What to Feed Tadpoles in Your Aquarium

Tadpole Diet

Regardless of whether you want to raise frogs as pets or you found some tadpoles to rescue, you will have to keep in mind that their changing bodies would require some adapting from you as their owner. These creatures are called amphibians and go through a type of metamorphosis, living as tadpoles only for the first 14 weeks and the last stage of the change will only take 24 hours. It’s like putting them to bed as kids and then coming back to find a full-grown adult. Another interesting fact is that although frogs are carnivorous, tadpoles are vegetarians, which means that you will have to be prepared for their diet requirements to change over a period of just some months.

How to take care of tadpoles

There are a few very important decisions that you will have to take right from the start. Are you going to keep it or release it at some point? Will the tadpole live in a pond or outdoors?

Consider the fact that an indoor tank can easily become overcrowded when frogs become adults, even though it might hold a lot of tadpoles to live together. You’ll also need to update your tank’s decor as they morph. First off, tadpoles have gills just like fish and live entirely underwater. In fact, the baby frog will live all of its early life underwater in your tank or pool, considering that even frog moms will lay eggs completely underwater.

You might also like my articles on what frogs eat, what tree frogs eat, and funny frog names.

When going through their transition, the tadpoles will change in their entirety. You will know that this process has started and is ongoing through some very specific signs, like spotting little back legs. This should be enough to make you understand that you’ll need to prepare for the upcoming adjustments. The froglet spends most of its time out of water. This is a frog somewhere between a tadpole and an adult frog, having both a tail and back and front legs. You will have to start adding a small platform or rocks and sticks into the tank when the back legs are completely formed, in anticipation of the frog spending a lot of time out of water. The diet, of course, will also need to be adapted and the changes will be considerable. It might even seem like the creature will change its food needs each day. As the puberty period sets in, try to start doing some meal prep.

What to feed a tadpole

Tadpoles in a TankYou can take home some frog eggs and see the whole tadpole to frog cycle live. As tadpoles hatch, they are very small and very hungry as well. The good news is that the first thing they will eat can be found in their tank. The first thing they will go for will be their own hatched eggs, which are rich in nutrients, having exactly what their bodies will need. The next thing they will usually go for will be pond plants and a few types of veggies. Don’t give them anything from your kitchen without boiling it first. You will have to feed them around dinner daily or at least every two days.

As they grow, tadpoles will quickly become carnivorous and will want to eat meat, coming mostly from insects. You can test the waters by introducing a few bugs between meals when your frogs reach the age of 6 weeks. You will have to pause feeding completely when you see that their front legs have fully developed. This is because, at this point, the growing frogs will start eating their own tails. This isn’t a pleasant process for us humans, but they actually find their tails delicious. As soon as you notice your frogs have become adults, you will have to move on to their adult food. So what can you feed these? Check out the list below:

Food for tadpoles:

  • Commercial tadpole food
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber with no seeds
  • Kale
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Algae

Food for frogs:

  • Commercial frog or fish food
  • Bloodworms
  • Brine shrimp
  • Grasshoppers
  • Mealworms
  • Crickets

What not to feed tadpoles

Usually, small tadpoles will have to rely on algae and leafy greens for food. With their growth, you will have to try different snacks to find out what they are ready to eat. Even so, there are a few foods that the tadpoles should never try to eat because they can’t digest them.

  • These amphibians should never be fed with commercial food that was designed for other types of animals. Turtle kibble, or even dog food or cat food, can be deadly for these creatures.
  • Pumpkin or other sugary fruit or snacks should also be avoided,  and when giving the animal a fruit with seeds, always take out the seeds. Anything other than veggies should probably be avoided anyhow. You should also make sure that the vegetables are fresh and without butter or preservatives.
  • As soon as you notice your frog has gotten to the stage of consuming bugs, you should stick to feeder insects and these are readily available in pet shops. You surely don’t want to give it bugs from the backyard and risk it getting illnesses from the wild.
  • Another important aspect is that tadpoles might resort to eating each other if they don’t get enough calories from their diets. If you feel like they didn’t get enough calories, you can separate them for a short period, while you figure out a healthy feeding schedule and diet.

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