria right now. Its established itself at a certain point which is in part determined by your current maintenance schedule. (Keeping up with weekly water changes keeps your ammonia and nitrite levels down. This can mean smaller bacterial colonies as there is not much "food" for the colony to thrive. Theres an equilibrium of sorts that gets reached and you have enough bacteria to handle the current ammonia levels. There is a good chance those levels will change with 4 weeks of neglect).

Might be a little more risky this way. But maybe you can leave the tank where it is (so as not to disturb the aquascape) but remove the fish and the filter. Bag em up as if you were to ship them, and transport them home with you in an insulated cooler. Keep the filter media wet/submerged, and then place the fish and that filter on a tank at home for 4 weeks (can even be a rubbermaid tote if need be). Hell, I live in Suffolk County and have an empty 5.5 gallon tank you could borrow if you really needed a container to hold the fish.

No matter what you choose to do now; are you thinking long term? What are you going to do with this at the end of the school year?
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-17-2015, 11:04 PM
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I agree on taking the fish and filter to college and setting up another tank there if you don't want to disturb the current tank. Sounds like the best option. Other than that, yes a automatic feeder device or someone else to care for the aquarium is the next option. Besides that, I would rehome the fish or give them to a store, as they pretty much will certainly die.

4 weeks is too long and the fish would die. As mentioned, the beneficial bacteria is only the size of the given/current bioload. Adding 2 cucumber slices might decompose and pollute the water sooner than the otos would eat it, so potentially all the fish could die due to food breaking down and causing ammonia spikes.

Then you also got to think about water evaporation. Not only does a smaller water volume have less dillution potential, if the water levels drop down to low and the filters intake is out of water, the fish will die and the filter would probably burn up. Submersible heater would probably overheat as well (minimum water line).

If all the fish did die and the filter quit running or clogged up too much and the water became still enough, the rotting corpses would foul up the tank pretty bad, possibly needing a tank redo, mean take everything out (even the driftwood) to clean.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-18-2015, 02:06 PM
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Then you also got to think about water evaporation. Not only does a smaller water volume have less dillution potential, if the water levels drop down to low and the filters intake is out of water, the fish will die and the filter would probably burn up. Submersible heater would probably overheat as well (minimum water line).
This is another very good point to this problem which had not even crossed my mind! Also have to wonder what the school does to the heating system in the dorms during that break? Theres a chance they might turn it down to the minimal settings which will in turn cause your heater to have to work much harder and might not be able to keep the same temps your livestock are used to.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-18-2015, 08:16 PM
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water change before you leave and throw an auto feeder on it.. Its not a big deal and everything will be fine.
https://www.bigalspets.com/feed-air-...ic-feeder.html
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