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Water changes whilst abroad


9 Nov 2014
I have a large goldfish tank (240L) and I am going to be going abroad for around 4 weeks. I set up auto feeders already, reducing feeds to once every two days and turning off heaters in order to reduce appetite. I am also planning on seeing if I can set up something to automatically perform a 50% water change after 2 weeks. I set up a submersible pump in the tank connected to a smart plug to pull water out and another one feeding back into the tank from a large 150L container but I was wondering how I was going to condition the water. If I fill the 150L container with tap water and use Seachem prime will it be fine to sit in the container for 2 weeks before going into the tank?
Water will dechlorinate without the prime in that time, so with the prime no worries at all. I'm not sure I'd have the trust in the system to let it run whilst I was away for two weeks but if you trust the controllers and the plumbing the water won't be an issue.
Great, I assume leaving the water in a plastic tub for 2 weeks shouldn't be an issue?

I plan to control it all using smart plugs which I will control remotely whilst watching it over a web cam so won't have any risk unless the internet at home cuts out in the middle.
Ideally a trusted family member or friend to help while you are away, some aquarium shops l believe do tank sitting l think. Maybe they would require a nominated person to give them access. Otherwise you really need to ensure the method as @seedoubleyou points out
I went away for 5 weeks, no water changes. Made a dual peristaltic pump setup to dose reduced amounts of macro and micro fertiliser, used an automatic feeder with smaller food amounts, reduced CO2 on time and light on times. Plants & fish were all fine when I got back. Plants maybe not as green as I would have liked, but all recovered fine.

Personally I wouldn't trust an auto water change system like you describe, failure modes are likely empty tank and flooded floor...all wonderfully observable remotely but b*gger all you could do about it.

Some people do continuously do water changes BUT they have overflows to a drain, via a drilled tank. Also possibly 2 overflows, one at a higher level, in case first gets blocked by plant debris. They the continuously or from a timer pump dechlorinated water into their tank, the excess overflowing into the overflows. Use a "high quality" timer or PLC to control pump to guarantee timings, none of this cheap B&Q timers that have a habit of forgetting their times or even worse replay contacts welding shut and pumping continuously.

Personally I wouldn't bother water changes whilst away, just "turn everything down a bit", add food, possibly add fertilisers but just get on with being away and not worry about tank flooding the house.....
My main concern would be the possibility of it forming a siphon that won't stop after the pump turns off. This would empty the tank all the way to the pump level. You could prevent this by placing the pump at the level of the intended water change limit. But then again, so many things could go wrong. One of which would be the pump falling to the substrate level during those 2 weeks. If you depend on the water previously stored in a plastic tub, you only have one shot at filling the tank back up...
Hi all,
I went away for 5 weeks, no water changes.
Same for me, I'd much rather take my change with "no water changes, but plenty of plants" (to act as a biofilter), rather then relying on an automated water change system.

Have a look at <"Tom's Bucket O' Mud - The End">, it was a system designed to cope with <"extended absences">.

cheers Darrel
Well we know these days a lot more about Goldfish and it's advised a large aquarium because they can be messy fish so leaving for 4 weeks seems more of a concern than a say a tropical aquarium with small tetras and medium sized Barbs as a example
I would tend to Darrel's thought process.

Having been in the position where I was incapacitated for months and unable to do any water changes on my main tank during that time, the plants, and particularly floating plants, did all the heavy lifting and by the end I had an overgrown but healthy aquarium with no casualties.

My only hesitance would be as Paraguay has set out in that we're talking about Goldfish - my only experience anywhere near that is a tank full of Platys many years ago, and whilst quite a messy fish, I'm not sure that's anywhere near the same as goldfish - though my concern about any automated process being in place in my absence might still tip the balance especially if feeding is going to be minimal (less food, less organic waste).