Reliable vacation feeder recommendations? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 05:11 PM Thread Starter
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Reliable vacation feeder recommendations?

I've gotta be away for a week next month, and my usual housesitter is not available. I've got a 55g tank of young angels I'm growing out that are currently being fed all all they can eat 5-7/x day. They can't go a week w/o any food, so looking for recommendations for a reliable & reasonably priced vacation feeder

Interested in hearing people's experience and recommendations of different products. My angels were raised on & prefer flakes, but I'm trying to wean them onto pellets--so cutting back their feeding while away might make them hungry enough to make the switch. From what I've read on here (mostly 10 y/o threads) flakes tend to get soggy, and pellets work better. Only problem is they vary widely in size, so can't/won't eat both pellet sizes I've got. Only other fish are about 3 dozen guppies--who will clean up any messes (along with lots of snails, some ghost shrimp, 3-4 otos, and a baby BN pleco.) Half the guppies are always pregnant, so there'll be some fry for the angels (and likely the guppies too)

Thanks!
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 06:43 PM
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I sell and have tried the Tetra gel weekend feeders and the API pyramid 7 day ones. Honestly I don't love either of them, but both will leave bits of food exposed over time and more or less do what they are advertised to. I just worry that your juvenile angels might not find them and recognize them as food. I feel sure the guppies, shrimp and Ancistrus will though. I think I would be inclined to put an automatic feeder on the tank if no one can come by and reliably feed for you.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 07:26 PM
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Might be an unpopular opinion but fish can easily survive a week with no feeding.

I've had a fish here or there that refused to eat and eventually died. They last at least a month or two like this.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Ddrizzle View Post
Might be an unpopular opinion but fish can easily survive a week with no feeding.

I've had a fish here or there that refused to eat and eventually died. They last at least a month or two like this.
Either that or if you can have pre-measured portions and have some one feed them once or twice while your gone. That would be the best to me.


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 08:01 PM
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Might be an unpopular opinion but fish can easily survive a week with no feeding.

I've had a fish here or there that refused to eat and eventually died. They last at least a month or two like this.
I am going away for a week in 2 days. I have 3 tanks currently, one with some endlers and a betta. One with a variety of native fish I caught from the wild. One with shrimp and ricefish fry that are probably 1 to 2 months old. I will just be leaving all of them as is after making sure to feed well for this past week leading up to my departure. I have done this before with my betta and endlers and I did loose an endler during a trip like this (I am sure to the betta).

Since my ricefish are so young I was a little bit concerned about them and I have deliberately let algae form in the tank as a way to tide them over. However I do believe everyone will be fine (with the exception of maybe losing another endler).

If you are not willing to let them be then your only choice is an automatic feeder or one of those food pills already mentioned. Of the automatic feeders the fluval one is I believe the best of the "cheap" feeders. Aquarium Co-op just made an automatic feeder and have been marketing it this past month. Its brand new though so it has no track record.

Personally I wouldn't hesitate to add pellets of an appropriate size to an automatic feeder for your angels. If they don't eat them it sounds like there is plenty of other fish in your tank that will clean up any left overs. By the time you come back I expect they will be eating the pellets. Just pick some decent ones. I have been playing with Fluval Bugbites lately. They have a small size for "tropical fish" that will work fine unless your angels are newly hatched.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Blue Ridge Reef View Post
I sell and have tried the Tetra gel weekend feeders and the API pyramid 7 day ones. Honestly I don't love either of them, but both will leave bits of food exposed over time and more or less do what they are advertised to. I just worry that your juvenile angels might not find them and recognize them as food. I feel sure the guppies, shrimp and Ancistrus will though. I think I would be inclined to put an automatic feeder on the tank if no one can come by and reliably feed for you.
Yep, my angels aren't the brightest, it seems. They go into a feeding frenzy for flakes on the surface, but once the flakes or pellets start to sink, they'll literally watch them drift by and make no effort to eat them. Fortunately the guppies will. I actually have some Tetra gel feeders that I was too chicken to try for a week away when I just had the guppies, otos & puffers. Will have to give those a test run--maybe attaching it up high so the guppies can get to it before the snails do.....

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Either that or if you can have pre-measured portions and have some one feed them once or twice while your gone. That would be the best to me.
Yeah, I don't have anyone to do that, unfortunately. Hence the problem & need for a reliable autofeeder

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If you are not willing to let them be then your only choice is an automatic feeder or one of those food pills already mentioned. Of the automatic feeders the fluval one is I believe the best of the "cheap" feeders. Aquarium Co-op just made an automatic feeder and have been marketing it this past month. Its brand new though so it has no track record.

Personally I wouldn't hesitate to add pellets of an appropriate size to an automatic feeder for your angels. If they don't eat them it sounds like there is plenty of other fish in your tank that will clean up any left overs. By the time you come back I expect they will be eating the pellets. Just pick some decent ones. I have been playing with Fluval Bugbites lately. They have a small size for "tropical fish" that will work fine unless your angels are newly hatched.
Thanks for those feeder recommendations--will check them out. Yeah, I think a little tough love & hunger will wean them onto the pellets. I'm using two sizes of the New Life Spectrum recommended by resident Cichlid Whisperer @Discusluv. Got the angels 6 wks ago now as dime-sized juveniles, and they now range from one nickle-sized runt to some larger than silver dollar. Will probably go with the smaller pellets that all the angels & guppies can eat. If the guppies are well fed they'll keep dropping fry for the larger angels who don't like the small pellets. If I order a feeder soon, I should have a week or so to test it out with different foods to see how it works. I know the safest bet is to just let them go hungry for a week, but they're growing beautifully and don't want to stunt them. I did lose one runt to starvation shortly after getting them, so would hate to lose any more. And with all the other critters in the tank, I don't think overfeeding will be an issue. Actually, I'll probably feed them 20-40% less than I am currently.

Will report back on what I end up getting, and how my test runs go.....

Thanks all!
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 12:51 AM
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Yep, my angels aren't the brightest, it seems. They go into a feeding frenzy for flakes on the surface, but once the flakes or pellets start to sink, they'll literally watch them drift by and make no effort to eat them.
It's what they do. Reason for my thinking that a slow-release feeder would be next to useless for them. I like angels and have brought a few hundred into the world, but their feeding response stinks! Especially juvies. If they learn blackworms fall to the bottom, they'll suck them up like spaghetti just like they learn a flake is up. But throw them a live brine shrimp and it will crawl over their eye and they won't figure it out! And I swear I've seen them swimming the surface with a flake hanging on their dang forehead looking for a flake that's floating. But @Ddrizzle makes a solid point. If they have some mass to them, I'm sure they can weather a week with only an occasional guppy fry though there may be some havoc if you don't have a few female guppies lit to pop. If they are under silver dollar size, I'd really try to get anyone with some sense to come a time or three and feed a pre-measured amount of food.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 12:56 AM
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Given the options I've used for feeders, I count them out for shorter stays like a week. Just more trouble than value.
In a weeks time, I want somebody reliable to check in to verify that things are still running right as there are hundreds of ways small things, that are not fixed, can become really big things.
Some small things that I have experienced but found having somebody just look in and call me?
Water evaporates and the spray bar comes up above waterline allowing it to shoot the remaining water over the edge! Snail gets stuck in the impeller! Heater quits and the temperature alarm is not heard if nobody looks in!
Better to not feed but not good to assume the rest will continue. Gremlins look for those opportunities!
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-16-2019, 04:54 AM Thread Starter
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If you are not willing to let them be then your only choice is an automatic feeder or one of those food pills already mentioned. Of the automatic feeders the fluval one is I believe the best of the "cheap" feeders. Aquarium Co-op just made an automatic feeder and have been marketing it this past month. Its brand new though so it has no track record.

Personally I wouldn't hesitate to add pellets of an appropriate size to an automatic feeder for your angels. If they don't eat them it sounds like there is plenty of other fish in your tank that will clean up any left overs. By the time you come back I expect they will be eating the pellets. Just pick some decent ones. I have been playing with Fluval Bugbites lately. They have a small size for "tropical fish" that will work fine unless your angels are newly hatched.
Thanks! I checked the Aquarium Co-op website, and the menu has a tab for auto fish feeders, but when you click on it, there's nothing there. Messaged customer service, and got this response: "We have taken them off the website for the time being, while we do some quality control." Nice to know they do quality control rather than sell a substandard project. In the meantime guess I'll have to keep looking....

Given the huge size difference in my angels s (they all started as dime sized 6 wks ago, and now range from nickel to silver dollar sized after just 6 wks) it's hard to find a right sized pellet. The little ones can't eat the larger pellets, and the bigger ones won't touch the smaller pellets. But maybe if that's all there is, hunger will make them eat the smaller ones? What the angels won't eat, the guppies certainly will....
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-16-2019, 05:10 AM
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I have the Eheim ones. They work fine.


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-17-2019, 04:05 AM
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the Fish Mate feeder works just fine. If you want to feed once a day it will hold 2 weeks worth, plenty for a vacation. I have one I've used off and on for years. I like that each feeding has a separate compartment so I can spread out and combine food types between floaters and sinkers, and do things like drop an algae wafer once a week. It will gum up if you don't run an airline to it (there's a connection for it). I wouldn't put very fine powder food in it like fry food, but anything .5mm or bigger works fine and I've never had an issue with flakes.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-21-2019, 02:51 AM
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I use the automatic feeders I got at Wal-Mart on my tanks when I am away. Have been using them for years. Typically I put the on the tank a day early, with a bit of food on top of each turning wheel of food, just to make sure they are working/turning. Feed 2x in 24 hours.

Price is right for me.

Bob
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-21-2019, 12:16 PM
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Don't have experience with auto feeders but can second minorhero's Bugbites suggestion. My angel's favorite and they are "slow sinking granules". The mentioned Tropical size is what I've used mostly and now also adding Cichlid formula which may be a bit big bitewise for your smallest. They also sink faster if your angels are splashy feeders but tasty enough that some of mine will actually chase them down while sinking.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-21-2019, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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Don't have experience with auto feeders but can second minorhero's Bugbites suggestion. My angel's favorite and they are "slow sinking granules". The mentioned Tropical size is what I've used mostly and now also adding Cichlid formula which may be a bit big bitewise for your smallest. They also sink faster if your angels are splashy feeders but tasty enough that some of mine will actually chase them down while sinking.
Thanks--will have to give those a try. I've tried freezedried bloodworms, and they don't seem all that interested in those, oddly. I did get some Seachem Garlic Guard when I was trying to entice the smallest runt that didn't make it. May try that on the New Life Spectrum Cichlid pellets in 2 sizes I've been trying to feed. Problem is that soaking them in the liquid garlic solution makes them sink that much quicker--which doesn't benefit anybody but the more alert guppies who snatch them up. But if they won't eat the pellets well, I may just cave and use flake in the feeder so the runt doesn't get left out & starve while I'm gone.

Also looking into getting a big mesh breeder box that I can put the runt and a pregnant guppy or two in to see if that'll fatten him up. Last week we had our last gasp of 90+ temps and a lot of flies, so I've been swatting those & putting them in. Seems to really trigger their killer instincts in the larger ones They attack them, have trouble getting them in their mouths, and chase each other around trying to get them. Fun to watch. Maybe if I tried putting legs & wings on the pellets?

Really need to see if I can get a good video of the flake feeding frenzy to post. I always start with the larger pellets when they're good & hungry. The biggest 2-3 black velvets might eat one, but leave the rest. But I put in the flake and they go crazy--you can hear them splashing from across the room. They suck it in, spit it out, then suck it back in--creating a cloud of particles large & small that they ignore. Most won't eat food that floats right into their face--instead heading back up to the surface for more. The cloud of flake particles is too small for most of the guppies, even. So I got another 10 ghost shrimp for clean up--since I don't want to give the MTS anything to further their population explosion. (thought the assassins are starting to multiply and are finally making a dent)

Will make a decision & order a feeder in the next few days to take advantage of the Black Friday sales. I'll have a couple of weeks before leaving to test it out & share the results on here.
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