Long vacation -- plant survival prospects. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-19-2014, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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Long vacation -- plant survival prospects.

Hello all, I'm hoping for a bit of advice.

An opportunity has arisen for me to take a short term job out of town. I'll be gone for about two months. I know that the fish and (probably) shrimp will have to find new homes. I was wondering if my plants could survive with lights on a timer and topping off with distilled water in that time? I have 5 planted tanks, all 10 or 20 gallons. Only one is using CO2 and it's a DIY system. I'm not growing anything too exotic or finicky. The substrate in the tanks vary but include dirt or vermicompost base, capped with eco-complete or fluorite. I fertilize lightly with the Seachem line, both liquid, and I've got the root tabs as well.

I would hate to come home to a goopy mess, and would just as well get rid of my plants and break down the tanks rather than see them go to waste.

If anyone has experience or advice, I would appreciate it greatly.

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-19-2014, 06:11 PM
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Two months is a long time to be away and no maintenance done. I have a few good friends that I have taught to take care of my aquariums and usually when I go out of town, I will have them over for a refresher course, then one of them will be able to take care of all my aquariums for me. I would look into perhaps having someone baby sit them during the week, and depending on where you will be located for work and where your home is, you may be able to go home on the weekends and take care of some things as well. Likewise, two months is a long time, so maybe if you cannot get someone to care for them at your house you can maybe find friends that want to adopt a tank for a little while and you can take it to their place, show them how to care for it, and then get it back from them when you are done with your travel. Another option is to consolidate all your plants and fish and shrimp you cannot live without and take them with you to your job location and setup an aquarium there.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-19-2014, 06:56 PM Thread Starter
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The assignment is 2000 miles away. So visiting home or taking the tanks with me isn't an option. I'll be leaving in 10 days, so I don't know that there is really time to train anyone (and I would feel terrible asking someone to care for 5 tanks).

Maybe it's best to break the tanks down. A shame, since I'll be back relatively soon. But it may be my only option.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-19-2014, 07:02 PM
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Dang 2,000 miles is a long drive home every weekend. You shouldn't feel guilty asking your friends for help, that's why we have them in the first place!! If they don't want to help they will just say no, you never know one of your friends might be a fish head that just haven't came out of their shell yet! I don't think it would take long to teach them how to care for the aquariums if you really wanted to keep them. When I show people how to take care of my aquariums it takes about five minutes of explaining what to do, then about 30 minutes for them to watch me do a water change and that is it. We are luck enough to have a bunch of friends that love animals, so when we go on our cruise for 14 days in Aug we will have someone taking care of it for us. It would really suck having to get rid of everything just for a couple months, if all else fails see if you can find a mom and pop fish store and see if you can rent a tank from them and keep all the stuff you really care about in there.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-19-2014, 07:03 PM
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Couldn't you write everything down for each tank and have a good friend do their best.... Having some care is better than no care.... Even if they didn't do everything, basic care would help them survive. U may have some loss, but better than tearing it all down
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-19-2014, 07:25 PM
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My suggestion is to consolidate the plants you most care about down to 1 tank and find someone to do some minimal care of it. Top off and ferts maybe. I agree that 5 tanks is alot to ask someone to care for but maybe 1 tank will manageable. And the other plants I bet you could RAOK to folks on this forum who could in return provide some back to you when you are back from work and ready to start up the other tanks.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-20-2014, 12:20 AM
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If you reduce the amount of ferts you are dosing, and the food by a little bit, you could probably get away with less water changes, maybe even none for that time period (will probably need some top-offs.

As to the ferts/foods, maybe you can pre-dose some in something like a pill container or one of those mini paint-pots you can buy in craft stores, and write the date to use it on the lid. set it up so a friend can come by 2x a week, take the container out of the freezer, and dump the contents into the tank, and maybe do a bit of a top-off.

I don't know if your specific tanks need more maintenance, but pre-dosing and storing would solve a lot of the typical problems with over-feeding and such.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-20-2014, 01:01 AM
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So lately, I have been looking into making at least a tank (and then a whole fishroom) completely automatic. Feeding would all be automatic. Automatic water top-offs. Automatic lights (and you could automate the CO2, as well but I don't use CO2). It *can* be done. And beyond that, you can get away without water changes for two months (you learn a lot about tank sustainability when you go to boarding school).

As for top-offs, there are automatic top-off systems out there. Don't go for the float valves but instead the electrode sensors. Those will run between $80 and a few hundred (but there are good options around $100 if you look). Set up a pump in a close tub and you're good to go.

For lights and CO2, basic outlet timers work.

For feeding, Eheim makes a nice feeder that feeds my turtles and tilapia. I find they go about a month before needing a refill (so you would need a friend to stop in maybe 3 weeks in, and then 6 weeks in to fill up).

As far as the fertilizers go, if they are in liquid form I'm not sure what you can do. However, if they are in a powder form it may be possible to bind the powder with something (like they do fishfood) to make pellets which could then be dispensed in an automatic feeder.

I have invested a lot of time into figuring out how to set up self-sustaining tanks that can run for at least a month without maintenance. Other than fertilizers, everything else above should work and help your situation.
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