Vacation Time! Tips for your reef tank.

JoeIII

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Divenoy

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Im on holiday right now will be gone for a month. hope things are alright when i comeback I've done all the check list except for the webcam.
 

Clownfish2

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I have successfully trained my wife to detect, turn off, and change out a faulty heater as well as a return pump which gives me a little extra piece of mind when I travel for work every week.
 

Neptune 555

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I really like the idea of webcam to keep an eye on the fish. For those of you who are using this.. can you share your model number / cost and how it is working out for you? Is it pretty reliable as in when you are away for a week it remains working does not need to be rebooted? and how do you mount the camera for best viewing of the tank and fish.

Been on R2R for only a short while, moved over from another forum. I can tell this will be my new home for reef talk.

Yesterday I purchased a nest cam and a nest protect smoke detector.(wireless, email and text alert) My main concern with leaving a tank is possible fire, everything is safely installed(not overloaded) drip loops.

I still worry but being able to get a text alert and live video feed is extremely reassuring.
 

jgvergo

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I really like the idea of webcam to keep an eye on the fish. For those of you who are using this.. can you share your model number / cost and how it is working out for you? Is it pretty reliable as in when you are away for a week it remains working does not need to be rebooted? and how do you mount the camera for best viewing of the tank and fish.
I got a Dericam 1080P Full HD WiFi IP Security Camera, 30 fps, Pan/Tilt Control, 4x Digital Zoom. Works well.
 

jakeh22

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What you need is an apex so you can monitor your system anytime and give whomever is sitting the tank access to your apex to sort out any problems or keep lights on etc. this has saved my tank multiple times.

I ran out of oil In my house and apex low temperature readings kept going off and I knew something was going on so it could even be the house not the tank and still be a lifeline
 

jgvergo

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What you need is an apex so you can monitor your system anytime and give whomever is sitting the tank access to your apex to sort out any problems or keep lights on etc. this has saved my tank multiple times.

I ran out of oil In my house and apex low temperature readings kept going off and I knew something was going on so it could even be the house not the tank and still be a lifeline
I have both, an Apex and a video camera. The Apex gives me a huge amount of information and the camera allows me to see what's going on. Here is my Apex dashboard :)
Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 8.55.35 AM.png
 

jakeh22

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I have both, an Apex and a video camera. The Apex gives me a huge amount of information and the camera allows me to see what's going on. Here is my Apex dashboard :)
Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 8.55.35 AM.png
I want to get a video cam I think it would be a great addition...ps nice levels
 
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I personally use a Foscam web camera. I found it easy to set up and use. The model I have has tilt and zoom as well. But there are many choices.
 

Ghostchili

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I was gone for 11 days. I used a Nest cam to watch the auto feeder and skimmer cup. I also used a 27 gallon tote for a temporary ATO reservoir as the 5 gallon might have run dry close to the end.I had to have someone stop over once to empty skimmer. This summer I will be gone for 3 weeks so I'm a little more worried.
 
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LoneStarReef

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I like the idea of doing a “test run” before leaving town. Pretty much leave your tank alone for the time you will be gone and see what happens. Only empty the skimmer cup when it will be emptied when you are on vacay, only feed how they will be fed when you are gone, etc etc. That way you can pinpoint potential problems and tweak the vacation plan for your tank before you head out of town.
 
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Well I just got back from a 5 day trip myself and all went well. I must have followed the guidelines in the original post...wink, wink.
 

andrewkw

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Since there are no reefers around me I have someone come by ONLY if the power goes out. This allows me to ask someone close by who would have no reefing experience but understands how to start a generator / refuel ect. I leave extension cords running to my tanks all around the house 2 extra gas cans just inside the shed and the generator. If he has to come he has to start the generator, follow the extension cords and everything that needs to run on generator power has green tape on the ends of the outlets - I just leave this forever since it's easy enough to explain.

The worst thing that can happen is the power goes out long term. If say a dosing pump failed and dumped a bunch of alk anyone I get would not be able correct that problem so this is all I can do to plan for emergencies. If I had to I could get someone to feed the fish but in 1 week they aren't going to starve.
 

tidefanjam

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Well, my first vacation of more than a couple days since I set the tank up, will be gone 6 days next week, I think I e got everything covered, my ato reservoir is topped off and generally lasts 8 or 9 days, I’ve been using an automatic feeder anyway, but I did cut the feeding down to once a day instead of 2 just to limit the nutrients going in, bought 2 battery backup air pumps just Incase of a power outage...I have filter socks and they generally get stopped up in about 4 days, but when they do they just run over into the sump so I was thinking I would leave them in...anything I’m missing? My dad will be coming by daily to take care of our dog, he doesn’t know anything about tanks but I’ve told him the basics to look for, high temp, no flow, water on the floor() so he could call me and I could walk him through damage control...

D1F9CD17-88A3-465B-B0D4-EBA3078E2678.jpeg


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AllTheCorals

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I plug my return pump and one of my heaters into a separate circuit with everything else unplugged. I also have two friends trained on basic stuff, one knows how to test alk and adjust my cal reactor.
 
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H2Ocorals

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Good thread, all I'm ever worried about is about how long my top off water will Last. I only use about a 6 gallon reserve!

1.jpg

Photo taken from original post by @OceanRevive

As we approach the vacation season once again, your Reef Squad thought it might be a good idea to address some of the questions that keep some reefers up at night prior to the trip. Worse yet, they can keep you from truly enjoying your well-deserved getaway. Let’s go over some basic things we can do to prevent that from happening.

So the trip is booked, now what do I need to do? How will I keep my top-off water filled, how will I feed the fish? These are just a few questions asked here on R2R. The point of this thread is to help alleviate some of those concerns. This is not a specific product recommendation so let’s try to avoid that. Let’s keep the discussion to basic planning and preparation.

A bullet point list of things we can do prior to packing for our trip:
  • Most import, in my opinion, DO NOT make any major system/equipment changes within 2+ weeks of leaving.
    • Obviously if a critical piece fails (ie. return pump) you’ll need to address it, but put off selected and optional upgrades.
  • If regular water changes (WC) is a part of your routine, do a WC just before you leave. Clean that skimmer too and give the glass a good scraping! Let’s start with a clean slate.
  • Socks
    • If you use filter socks, you’ll need to determine if they can stay or have to come out based on how long you’ll be gone. If they clog on day 5 and you’re gone for 7, remove them. Better to clean the bottom of a sump than replace flooring, at least in my opinion.
2.jpg

Photo by R2R member @Broadfield
  • Top Off Water
    • If you don’t already have an ATO (Automatic Top Off) you should seriously consider getting one (editorial note - this recommendation goes beyond vacation preparation). They make life much easier and assist keeping your salinity levels consistent.
    • Make sure your ATO reservoir is large enough to handle the number of days you’ll be away. You can always use an alternate/larger reservoir while you’re away, which is what I personally do. I just set it up temporarily next to the display.
    • If that’s not possible, then someone has to come over and fill the reservoir if needed.
3.jpg

Photo by R2R member @YodaHart of ATO reservoir created by @melev
  • Saltwater
    • It’s a good idea to have some saltwater pre-mixed in case it’s needed by your tank sitter. Just make sure they are labeled clearly. More on that later.
  • Food
    • If you’re only going for a long weekend, your fish will likely be fine without a feeding. Let’s face it, most of us over feed anyway. If you’re concerned, feed a little heavier the several days prior to leaving to fatten them up a little.
    • If you’re going to be gone for a week, many will say the fish will be fine for that time period as well. Again, you can fatten them up a little.
    • If longer or you simply want them fed while you’re gone, many use an auto feeder to feed dry foods while they are away. Just set it up a couple weeks ahead of time to make sure it’s working the way you’ve programmed it.
      • If you elect to have someone feed the tank while you’re away, carefully measure what you want fed, the times to feed, and carefully label each “package”. I would not recommend relying on the tank sitter to do your measuring. Use a cheap pillbox to put your portions in, or small snack-size plastic bags – anything to portion out the feedings and label clearly. BE SPECIFIC – feed this date, at this time, in this manner. You’re not going to insult their intelligence, you’re going to protect your inhabitants and dare I say your investment!
4.jpg

Photo by R2R member @Zaffor
  • Webcam
    • A great way to keep an eye on things while you’re away. Many options and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you notice something going on, you can have your on-call person go by and take a look. Also can be handy in assisting someone from afar – think “no, not that valve, the other one”. I personally do not have my Webcam linked to my Apex, because I want complete control – this is just personal preference.
5.jpg

Foscam is one type of webcam commonly used by hobbyists
  • Tank Sitter or No Tank Sitter
    • At the very least, you should have someone on call to help if needed. Maybe drop by and look in on things. It would be best if this person has some familiarity with your system. What responsibilities you give this person is again a personal preference, but my opinion is to limit those responsibilities to an absolute minimum.
    • If they are feeding, this is where preparing the portions comes in to play. Same goes for keeping the ATO filled with fresh water, not saltwater. Very specific instructions are required for each and every item you’re asking them to do.
    • You can always hire a professional service company to watch over things. Your LFS more than likely offers this service.
  • Battery Powered Air Pump/Air Stone
    • Another relatively inexpensive back up is a battery powered air pump. There are models that will detect a power outage/interruption and automatically turn on. Just be careful of capacity vs. your tank size – it may take two! Make sure you have fresh batteries installed.
  • Controllers
    • Not a discussion on overall usage of controllers but if the controller has notification abilities this is one time you’ll love having one. Temp is out of range, pH has gone whacky, the house just lost power – all items you can make a call for help and possibly save your tank.
    • But as said earlier, do not wait until the week prior to your trip to purchase a controller and then feel comfortable relying on it.
6.jpg

Image of Puratek Insight 24/7 controller

These are the basics. The entire point of this long-winded blog is to remove the questions and concerns of leaving our addiction behind while traveling. We should all feel like we’ve done everything we can to prevent disaster while away. Then go away and worry about having fun and relaxing on our vacation, not our tanks. Yes, things happen, but as the old adage goes - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I promise you’ll be checking that new Webcam all the time that first trip. But as time and trips pass, you will get more comfortable knowing that you have done your preparation and baring some catastrophic event that you can’t plan for anyway, all will be fine. Maybe dirty, but fine.

Have a great trip and send a post card!

1.jpg

Photo taken from original post by @OceanRevive

As we approach the vacation season once again, your Reef Squad thought it might be a good idea to address some of the questions that keep some reefers up at night prior to the trip. Worse yet, they can keep you from truly enjoying your well-deserved getaway. Let’s go over some basic things we can do to prevent that from happening.

So the trip is booked, now what do I need to do? How will I keep my top-off water filled, how will I feed the fish? These are just a few questions asked here on R2R. The point of this thread is to help alleviate some of those concerns. This is not a specific product recommendation so let’s try to avoid that. Let’s keep the discussion to basic planning and preparation.

A bullet point list of things we can do prior to packing for our trip:
  • Most import, in my opinion, DO NOT make any major system/equipment changes within 2+ weeks of leaving.
    • Obviously if a critical piece fails (ie. return pump) you’ll need to address it, but put off selected and optional upgrades.
  • If regular water changes (WC) is a part of your routine, do a WC just before you leave. Clean that skimmer too and give the glass a good scraping! Let’s start with a clean slate.
  • Socks
    • If you use filter socks, you’ll need to determine if they can stay or have to come out based on how long you’ll be gone. If they clog on day 5 and you’re gone for 7, remove them. Better to clean the bottom of a sump than replace flooring, at least in my opinion.
2.jpg

Photo by R2R member @Broadfield
  • Top Off Water
    • If you don’t already have an ATO (Automatic Top Off) you should seriously consider getting one (editorial note - this recommendation goes beyond vacation preparation). They make life much easier and assist keeping your salinity levels consistent.
    • Make sure your ATO reservoir is large enough to handle the number of days you’ll be away. You can always use an alternate/larger reservoir while you’re away, which is what I personally do. I just set it up temporarily next to the display.
    • If that’s not possible, then someone has to come over and fill the reservoir if needed.
3.jpg

Photo by R2R member @YodaHart of ATO reservoir created by @melev
  • Saltwater
    • It’s a good idea to have some saltwater pre-mixed in case it’s needed by your tank sitter. Just make sure they are labeled clearly. More on that later.
  • Food
    • If you’re only going for a long weekend, your fish will likely be fine without a feeding. Let’s face it, most of us over feed anyway. If you’re concerned, feed a little heavier the several days prior to leaving to fatten them up a little.
    • If you’re going to be gone for a week, many will say the fish will be fine for that time period as well. Again, you can fatten them up a little.
    • If longer or you simply want them fed while you’re gone, many use an auto feeder to feed dry foods while they are away. Just set it up a couple weeks ahead of time to make sure it’s working the way you’ve programmed it.
      • If you elect to have someone feed the tank while you’re away, carefully measure what you want fed, the times to feed, and carefully label each “package”. I would not recommend relying on the tank sitter to do your measuring. Use a cheap pillbox to put your portions in, or small snack-size plastic bags – anything to portion out the feedings and label clearly. BE SPECIFIC – feed this date, at this time, in this manner. You’re not going to insult their intelligence, you’re going to protect your inhabitants and dare I say your investment!
4.jpg

Photo by R2R member @Zaffor
  • Webcam
    • A great way to keep an eye on things while you’re away. Many options and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you notice something going on, you can have your on-call person go by and take a look. Also can be handy in assisting someone from afar – think “no, not that valve, the other one”. I personally do not have my Webcam linked to my Apex, because I want complete control – this is just personal preference.
5.jpg

Foscam is one type of webcam commonly used by hobbyists
  • Tank Sitter or No Tank Sitter
    • At the very least, you should have someone on call to help if needed. Maybe drop by and look in on things. It would be best if this person has some familiarity with your system. What responsibilities you give this person is again a personal preference, but my opinion is to limit those responsibilities to an absolute minimum.
    • If they are feeding, this is where preparing the portions comes in to play. Same goes for keeping the ATO filled with fresh water, not saltwater. Very specific instructions are required for each and every item you’re asking them to do.
    • You can always hire a professional service company to watch over things. Your LFS more than likely offers this service.
  • Battery Powered Air Pump/Air Stone
    • Another relatively inexpensive back up is a battery powered air pump. There are models that will detect a power outage/interruption and automatically turn on. Just be careful of capacity vs. your tank size – it may take two! Make sure you have fresh batteries installed.
  • Controllers
    • Not a discussion on overall usage of controllers but if the controller has notification abilities this is one time you’ll love having one. Temp is out of range, pH has gone whacky, the house just lost power – all items you can make a call for help and possibly save your tank.
    • But as said earlier, do not wait until the week prior to your trip to purchase a controller and then feel comfortable relying on it.
6.jpg

Image of Puratek Insight 24/7 controller

These are the basics. The entire point of this long-winded blog is to remove the questions and concerns of leaving our addiction behind while traveling. We should all feel like we’ve done everything we can to prevent disaster while away. Then go away and worry about having fun and relaxing on our vacation, not our tanks. Yes, things happen, but as the old adage goes - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I promise you’ll be checking that new Webcam all the time that first trip. But as time and trips pass, you will get more comfortable knowing that you have done your preparation and baring some catastrophic event that you can’t plan for anyway, all will be fine. Maybe dirty, but fine.

Have a great trip and send a post card!
 
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Good thread, all I'm ever worried about is about how long my top off water will Last. I only use about a 6 gallon reserve!
You can always use a temporary reservoir large enough for the length of the trip. Just put it on the ouside and next to your existing reservoir, put the ATO pump in the temporary/larger reservoir and you're good to go. Just a suggestion.
 

Flexin

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I plot and scheme for about two months before I leave :) For the webcam, I happen to have a nest cam laying around so I got a temp hook, just like the ones used for christmas that have the removable sticky back and hang it close but outside the tank. I can see what's going on. I may move it back so I can see both tanks (deeper in the room) before my next trip. I am still researching other webcams but this seems to do the trick. I guess I could just run one off the pc in the office.

Also now have an Apex so I can keep up :)
 
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Helpful tips
It works well with good planning. I was gone last week and the tank did just fine without human interaction. But it's still important to have someone on standby just in case!
 
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