No, this is not a challenge to test the endurance of your platy fish, instead it’s a way to help you manage the feeding of your pet fish while you’re on vacation or travelling for other reasons.
At some point or another, the question “How long can platies survive without food?” will come up if you’re keeping platies at home.
As a beginner aquarist, it’s natural to worry about feeding your fish and keeping up with water changes. Unfortunately, unlike other pets that you may be able to take with you on a trip, fish aren’t that kind of pet.
Therefore, you must take other measures like ask your friends to help. But what if there’s no-one that can take care of your platy fish while you’re away?
Thankfully, there are other ways to make sure your platies don’t starve while you’re away, which I’m going to write about in this article.
How Long Can Platies Go Without Food?
It may surprise you to find out, but if otherwise well-fed and healthy, platy fish can go without food for up to two weeks with little to no adverse effects.
Therefore, if you’re planning to leave home for just a couple of days, there really isn’t much to worry about, especially when it comes to feeding.
On the other hand, if you’re going to be away from your platies for two entire weeks, there are some things you must look after before your can leave your fish by themselves.
In what follows, I’m going to go over the things you should do to prepare your aquarium before you leave on a trip.
Preparing Your Aquarium Before a Trip
Preparing your aquarium involves performing a major water change and removing any debris, dead fish or decaying plants, and cleaning the filter.
1. Doing a Major Water Change
Let’s say you’re regularly performing 25-30% water changes to remove toxins and debris that accumulates in the tank over time.
A major water change involves changing 50-70% of the aquarium water. You should do this the day before you leave.
This way, toxins will not accumulate as fast and you can get away without doing your usual water changes while you’re away.
2. Removing Decaying Matter & Debris from the Aquarium
If you see any plants that aren’t doing so well or are decaying, make sure you remove them from the aquarium. Same goes for any sick, dying or dead fish. Also, remove any decaying food or debris.
All these can cause ammonia levels to spike, disrupting the water balance in the aquarium and causing toxicity in your fish.
3. Cleaning the Filter
Cleaning the filter by rinsing it in a bucket with aquarium water will remove any debris that has accumulated in it, which can also be a source of ammonia spikes in the aquarium.
Do not replace the filter with a new one, especially if it hasn’t reached the end of its service life. Placing a brand-new filter in the aquarium and removing the old one will disrupt the colony of healthy bacteria that has accumulated on it.
4. Set Lights on Timer
If you have live plants in your aquarium and a lighting system set up, you will need to put the light on timer, so that they won’t operate 24/7.
If you don’t have a timer (although I suggest you get one as it will make your life easier), you should turn off the light, but do make sure that your fish and plants get enough natural sunlight. But do avoid direct sunlight.
How Long Can Platy Fry Survive Without Food?
Adult platy fish can go without food for 1-2 weeks, but I can’t say the same about platy fry. Platy fry can survive without food 3 days at most.
Therefore, you can’t leave platy babies without food for prolonged periods. Setting up an auto-feeder is recommended if you’re away for longer than 3 days.
The problem with automatic feeders is that if your baby platies get food, they’ll produce waste, which will accumulate and raise the toxicity of the water.
Platy juveniles are more sensitive to toxins in the aquarium, so it’s crucial to get them only a small amount of food daily to prevent fouling the water while you are away.
An aged aquarium will supplement their food with soft algae and micro-fauna to keep them alive.
Should You Set Up an Auto-Feeder for Adult Platies?
You can set up an auto-feeder for adult fish to dispense food for them during your absence from home. However, it’s probably best if you don’t.
Your fish will produce waste that will go uncleaned while you’re away, so it’s best if you limit auto-feeders to fry alone, which depend on it to stay alive.
Since platies can go without food much longer than fry, it’s best if you avoid feeders so as to prevent waste from accumulating in the aquarium.
The best, of course, is to have someone check on your fish and be knowledgeable with fish-keeping, so they can take over for you in caring for your platy fish.
In the absence of such help, however, you must rely on the above methods.
Whether you’re going on vacation or you must go on an unexpected trip, having pet fish means it’s always a challenge to make sure they’re all right while you’re gone.
Luckily, platy fish are pretty good at staying alive for 1-2 weeks without food if you’re ready to take some preventative issues. With platy fry, I suggest you set up an auto-feeder if you’re gone for longer than three days.
Make sure you prepare the aquarium before you leave by performing a major water change, removing leaves, plants that are decaying as well as any sickly or dead fish.
I hope that now that you know more about how resilient platy fish are, you can be more at ease that they’ll be all right even without food should you need to go away from home for a couple of days.