How to handle a one month vacation?

albertski

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I usually take a one-week vacation, but I want to see what options are for a worst-case scenario for a 1-month vacation. My plan is to make one month's worth of RODI water and have it ready. I'll teach someone (or a couple of people) how to mix it so they can come once a week to do a water change. I'll also add an automatic feeder. I wasn't going to have them do any testing because there won't be anything they will be able to do anyways. Will this work?

I know it may differ based on what type of aquarium and livestock. I haven't purchased the tank but I am leaning towards the Marcin X 60.2 (36 gallons) with beginner items like clone fish and soft corals but not sure what I will get in the future.
 

lapin

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A sitter will need to feed.
An auto feeder is only good for a bit. It can stop or worse over feed and kill your tank.
I feed frozen. I have 50ml beakers in the freezer ready to go marked for the days, am and pm.
She moves the next feeding freezer to the fridge so its thawed for the next feeding.
Water changes are a real pain for the owner and even more so for a sitter. I would mix it up and have it ready to go. Have them turn on a mix pump for a few min before adding it to the tank.
Dont forget Top Off. Has to be fresh (no salt) to maintain salinity. Smaller the tank the more often its needed to keep swings from killing off corals
Oh and the skimmer cup, another fun job.
 
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lapin

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Oh and dont change anything the week before leaving....... no matter how much you think it wont mattter.
Like getting an oil change the morning of vacation. Ya dont need an oil leak 200 miles down the road
 
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mike550

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@albertski if you're just starting up a tank, maybe you can just let it cycle while you're away for a month. If it's a new tank seemingly random things happen all the time until it starts to stabilize. So it might be hard for someone to manage the tank if they don't have any experience. Any chance there is a LFS that can stop in once a week?

To keep things simple definitely get an ATO and make sure it's working as expected. You'll also then get a sense of RODI consumption rate. If the bio load is just a couple of fish, maybe you can get away without a water change (?).
 
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albertski

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@albertski if you're just starting up a tank, maybe you can just let it cycle while you're away for a month. If it's a new tank seemingly random things happen all the time until it starts to stabilize. So it might be hard for someone to manage the tank if they don't have any experience. Any chance there is a LFS that can stop in once a week?

To keep things simple definitely get an ATO and make sure it's working as expected. You'll also then get a sense of RODI consumption rate. If the bio load is just a couple of fish, maybe you can get away without a water change (?).
If I take the 1-month vacation it will be 1 year into having the tank so I just wanted to see if I will be able to go.
 
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CKinLA

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I’m setting up a 120 SPS tank that will regularly be left for a month at a time. The only thing that should have to be done is feed and empty the skimmer cup. All of the equipment I selected (including the skimmer) was based on the fact that it has to be reliable and run relatively unattended to for long periods of time.

The ATO reservoir will be tied into the RO through a Hydros controller. A low, full and high sensor will be used along with two solenoids (possibly a flowlok) and a float valve for redundancy. I will also have leak sensors installed at the tank and possibly at the RO with a master solenoid there too.

Dosing will be via a kalk (might have to add kalk once every 2 weeks) and calcium reactor. Was leaning towards an auto calcium reactor (saturated), but I’m not sure it’s necessary and choices are limited.

Return pumps are dual internal for redundancy in the event of a failure. All plumbing is rigid to reduce chance of leaks.

Majority of everything else is tied into Hydros for monitoring and remote control. Currently have two Control 4s with separate power supplies and multiple power strips so a single failure doesn’t take down critical pieces of equipment (mainly both return pumps).

Possibly setting the tank up for AWC, but even if I do, I won’t run it until I get home. It is a nice feature, but introduces another failure point that isn’t critical to survival while I’m gone.

Will probably install a camera or two on the tank and/or sump.

Whole house is on an automatic backup generator (for hurricanes).

Biggest point of weakness is probably the Hydros and the fact that I’m on a single circuit in the house.

If leaving the tank for once a month, once a year, I probably wouldn’t go to this extent. I’d setup a large ATO reservoir (trash can) next to the tank and call it a day. I wouldn’t have the sitter do a water change and I’d scale back feeding until I got home.
 
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Lazy8s

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I usually take a one-week vacation, but I want to see what options are for a worst-case scenario for a 1-month vacation. My plan is to make one month's worth of RODI water and have it ready. I'll teach someone (or a couple of people) how to mix it so they can come once a week to do a water change. I'll also add an automatic feeder. I wasn't going to have them do any testing because there won't be anything they will be able to do anyways. Will this work?

I know it may differ based on what type of aquarium and livestock. I haven't purchased the tank but I am leaning towards the Marcin X 60.2 (36 gallons) with beginner items like clone fish and soft corals but not sure what I will get in the future.
Where do you live? What time of year?
 
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terraincognita

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The biggest thing you have to solve is feeding.

IF you have someone who can feed for you at least EVERY OTHER DAY, your tank will probably be just fine.

You can reduce the feedings safely for a month without much damage.

I'd say +1 on the Auto Feeder being risky.

I'd spend the money for a nice one, and then set it up 2 months before you vacation, to make sure it works 2 months straight without a glitch.

IF the auto feeder can work as expected every time then you could do it all automated.

obviously also dosing or carbon reactor pre-set so you don't have to worry. That with an ATO is the easiest part though.

That'd be my plan of action.
 
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workhz

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Am I the only one that thinks letting some friend do a water change is a bad idea? I’m sure a tank would survive a month without a water change.

I’d test and auto feed at the lowest possible setting and have someone supplement but definitely test beforehand.
 
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terraincognita

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Water change for 1 month is at the bottom of your "to solve list" 100%.

Dont even worry about it honestly. To me in that situation it's more of a "sure that'd be nice too"

I'd only let an experienced reefer change my water TBH, Someone who's at least made their own saltwater for their own tank.

You don't think it, but realize that if you've never owned a reef tank, you have absolutely 0 idea the importance of exact measurements and specifics. And not letting something be off by 10PPM.......

"I mean it's only Parts per million right, how is 10PPM gonna hurt....... "right"???"

Skip the WC.

Worry about feeding.

I'd premake and freeze 1 month of cubes. And label them by Day.

8/1
8/2 and put them in ziplock baggies int he freezer.

Then tell my friend, come over, and feed this, and leave. Okay you can watch them eat for 5 minutes.

But then... leave.

TBH depending on what you plan to keep and have in your tank, you might be able to even survive a month turning off the dosers/reactors. (i.e. softy or LPS only tank. no Sticks)

 
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dwest

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It took me many years to get my tank automated enough but I now leave it on auto for up to 6 weeks. I don’t really recommend this to anyone, but here are the things I do:
1. Use an Apex for monitoring and some control. Replaced EB832 with EB8 for reliability.
2. Use a spectrapure ATO (105 gal RODI and salt water containers)
3. Use a Spectrapure LM3 for AWC
4. redundant, reliable feed pumps
5. Dual heaters with Apex backup
6. Eheim auto feeder that I continuously run. I add additional foods when home.
7. Avast skimmate locker with feed skimmer shutoff switch
8. Alkatronic for measuring alkalinity and 2 part adjustments
9. cameras on tank and sump
10. Several battery backups on internal pumps
11. Good friend to call if needed

I’m sure there’s more :)
 
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elcapitan1993

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It took me many years to get my tank automated enough but I now leave it on auto for up to 6 weeks. I don’t really recommend this to anyone, but here are the things I do:
1. Use an Apex for monitoring and some control. Replaced EB832 with EB8 for reliability.
2. Use a spectrapure ATO (105 gal RODI and salt water containers)
3. Use a Spectrapure LM3 for AWC
4. redundant, reliable feed pumps
5. Dual heaters with Apex backup
6. Eheim auto feeder that I continuously run. I add additional foods when home.
7. Avast skimmate locker with feed skimmer shutoff switch
8. Alkatronic for measuring alkalinity and 2 part adjustments
9. cameras on tank and sump
10. Several battery backups on internal pumps
11. Good friend to call if needed

I’m sure there’s more :)
To bad you can no longer get a EB8, they just announced that they will no longer be making them anymore, and all o have is the EB83 so hopefully it’s reliable as well because the whole reason I just spent 3000$ on Neptune products was to automate everything enough for extended periods of time for being gone
 
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Spendian68

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I usually take a one-week vacation, but I want to see what options are for a worst-case scenario for a 1-month vacation. My plan is to make one month's worth of RODI water and have it ready. I'll teach someone (or a couple of people) how to mix it so they can come once a week to do a water change. I'll also add an automatic feeder. I wasn't going to have them do any testing because there won't be anything they will be able to do anyways. Will this work?

I know it may differ based on what type of aquarium and livestock. I haven't purchased the tank but I am leaning towards the Marcin X 60.2 (36 gallons) with beginner items like clone fish and soft corals but not sure what I will get in the future.
I usually take a 3 week holiday twice a year, (I’m self employed and work 6 or 7 days a week, that’s my excuse anyway)
I have set up my tank to run automatically all the time and I then feed some frozen food and Reef Roids occasionally as a treat.

my setup includes a sump with ATO, dosing pump for calcium, magnesium and alkalinity And an auto feeder.

I have found that by running automatically most of the time I can keep a very stable tank and amy small fluctuations are usually caused by me adding extra food but these settle after a few days.

I do perform a water change the day before I go as I don’t get anyone to do anything. when I’m not away I usually do water changes every 2 weeks, this helps me monitor a similar situation and the change from a 2 week to a 3 week water change isn’t drastic.

I have a Seneye, but only for monitoring temperature and water level, so will get an email if there is a problem.

my built in ATO isn’t big enough for more than 2 weeks so I set up a second 25l water tub next to it at the same height with a syphon tube into the ATO tank, atmospheric pressure keeps the water level the same so it automatically tops up the ATO without a pump.
I set this up a week beforehand to ensure it is working happily and top up the top up water the day before we go so the is plenty.

I’m running Ecotech lights, and pumps on Reeflink so get emails if anything stops working.

When I set up my feeder the first time I set it up a 2 months before we went so I could monitor the setup and get a stable environment.
i auto feed into the return pump chamber and found I had a dead space causing some of the feed to remain in the sump and eventually gather and fester in a corner so added a small cheep water pump that runs fur 10 minutes at each feed to keep the food in suspension and as it is the smallest sinking pellet I can find it easily passes through the return and feeds the fish over a few minutes at the top of the tank.

My final safeguard for emergency only, I have an Alan, he lives just around the corner and waters our tomatoes and the rest of the garden if it is in need, he has kept Marine fish but has now left the hobby. If I was to get that dreaded email from Seneye or reeflink then Alan would hopefully stop my tank crashing with some reassuring and guidance on the phone from me.

My tank is well established and I have been doing this method for about 5 years now, so 10 or 12 trips. I find my phosphate and nitrate raises slightly over the trip so am currently experimenting with adding 30mins to the time my refugium light is on to see if this will combat it.

not had any problems so far.
 
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PICK the Most Tested & Least Tested Parameters of your Tank (Pick 2)

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  • Alkalinity (most)

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    Votes: 5 0.7%
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