Fish On Vacation: Travelling With My Aquarium

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First of all, to be clear, in the many years and miles of trailer travel I have done this is the very first time that I decided to travel with an aquarium full of fish as companions.  The first thing that comes to mind is of course "Why would someone take fish on vacation?". Especially when their other travel companion is a cat!  I was not trying to show my aquatic friends a good time.  I was not out to prove it could be done.  I was not even "fishing" (pardon the pun) for content for the Can-Am blog.  This was an act of necessity.  At least that is what I told myself in the days leading up to our three-week sojourn to northern Ontario this summer.  The thing was that I had already enlisted friends and neighbours to water our garden, pick our vegetables, cut the grass and pick up the mail.  The thought of adding another task of feeding the fish every couple of days seemed to me like I was really crossing the line and asking for too many favours.  
I was at PetSmart looking at automatic fish feeders and other solutions for the travelling aquarist.  I saw an attractive plexiglass fish tank that was curved and less than thirteen inches across.  After calling home and having Tina measure the diameter and depth of our Airstream sink I decided that this sporty-looking fish tank would fit very nicely into the sink while travelling.  The tank would only protrude a couple of inches above the counter and with a bit of...bubble wrap (how appropriate!), we would be all set.

The equipment was purchased and I made sure it would fit as I envisioned.  We could travel with the tank in the sink, wrapped up to avoid bouncing around and with its tight-fitting lid, we should have no trouble at all.  When we arrive at a destination the tank will come out of the sink and be placed on the counter or the dinette table until we pack up to leave.  I still had one problem to solve.  Our itinerary had us "boondocking" for two weeks straight.  No electricity or other connections for that part of the trip.  How was I going to run the tank's filter and pump system?  I would have 12-volt power in the trailer but I wanted to be careful to conserve energy so that we would not run down the batteries and lose refrigeration or our own water pump.
My solution was to use my battery booster pack that is used to jump-start a vehicle.  It provides a 12-volt outlet as well and with a small inverter, I was able to run the aquarium for three or four days between charges with this gadget.

 This worked well and kept trailer power separate from the aquarium.  I will go into much more detail about managing your power off-grid in the next Can-Am RV Newsletter.  Please subscribe to this bi-monthly newsletter on our website.  It has product information, staff and customer spotlights and lots of advice for the avid RV traveller.  Click Here to subscribe.
So was this experiment with travelling fish a success?  I would have to say yes, although I did have a couple of challenges that came up.  I lost a fish!  I still am not sure what happened to the missing Zebra Tetra.  I never found a dead fish anywhere.  I am suspecting that during an overzealous water change I threw the "baby out with the bathwater" as the saying goes.  That mystery remains unsolved.  The other unforeseen circumstance was water temperature fluctuation.  Tropical fish thrive in the range of 25-27 degrees C, or about 75-80 degrees F.  My problem arose when in the middle of summer in Ontario, the nighttime temperatures were dropping to the mid 50's F (13C).  This unexpected weather caused the tank temperature to plummet.  I responded by filling a plastic water bottle with boiling water and floating it in the tank to raise the temperature.  I also wrapped the tank on the table every night with towels to keep the daytime heat in the water for a longer time.  It worked and I never lost any citizens from temperature fluctuations.  So did the fish enjoy the experience?  Hard to tell, but I am thinking, for them, it was like being in nature and riding the waves or being in a wave pool at Disney for the hours we were on the road.  It certainly was a conversation starter when folks dropped by to visit and saw a lovely aquarium all aglow with low voltage LEDs and more than a half dozen colourful fish gracing our already aquatic interior decor.  What can you say, we RV types are cut from a different cloth!
Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss my experience further or have questions about the aquarium equipment.
Read about my two weeks of boondocking and power management strategies in the upcoming Can-Am Newsletter.  Subscribe for free here. (6 issues a year)