How Long Can Saltwater Fish Go Without Food?

Lauren Kiekbusch

On occasions when you have to leave home for a long while, you may be curious about how long your saltwater pet fish can stay without food. And this curiosity normally arises for people who are quite new to owning a saltwater fish.

Although having a fish tank in your home can be beautifying, you have to keep in mind that saltwater fish requires a lot of care and attention, which means you are to be ready to commit to proper care for your fish.

However, this might not be a problem until you have to be out of town for a few days. Frankly, when you have an aquarium, there are a lot of things to worry about in your absence. And how long a saltwater fish can go without food is one of the leading causes of worry.

Luckily, saltwater fish can go for 3-7 days without eating. However, the duration at which a saltwater fish would last without food solely depends on so many factors. If you are going to stay longer than this stipulated time, it’s best to make certain preparations for your fish in regard to its welfare while you are away.

Even in the wild, saltwater fish are not frequent eaters, most times they can go a whole day without munching on something and they would be good. We highly recommend that you consider acquiring an automatic feeder for your fish to make it very certain that it stays alive pending your arrival.

This post dives deep into the factors that determine the length at which saltwater fish can go without food, signs that it is starving, and a few care tips to ensure your saltwater fish’s survival. Read along.

Is Clownfish A Freshwater Or Saltwater Fish

Factors That Determine How Long Saltwater Fish Would Go Without Food

Saltwater fish can last for 3-7 days without food, some can even go for up to 10 days without food but you need to be sure of how long your saltwater fish can last before leaving home. The following are the determinants of how long a saltwater fish would go without food;

1. The State Of Health

The state of health of a saltwater fish is one of the important factors to consider before leaving it without food for some days. If your fish is healthy and well then they can stay long without being fed but if this is not the case, it is best to take necessary actions to ensure that food is provided for the fish as when due.

Most times food is the least of the worry for sick fish as they tend to refuse to eat, however, it is really not advisable to leave a sick or unhealthy fish unattended, the only option here is to hire a fish sitter and make care arrangements for the fish for as long as you are away.

2. Size And Age

Adult saltwater fish have high fasting tolerance than the younger ones, this is because their body mass can store and reserve fat for situations when there is no longer food to eat. Bigger fishes as well have high chances of surviving for long without food than the smaller ones.

So if you have an adult or big saltwater fish in your aquarium you can be sure that they can last long unfed, smaller and younger fishes have fewer chances of survival and can not be left for long without food.

3. Activity Level

The activity level of a saltwater fish can also affect how long it can survive without food. If the fish is naturally very active, it would require food more regularly than one that is less active. This is because a lot of energy is used when swimming around and it needs to be replaced.

Aqua life is known to be more active during the day and less active at night, and you can control the activity level of your fish by setting the light timer of your home to 6 hours as this can help reduce the need for food for the fish.

4. Dietary Pattern

Saltwater fish fall into two categories of eaters, while some are carnivores and eat only meat-based meals, others are herbivores and only survive by eating plant-based foods. The demand for food for carnivorous fishes is naturally lesser than that of herbivores.

This is due to the fact that carnivores do not always have a successful hunt and this has toughened them to last very long without eating. Herbivores, on the other hand, have easier access to food and they need to consume food more often to meet their dietary needs.

5. Saltwater Fish Specie

The specie of the fish is also a determining factor of how long a saltwater fish can last without eating, some breeds of saltwater fish can last longer than others. Be sure about the fasting tolerance of your fish and compare it with how long you’ll be away before leaving.

Ways To Keep Saltwater Fish Fed While On Vacation

In order to ensure that your fish doesn’t starve especially when you’ll be away for a long time, it is best to make certain preparations for the saltwater fish to keep them alive rather than leaving them unfed for days.

The following are great options to ensure the safety of your pet saltwater fish;

  • Consider dropping off your aquarium at a friend’s with a list of instructions.
  • Hire a fish sitter, especially one with experience so you are sure you are leaving your fish in good hands.
  • Purchase an automatic feeder for your fish if the first two suggestions are not an option for you. You can easily schedule the amount of time the fish should be fed without worry.

Signs That Saltwater Fish Is Starving

Even if saltwater fish can last for some days without food, there is a limit to how long they can stay before they begin to starve. We strongly advise against leaving fish for too long without food as they are in a confined space and solely depend on what you give them for nourishment.

On that note, if you are buying saltwater fish for the first time the following are pointers that it is starving;

  1. Waiting at the bottom of the tank for food
  2. Scavenging at the bottom of the aquarium in a quest for food.
  3. It is showing signs of aggressiveness.
  4. It is less active, sluggish, and looks weak.
  5. Noticeable sunken or hollow belly and looking malnourished.

What To Do When Saltwater Fish Is Starving

Feeding a saltwater fish can be quite tricky even when it is starving, these are the following things to do to help a starving saltwater fish;

  • Be sure what kind of food it would eat (herbivore saltwater fishes can only eat plant-based foods like seaweed or algae, while carnivores eat meat-based meals such as shrimp, blackworms, etc)
  • Feed it regularly for nourishment (at least twice a day). Feed saltwater fish a portion of food it can finish in 3 minutes.
  • Ensure that you do not overfeed the fish, as this can result in bloating, and constipation.

Care Tips For Saltwater Fish

Saltwater fishes require a different kind of maintenance than freshwater fish. To care for them you must be ready to dedicate your time and attention as they are not low-maintenance pet animals. The following are tips for properly caring for saltwater fish;

  1. Unlike a freshwater aquarium, saltwater aquariums can evaporate, and instead of adding salt water, add fresh water.
  2. Always monitor the salinity of the aquarium.
  3. Feed your fish as at when due, ensure not to overfeed it.
  4. Be very observant of the health of your pet fish.
  5. Change the water and check the filter weekly.
  6. Ensure that you keep the aquarium environment clean and healthy by replicating the pH level of ocean water.

Final Thoughts

Saltwater fishes can stay a long time without eating, most of them can last up to 3 days to a week, depending on a few factors such as the breed, size, age, activity level, state of health, and dietary pattern.

However, as much as saltwater fish can last long without food, it is not recommended.

This article highlights a few suggestions about the safe ways to feed your pet fish in your absence, as well as pointers to show when a saltwater fish is starving, what to do and how to ensure the safety of saltwater fish in general.

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