Pet Sitting Fish: Aquarium Care (2024)

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Pet Sitting Fish: Aquarium Care (1)

Lydia Paladina

11 February 20245 min read

Pet Sitting Fish: Aquarium Care (2)

SittersAdvice for SittersFish

Pet sitting fish might sound like a gill-iant gig for busy sitters, but once you learn how to pet sit a fish you’ll realize there’s more of an o-fish-al routine required than first thought. Like any pet, fish require a certain amount of maintenance, care, and monitoring to keep them happy and their fish owners who are their heart and sole.

Don’t worry, this won’t be as demanding as caring for a farmyard full of fainting goats, but small animal sitting requires a gentle touch, a keen eye for detail, and someone who can stick to a routine. Let’s make a splash about pet-sitting fish and find out how to pet-sit a fish.

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Fish aquarium care and cleaning tips

A big part of aquatic animal care is all around their fish tank. Whilst it’s easy to presume you may need to change the water in the tank and spruce up their fishy abode, many fish owners will strictly ask you not to clean out their tanks whilst they a away. Let’s dive a little deeper…

Freshwater fish tank

First things first, find out what day-to-day aquarium maintenance is needed. The usual daily fish tank chores will involve:

  • Make sure all pumps, filtration systems, and lights are working - some fish owners may ask you to test them each day
  • Scoop out any excess food from the tank - this will help keep the fish tank
  • Ask the pet parents how often they top off the tank with treated water, this may come with additional water treatment instructions
  • Check the water temperature - the majority of freshwater tanks should remain between 75° to 80°F or 23°to 27°C, but always double-check with the human fish family first
  • If the tank contains live plants, you might need to top up their fertilizer each day and give them a tiny haircut if they start to fill the tank and block the filter

Keep an eye on areas of green algae build-up around the tank corners or on the tank decorations. If you notice it building up quickly, you can use a clean scourer or algae brush (ask the pet parents) to gently scrub it off.

If you’re sitting on a long-term basis, you may be asked to partially clean the fish tank. Unless you’re an experienced fish expert, owners won’t ask you to do a full deep clean. However, you may be asked to do some light cleaning to remove algae and poop, gravel vacuum (yes, that is a real gadget), or remove and top up part of the water in the tank. Make sure you’re completely clear on how these tasks need to be done and be honest with the fish parents if you’re inexperienced.

Saltwater fish tank

Also called tropical fish tanks are home to fish on the more exotic end of the fish scale. Whilst the daily routine is similar to that of freshwater tanks, there are a few extra notes to take with saltwater fish tanks:

  • Check the aquarium’s salt levels - these may need to be topped up with treated water
  • Have a look at the tank’s pH scale and whether the fish owners need you to put in any additional minerals with their fish food
  • Avoid any cleaning or anything that means you put your hand in the tank - saltwater aquariums have delicate mineral and chemical balances, meaning even the cleanest of hands can upset the habitat

Because of the delicate nature of saltwater fish tanks, avoid any direct contact with the inside of the tank or the fish unless it’s an emergency.

Outdoor fish tank or pond

Luckily, outdoor ponds and fish areas are pretty self-sustaining. Be sure to check the filtration system every day, check the plants aren’t blocking the surface of the water, look for any bits of debris or other animals that shouldn’t be in there, and make sure they’re safe from predators. Local birds and cats are big fans of fish, so many ponds have protective netting over them to stop the fish from becoming sneaky snacks.

How to take care of a fish

Now you’re an expert in aquarium care, let’s learn some more about the fish. Unlike other TrustedHousesitters pets, you can’t stroke, play, or sit on the couch with these little guys. However, they do need to be checked throughout the day. If you’re ever worried about how a fish looks or is behaving, be sure to call their vet and fish owners immediately.

Freshwater fish care

Many of us think of the traditional goldfish guppy when we think of freshwater fish, but there are some species with vibrant colors and fantastic fins. For example, the betta fish have become a household favorite in recent years. Whilst freshwater fish are technically the easiest fish to take care of, that doesn’t mean you should leave them to it.

Along with fish tank maintenance, have a good look at each of the fish every day. If you notice a change in the way they swim, their appearance, or how keen they are to eat, these can be clear signs something may be wrong. Keep watch, take notes, and update their fish parents each day.

Tropical fish care

The vibrant colors and spectacular scales of tropical fish make a wonderful addition to homes, but they are a bit trickier to care for. One thing to be aware of with saltwater fish is the temperature. These guys are super sensitive to the slightest drop or increase in surrounding air temperature, as well as water temperature. If you’re sitting during a heatwave, make sure all direct sunlight on the tank is blocked off and place a lightweight fan towards the glass. Similarly, during the winter months, keep an eye on the room temperature throughout the day.

Koi fish care

Some believe koi fish are the easiest fish to care for. Why? They’re tough! Outdoor fish are adept are surviving through winters and sudden cold snap. However, their Achilles heel is with aeration. These fish need a fully working filtration system pumping fresh air into their pond at all times. If the pond has live plants, make sure they’re cut back from the surface to allow additional air into the tank area.

Fish food facts

When we say fish food we don’t mean those cute little fish-shaped crackers that are very morish - never feed these, or any other human, to your fish friends whilst they’re in your care.

Luckily, most domesticated fishies have a similar diet of dry food which can be bought at most pet stores. Some foods are specifically designed for tropical fish and outdoor fish, so always check with the owners before heading out to the shops and read those labels.

Remember, if you’re ever in doubt about fish friend care or pet concerns, always contact a vet. If you’re a TrustedHousesitters Standard or Premium member, do you already have free access to our 24/7 vet advice line? For additional fish facts or animal anecdotes, check out our Community Forum to connect with or share the love of other pet people.

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Pet Sitting Fish: Aquarium Care (2024)


Pet Sitting Fish: Aquarium Care? ›

Food is the biggest factor when determining how long you can leave a fish home alone. Depending on the type of fish, how many fish you own and the size of the tank, you can leave your pet fish alone for two to seven days.

How long can you leave pet fish alone? ›

Food is the biggest factor when determining how long you can leave a fish home alone. Depending on the type of fish, how many fish you own and the size of the tank, you can leave your pet fish alone for two to seven days.

How do you take care of a fish tank when on vacation? ›

For longer absences, it's a good idea to do a 25% water change and clean your filter about a week before you leave. Avoid doing a major cleaning or disturbing the substrate when doing your water change, and do not disturb the biological media when cleaning your filter.

How do I leave my fish tank for a week? ›

Here is a handy checklist of things to do before you leave:
  1. Clean the aquarium a week before you leave.
  2. Completely top off the aquarium with water the day before you leave.
  3. Check the water temperature to verify it's in the proper range.
  4. Check the filter and make sure it's running at full capacity.
Jun 7, 2021

Can you leave a fish tank for a month? ›

Do a water change before you leave, then simply ask someone to come feed and check on your fish while you're gone. A 36 is fine with once a month, small changes, so as long as someone is feeding, checking for dead fish, and removing any as they occur, you should be fine.

What is the average lifespan of a pet fish? ›

Fish have a bad reputation for short lives, but with proper care they can live for at least three to five years. Some breeds live a decade or longer. For example, the common goldfish, one of the most popular pet fish breeds, grows to be up to eight inches long and can live for twenty years.

Can I leave my fish tank for 2 weeks? ›

They can go a couple of weeks without being fed and it's safer that way than it is to rely on auto feeders, since even the better ones can malfunction, get clogged and fail to feed anything or dump in too much food and ruin the water quality, which is much more dangerous for the fish than being hungry for a week.

Should I leave my fish tank light on while on vacation? ›

If you do not have the aquarium light on a timer, now is the time to get one. This will enable you to control the amount of light the aquarium gets and also help control algae growth in the aquarium while you are away.

Can you leave fish alone for a week? ›

Food is the biggest factor when determining how long you can leave a fish home alone. Depending on the type of fish, how many fish you own and the size of the tank, you can leave your pet fish alone for two to seven days.

Should I leave my aquarium light off while on vacation? ›

Unless you have plants, leave the lights off. Definitely leave the light off because fish don't have eyelids and can't sleep if the light is on all the time. I would ask someone to feed them or use a self feeder while you're gone. Use the timer switch to control the timing of your light.

What is the easiest fish to take care of? ›

What is the most low maintenance fish? Great pets for beginners that can be relatively low maintenance include some Tetras, Rasboras, Danios, White Cloud Mountain Minnows, Swordtails, Plaites, Mollies, Cory Catfish and Betta Fish.

Can I leave my fish for 5 days? ›

Most fish do well without food for up to three to five days, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily good for them. Depending on several factors, like your tank, how many fish you own, and what type of fish you have, you may be able to leave your fish without food for up to seven days.

How long can pet fish go without food? ›

Adult fish can often go one week without any food, depending on their size, metabolism, and the water temperature. However, if you have a tankful of newborn fry that require constant feedings, it may be best to set up an automatic fish food feeder or find a pet sitter who can take care of their needs.

How much does it cost to run a fish tank per month? ›

most setups will cost you roughly $1.50 per month for every ten gallons (38 liters). That is for filter, lights, and heater. This figure came from a commentator on this website who put a wattage monitor on several of his aquariums.

How long can fish survive in a dirty tank? ›

Within a few days, the fish would start to get ammonia and nitrite poisoning, which leads to death within a few days. The filter is needed to build up good bacteria to combat and filter out ammonia and nitrite, which is caused by fish waste and food.

How long do you have to leave fish tank before adding fish? ›

Wait until both the ammonia and nitrite levels have risen and then fallen to zero before adding more fish. It usually take about 3-6 weeks for a new aquarium to go through the initial nitrogen cycle, so fish should be added only a few per week during this time.

Can you leave pet fish for a week? ›

Smaller tanks or those with lots of fish should have about 25 percent of their water changed each week. The smaller the aquarium, the more often water needs to be changed. So, a week-long vacation isn't a cause for concern as long as you do a partial water change ahead of time.

Can you leave fish for a few days? ›

If you are gone for a short amount of time (2-5 days) then your fish tank will be perfectly fine without any extra care! Fish can go days without food and still remain healthy – for some species, a period of fasting is even good for their digestive tract.

How long can you go on vacation with fish? ›

Most pet fish in a tank need partial water changes every week or two to remove their waste products from the water they breathe and maintain optimal water quality. So if you can't find someone you trust to do that job for you, try limiting your vacation time to under two weeks.


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