How long can fish go without food? | MyFishKeepingWorld

How long can fish go without food?

We feed our fish every day, and it’s one of the most pleasant aspects of our pastime. However, our normal schedules are sometimes disrupted. So, we are unable to be there to ensure that our fish are full.

When it comes to a vacation planning, it comes to the question “How can I leave my fish tank without supervision and food for long?” and “How long can fish go without food?”

The main rule is that the larger and older your fish is, the more probable they are to live without food for a longer length of time. This implies that in certain situations, you may leave your fish without food for up to 14 days without causing long-term harm to their health.

If you’re going to leave your fish for a long period of time, there are a few things to consider. It’s about the fish you have, their age and condition, the layout of your aquarium, and so on.

Fish are a large and varied group of aquatic animals. Fish, ranging in size from the huge to the small fish show a variety of eating and food source habits. These distinctions include variations in their capacity to go for extended periods of time without eating.

Fish Classifications

Fish are classified into four types depending on their eating:

  1. Carnivores
  2. Herbivores
  3. Omnivores
  4. Limnivores

Sharks and cichlids are carnivores that consume flesh. Tangs are herbivores that eat plants and algae. Limnivores consume mud-based diets, while omnivores consume both plants and meat. These differences influence feeding frequency.

Carnivorous fish, generally, may go longer without eating than other types of fish. Carnivores in the wild often spend days without capturing food and are able to survive times of food shortage. To live, the other types need more regular feeding. Herbivores and limnivores spend much of their time consuming and looking for food. This is because the plant stuff eaten has a reduced nutritional value.


How long can fish go without food?

For bigger than 10 cm discus and cichlids, it is possible to go two weeks without eating. Generally speaking, this is true for the majority of fish of this size. Some fish of a bigger size have the ability to live for many months.

The smaller fish, such as guppies, tetras, and similar species, will not last as long. A week without meals is too long for them.

Goldfish can go without food for around two weeks.

We’ve discovered that certain fish have a greater chance of living without food for a longer period of time.

In this part, we’ve discussed common fish breeds and how long they can survive without food:

  • Betta Fish: 10-14 days
  • Mollies: 10-14 days
  • Fire fish: 7-14 days
  • Cory Catfish: 7-14 days
  • Goldfish: 10-14 days
  • Guppies: 10-14 days
  • Zebrafish: 7-14 days
  • Neon Tetras: 7 days (up to 3 weeks in planted aquariums)
  • Platies: 10-14 days
  • Clownfish: 7 days
  • Tangs: 7 days
  • Butterfly Fish: 7-14 days


Feeding Requirements May be Affected by a Number of Conditions

Before leaving on your trip, you may wish to do a trial fasting period to evaluate how your particular community of fish would manage without fish food. Essentially, approach the aquarium as if you were on vacation. Check it on a regular basis, but don’t feed or maintain the residents. You’ll be able to see how everything actually works as the days pass.

There are several things that can be done to decrease the metabolism of tropical fish. It will restrict both their appetite and the amount of time they have to look for food.

  • Lowering the temperature by a few degrees will cause the metabolic processes of the fish to slow down. It will reduce their desire to eat. In the nature, fish are used to moderate seasonal temperature fluctuations, but if the switch is extreme, the stress will put them vulnerable to illness. If the holiday falls during a cold season, make sure your tank heater is functioning and don’t set your home temperature too low. Tropical fish like water temperatures ranging from 74 – 78° F or 23 – 26° C and do not perform well below 65° F or 18° C.

Set your air conditioning to turn on whenever the room temperature goes over 80°F/27 ° C during summer holidays. It will make your fish will be very comfortable while you are gone. If you don’t have air conditioning, it’s a good idea to ask someone come in and monitor the fish in case of a heat wave.

Reducing the quantity of light in an aquarium will also assist to reduce the feeding requirements of its residents.

  • Normally, aquarium lights should be shut off at night and put back on in the morning. Lighting may be easily to control by buying a timer. There’s no need to buy anything elaborate or costly as long as it switches the aquarium lights on and off once a day. Set the light to a timer and leave it on all of the time. Your fish will then have a regular day/night cycle. A timer set to allow, for example, 6 hours of light rather than a full 12 hours of light would both slow down food intake and enable the resting fish to burn less calories, reducing their appetite.

The age and size of the fish, as well as the aquarium itself, are all significant variables in the fish’s capacity to live without being nourished.

  • Mature fish have more fat saved in their bodies and may thus live for extended periods of time than younger fish. Baby fish cannot live without food for more than a day or two.

A well-maintained tank may be left for extended lengths of time than a newly installed aquarium.

  • The tank mates in an ecologically balanced aquarium have previous experience surviving in this habitat. Regular water adjustments and occasional algae development will help the fish live for a longer period of time. It is risky to leave a fresh tank alone for a long amount of time.


The Physical Condition of the Fish

Your fish’s physical condition, on the other hand, is very essential. Just before you go for your vacation or holiday, check on them. Make sure that none of them seems to be ill or injured. If you detect any abnormalities, contact a fish store or an aquatic doctor before you leave. If you don’t, you run the danger of returning home to an aquarium full of ill or dead fish.

As well as your contact information, be sure to provide the fish sitter your pet store’s phone number. Whether you have a fish sitter or not, if you plan ahead of time, you will be able to go on vacations without risking your fish safety.


Here’s a helpful checklist of things to get through before you leave:


  • A week before you go, clean the tank


  • The day before you go, completely fill the aquarium with water


  • Check the water temperature to ensure it is within the acceptable range


  • Check the filter to ensure it is operating at full capacity


  • Examine all of the fish carefully to verify their health


  • If you have a fish sitter, put food in a dispenser for him or her


  • Give your fish caretaker your phone number as well as the number of the local pet store



Ways to feed your fish while you are away from home

There are three methods to feed your fish while you are away from home for an extended length of time:

  • Manual Feeding System. The first option is to find a fish sitter

It could be a friend, a family member, or even a fish caretaker to look after your fish while you are away. There are some individuals that make a career servicing aquarium in workplaces, hospitals, and schools, and who will take after your aquarium while you are gone for a charge.

If you go this way, make sure the fish sitter understands what to provide, how much to nourish, and what care they will need to do.

Make certain that the sitter knows that if the fish still seem hungry after they’ve eaten their meal, it’s on purpose. This is true regardless of the kind of fish food used or the quantity of food provided. No matter how persistently the fish plead or how adorable they seem, once they’ve had their portion, they’re done for the day until the next planned feeding day.

Tell the fish sitters specifically what you want them to do. Make the work of the fish sitter as simple and straightforward as possible. The simpler the task, the more likely it will be completed to your satisfaction.

The first thing to decide is how often you want the fish sitter to check on the tank.

Not feeding every day accomplishes two things: it lowers the possibility of overfeeding and, as a result, the quantity of waste created.

The most essential point to stress onto your assistance is that they should refrain from overfeeding your fish at any cost. Leftover food will dirty the aquarium and may even harm if it the fish will eat it. Fish will “ask” for more food even when they are adequately fed (Angelfish are infamous for this). But they should not receive more in to their pleadings. Pre-measuring each meal in a small container or plastic bag before handing it to the sitter can help prevent overfeeding your fish.

One cheap alternative is to use a plastic pill dispenser with compartments for each day of the week, which is inexpensive.

Place the same quantity of food in one of the pill compartments that you would feed your fish the week before you go. By the end of the week, you should have everything ready for your helper for the following week’s feedings. Each day, all they have to do is open the dispenser and place the food from the compartment corresponding to the current day into the aquarium. Feeding the fish once a day while you are away, even if you normally feed the fish twice daily, will usually be sufficient

If you underfeed, you are less likely to overfeed, which is always better!


Make a list of everything

You should provide a basic written guide of the duties to complete by the fish sitter even if just verbal contact takes place between you and him or her. For the fish sitter, there is no need to produce a “how-to” handbook. A few simple instructions are a fantastic approach to guarantee the satisfied completion.

As an additional consideration, you may want to provide the sitter with a phone number where you are available to contact with in the event of queries or an emergency, in addition to work specifics. Please also provide the phone number of a knowledgeable fish keeper who may be able to assist the sitter in the event of an emergency. If you don’t know any skilled fish keepers, leave the name and phone number of your favorite aquarium store (as well as a note letting the store’s manager know what you’re doing to make it easier for your fish sitter to communicate with if the need arises).

Making use of sticky notes on the aquarium to indicate when and how much to feed the fish is one of the most effective methods for making the work of the fish sitter as simple as possible. If you have more than one tank that need attention while you are away, this method is very effective. If you anticipate that your aquarium will need the addition of water to compensate for water loss due to evaporation, place a bucket of properly prepared water near the aquarium and attach a sticky note reminding you to check the water level every day.


  • Automatic Feeding System. The second alternative is to buy a vacation feeder

If you are unable to find a fish sitter, another option is to use professionally packaged slow-release feeding blocks to provide your fish with the nutrition they need while you are away. These blocks, which are often referred to as “vacation feeders,” are available in a number of shapes and sizes with different contents, and they are intended to last for certain lengths of time. It’s typically in the shape of a block that slowly releases bits of food over the course of a week or two. These, however, are not ideal since they often do not contain the necessary nutrients for your fish. Plus, they are not what usually your fish likes to eat. As a result, your fish may decide not to eat it, leaving you with a cluttered aquarium and poor water condition when you return.

However, there is nothing quite like the stoppage of “raining fish food from the sky” and the resulting hunger pains to drive even the most discerning of fish to examine the strange-looking, slow-dissolving item resting on the aquarium’s bottom.

Although it is not necessary, it is a good idea to introduce your fish to the particular feeding block you plan to use before leaving on vacation. Placing one in the tank will allow you to cease feeding in the normal manner. Check back over the next several days to see whether any of the fish have taken to eating from the planter box.

Most feeding blocks are graded according to the number of days they will last and come with detailed instructions on how to use them, including the size of the aquarium they should be used in and the quantity of fish they should be fed.

Essentially, there are two types:

  • one in which the meal is lodged in a calcium block
  • another in which the food is imbedded in a gel

Throughout each situation, the block progressively dissolves in the water, releasing food particles for the fish to consume.

Feeder blocks offer a number of advantages, including the following:

  • Supplies food to your fish for up to 14 days when you are away from home.


  • As the block progressively dissolves, the food is released in little amounts at regular intervals. However, the calcium block will melt quicker in soft, acidic water than in hard, basic water.


  • All aquarium fish need natural nutrients to thrive, and this formula provides them with just that.


  • Do not use in a fish bowl or an aquarium that is not filtered or aerated, since water movement is needed to dissolve the block.


  • Because the gel blocks are free of plaster and do not cloud the water, they may perform better in certain water conditions than other types of blocks.


Check to see that the quantity of blocks utilized in the aquarium is adequate to accommodate all of the fish in the aquarium’s population. However, it is preferable to underfeed the fish rather than overfeed them during the period you are absent. It is possible that the bigger calcium blocks, particularly in soft water conditions, will have an effect on the aquarium water chemistry. Although gel feeders are less likely to create changes in water quality, but some people claim that their fish will not consume them.

Before you buy a feeding block, make sure you read the instructions and get the correct one.


  • The last is to purchase an Automated Feeder

For usage with a home aquarium, a variety of battery-powered or electric automated feeders are available from various manufacturers. Every one of these containers help to store and distribute dry food products. It could be flakes, pellets, or freeze-dried meals. Despite the fact that there is a wide variety of choices available. Most can distribute fish food up to twice a day for as long as two weeks.

There is a timer to rotate a segmented plate or drum, which is the basic operation of an automated feeder. Because of the timer mechanism’s slow rotation of the plate or drum, fish food drop into the aquarium in a sequential manner when each section passes over an aperture beneath the plate or drum.

When it comes to using any kind of equipment, there are positive and negative elements to consider

On the plus side it is a very little investment. It is possible to completely automate the job of feeding the fish while you are away from home. However, the fish can stop eating for some reason. Also, the filter fails to work for some other reason. Fish food will continue spreading until your return. This will result in contaminated water and fish that may suffer as a consequence of the pollution.

These are often battery or electric-powered devices with the programing function. They release things such as flake, pellet, or dry food on a regular basis. Most can provide food for your fish for up to two weeks. They have the added advantage of enabling you to give your fish their regular food.



A healthy fish may survive without food for up to a week without experiencing any negative consequences on their well-being.

If you’re planning to go for an extended period of time, you make some preparations before you leave.

Furthermore, the recommendation is to choose one of the three options to take care of your fish, while you’re away. It is important to guarantee that your fish continues to eat on a regular basis.

Your fish will live and be in good condition when you arrive. All you need to do is to make a plan ahead of time.

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