How to Collect and Raise Native Tadpoles

Updated July 19, 2017

Watching tadpoles grow into frogs is a great experience and hobby. It is especially delightful and educational for children. Raising tadpoles is surprisingly easy and not at all time consuming. You just need a few tools, an aquarium or tub, some fresh clean water and patience.

Search for tadpoles in ponds and streams where the water is clean and unpolluted. Tadpoles appear when the weather turns warm. Tadpoles and frogs are very sensitive to chemicals and other pollution. Be sure you have permission to gather your tadpoles if you are on private property.

To gather them scoop up a few in a large glass jar, plastic container or an aquarium net. Be sure to take some aquatic greenery that the tadpoles have been living near and feeding on with you.

Keep your new tadpoles in the large jar or plastic container for a few days if you'd like.

Prepare the tadpole tank a few days in advance. You can set it up much like a fish tank, with clean aquarium rock and other decor if you'd like.

Be sure to allow the water to sit for at least five days before adding tadpoles in it. Due to their sensitivity to chemicals, the chlorine and other substances in our drinking water could kill them. Letting the water sit removes these toxins.

Add water conditioners to the aquarium water to help remove chlorine and other chemicals. It's still recommended to allow the water to sit a few days just to be sure.

Plan on keeping some extra prepared water on hand for water changes and tank cleanings.

Take your old lettuce, preferably the dark green varieties and put them in your freezer for a few hours. Then take them out and let them thaw out. Just place a few of these wilted leaves on top of their water and watch the tadpoles feast. Tadpoles are herbivores and love lettuce.

Purchase some commercial tadpole food at your local pet store, if you like.

Scoop out some water and replace it with fresh water that you have been collecting and have de-chlorinated; this keeps the tank relatively clean, because the water will get cloudy after a few days.

Do a total cleaning when the water gets too cloudy. Scoop out your tadpoles and move them to another container with prepared water. Dump out all of the aquarium water and rinse out the aquarium and any decorations thoroughly. Dry everything or let it air dry. Do not clean anything with soap. Fill the tank with de-chlorinated water and put back your tadpoles.

If you choose to release the tadpoles, put them back where you found them or in another similar environment that is free of pollution.

If you choose to keep the frogs, provide them with live food such as small crickets and worms that you can purchase at the pet store. There are also commercial frog foods with which you can supplement their diet.

Give the frogs plenty of jumping room and a water source such as a sunken amphibian or reptile bath. Your tank should look like a terrarium at this point.


As the tadpoles grow legs, slowly let the water levels drop and make sure that they have places to crawl out of the water.


Be sure to have a screen top to your aquarium so that your frogs do not escape. Be diligent in de-chlorinating your water before adding it to the tank. *Never release non-native species into your environment.

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About the Author

Tanya Wyr has 12 years experience as a professional writer and editor both in print and online. She has written for major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Macy’s and Mervyns. Wyr has also edited college-level textbooks. Wyr earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Minnesota in 1991.