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What Happened To My Fish And Aquariums While Gone

By King of DIY on

Honey, I'm home. I don't mean you. Come here. This is my dog whose name is Honey. She's 12 years old, a Pomeranian Papillon mix and I don't know. I get asked a lot to show my dog on video. Here she is.

I was away for eight days. In fact, I was away for eight days getting married, as many of you know. However, this was the longest time I've ever been away from my aquarium gallery. I get asked a lot of times, "What do I do when I go on vacation? What should I do with my fish?" I guess this is going to cover what you should do when you've gone away for about a week.

You can manipulate this, or do however you like to do, but this is what I did to have 100% success rate. All of my fish are fine, but I want to cover what I did, and what I didn't do first. What I did do was extremely simple. All I did was give every one of these aquariums massive water changes, about 70% each. When you have about 4,000 gallons of water to change, that's a tremendous amount of water changes. After I did these big water changes, I also gave them a big feeding of food. You might want to do it the opposite way where you feed them first, and then do a massive water changing, cleaning of the tank just to remove all the uneaten food and organics from the water. I did it the opposite way. I'm going to tell you why in a moment.

From there, I left and I had a wonderful time. I didn't worry about anything. Now, what didn't I do? Well, a lot of people would say, why don't you put some automated feeders on them? I've got plenty of them. I don't put automated feeders on my tanks while I'm away. In fact, I'll put them on while I'm here, simply because what can go wrong will go wrong. A lot of the times maybe you just have one automated feeder feeding your aquarium. I suggest you only allow a little bit of food to come out once a day while you're gone instead of three or four times depending on the aggression levels of your fish.

However, in my experience, when you have thousands of gallons to take care of, one feeder can clog or feed too much or overfeed, or the temperatures in the aquariums can dramatically drop. Maybe a heater stops working. Maybe something happens that the fish aren't even eating the food, and you're not really feeding them, you're polluting the tank. My choice is to not add the feeders, just to leave them be.

I also didn't get a friend to come over and check on my aquarium simply because, even more possibilities of things going wrong. Maybe they overfeed. Maybe they forget to turn off lights, maybe the pump shuts off or, you know, maybe they leave the door open, or whatever the case might be. I thought it's only eight days. These guys are going to be fine. I've got a ton of big fish, and a ton of tiny little tetras. They all did perfectly fine.

Let's take a look at each individual aquarium and see what I did and didn't do. Let's start off here with the Malawi cichlids. You guys will remember these are all Malawi peacocks, all male community. Let's adjust the light so you can see them. The only thing I did do in this aquarium is turned off one of the lights. This is to give it a more darker area over here so the sub-dominant males have a place of refuge. I found it did well because when I came home, only a couple of them had a little bit of torn fins. Now, these guys when hungry, can become quite aggressive and start attacking each other. It was a bit of a concern, but I did give them a big meal. It turned out to be just fine. Everybody's okay. There was no casualties or anything like that. This tank turned out well.

The Tropheus tank. This is Lake Tanganyika, The fish in it are all Tropheus Ikola. A couple things we'll notice since we haven't taken a look at these guys, you'll notice that some of them are starting to get their adult coloration. There are some dominant males appearing in the in the group. One for sure, I believe it's this guy right here. Then others you can see still have some of the bearings. Others are still going through color transition. This is an amazing tank to watch. Now I talked about aging my aquariums in the past and I let algae grow all over the place. I did it with all of these tanks. Why? Because almost all the fish in this gallery will graze on the algae when they're hungry. Especially the Tropheus. Now, these guys have the cleanest tank out of all of these aquariums because that's what they do a lot of.

As you can see, there's actually one picking at any algae there. Now, another one over here on the rocks, picking it algae. They'll clean that, no problem with these guys. They got their water changed and nice feeding of a herbivore diet plant-based, and then I left them alone. I did have concerns about some of them getting hungry and weakened and not being able to fight off the dominant males, but overall there wasn't much of a problem. I've already dwindled the numbers in this aquarium to create a better colony of these Tropheus. It was a good choice for sure. Ultimately, though, I fed these guys and they're back to normal. None of them are exhibiting any signs of stress or sickness or weakness. It went really well, good choice to just let the algae grow.

Which came in really handy with the uaru tank. This is by far one of my favorite aquariums simply because it's uaru. My original channel name was UaruJoey which is really weird because I've come full circle with my channel so to speak. The first couple years of my channel, I just used to do updates on my fish, show them, show them what I was up to. That sort of thing, and then for a few years I got into just do-it-yourself videos which became popular, but nowhere near as popular as going back to showing my fish and updates and that sort of thing.

Setting up tanks has been really a lot of fun. Ultimately I let you guys depict the content and I do what makes me happy, but this aquarium here by far was the easiest to take care of. You're going to see why. Well, I don't even have to do anything. You can see some of the uaru right now. Let me just adjust this for this. See this one here chewing at the wood. The uaru once again are an omnivore type cichlid, leaning towards herbivoric. Guess what this is made out of? All organic material. It's real wood. They can chew on it. They will eat the algae and while I wouldn't depend on just that to feed them, they do need a proper diet as well.

These guys by far could go the longest in the aquarium out of all of them, simply because they will eat the way that they have to. Same with these tetras here. These guys will, of course, munch on the algae and whatnot as well. Again, this tank was the least of my concern. Big water change, big feeding, and then nothing to worry about at all. The uaru are doing great. They're putting on some size. Look at these guys here. Starting to get a bit of adult coloration. I'll see if I can find a contrast where this guy's getting, the triangle on the side, the black blotch. This guy is as well. Some of them still have a bit of camo on them, like this guy here. They're difficult to see in here, but once they grow, they're going to get nice, olive coloration, black bar going down the sides of them. It's going to be awesome. Absolutely amazing.

The reason why you guys are all here today, is Frank. Frank, can we get a quick barrel roll before we move on? Just a quick one up and over? Come on, you almost made it. Oh, close. Close enough. Let's go. Frank got a massive feeding before we left. Frank's a big cichlid, nice and fat. He doesn't need a tremendous amount of food. He could go probably two weeks without eating no problem. He also has a nuchal hump on his head. That's what these are, largely discussed to be energy reserves in big male cichlids. The bigger they are, the healthier the fish is and more attractive it is to females per se. He's going to be fine. I think his nuchal hump might have shrunk a little bit while I was gone, but he's definitely not a high-quality flower horn. He's just a high-quality personality. At the end of the day, he took care of the entire gallery while I was gone. I had nothing to do with it.

The bichir, these guys are ancient fish. I don't even have to look for where he is. I know he's back there somewhere. I can see his reflection on the bottom. Oh, there's his tail. These guys are ancient fish. They'll go a month without eating. No problem. As you can see, they just lay there almost dormant using very little energy while doing so, meaning that they're not going to work up an appetite. Nothing to worry about there. Again, this tank got a big water change before I left, and a big feeding and that was it. I left algae growing everywhere to help with adding oxygen to the aquarium as well as nutrient export, per se, where the algae is going to use up nitrates and whatnot.

Okay. Oh, whoa, boy. My sexy City of Angels, love this tank. Got to be one of my favorites. Let me adjust the lighting here so you guys see what I see. Love this tank. Believe it or not, angels will scavenge off of wood and algae as well. They will eat almost anything, really easy to take care of. Let me see if I can get one. One was chewing on the wood there, pecking at it a little while ago. No problems with these guys. The downside to angelfish is they've got long flowing fins, which actually takes a tremendous amount of energy for them just to stay stationary in the water. These guys will work up a lot more appetite than discuss will. However, with so much organic materials in the water, these guys did no problem.

They munched on the algae and a little bit of wood while I was gone apparently, I see them doing it all the time. I didn't really have much to worry about. Just came home, give them a big feeding and things will go back to normal. Of course, I've got to clean up these aquariums and do water changes now, and that will consume most of my week into the weekend but nothing to worry about with these guys. Such a contrast what an excellent choice, wasn't it guys? I don't know if anybody else has a lot of platinum angels. Man, these guys are so cool.

Okay, the discus tank. Discus are slow-moving fish. Very stationary, it doesn't take them a lot of energy to maintain their position in the water column. As you can see, they're more of a flat fish. We're going talk about why they're just sitting here in a minute. They'll eat, and then they can go do this if they want and they don't do this all the time. Usually, they're out in the aquarium all swimming around, grouping around having a great old time.

Same with these tetras. These aren't really a schooling tetra the cardinal, more of a shoaling fish, shoaling fish will kind of stay with their group, but schooling definitely has a directional purpose, or they swim in the same direction type of thing. These guys are a really stationary type of fish. They're not using up a tremendous amount of energy. No worries, they're not even an inch long. Maybe an inch, but they are definitely scavengers as well. They'll eat whatever, and I think a lot of people just focus on the food that we're feeding as opposed to what's already in the aquarium. Calm down discus.

Let me address why the discus are hiding all the time in my videos. The discus technically aren't always hiding, but they are always hiding when I come in. Here's an important reason why. When we walk in here, the fish can't see me coming. I'm coming from the side right? Same with the discus. I've already been in here a few times. They know I'm in here, so they're kind of hiding. It must be said, if I were to put this aquarium over on the end, and they could see me coming from a while or from several feet away, they'd be perfectly fine and that goes to show that if you guys remember when I was breeding discus, I bread over a thousand discus. I was keeping all kinds of discus for 10, 12 years.

These guys hide the most and it has everything to do with the position of the aquarium as opposed to the fish themselves. Now discus I reputed to be a skittish type of fish. I haven't found that to be so. Until these guys but it has everything again to do with the position of the aquarium. They can't see me coming. The only thing they see is the 2,000-gallon aquarium and my flip-flops down there.

At the end of the day, I have been thinking about moving them to the end. They are more comfortable there. I don't have to walk by them, it's not a busy area, but that's a tremendous work to move this aquarium over there. I can't take the back- I could take the back, let me think about it. I'll figure out what I want to do. Ultimately though when I'm filming, I usually have bright lights. I'm moving around, I keep going back and forth from the aquarium. It's just like imagine if you're outside and then this big massive shadow just goes right by. It would kind of be scary every once in a while. That's just what's going on here. When the cameras are off and everything's back to normal, these guys are out. They’re eating if this was an unhealthy discus, or in a healthy tank, they'd be dead by now. They'd be out here for a while, but they are perfectly healthy, perfectly normal. It's just again the position of the tank. I do find I have to explain this again and again and again. I thought one more time let me address it. We’ll do it a few more times in the future, probably. [laughs]

All I did was give these guys a nice big feeding, I dimmed the lights down over here. This light over here is turned off just to give them a place of refuge. They tend to gravitate towards darker areas which in my opinion once they gravitate over there, they will stay relatively stationary not using up a lot of energy and not creating that appetite and using up a lot of their bodies, fat deposits, and whatnot. I did nothing, big water change, big feeding, left, had fun.

The clown tank. Look at my beautifully active clown tank. Isn't it amazing? Look at all the fish. [laughs] I'm kidding. The clowns are hungry. They're all hiding in behind this wood. I haven't done a water change since I left after I set this tank up. It actually didn't get any more water changes, I set it up the day before I left a type of thing. There's a lot of tannins in the water. It has to be have a big water change to clear this up. Another thing we can note now that we're back, is if you look at the wood, see the stringy stuff growing off it. This is actually more common in grapevine or Mopani. Sometimes wood will those types of wood or those species of wood will grow. This is just a fungus organic material rotting.

It will solve itself here shortly, and it's going to be no problem at all. Some fish will eat it, the fish in this tank will not. I just leave it until it stops doing that, usually stops after a couple of weeks and it goes away, but it's just ugly for now. I thought I'd address it simply because a lot of a fish keepers do tend to have this problem and think something's really wrong. It's not, it's totally normal. The clowns are back there. We could see the clown knife. Kind of, sort of where'd you go? I seen you in a minute ago, right there. You see him moving? He's doing okay, everybody's fine. You give fish hiding places, they're going to hide simple as that.

This tank is getting a lot of new fish here shortly though, this entire dynamic of the tank is going to change we're going to fill the open swimming area with more fish. I don't think the clown knife will stay in there permanently. I'm actually regretting the stalking. Besides the clowns, I kind of want to do something a little bit more active in this tank. Make it a little bit more pretty, and I will be doing so. Again, a lot of new fish coming probably in a week or two and a lot of these tanks are going to get some new inhabitants.

My rainbow fish is absolutely disgusting because before I left, I just had to keep tinkering. I can stay out here until two, three o'clock in the morning just playing around with things. We really started, we need to do a 24-hour live cam with Joey's. You guys just see how ridiculous I stay out here and how much fun I have out here. These videos don't even encompass what I do. I forgot to reprogram the lights, and this light here stayed on almost the entire time I was gone.

It was coming on at two o’clock in the morning and shutting off at seven and then the normal photoperiod would come on again at ten o’clock in the morning, something like that. Basically, this had a light on almost the entire time I was gone. Even though I was watching through my webcams. I wasn't looking at two o’clock in the morning, so we have an algae issue. It didn't grow on the substrate. It just grew on the acrylic, the panels here but as you can see it's bubbling, that's oxygen. Algae's gross, algae's ugly but algae does a lot of good things for us. Including removing organics from the water column like nitrates for example. It also adds oxygen to the aquarium. It's not bad of a thing, it's just really ugly and of course, we can't have an aquarium where we can't even see through it.

Again, I left everything as is, the fish got a little bit of a meal, but I left everything as the appearance of what I walked in here. Just to show you guys what happens when you leave your tanks for a while. If I didn't leave this light on, it wouldn't have happened but things happen. I was worried about the pearl though because she's such a small stingray and she could drop weight really quickly. However, she seems to be kind of fat and active, which makes me question if she had another snack while I was gone. I don't think so, we can count them, just second one, two, sit still, one, two, three.

Now the 2,000-gallon aquarium, everybody's doing okay in here too. The rays are out and about, just hungry and active like I said. We do have one back here. Where did you go? See her right back there under the wood there, she's looking for food. These guys are doing fine. Again, left this tank as is, gave him a big feeding and that was it, Asian Arowana is doing fine. Ironically, I've been seeing a lot of people complain about the algae on the back, which is funny because when I first set this aquarium up, people said it was too white. I said I was going to let algae grow on it. Now that I have they don't like it. At the end of the day, I'm not going to please everybody but this tank is getting a massive, massive, massive overhaul shortly, and I can't wait to do it.

Like I said a minute ago, I got some more fish coming, and some of the fish are going in the 2,000-gallon aquarium. Some future monsters I can't wait, I can't wait. I really need to start focusing on some smaller fish and setting up more aquariums, but I can't get over my obsession with big monster fish. The fish that are coming are going to be amazing. I can't wait for it. Should be in a week or two, if you're not subscribed to this channel yet and you want to see what I got, make sure that you do. I won't disappoint you.

Anyways, I’m okay, the fish are okay. I’m just a little bit tired, maybe a little dehydrated, maybe a little lot hungover, but we’re going to be okay. Everything was fine and if you are worried about leaving your fish for a week or so or even less than a week. Just do some water changes. Feed the fish. As long as your tanks are properly stocked, properly filtered, not overstocked.

You’re going to be fine and I think too many people worry about that, but at the end of the day, enjoy your vacation. Don’t let your hobby ruin your life like I’ve let it do for me many times and I’ve learned the hard way that not everything is the end of the world. Of course, the fish are a hobby but for me, it’s a lifestyle and I know for many of you it is as well.

At times, we do have to find that balance between our family, our personal lives, and our hobby. It can be incredibly difficult at times, and I just wanted this video to kind of showcase the fact that you can go out and have a normal life and your fish are going to be perfectly fine.

Oh, can’t forget about the Beans. Frank and Beans is fine, looking stunning as always. Not a lot can be said here. I just gave him a big water change, a big feeding, and Beans is fine. On the topic of Beans, let’s go back to Frank.

Okay, remember when I said I have a bunch of monster fish coming? Well, I don’t have monsters coming for this tank but, if you guys remember this is supposed to be South America, Central America. I have a bunch of Central America fish coming that are arguably some monsters and that means Frank is getting evicted. I'm going to have to figure out somewhere to place him. I thought about just putting him out on the corner. Getting him a cardboard sign, "Will do barrel rolls for food." If you have a better suggestion though, let me know in the comment section below.

About King of DIY

Joey is THE King of DIY, and when he built his gallery of aquariums he chose the Custom Aquariums rack system with 120-gallon tanks...a lot of them!

Joey Mullen is also known as the king of DIY, uarujoey or the DIY fishkeeper on social media. Providing education and inspiration for aquarium enthusiasts on YouTube, he is also the author of The Ultimate DIY Handbook; for the DIY Aquarist. His channel is about educating all levels of fish tank hobbyists who are passionate about caring for fish and keeping an aquarium of their own. Joey's aquarium rack systems were custom made by our professional fish tank engineers, here at Custom Aquariums.

Please watch the King of DIY's videos for some helpful information and great tips on diy aquarium keeping.

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