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I have 4 tropical fish tanks. I quite like my fish and have had some for many years. My Parrot fish have been with us 7 years now and grown from 1 1/2" ugly grey things which I paid £1.35 for to beautiful large fish with a lovely colouration which everyone swears is from artificial dyes, but as I have had them from fry I know it is natural. To replace them now could cost up to £60 each. I can't really afford to lose any fish - and the fact is - they may not be what most people would think of as companions, but I am quite attached to them. A week without food will usually not kill your fish - but it may encourage aggressive species to attack each other. Beyond that - I can't imagine the fish like going hungry when we are away so we have tried various means of holiday feeding.
The fishmate is a very handy automatic feeder which can be set to last for 2 weeks with one feeding a day or 1 week with two feedings. There is also an option to set this for feedings a day but then you only get 3.5 days. I have only ever used this for one week so can not comment on using it for longer periods. I set this for 2 feeds a day, but even so it is not really enough food for the very large fish in my 4' tank. They are all destructive plant eaters though - to the point that we can not keep anything growing in this tank. But when we are going to be away I buy a very large batch of plants knowing this will supplement their diet while we are gone, give them a good feed of bloodworms and then use this. The average small tropical fish tank would be very well fed with two feedings a day from this, and most would do fine with one.
This has 14 compartments which are each roughly 1 3/4 centimeters square and 1 cm high. This is attached to a battery operated timer which is quite easily set to feed the fish at the same time each day. You will of course want to be certain to use a new battery - if the battery dies - your fish will not be fed. The device is roughly 14 cm x 11 cm and 4 cm high. There is also an opening to attach an air hose, which would require a separate pump and is meant to keep the food dry. It is quite easy to set - you just poke a small plastic pin in the right time slot.
I like this feeder, but there are issues with it, which I was aware of before purchasing. The first is that it does not dump the food in all at once, but slowly over a period of ten minutes or more on each feeding. This means the most aggressive fish get the most food - but it also means they are less likely to eat their neighbours. Many reviewers have mentioned problems with the dry food clumping up - and I have noticed that dry food will be slightly soggy if I leave the lid off overnight so I can only imagine that in two weeks over the humidity a heated aquarium it would turn to goo. For this reason I have never used flake food. My fish are used to a variety of food so I use pellets in this with a bit of dry bloodworms on the top. This has worked quite well for us - but I have never tried it for the full two weeks.
The next major issue is how to place this in your tank. As mentioned, I have 4 tanks. I can use this on two, but there is no chance of using this with the biorb . The manufacture recommends sitting this on your lid and cutting a hole through the lid for the food to drop through. I suggest you look at what a new lid will cost you before attempting this as many lids would be irrevocably damaged. I was able to place this inside the tank - but this will increase moisture problems. With my youngest sons tank it would be impossible to make a hole in the lid without destroying the whole tank. It would be possible to set this up on a ledge, but require leaving the lid open and placing a glass or plexiglass pane over part of the tank. It must lay flat. There are suction cups which will attach very nicely to a plexiglass square, and I used this in place of my usual vapour guard when on holiday. You must have a flat surface inside the tank to attach this to, and I have serious concerns about leaving this on a rippled vapour guard in case my large fish were able to knock the whole thing in. With smaller fish this will not be an issue. You might be able to set this on something outside the tank with the opening hanging over and the lid off or a sheet of plexiglass across the tank - but this presents issues as well - such as the fact that the fish might jump out and be rotten on the floor when you get home. My tank still had plenty of room for the lid to close - but you may want to leave a slight gap in the lid to allow more airflow.
I really do believe flake food would be a gooey slimy bacteria ridden mess if this is placed inside the tank, and would not recommend using it. Instead I would get the fish used to occasional feedings of pelleted food well before going. I think most fish enjoy the variety anyway - but some will not know what to do with a totally new food. I will also point out that I did not use the airline, although I have plenty of pumps. My reason for this has been my experience that things attached to air pumps walk - or vibrate loose and end up moving. I did not want the feeder in my tank - but this could be pure speculation. If you intend to use the air pump try it for a week at home before you leave. I really can't imagine not doing a trial run to make sure everything is working before you go away anyway. You also need to see exactly how much food this is dumping. Remember - too much food is worse than not enough - especially when you are away and can not clean the filter. Give your fish the same amount they will receive when you are away - and if it isn't eaten up in 5 minutes - reduce the amount.
I also like to have a back up plan - so a good selection of edible plants will leave most vegetarian or omnivore fish with something to graze on. Pure carnivores are usually adapted to going longer without food after a good meal anyway, but very few tropical fish fit this definition.
Overall I do think this is a good product, but I am taking one star off because I do not feel that manufacturer makes clear that this will simply not work with many types of tanks. If you can set up a feeding hole or a ledge in may work quite well - but if not it is a complete waste of money.
Note: please ignore prices on Amazon Marketplace ad above - you can buy this for £15.95 direct from amazon with free postage.