How Can I Raise Tadpoles in a Fish Aquarium?

Written by peter mitchell
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How Can I Raise Tadpoles in a Fish Aquarium?
Tadpoles grow into tiny juvenile frogs. (petite grenouille image by Clément Billet from

Tadpoles are the larvae of amphibians such as frogs and toads. Until they reach maturity, tadpoles have no legs or arms. Instead they have a well-developed tail that propels them through water in search of food. You can raise tadpoles in a standard fish aquarium, but the little creatures are sensitive to their environment. Predatory fish, poor water quality or excessive temperatures could see your tadpole colony wiped out. However, the satisfaction of seeing your tadpoles develop into healthy frogs means it's well worth the effort of creating a tadpole-friendly tank.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Large aquarium
  • Rocks
  • Plants
  • Pond or stream water
  • Tadpoles
  • Jar
  • Net
  • Filter pump
  • Lettuce
  • Thermometer
  • Fluorescent light (optional)

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  1. 1

    Pick a large aquarium tank. Wider and longer tanks provide more spaces for the tadpoles to breathe and opportunities to add rocks and other items. Clean the tank thoroughly with de-chlorinated water.

  2. 2

    Catch a few tadpoles from a nearby pond or stream with a net. Fill the aquarium at least a few inches deep with water from the same location. Tadpoles react badly to changes in water conditions, according to the University of Virginia. Add a couple of rocks from the pond, a little algae and some plant cover. Shake the plants to remove any insect predators.

  3. 3

    Site the tank in a warm indoor location that gets a lot of indirect or dappled sunlight. Add two tadpoles per gallon of aquarium water, according to the Pet Place website. Make sure that some of the rocks and plants stick out of the water.

  4. 4

    Use a small submerged filter pump that doesn't create a lot of bubbles. Bubbles can cause tadpoles to bloat and die, according to the University of Virginia. The filter allows you to avoid frequent water changes, which can also kill tadpoles.

  5. 5

    Install a thermometer and monitor temperatures regularly. Ideal temperatures are between 22.2 and 27.7 degrees C, according to Polliwog's World of Frogs site. Use fans or artificial lighting to lower or raise temperatures as needed.

  6. 6

    Cover the tank with a layer of muslin or fine mosquito netting to prevent tadpoles from climbing out. Feed the tadpoles every day with a pinch of boiled lettuce or boiled egg, according to Pet Place.

  7. 7

    Avoid putting tadpoles in tanks with other fish. Predatory species may eat the tadpoles, but even with herbivorous fish the combination of tadpole and fish activity may rapidly lower water quality and cause problems for all creatures.

  8. 8

    Prepare another tank for your fully developed frogs, or release into the wild.

Tips and warnings

  • Try and catch tadpoles of common species such as green frogs, bullfrogs and Fowler's toads.

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