By now you have probably seen tadpoles swimming about a pond. These tiny creatures are commonly found all over the world and they are hardly a rare sight to behold.
Tadpoles are also called pollywogs. These tiny creatures are amphibians and they are still in the larvae stage. Pretty soon they will grow and transform into a frog or toad that loves to bounce around and consume all sorts of insects.
Tadpoles are typically born in early summer and will then proceed to grow throughout summer.
But what do tadpoles eat before they transform into frogs? You need to understand the diet of a tadpole if you are planning on keeping these tiny creatures as pets so you can observe the metamorphosis process.
Tadpoles might one day transform into frogs but they can almost be considered as an entirely different species while they are still in the larvae form. Most tadpoles are fully aquatic and where frogs are mostly insectivores but the tadpole is an omnivore.
Tadpoles are mostly found in ponds or lakes with lots of algae and plants that offer them protection and nourishment. Here is a quick look at the main foods of tadpoles;
This is one of the main food sources for tadpoles, especially while they are still very small.
Algae grow in just about every pond or lake and offer tiny tadpoles lots of nutrients. Algae is also a fast-growing plant and there usually is plentiful of this food source available for them to consume.
As tadpoles grow they will be able to consume larger pieces of food. Tadpoles can move on to plant matter that they find in the water.
Plant matter like leaves and stems will soften in the water and can then easily be consumed by these tiny soft creatures.
Insects are a valuable source of protein for tadpoles. These tiny larvae will nibble at any dead insects they find in the water and they can even catch and consume insects smaller than they are. As tadpoles grow older, they will grow a preference for insects and after the metamorphosis process, these amphibians will be completely carnivorous.
Tadpoles kept in aquariums can successfully be fed on fish foods. Fish flakes are preferred food sources for small tadpoles because these flakes will break into small pieces. As your tadpoles get older you can introduce other types of store-bought fish foods such as larvae and dead insects.
Tadpoles mostly consume plant and insect life. But these omnivores can have a few diet variations. They can and will also catch and consume tiny fish species or fish eggs.
They will also consume fish bits that fishermen set out on fishing trips and these baits can include anything from bread to uncooked vegetables.
Tadpoles kept in captivity can be fed on many different food types such as aphids, bloodworms, boiled eggs, crickets, fish food flakes, fish food pellets, frozen foods, fruit, fruit flies, vegetables, insect larvae, mealworms and more.
Feeding tadpoles is quite simple. You can simply add food to their water source. If they are hungry and if the food is of the correct size, the tadpoles will consume these foods on their own. It is always best to check the tank of captive tadpoles one hour after feeding them so you can remove leftover foods. This prevents foods from decaying to pollute the water.
The amount of food you offer your tadpole depends on its size. When tadpoles are still in the egg, they don’t require any additional feed.
At this point, the tadpoles will consume the egg for nourishment until they hatch.
When baby tadpoles hatch they will require food regularly. It is advisable to offer food to your tadpoles once a day. Some choose to offer foods every few days but for optimal health, you should offer food daily.
Baby tadpoles will eat mostly small pieces of plant matter such as algae or flake fish foods.
As they get older, they will eat larger pieces of food and their food intake will increase. They will then be able to consume larger plant materials and even vegetables.
When tadpoles are around 3 – 4 weeks old they can start consuming insects and captive tadpoles can be fed on larvae. It is always better to offer ample food and to scoop out leftovers rather than allowing your tadpoles to go hungry.
Once tadpoles start sprouting legs, you can hold off feeding for a while. They can absorb their tails for nutrients. You can begin to feed them again when the tails have fully disappeared.
Baby tadpoles are quite small and they don’t consume much at all. They mostly consume algae or small pieces of fish food flake because their tiny mouths are just too small to consume large pieces of food. Tadpoles do grow fast and they will start eating larger pieces of plant matter from the age of 2 weeks. By the time they reach the age of 3 – 4 weeks, they will consume insects, larvae, and fish in addition to plant matter.
In the wild, tadpoles only eat what they find available to them. They are usually found in ponds and lakes and these areas are usually rich in plant and animal life. Tadpoles will first live off the algae found in lakes and ponds and will then start nibbling off underwater plants. They can also consume dead plants and twigs that fall into the water.
In the wild, tadpoles will consume all sorts of larvae and organisms, many of which are hardly visible to the naked eye. As they grow they can start to catch live insects and even small fish for consumption.
When you feed wild tadpoles you can simply dunk food pieces into their water and they will consume these foods all on their own. Wild tadpoles will consume any type of food you offer them since they are omnivorous.
Captivated tadpoles usually don’t have access to natural food sources. The algae found in the fish tank can be sufficient for feeding tiny tadpoles but it is always best to add additional foods. Boiled salad leaves are a good start for your pet tadpoles.
Once they gain size you can start feeding them green vegetables chopped into small pieces.
From the 3 – 5 weeks, tadpoles can consume plant and insect matter. Many tadpole keepers choose to offer dry bloodworms or boiled egg at this stage. These protein-rich foods area superb for helping your tadpoles grow healthy and strong.
At age 6 – 9 your tadpoles will grow legs and the tail size will reduce. At this point, tadpoles held in captivity will also consume insects boiled eggs and other types of protein resources. When they reach an age of 9 weeks, your tadpoles will hardly consume any plant materials at all and they will mostly focus on insects.
Tadpoles are fast growers. It doesn’t take much time for these creatures to mature into frogs at all. Tadpole eggs usually take 6 – 12 weeks to hatch.
Once the tadpoles hatch they will take 6 – 9 weeks to grow legs and to absorb their tales.
When the tadpole’s tail is fully absorbed the metamorphosis process will be completed and the tadpole will be a frog.
Tadpoles are omnivorous and as such can consume several different types of plants. They can also be successfully fed on boiled salad leaves or other green plants such as cucumber. The best way to offer cucumber is by splitting and deseeding the cucumber before adding it to the water. The cucumber pieces can be removed after an hour and your tadpoles should be fed.
Tadpole keepers often boil egg yolks as feed for tadpoles. Thee hard-boiled eggs contain lots of nutrients and are especially rich in protein.
A boiled egg is a good substitute for insects like larvae or bloodworms if you cannot seem to find these in your local pet shop because egg contains lots of nutrients tadpoles need to grow strong and healthy.
Salad is also a good feed to offer your tadpoles. If tadpoles are extremely small then it is best to boil the salad leaves for a while before offering it to the tadpoles. Boiling salad leaves helps soften up the leave so these plants are easily consumed. Older tadpoles can easily munch on salad leaves.
Tadpoles sure are interesting creatures. Their metamorphosis process is well worth enduring the bad smell that might come from your tadpole farm and certainly is worth the effort of feeding these tiny amphibians. Feeding tadpoles is quite easy and it doesn’t take long for these creatures to grow into frogs at all.