How to Prepare Your Guppy Aquarium for Vacation?


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Going on vacation? What about your guppy fish? How they will survive? What should you do with your fish while on holiday?

In this article, I will teach you how to prepare your aquarium and guppies for your long absence. Will show you some really good tricks you can do to keep your aquarium in the best shape while you enjoying your vacation.

If you are going away for a few days, you should not worry about your guppy fish, especially, if you do regular tank maintenance. Your fish will be just fine 2-3 days without food.

However, if you are going on a longer trip, more than one week, you have to prepare your fish and tank.

Prepare Your Tank Before Leaving

Regular maintenance of your fish tank is a must to keep your fish healthy. If you are leaving your aquarium for a longer period, the things you do regularly might not be enough to keep water parameters at normal levels.

Here is a checklist I follow every time I go away for more than one week:

  • Clean the filter few days prior leaving
  • Change 50%-70% of water one day before leaving
  • Put the aquarium lights on a timer
  • Remove dead or dying plants
  • Remove fish that are unhealthy and you think it will die while you are gone

Now let’s see the importance of each step.

Cleaning Filter

It is important to do big filter maintenance before you go away, for more reasons. First, you want to clean the mechanical filter and remove all the fish waste and debris that is in the filter. This is very important because you want to remove as much mulm as possible from the tank.

You should not clean the biological filter, because it is important to keep the beneficial bacteria at good levels in order to remove ammonia and other toxins, while you are away.

While a big part of the biological waste falls to the bottom of your aquarium, vacuuming the gravel is also beneficial when cleaning your filter.

Water Change

To give your fish more time, perform a bigger water change before leaving. If you are doing 20-30% water changes weekly, you should perform a 50-70% water change. This way you will remove a very big amount of nitrates from the water column, giving your aquarium more time.

Don’t forget to add a water conditioner to the water, especially if you are using tap water. Water conditioners such as Prime will remove chlorine, chloramine and heavy metals from the tap water.

Aquarium Lights

It is essential to keep consistent light in your guppy aquarium, especially if you have plants. You can’t make it consistent by turning lights on and off manually. One day you will forget to turn it on, while other days you will probably leave it on all day long.

Excessive light can cause a strong algae bloom, which is annoying and ugly.

Automating light is easy. You can buy a timer, and set it up to turn on and off the lights of the aquarium at a certain time of the day. Having a timer is necessary if you are going on vacation for a couple of days.

If you don’t have a timer, do not leave the lights on if you are going on vacation. Fish need to rest to stay healthy, and you want to keep artificial lights on max 8-10 hours a day.

That said, put your lights on a timer, before leaving or turn it off completely while you are gone.

Remove Dead Plants

Live plants are really beneficial for your aquarium. Dying plants, however, produce ammonia which eventually turns into nitrates.

To keep the nitrates level low, remove all decomposing plant matter from the aquarium. This will encourage new growth too.

Remove Sick Fish

Before leaving, analyze your fish visually. Look for sick guppy fish. If you find any sick fish that you think can potentially die while you are away, just remove it from the aquarium. I know, this might be hard, but it is the right decision.

Dead fish will decompose really fast and will produce lot of ammonia, which is highly toxic for your fish. You want to avoid this at all costs.

How Long can Guppies Survive Without Food?

Adult guppies can survive for 2-3 weeks without feeding them. Eventually, they will eat algae, plants, and other food they find in the aquarium.

Guppy fry are more sensitive. If you want to give your guppy fry a better chance to survive, feed them at least every other day.

But how can you feed your guppies while you are gone? There are few options. Read along to find out which is the best for you.

Ask Family or a Friend

A good option is to ask your family members or a friend to watch out for your guppies. A friend, who is also a fish keeper, might be the ideal candidate to take care of your guppy aquarium. But let’s be realistic, this is rarely the case.

If you leave your fish in a family member’s hands, make sure you give clear instructions about feeding. Write everything down, so they don’t forget the details.

To avoid overfeeding, you can prepare the food for each day in separate seal-bags.

If you are away for more than two weeks, most likely a small water change should also be done. Before leaving, ask the person who is going to take care of for your fish, to assist to a water change. Show and explain every step of the water change. Don’t forget to tell them about turning off the heater and filter while performing water change or to add dechlorinator.

If your family or friend don’t have the time or experience to do aquarium maintenance, probably this is not the best option to choose while gone you are gone.

Hire a Fish-Sitter

If family or friends can’t take care of your guppies, you might want to hire a pet-sitter. The ideal would be to find a fish-sitter, who has experience with taking care of aquarium fish.

An experienced fish-sitter can perform aquarium maintenance and follow the daily routine with your fish. You will still need to give clear instructions about the feeding schedule and aquarium maintenance to avoid over or under-feeding.

Ask the fish-sitter to give you updates about your fish and aquarium while you are away.

The downside of hiring a pet-sitter is that you have to give access to your home to a person you don’t know. Also, it can cost a lot, especially if you have multiple tanks.

Automatic Feeder

Using an auto-feeder is a great option to feed your guppy fish while you are away. However, you should test this method before you leave. I don’t use auto-feeders when I go on vacation.

I use the Eheim auto-feeder on my guppy fry tanks to feed them a couple of times a day. I want to ensure a steady growth rate; this is why I use an auto-feeder. It saves me a lot of time, and I can be sure that my fry will get some food, even if I’m not in my fish room.

Although the Eheim auto-feeder works really well, it can clog with flake food. I use only powder and pellet food in this device.

The downside of auto-feeders is that you can’t control the exact amount of food you want to feed. I don’t really worry about water pollution, because my tanks are set up on an automatic water change system.

However, if you are going on a vacation and the auto-feeder will overfeed your fish, and there is no one to change the water, you are screwed.

Vacation Feeder

You can find vacation feeders at every fish-store. It might sound a very good idea to use this, however, I don’t recommend it. I’ve tried multiple brands, but none of those worked.

The main problem is that they are not effective in feeding your fish and they will only pollute the water. Vacation feeders will slowly dissolve in the water and will provide food for your fish at a slow rate. However, I found that after a couple of hours, the fish don’t even touch the feeder.

Uneaten food will become ammonia, and eventually can harm or kill your fish. I recommend avoiding vacation feeders.


Do not over-feed your fish, especially if you are leaving them for weeks! Some people might think that overfeeding is a good idea. Actually, it is the best method to kill all your fish.

Adding too much food to your aquarium will end up polluting the water and eventually dead fish. Avoid this practice at all costs.

No Feeding

If you can’t find anyone to feed your guppy fish and take care of your aquarium, it is better to not feed your fish at all. As mentioned above, guppies will be fine without food for 2-3 weeks.

No feeding means that the water pollution is minimal, so your fish tank can go on without a water change for much longer. The toxins will accumulate much slower because the fish will not produce much waste.

Some fish breeders avoid feeding their fish for 2-3 weeks in order to clear their digestive system. Following their practice, this might be a good way for your fish to eliminate all toxins from their body.

Please note that guppy fry might not resist for more than one week without food. I’ve learned this the hard way. In my early fish-keeping days, I left my fry unfed for one week. Sadly all my fry died.

Before Vacation Checklist

Here is the checklist I follow with my aquariums every time before I go on a vacation.

  • Perform 50-70% water change one day before I leave
  • Clean mechanical filter and vacuum the gravel
  • Set artificial lights on a timer (no more than 10 hours a day)
  • If I will be away for 1-2 weeks, I do not worry about feeding
  • If someone is looking after my guppies, I always leave detailed instructions about feeding and tank maintenance
  • I check aquarium equipment (filter, heater, air pump)

After Vacation Checklist

This is the checklist I use every time for my aquariums when I return from a longer trip:

  • Inspect aquarium visually (check water level or possible leaks)
  • Inspect guppy fish – look for sick or dead fish (remove dead fish immediately)
  • I check aquarium equipment (heater, filter, air pump, lights)
  • Perform a 30-50% water change to remove accumulated toxins from the water (I use tap water, so I always add dechlorinator to my tank)
  • I go back to my regular aquarium maintenance and feeding schedule

What Food to Feed While on Vacation?

Ok, someone is feeding your fish, while you enjoying yourself on a sandy beach or in the mountains. What food to feed your guppies while you are on vacation?

Not long ago I’ve created a detailed article about the best food for guppies. You might want to check this out to see what options you have.

Feeding live food to your guppy fish is probably the best option because uneaten brine shrimp or daphnia will continue to live in the aquarium and eventually get eaten later.

If you don’t have the possibility to give live food to your fish, flake foods or maybe veggie pallets are also great choices.

Choose a food type that causes minimal water pollution. Do not ask your fish sitter (or your friend) to feed egg yolk, frozen bloodworms or beef heart to your guppy fish. These foods will pollute the water very much.


I really hope that this article has helped you to find a good method to prepare your tank for vacation. Guppy fish are very hard and can resist without food for weeks. They can also accept a wide range of water parameters and temperatures.

If you do regular tank maintenance and have followed the above checklist, you should not be worried about your guppies. They will be fine when you return.

Enjoy your vacation!


Updated: September 30, 2021
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