Observing a tadpole grow to an adult frog is a rewarding and educational experience for people of all ages. Children in particular enjoy watching a frog's metamorphosis, and growing tadpoles can be a great way to teach about the natural world and how amphibians fit into it. Many amphibian lovers, pet-owners and hobbyists also enjoy raising tadpoles, as they make engaging and interesting pets at the tadpole stage, as well as at the frog-let and frog stages.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Plastic or plastic foam container with lid
- Aquarium or river sand
- Aged tap water or distilled water
- Algae disks (optional)
- Aerator (optional)
- Underwater plants
- Soft net
Clean and thoroughly rinse a container made of either plastic (recommended) or a high-quality plastic foam. The container should ideally be wider than it is tall, and should have a removable, vented lid for when tadpoles begin developing legs. Wide, shallow plastic containers can be purchased at many pet stores and make excellent tadpole habitats.
Line the bottom of the container with fine sand, either aquarium sand from a pet store or river sand that has been thoroughly cleaned and boiled.
Fill the container with water. If you are using tap water, allow it to age uncovered for at least four days in a nonmetallic container to eliminate chemicals that could harm the tadpoles. Or use distilled water.
Create an oxygen-rich environment by adding live underwater plants (not floating plants) or an aerator. Tadpoles collected from running water should be housed in a container with an aerator running at a low speed. Tadpoles collected from still or stagnant water should be housed with underwater plants.
Preparing the Container
Place the appropriate number of tadpoles in your prepared container. One gallon of water is sufficient for about four tadpoles. A good rule of thumb suggests that each tadpole requires 1 litre of water.
Freeze boiled lettuce to feed your tadpoles. Lettuce should be boiled for about 15 minutes before being cut into tiny pieces and frozen.
Feed tadpoles a pinch or two of frozen lettuce once or twice every day. You might also consider supplementing this diet with store-bought algae disks once or twice a week.
Change the tadpoles' water frequently--any time it begins to look cloudy or air bubbles form at the surface. Carefully remove tadpoles using a small, soft aquarium net and place them in a temporary container filled with distilled or aged water. Remove the soiled water and carefully replace with fresh water to avoid disturbing the sand on the container bottom. Gently return tadpoles to their container.
Caring for Tadpoles
Tips and warnings
- Consider releasing tadpoles when they reach the frog-let (when hind and front legs are present, in addition to the tail) or adult frog stage, if they are wild-caught. Frogs require different care than tadpoles, and are often better off in the wild.
- Never handle tadpoles directly, as their skin is extremely sensitive.
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