How to prep reef tank for LONG vacation..

aleok

New member
I'm going on a 3-3 ½ month trip a week from today.The tank itself is only about 6 months old, however majority of the rock and fish are 2 years old.

Livestock include: Kole tang, Bartlett Anthias, mated pair of ocellaris clownfish, mandarin dragonet, a fiji damsel, one small hermit crab, and two tiger tail cucumbers.
Coral: bunch of Acros, Acans, plate corals, duncans, hammer, frogspawn, chalice, brain.

90 gallon (4')
No sump (crazy right?)
HOB eshopps 100 gallon rated skimmer
1- tunze with controller powerhead, 3- Sicce powerheads
In tank "œrefugiums", (in the two back corners i have clear shower shampoo baskets which i drilled holes in and have suctioned to the glass with chaeto and activated carbon in nylons)
ATO, using super clean and pure Hawaiian tap water
Dosing with Reef Fusion 1 & 2

During my absence my Dad will be looking after the tank. I've shown him how to do water changes and I've instructed him to do it every 2 weeks. Water is natural seawater from the aquarium. Most of my coral is relatively new and not everything has attached itself to the rock. For the ones i need, i've re-super glued them so they don't fall during my absence.

Beside the water changes what else can i tell my Dad to watch out for or do? What else before i leave (1 week) can I do to my tank? I was thinking about adding a HOB aquaclear filter and throwing my chaeto and carbon in there for more agitation.

Thanks for any ideas and input!
 

Indymann99

New member
I would make a VERY detailed feeding schedule for your dad. Use measuring devices to help him portion the food. A pinch to "fish people" is VERY different than to "non-fish people" and will most certainly lead to OVERFEEDING...

Also better to go light on the feeding schedule.

If possible have him run the tank for month while you are still here so you can correct any issues.

Checklists are key (Pilots use them EVERYTIME for a reason). Detail every step of the waterchange procedure.

Just re-read your last sentence... if you are leaving in 1 week I would NOT change ANYTHING on a tank that has been running without failures for 6mo.. DONT introduce variables at this point.

my 0.02
 
I have to be honest with you.

The dragonet and Anthias will most likely die from lack of food, or the tank will be overfed and cause issues. All of these are fish I still won't get because they are moderately difficult to care for. The death of one of those fish could send the tank into a tailspin.

If it were me I would take the livestock out of the tank and give them to friends or the LFS, keep the tank running with flow and topoff only while you are gone, and start over once you are back for good.

Unless your dad is used to keeping reef tanks and changing the skimmer and looking for problems this just won't work. There are times to run a reef tank and times not too. This is one of those times when you will want to cut your losses now and start over when you get back.

In my opinion of course. I'm not there and I don't know anything about you, your father or the tank. :)
 

tylersarah

New member
I once told the sitter a "pinch" and came home to a brown tank with pellet mush tumbling on the sand bed. All things survived, but I would suggest portioning out the food. Also, maybe set up a webcam on the tank so you can look at it from a far.
 

oshanickreef

New member
go buy an APEX and set it up on reeftronics so you can monitor your TEMP, ph, and whatever else you want. You can also set up a webcam on the apex. I have a thread on here from last week that is a detailed setup so you can monitor your tank from anywhere as long as you have wifi or cellular service.
I went out of town for 10 days and was freaking out a bit about my tank as well... i made a spreadsheet from excel and had my buddy (also experienced with tanks) live at my apartment and he took care of everything... This all depends on if you have someone in the hobby you can trust.. i lucked out. but i would definitely reccomend the APEX. im at work now and i can keep things in check from my phone. the peace of mind alone is worth it.

GOOD LUCK!!


I once told the sitter a "pinch" and came home to a brown tank with pellet mush tumbling on the sand bed. All things survived, but I would suggest portioning out the food. Also, maybe set up a webcam on the tank so you can look at it from a far.
 

Vinny Kreyling

Premium Member
Leave everything as is!!!
Any deaths have to be taken out ASAP.
Leave a # where you can be reached for consultation. ( hopefully not)
Leave a "sample" of the amount of food to be fed so he can match it & not overfeed.
Cross your fingers & NO MATTER WHAT say Thanks Dad when you get back.
 

Craigdillman

New member
Best thing I have done when I get people who arnt fish people to look after it is buy a automatic fish feeder

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Fish-Mate-F14-Automatic-14-Day-Vacation-Aquarium-Fish-Feeder-/300848398246

this is the one i got it was like 20$ at LFS
perfect for antennas), and then teach them to refill it, and if you want you can coach them on some frozen from time to time when they are there (this makes sure they arnt over feeding also that the tank gets fed every day and its consistent )

Also write up step by step directions and you should be ok

Also leave a # to a local reefer or LFS if anything happens that they can help (give them a heads up)
 

robert s b.

Active member
3.5 months is a very long time. I left for 10 days on vacation last year and came home with 1/2 of my livestock dead. I had everything set on auto mode, had enough top-off in my reservoir to last me for my whole trip. Autofeeder once a day. Parents checked on the house everyother day. I just told them to glance at the tank when they came over to check it out. But mistake I didn't tell them was not to turn off the AC, especially during the summer months here in California. And sure enough, my mom turned it off. If your still living with your parents, you might have a chance. But you know as a beginner reefer even a experience one, you come across a few problems. Your dad might not be able to take care off.

If I were you, I would HIRE a professional maintenance person, that can take care of your tank while your gone. Call your LFS to refer you someone, or your LFS might even provide you that service. I don't know how much you have into your system, but paying a fee of maybe $50.00-$100.00 per month is sure will be worth it.
 

anbosu

New member
3.5 months is a very long time. I left for 10 days on vacation last year and came home with 1/2 of my livestock dead. I had everything set on auto mode, had enough top-off in my reservoir to last me for my whole trip. Autofeeder once a day. Parents checked on the house everyother day. I just told them to glance at the tank when they came over to check it out. But mistake I didn't tell them was not to turn off the AC, especially during the summer months here in California. And sure enough, my mom turned it off. If your still living with your parents, you might have a chance. But you know as a beginner reefer even a experience one, you come across a few problems. Your dad might not be able to take care off.

If I were you, I would HIRE a professional maintenance person, that can take care of your tank while your gone. Call your LFS to refer you someone, or your LFS might even provide you that service. I don't know how much you have into your system, but paying a fee of maybe $50.00-$100.00 per month is sure will be worth it.

I agree with the bold. I think it's unlikely it survives your dad taking care of the tank unless he has a lot more experience than it seems like from your original post.
 

dkeller_nc

New member
Your best bet is to shut down the tank, period. If you just kept a log for a week detailing everything you did to fix little problems with the tank, you'd see why.

Second best bet is to install and Apex, hire a tank maintenance company, and have your Dad supervise.

Third best option is to give your Reef Central ID to your Dad and tell him to immediately post a problem if it occurs.
 

phxreefer

New member
^^ this is the best course of action. There are far too many issues that surely will come up in 3.5 months away. I actually was trying to think of all the odd things that have happened to me in the last three months. Way too many to list.

If your dad does do this he will know more about your tank when you return than you do. GL
 

oshanickreef

New member
i think if you arent going to shut the tank down... then you need to do all of these suggestions... better safe than sorry...

Your best bet is to shut down the tank, period. If you just kept a log for a week detailing everything you did to fix little problems with the tank, you'd see why.

Second best bet is to install and Apex, hire a tank maintenance company, and have your Dad supervise.

Third best option is to give your Reef Central ID to your Dad and tell him to immediately post a problem if it occurs.
 

Fizz71

FragSwapper
Do you have a PC at home near the tank? If I were gone for 3 1/2 months I would have a web cam on the tank and my sump and check it daily.

My list:
1. Portion dry food out in baggies...tell Dad each baggie should last a full week. Hide the original food containers.
2. For frozen I'd buy cubes or break into pieces...x pieces or cubes a week (or day).
3. Have atleast one local reefer know you're leaving and everybody needs their number.
4. I'd also have that reefer stop by once a month. Will probably need to clean skimmer at month 2.
5. Fill fridge with beer for said reefer in #4. :)
6. Book mark reefcentral.com on Dad's PC. :)
7. Teach dad to check salinty once a week and temp daily.
8. If you don't have a web cam and dad has a decent cell phone get him to message you a photo of the tank and sump everyday, preferably while the fish are eating.

I was only gone a week and I had my friend sending me photos of the tank/sump and litter box (self-cleaning..has occasional issues).
 

ninjamini

New member
Way to long too trust any non reefer to run your tank. Shut it or have a service come in weekly and set up an auto feeder plus a monitored controller.

Or read up UN algae control then in 4 months post "how do I get rid of xyz algae"
 

dkeller_nc

New member
Oh yeah - forgot one other thing. If you've decide to leave it up, teach your Dad how to use basic test kits, and buy a digital refractometer and some disposable plastic pipettes.
 

oshanickreef

New member
let us know what you decide... maybe you should save this thread as a bookmark for your dad and he can post whenever and we will try to help!
 
Top