One of the major concern for aquarists and fish hobbyists is how to keep their beloved fish fed when they are away for long and cannot find a fish sitter. Of course, the fish can survive more than a couple of days without food, but what if you are going away for a longer time?
In our earlier articles on automatic fish feeders (for aquariums and ponds), we looked at a reliable mechanism for maintaining the feeding regimen for fish even when you are not around.
In this article, we look at another short-term, imperfect yet cheap solution for vacation feeding – the fish feeding blocks. Fish feeding blocks, sometimes also called vacation feeders or slow release feeders, provide a dissolvable feeding unit which can provide emergency food to fish in your absence.
We would also look at some of the major considerations before using these blocks and share some of the best options available in the market for all types of fish – from freshwater fish, bettas and bottom feeders to marine fish and even pond fish.
Read on to find out which are the best fish feeding blocks and timed release vacation fish feeders available in the market!
Best fish feeding blocks listSome of the best weekend and vacation feeding blocks available online are listed below:
|Picture||Product||Size & Fish||Features|
|API Pyramid Fish Feeding block||1.2 oz.; 14 days max.|
Most aquarium fish - freshwater and saltwater, goldfish
|- Large pyramid-shaped vacation feeder for 10+ gallon tanks.|
- Contains natural ingredients such as algae, shrimp and worms for all types of aquarium fish.
- Natural ingredients can feed 5-10 fish for 10-14 days in a tank with filtration and aeration.
- A smaller, 3-day weekend feeding block is also available for shorter duration and 5-10 gallon tanks.
|TetraWeekend Tropical Slow Release Feeder||1.06 oz. ; 5 days|
2.12 oz. ; 14 days
|- Unique gel-based, plaster-free slow release fish food feeder that does not cloud water. Does not contain Calcium Sulfate.|
- Available in two sizes. Small size feeder lasts for up to 5 days, large for 14 days.
- Based on Tetra's ProCare feeding formula for tropical fish.
- Other varieties include:
TetraPond Vacation Slow Release Feeder Block for pond fish.
TetraVacation 14-Day Vacation Feeder for tropical fish.
|Hartz Wardley Original Weekend Feeder||0.4 oz. ; 3 days|
Tropical fish and goldfish
|- Made in the US, unique shell-shaped weekend feeder to feed omnivorous tropical fish and goldfish for three days. Calcium-Sulfate based.|
- Suitable for 5+ gallon tanks with filtration and aeration. Maintains the pH in the water.
- A larger, 10-day vacation feeder for 10+-gallon tanks is also available.
|Omega One 7-day Vacation Feeder||0.7 oz. ; 7 days|
Tropical freshwater fish and goldfish
|- Made in the US, shell-shaped vacation feeder to feed 5-10 aquarium fish for 5-7 days.|
- Filled with natural food pellets with whole, fresh seafood rich in Omega 3 & 6 HUFA's. Calcium Sulfate based.
- A smaller, 3-day weekend feeder pack is also available.
|Supa Fish Food Vacation Block||1.0 oz. ; 14 days|
Cold-water and Tropical freshwater fish and goldfish
|- Made in the UK, slow-dissolving fish feeding block for large aquariums – 10-20 gallon.|
- Can feed 15 fish for up to 14 days.
- Neutralizes the aquarium water while releasing food pellets.
- Supa Pond Fish Feeding block is also available for pond game fish – goldfish and catfish
|Penn-Plax ProBalance 7-Day Vacation Feeder||1.0 oz. ; 7 days|
Tropical freshwater fish and goldfish
|- Unique, crab-shaped slow release fish food block for omnivores. Calcium-Sulfate base.|
- Filled with high-quality tubifex, bloodworms, and other nutritious foods with vitamin and mineral supplements.
- A multi-pack with 3-day, 7-day and 14-day feeders is also available.
|Zoo Med Laboratories Mini Banquet Block Feeders||0.2 oz. ; 3 days|
Most aquarium fish - freshwater and saltwater, goldfish
|- Slow-release fish feeding blocks with an ideal mix of freeze-dried natural feed for all types of aquarium fish.|
- Contains blue-colored Spirulina plankton - a rich source of raw protein and vitamins.
- Other varieties include –
Zoo Med Betta Banquet Blocks for betta fish.
Zoo Med Laboratories Nano Banquet Block for shrimps and aquatic critters.
Zoo Med Laboratories 14-day Giant Banquet Block Feeder for all types of fish in ponds and large aquariums.
Zoo Med Laboratories Pleco Banquet Block for Pleco, Catfish and other bottom feeders.
|Aqueon Weekend Fish Feeding Block||0.21 oz.; 3 days|
Tropical freshwater fish
|- Fish-shaped, vacation feeder to feed 5-6 aquarium fish for up to 3 days. Calcium Sulfate based.|
- Filled with pellets made with whole, fresh seafood rich in minerals and vitamins.
- Other varieties include the popular Aqueon Betta Slow Release food block for betta fish.
|Aqueon 7 Day Vacation Feeder||0.3 oz.; 7days|
Tropical betta fish
|- Fish-shaped, vacation feeder to feed 1 fish for up to 7 days. Calcium Sulfate based.|
- Filled with pellets made with premium, fresh seafood rich in minerals and vitamins.
- Special formulation minimizes clouding of water.
What are fish feeding blocks or vacation feeders and do they really work?
Fish feeding blocks are time-released feeder blocks, which when added to the aquarium, dissolve slowly and release edible ingredients for fish to feed on. Such blocks are also sometimes known as slow-release fish food blocks, holiday fish feeders or timed release vacation fish feeders.
Slow release fish feeding blocks are suitable for all standard types of aquarium fish – freshwater and saltwater. They are designed with omnivorous contents – algae, plankton, freeze-dried worms and more. Some specialized options for specific breeds of fish such as bettas, pleco, and catfish are also available in the market.
These slow release fish food blocks can be broadly classified into two categories – Weekend feeder blocks and Vacation feeder blocks. Weekend feeder blocks are designed to last for 2-3 days while the Vacation feeder blocks dissolve more slowly and can last from 7-14 days.
Considering that an adult fish can survive without food for up to a week, the obvious question that comes to mind is why do you need a weekend feeder block? Weekend feeder blocks are suitable for small and growing fish which need to feed every day to survive.
Now to the question of whether these weekend or vacation feeders for fish actually work, the short answer is that they are an IMPERFECT SOLUTION. The major issues with using such fish feeding blocks are:
- Fish feeding blocks or vacation fish feeders are only suitable for mid to large sized tanks (5-10+ gallon) which have proper filtration and aeration setup to circulate the water. They cannot be used for fish bowls or nano-aquariums (less than 5 gallons).
- While many latest feeding blocks have improved upon it, fish feeding blocks would almost always affect the chemistry and quality of water in the tank. What it means is that if you have just enough filtration setup for your aquarium, a 7 or 14-day vacation fish feeder can easily put it beyond the limit. This is because they can cloud the water and increase the proportion of ammonia and nitrates in the water.
- While fish feeding blocks do contain edible ingredients, it is quite possible that your fish may not like them or treat them as a source of food. This issue has been well addressed in some of the new feeding blocks, but is still a possibility if the water circulation in the tank is not perfect.
- Some cheap feeding blocks, just do not contain enough food pellets for large-sized fish. They have just enough feed for small and mid-sized fish, depending upon the block size.
So how can you maximize the chances of success with these slow release fish food blocks? Here are some tips to follow:
- Pick a feeding block that is advertised to work with the type of fish you have in your aquarium or pond. As listed above, there are some feeding blocks designed specifically for different types of fish and aquatic animals – tropical fish, bettas, goldfish, pleco and catfish etc.
- Before leaving your aquarium with fish feeding blocks, try them in front of you to zero in on the best setup, size, and type. Observe how quickly the block dissolves, and how well the fish receive its presence. Check the water chemistry to determine if your aquarium would be able to withstand these dissolving feeders.
- Placement of fish feeding blocks is an important consideration. If you place a block just beneath your pump or filter, the chances are that it would dissolve quicker than expected. Similarly, if you place it at a place where there is no proper circulation or aeration, the block may not dissolve at all. The best place is to keep it at a couple of inches away from the filter and then 2-3 inches apart from each other.
- Before leaving for a vacation, consider changing half or two-thirds of the water in the tank. This would ensure that the fish would have a more balanced ecosystem in your absence.
- Clean up the tank, test and replace the water in the tank as soon as you are back.
- Consider spending a little more and invest in a good automatic fish feeder as an alternative to a fish feeding block or timed release vacation fish feeder. You can also explore the option of employing a designated fish sitter, who can feed your fish and provide basic care to your tank when you are away.
Following the above tips can ensure a better experience with slow release fish food blocks or vacation fish feeders when you are away and do not have a friendly neighbor to look after your aquarium!
How to pick the best fish feeding blocks and vacation fish feeders for your aquarium or pond?
Though fish feeding blocks or vacation fish feeders are not a costly item to get, they can result in you having to incur a major loss if you do not pick the most suitable option for your needs. So, before picking a slow release fish food block, you should consider the following major factors:
- Type and Number of Fish
- Shape and Size of the block
- Ingredients in the feeding block
Type and Number of Fish
The first thing you need to consider before choosing a specific weekend or vacation feeding block is the breed of fish in your aquarium, their size, and feeding habits.
Specific feeding blocks are designed to cater to specific breeds of fish. While almost all feeding blocks work well with omnivorous tropical and freshwater fish and popular aquarium goldfish, some feeding blocks are engineered for specific breeds such as bettas, saltwater fish and bottom feeders such as plecos and catfish.
Large fish breeds can survive for over a week without feeding, so you are better-off without a feeding block. On the other hand, small breeds and baby fry fish need frequent feeding and hence would require a feeding block even if you are going away for a short weekend trip.
Similarly, carnivorous breeds can go longer without feeding and require no more than one meal a day, while the herbivores require a more frequent feeding cycle. Most feeding blocks are designed keeping omnivorous fish in mind, so you would need to pick a specific model if your fish is purely herbivorous.
The number of fish is also important. The more the number of fish, more feed you would need. It is generally recommended to have a couple of fish feeding blocks for every 5-6 fish to allow proper feeding.
Shape and Size of the block
Once you have zeroed in on the type of fish feeding block you need, you have to consider the overall size of the block to determine the amount and duration of feeding it can provide.
While the exact duration a feeder can last can vary based on where you place the block and the water circulation in your tank, a weekend feeding block can provide enough feed to about 5-6 medium sized fish for 3-4 days. Some gel-based slow release feeders such as TetraWeekend Tropical Slow Release Feeder can even last for up to 5 days.
Larger vacation feeders can last anywhere from one week to as much as two weeks. Our top pick – API Pyramid Fish Feeding block is probably the most reliable in the number of days to dissolve. It can feed anywhere from 5-10 fish for up to 14-days.
Closely associated with the size of the feeding block is its shape. A familiar sea-creature shape can sometimes be more receptive to the fish in the aquarium. That is why, some manufacturers offer a shell, star-fish, or a fish-shaped feeding block.
Based on the duration of your vacation, the size of your fish tank, the water circulation and the number of fish in your aquarium, you can decide the size of the feeding block you would like to opt for.
You can, of course, always add more than one block to the tank to provide proper food to your fish. Just remember that more the number of feeding blocks, more the chances of overfeeding in fish and changes in water quality in the fish tank!
Ingredients in the feeding block
Last, but not the least, you need to look at the actual ingredients in the feeding block to determine if a specific block can be a better option for your aquarium or pond. This refers to both the binding base in the block and nutritional ingredients.
Most slow release feeding blocks use Calcium Sulfate (plaster-type material) as the binding base for the block. The only exception to this is the TetraWeekend Tropical Slow Release Feeder, which uses a unique gel-based formula that is plaster free. While almost all models claim that they do not cloud the water, you should expect some visible water discoloration, especially if you are using a 10-14 feeding block.
When it comes to ingredients, most feeding blocks follow the balance feeding diet in form of pellets. This may include natural ingredients such as freeze-dried worms, algae, plankton such as Spirulina along with vitamin and mineral supplements.
Check out the exact ingredients in the feeding block to determine if it would be palatable for your fish and provide necessary nutrition. You can check the product details and manufacturer website for the exact composition of a feeding block.
Which are the best fish feeding blocks and what our top picks are?
If you are taking a long 1-2 week vacation and looking for a decent slow release fish food block to keep the fish in your aquarium well-fed in your absence, then you should consider getting the API Vacation Pyramid Fish Feeder.
This large vacation fish feeding block is designed specifically for 10+ gallon tanks. Each feeding block weighs 1.2 ounces. Each block can feed anywhere from 5-10 mid-sized (2-inch) fish for 12-14 days.
This feeder block is suitable for almost all types of aquarium fish and is designed to meet the nutrition requirements of freshwater tropical and saltwater fish including tetras, cichlids, bettas, goldfish, and angelfish. Each feeding pyramid contains a healthy supply of natural omnivorous ingredients such as algae, shrimp, worms, plankton and more, along with vitamin and mineral supplements. The rough breakdown of the nutrient ingredients is summarized below,
|Raw Protein (min)||1.5 %|
|Raw Fat (min)||0.6 %|
|Raw Fiber (min)||3 %|
|Moisture (max)||18 %|
The API Pyramid Feeding Block uses Calcium Sulfate as the base and is advertised to cause minimal clouding. However, it can only be used with aquariums which have proper filtration and aeration.
The API Pyramid Feeding Block is also available in a smaller Weekend feeding block that can last for up to three days and used in a smaller fish tank.
If you would like to avoid Calcium Sulfate (plaster) based fish feeders and instead looking for a gel-based fish feeding block, then you can consider checking out the TetraWeekend Fish Feeding Block.
The Tetra-range of fish feeding blocks is available in multiple sizes, with the standard 1.06 oz. Weekend slow release block designed to last up to 5 days and the large 2.1 oz. block designed to last a healthy 14-days.
The TetraWeekend fish feeder is gel-based that allows fish to eat through the block instead of dissolving slowly in the water. As a result, it does not pollute water or affect the chemistry (people did report reddish slime buildup due to discarded feed in some cases). The gel blocks are inert and odorless and can be left in the aquarium when regular feeding is resumed.
The Tetra feeding blocks are designed specifically for tropical fish such as cichlids, tetras, loaches and angelfish. They follow the Tetra’s ProCare feeding formula and contain ingredients such as agar-agar, Daphnia, Locust bean and yeast extracts, along with mineral and vitamin supplements. The feeding blocks do use a Red 3 Dye as a coloring agent.
The Tetra feeding blocks are also available as TetraPond Vacation Slow Release Feeder Blocks, which are designed specifically for pond fish.
Best fish feeding blocks and fish vacation feeders for specific breeds of fish
In our earlier sections, we listed out our picks for the best fish feeding blocks which are suitable for most types of aquarium fish – tropical, freshwater and saltwater. But if you are looking for the best vacation fish feeders for specific breed of fish, then you can look at the following options. These slow release fish food blocks have been engineered to work best with that these specific types of fish and aquatic creatures.
|Fish or aquatic creature||Suitable Fish Feeding Block|
|Betta Fish vacation feeder||Zoo Med Betta Banquet Blocks
Aqueon Betta Slow Release food block
|Goldfish vacation feeder||TetraPond Vacation Slow Release Feeder Block
Supa Pond Fish Feeding block
|Fry or Baby Fish vacation feeder||Zoo Med Laboratories Nano Banquet Block
Aqueon Weekend Fish Feeding Block
|Pleco and Catfish vacation feeder||Zoo Med Laboratories Pleco Banquet Block|
|Shrimps and Other Critters vacation feeder||Zoo Med Laboratories Nano Banquet Block|
Final thoughts on the best fish feeding blocks and fish vacation feeders
Fish feeding blocks or slow release fish food blocks are affordable feeding solutions to keep your fish fed over a time frame ranging from 3 (weekend feeders) to 14 days (vacation fish feeders). They are suitable for almost all types of aquarium fish – freshwater, saltwater or tropical – bettas, tetras, cichlids, angels, goldfish, plecos, and more. Fish feeding blocks work only with well-filtered and aerated fish tanks with ample water circulation.
In this article, we looked at some of the best fish feeding blocks available in the market. Such slow release fish food are suitable for aquarists who are looking for a holiday feeding solution and do not want to invest in an automatic fish feeder, which stays our preferred recommendation for automatic fish feeding. We briefly discussed the imperfections of these feeders and the factors to consider while picking the best one for the fish in your aquarium.
We hope that you liked this article. Do let us know your feedback by providing your comment below. Until next time, happy fish-keeping!!