How to Catch Tadpoles

A tadpole is a frog or toad in its aquatic larval stage. Tadpoles will spend most of their time eating algae close to the surface of ponds or streams. Use the following steps to help you find and catch tadpoles.

Verify the laws in your state by contacting the Fish and Game department or wildlife agency. You may need a fishing license to collect tadpoles and frogs. Some states have a Frog Season and you will need to make sure you are removing the tadpoles during that time of the season.

Find tadpoles in ponds or creeks. Look closely in the water. You will usually find them around algae in water that is fairly still.

Use a small mesh net to catch your tadpoles. A fish net that you would use with an aquarium works great. Dip your net in quickly because tadpoles are small and fast and dart off before you know it.

Place them in a bucket or jar for transport. Fill the bucket or jar with water from the pond you just fished in. Make sure this water is in the shade and that it doesn't get too hot. Take some of the weeds from the pond with you in the bucket or jar for the aquarium or bowl.

Plan to take only the amount of tadpoles that your aquarium or bowl can hold. You need at least one gallon of water for every two tadpoles. Put any extra tadpoles back in the water from which you caught them.

Put your newly caught tadpoles in a large fish bowl or aquarium. Use the water directly from the pond you collected the tadpoles from, making sure there is plenty of algae in the water for them to eat. Do not put any tap water in with the pond water.


Never take tadpoles from parks, conservation areas or refuges. It is prohibited to take living creatures from these areas. Make sure not to use tap water to store your tadpoles in. It doesn't take much chlorine to kill a tadpole. If you have to use tap water use a de-chlorinator that you can purchase from a pet store that will chemically remove chlorine from the water.

Things You'll Need

  • Fishing license
  • Pond or creek
  • Mesh net
  • Bucket or jar
  • Pond water
  • Bowl or aquarium
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