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With spring lots of animals come out of hibernation and one of our favourites are the frogs. Suddenly the pond is teeming with frogs and very soon frogspawn is covering the surface and we head off to collect it and raise our own tadpoles. Ever since I was a child it was one of the family traditions we had. I loved watching the frogs and toads develop from the frog spawn in a tank on the nature table or in a small pond from the eggs to the tadpoles to froglets. Now I have children of my own it’s a great way for my kids and their friends to get closer to nature and start to work on the gap that is forming as children spend more time on screens and less time outside and in nature.

Suddenly the pond is teeming with frogs and very soon frogspawn is covering the surface and we head off to collect it and raise our own tadpoles . As they grow bigger and the gills disappear and legs form, they transition into carnivores specifically eating insects. The main source of insects for these froglets are those found swimming in the pond water and on the surface so in the days before you return them to the pond make sure that you have followed our instructions on how to change your tadpoles water and then you should have lots of little insects for the froglets to eat. If you have an old fish tank or aquarium laying around – fantastic if not then a glass vase will work – the larger the surface area the less frequently you will need to change the water but if not then you don’t need anything special – these little aquariums are perfect they have carry handles, and once the frogs have been released you could easily use them for watching snails, caterpillars or similar creatures during the summer months. At the point where your tadpoles lose their gills and their legs form they need a place to rest and breathe a rock in the tank is ideal. We have a fun selection of fiction and non-fiction books which are fantastic to read aloud and share with toddlers and preschoolers however slightly older children will enjoy many of these as well.

What do you feed tadpoles at home?

Tadpoles eat their own eggs, algae, the leaves and roots of aquatic plants, insect larvae and dark leafy greens. Generally, you should feed pet tadpoles boiled and chopped vegetables such as cabbage, baby spinach, or cucumbers once a day.

How do you keep tadpoles alive?

Boil spinach or any type of lettuce besides iceberg for 10 to 15 minutes and drain it well. After draining, chop it in to the smallest pieces possible. Feed a tablespoon per tadpole once a day. You can spread leftover lettuce on a wax-paper-covered pan and freeze it.

Do I need to feed tadpoles?

Answer. This is not usually necessary unless the pond is very new. Ponds normally provide enough food for tadpoles without any need to supplement their diet. Newly hatched tadpoles are herbivorous and feed on the algae that grows on plants or on rocks in the pond, particularly those exposed to the sun.

How do you raise tadpoles at home?

Wash the rocks and place them in the base of your aquarium..Add a few large rocks for the frogs to sit on and the tadpoles to hide under..Add tap water, measuring how many litres you are adding as you go. ….Add water conditioner to make the tap water safe for frogs. ….Add an aquarium plant..Add tadpoles.

Tadpoles don’t stay tadpoles forever. With the right living conditions and a hearty diet, those tiny amphibians soon transform into frogs. Before that time arrives, a tadpole’s digestive system is a little different from that of a frog, and it requires some care to provide them with the nutrients they need to mature. With a general understanding of the kinds of meals tadpoles need, you can grow happy and healthy frogs.

As they grow into bigger tadpoles, they might start to munch on other plant leaves, moss, mosquito larvae and sometimes small bugs and insects. Tadpoles must get their protein from sources other than meat, especially when they reach the stage where their back legs are beginning to form. Boil vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, green peas or zucchini for about five minutes, or until the veggies are soft and easy to chew. Greens and egg yolks are delicious and nutritious tadpole meals, but you may find it time-consuming to prepare food for your growing group of amphibians.

In this article, we cover what tadpoles eat in the wild and how to feed them. We also cover what foods they can eat and what is not safe to feed them. Keep reading to make sure your hatchling is on the proper diet…

In general Tadpoles are herbivorous and eat soft plant matter like algae, duckweed and moss . But, the most common species in the United States eat soft plant matter ( e.g. tree frog and bullfrog tadpoles ). They must feed multiple times a day to get the proper nutrition to continue growing at a quick rate. Tadpoles in the wild eat algae and other aquatic plant matter multiple times a day. They will usually then find cover under some type of aquatic plant, such as duckweed or lily pads, which will also serve as a food source for them. This usually includes whatever remains of their egg, algae and the leaves or roots of any aquatic plants. Tadpoles will also eat frog eggs, mosquito larvae, bugs, and the carcasses of any dead animals in the water. The diet of a pond species will not be much different from tadpoles born in other water sources, such as the shallow ends of streams or creeks with slow currents. Ponds have a much more limited amount of plant matter and space, so tadpoles are more likely to eat meat. Tadpoles that hatch in ponds have a diet that consists largely of algae and mosquito larvae . Pet tadpoles can eat a variety of different foods, but it is best to stick to a mostly herbivorous diet. Some of the best foods for pet species are boiled cabbage or lettuc e. Both vegetables contain calcium and protein that help a tadpole grow legs. Boiling finely chopped vegetables makes them softer and easier to eat. Broccoli Baby Spinach Green Peas Zucchini Egg Yolks Tadpole Food Algae Wafers If you decide to go with pet store tadpole food, be sure you pick the correct kind. As they grow their intestine will gradually shorten to accommodate a carnivorous diet, since meat is easier to digest Hatchlings have long, coiled intestines, which helps them to digest plant matter. This long intestine gives a herbivore more time to break down the plant and absorb as many nutrients as possible. Cabbage Broccoli Lettuce Baby Spinach Green Peas Zucchini As your tadpole grows you can add more protein into their diet by feeding bloodworms and late-stage food from the pet store. Preparing, chopping and boiling vegetables will help to make sure your tadpole can easily eat. Using a pair of tweezers or just your fingers, you can put a pinch of food into the water. They are usually good and will not overeat, but to be safe, make sure each feeding session lasts no more than 30 minutes. Uneaten food left in the tank can foul the water, which can be very stressful for them. Another important thing to remember when feeding is to rotate what the variety of their diet.. Feeding schedules also allow you to figure out if your tadpole prefers a specific type of food. You should only be feeding your tadpoles dark leafy greens, blanched/boiled vegetables, algae wafers or insect larvae. Algae wafers are the closest food you can find to a natural diet for tadpoles. In addition to boiling them until soft, you also need to remove the seeds and chop them into tiny pieces. Feeding fish food will make them less prepared for a more natural diet. Overfeeding fish food can shorten their lifespan, as it is not formulated for their dietary needs. Spinach is a very nutritious green that is pretty similar to what a tadpole will eat in the wild. Tadpoles eat their own eggs, algae, the leaves and roots of aquatic plants, insect larvae and dark leafy greens. Generally, you should feed pet tadpoles boiled and chopped vegetables such as cabbage, baby spinach, or cucumbers once a day.

While many hobbyists keep fish for their amazing colors and interesting behaviors, too often another aquatic life is completely forgotten about and discarded as an option. However, if you already have or have hopes of setting up a pond or paludarium, then you realize just how much else there is to aquatic ecosystems. One of the keystone animals of these ecosystems is the frog.

At the same time, the body will elongate and the exact species of frog becomes a little easier to identify; lungs will also begin to develop and replace the gills and will allow the tadpoles to start navigating on land. The frog may now live freely between land and water, mainly surviving on insects, worms, and other meaty foods. A 5-10 gallon (18.9-37.9 L) aquarium/plastic container Water de-chlorinator/conditioner Air pump/other light filtration Heater Plants Optional: gravel A bare-bottom tank will be easier for maintenance, but you will eventually need to add rocks and other safe decorations for your tadpoles to use for the same purpose as they grow. Live plants will provide food and shelter for your tadpole for the first several weeks of its life; it will also help introduce oxygen into the water by way of photosynthesis. Remember, these small frogs can’t swim that well when they’re just born, so make sure that the water current isn’t too strong for them if you choose to go with extra equipment. After about a week or two, the tadpoles will become free-swimming and will start to munch on algae and other small organic particles that naturally occur in the tank; during this brief time, it not necessary to supplement additional food. However, fish food should only be a last resort as feeding more natural options will prepare them for release and/or life in a pond. Alternatively, you can also feed insects that you find around your house and/or by the area of collection; similarly, make sure that these places aren’t polluted and chemicals, like pesticides, have not recently been used. While you will need to start offering your froglet insects, the transition does not happen overnight from omnivore to carnivore. It is best to feed insects a couple of times a week at first and then increase frequency while still offering fruits and vegetables. It is important to blanch them like any other fruit or vegetable, remove the seeds, and chop them into very small pieces that are easy to eat. As they move from an omnivorous appetite to a carnivorous palette, it is important to know what to feed tadpoles to make sure they keep growing healthy and strong.

Raising Tadpoles

Tadpoles are relatively easy to raise in a tank and then release back to the pond you found them in or start your own colony of frogs in a new pond within your back garden. You can find our full guide to raising tadpoles with tips on what equipment you need as well as the best way to collect the frogspawn when you find it.

What to feed your tadpoles

One of the questions that I get asked frequently is what do you feed the tadpoles once you have them and I have seen various different recommendations on sites starting with “feed the tropical fish food” or “Turtle Pellets” to buying expensive Tadpole and Frog Food. NO NO NO NO NO!It’s much easier than you think to feed the tadpoles.Tadpoles start out as algae eaters – so they are plant feeders. You can use a piece of pondweed from the pond where you found the eggs that is covered in algae as their food source.However, it’s not needed – the easiest form of tadpole food is a slice of cucumber – slice the cucumber and then remove the outside so that your tadpoles have access to the soft inner layers of the cucumber and let it float on the surface.Another alternative is to lightly boil some lettuce this will break the tough cellulose layers and then feed a little of this lettuce to the tadpoles.As they grow bigger and the gills disappear and legs form, they transition into carnivores specifically eating insects. The main source of insects for these froglets are those found swimming in the pond water and on the surface so in the days before you return them to the pond make sure that you have followed our instructions on how to change your tadpoles water and then you should have lots of little insects for the froglets to eat.So when they first hatch – either algae or the cucumber or lettuce described above. As they transform into frogs they turns into insect eaters so pond insects that you find naturally in pond water.

Equipment Needed for Feeding and Raising Tadpoles

If you have an old fish tank or aquarium laying around – fantastic if not then a glass vase will work – the larger the surface area the less frequently you will need to change the water but if not then you don’t need anything special – these little aquariums are perfect they have carry handles, and once the frogs have been released you could easily use them for watching snails, caterpillars or similar creatures during the summer months.At the point where your tadpoles lose their gills and their legs form they need a place to rest and breathe a rock in the tank is ideal. Although you can use a rock from the pond or garden with the garden rocks you do need to be careful what you are bringing in so we have used rock in the past that is designed for aquariums.

Learning about and with Frogs and Tadpoles for Kids

As I said raising tadpoles is one of the great spring activities you can do with children that will help to connect them with the natural world. As they watch the tadpoles develop you can help them understand what is going on through some fun and easy learning activities.Share some fun books with your youngsters and read about frogs and tadpoles. We have a fun selection of fiction and non-fiction books which are fantastic to read aloud and share with toddlers and preschoolers however slightly older children will enjoy many of these as well.Sing one of our favourite counting rhymes about frogs and use these cute little craft stick puppets to accompany the song Five Little Speckled Frogs.Based on the song 5 Little Speckled Frogs we created a simple math game to count the frogs going into and out of the pond. Simple addition and subtraction for Toddlers and Preschoolers.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)

Healthy vegetarian meals such as boiled greens, egg yolks and store-bought tadpole food rich in protein and calcium support the tadpoles’ transformation into healthy frogs.

Wild vs. Domestic

In the wild, tiny tadpoles mostly stick to one area and eat the surrounding algae. As they grow into bigger tadpoles, they might start to munch on other plant leaves, moss, mosquito larvae and sometimes small bugs and insects.If you’re raising tadpoles, providing them with the same kind of meals as they would find in their natural habitats can be difficult. However, plenty of easily attainable foods can provide them with the protein and calcium they need to mature.

Plant-Based Diet

One of the most important things to keep in mind when feeding tadpoles is that they are not equipped to eat meat. Their intestines are shaped like long coils. As they turn into frogs, those intestines shorten and are better able to hold and process meat. Before maturation, though, keep their diets plant-based. Refrain from food pellets made for other animals like fish and turtles because those often contain meat products.

What Do Tadpoles Eat?

In general Tadpoles are herbivorous andThey must feed multiple times a day to get the proper nutrition to continue growing at a quick rate.Tadpoles in the wild eat algae and other aquatic plant matter multiple times a day.This is because they can only survive in water. When they hatch, they have gills and cannot survive out of the water.When they first hatch, they usually eat the yolk that is left from their own egg. This yolk is high in nutrients. They will usually then find cover under some type of aquatic plant, such as duckweed or lily pads, which will also serve as a food source for them.Young tadpoles will usually not go far away from cover.They are very vulnerable to predators during their first few months.If plant matter such as algae or duckweed is readily available, they will eat this before hunting. Younger individuals prefer to eat anything and everything near them.If they need to hunt, they will do so by quickly snatching anything small enough to fit in their mouths as it swims near them. They will usually only hunt small prey like mosquito larvae or small redworms.Tadpoles only eat meat when aquatic vegetation is limited. Because they sometimes eat meat, they can technically be classified as omnivorous, but most begin as herbivores.

Pond Species

Wild tadpoles will eat whatever is available. This usuallyTadpoles will also eat frog eggs, mosquito larvae, bugs, and the carcasses of any dead animals in the water. If food is limited, and they are desperate, they will even eat each other.They must consume a lot of food, so they are not picky eaters.Here is a more detailed list of foods tadpoles eat in the wild:

Hatchlings

Pet tadpoles can eat a variety of different foods, but it is best to stick to a mostly herbivorous diet.Some of the best foods for pet species areBoiling finely chopped vegetables makes them softer and easier to eat.Other foods you can feed include:Leafy greens that are rich in calcium and protein are best for feeding.If you decide to go with pet store tadpole food, be sure you pick the correct kind. It should be labeled as either early (Late-stage food is higher in protein and is likely to contain more animal matter. A mostly herbivorous diet is the healthiest option for your pet. Tadpoles only eat meat in the wild if they must.Some people like to feed their tadpoles a bloodworm as a treat, but if your pet is under six weeks old, do not do this. Bloodworms are best for feeding individuals that are six weeks or older.When feeding your tadpole, you should feed a pinch of food at a time. Offer food for about 30 minutes, or until they stop eating, whichever comes first.

What Can’t Tadpoles Eat?

The diet of a tadpole will vary based on if it is early-stage (You should not feed pets food from the wild (e.g. wild algae). Pet species often have weaker immune systems, as they are not exposed to the same illnesses. Feeding a pet wild-caught food risks introducing parasites and diseases.As your tadpole grows you can add more protein into their diet by feeding bloodworms and late-stage food from the pet store. However, this should be done only after six weeks.Preparing, chopping and boiling vegetables will help to make sure your tadpole can easily eat.Start by boiling and finely chopping their food.Using a pair of tweezers or just your fingers, you can put a pinch of food into the water.After the tadpole has consumed the first pinch offered, repeat this. Feed your tadpole until it stops eating. They are usually good and will not overeat, but to be safe, make sure each feeding session lasts no more than 30 minutes.It is important to use a net to remove any uneaten food.Uneaten food left in the tank can foul the water, which can be very stressful for them. It will also mean you will need to cycle the water more frequently.Another important thing to remember when feeding is to rotate what the variety of their diet.. They need some variation to help ensure they get all the nutrients they need. Many keepers find it useful to create a feeding schedule.Feeding schedules also allow you to figure out if your tadpole prefers a specific type of food. This is useful to know if it becomes ill and you need to coax it to eat.Here is an example of a feeding schedule you can use:If you have wild tadpoles in a pond then you really will not need to feed them.If your pond is small, clear of algae, or manmade, you can feed algae wafers from a pet store. You should also add plants such as duckweed and lily pads. These aquatic plants provide both food and shelter.You should not treat pond water to prevent algae growth. Algae is one of the biggest parts of a wild tadpole’s diet.Wild species are also likely to be just fine on their own. You should only offer algae wafers if it is obvious that they do not have access to enough food. It is best not to feed wild species; this rule applies to most wildlife.

Can Tadpoles Eat

Frog life cycle

Frogs (and also toads) are amphibians, meaning they depend on both land and water ecosystems to survive. These animals are especially interesting as they undergo four main life cycles as they move from egg to tadpole to young frog (froglet) to mature frog.Note: Frogs are mostly aquatic and have smooth and slimy skin. Toads are a classification of frog, and will normally stay by areas with water but spend much more time on land than frogs; toads will also have bumpier and drier skin.In short, these life stages are:

Egg

During spawning times, adult frogs will usually pair up through loud vocalizations and croaking. If successful, the female frog will lay her eggs in dense vegetation; some species of frogs will look after their eggs while others will leave the nest entirely. Some other frogs have more unique methods of reproducing, such as the Suriname toad whose eggs actually spawn out of the female’s back.In general, eggs are ready to hatch within 1-3 weeks.

Tadpole

After breaking free from the egg, the baby frog emerges as a tadpole. At the very beginning, tadpoles have a very large head with a mouth and rudimentary gills as well as a long trailing tail. For about two weeks, the tadpole is not very active and uses this time to feed off the remaining yolk.Once the yolk reserve is depleted, the tadpoles become much more active and will begin to slowly grow hind legs. At the same time, the body will elongate and the exact species of frog becomes a little easier to identify; lungs will also begin to develop and replace the gills and will allow the tadpoles to start navigating on land. During this time, tadpole diet mainly consists of algae and other plant matter and detritus. This stage lasts about two months.Note: Transformation time highly depends on temperature; colder temperatures can delay the tadpoles from moving onto the next step. Transformation time also depends on the species of the frog. Some species might take a month and a half while others might take the better part of a year!

Froglet

At this point, the tadpoles will resemble a full-grown frog but are not quite fully mature yet; they will have all four legs, lungs, and the remnants of their tadpole tail. The lungs will be fully developed and will have replaced the gills. About 12 weeks after hatching, the frog will have full access to terrestrial life. A froglet’s main diet will be various insects, but they will still feed on some plant matter.

Mature frog

Once the froglet has finally lost its tadpole tail, the frog has fully matured. This usually happens between 12-16 weeks of total development. The frog may now live freely between land and water, mainly surviving on insects, worms, and other meaty foods. When breeding season comes, the mature frog will be ready to start the cycle all over again.

What do tadpoles eat?

Most aquarium and pet stores will sell frogs that have already successfully hatched and have entered their tadpole state; it is also easier to find tadpoles in an outdoor lake or pond than it is to find eggs! Luckily, raising tadpoles doesn’t take too much expertise. However, there are a few things that you will need to keep your tadpoles healthy and growing:Tadpole tank setup is relatively easy. It is best to have relatively shallow water that is clear and regularly filtered and/or changed out. The water can be collected from ponds and lakes or harvested from rainwater; tap water should only be used if absolutely necessary as it contains chlorine which is highly toxic to tadpoles. If this is not possible, allow tap water to stand for at least 3 days in direct sunlight and dose water conditioner.For a tadpole tank, you can either choose to use a gravel substrate or leave the aquarium bare-bottom. One of the benefits to using gravel is having the ability to build up one side of the substrate so that the tadpoles have a gradient to emerge from the water once they start to grow legs; however, gravel can be a little harder to clean and tends to trap a lot of detritus. A bare-bottom tank will be easier for maintenance, but you will eventually need to add rocks and other safe decorations for your tadpoles to use for the same purpose as they grow. Live plants will provide food and shelter for your tadpole for the first several weeks of its life; it will also help introduce oxygen into the water by way of photosynthesis.While tadpoles can survive a wide range of temperatures in the wild, all the way from 40° F (4.4° C) to 90° F (32.2° C), it is best to have a constant temperature around 75° F (23.9° C) by using an aquarium heater. Remember, the growth rate of your tadpole largely depends on temperature and cooler temperatures cause slower growth. On top of a heater, an air pump/light filtration will also keep the water aerated and clean.Though air pumps/light filtration is not entirely necessary for the success of your frogs, regular water changes would need to be scheduled as a substitute. Remember, these small frogs can’t swim that well when they’re just born, so make sure that the water current isn’t too strong for them if you choose to go with extra equipment.

FAQ

Yes, tadpoles eat bread crumbs, but this does not mean that they should be fed them. Bread crumbs have little nutritional value, are not naturally found in the wild, and are not compatible with their digestive tract. This is true for many other aquatic species as well, so do research before the next time you head to the pond with bread!
Yes, tadpoles eat eggs! The yolks especially are actually a good source of protein and can be offered during feeding times in very small portions.
Cucumbers require a little more preparation than other food but will be readily accepted by your tadpoles! It is important to blanch them like any other fruit or vegetable, remove the seeds, and chop them into very small pieces that are easy to eat.