Tadpoles eat many different types of food but they love algae and vegetation. Your choice of tadpole food is very important to ensure they grow into healthy frogs.
As they grow, a tadpoles diet will change from a plant based to one that includes live protein. Crickets are one of their favorites! Other choices are aphids, fruit flies, bloodworms, or meal worms all of which you can be purchase from a pet store.
Tadpoles are herbivores and their digestive system of consists of long coiled intestines designed for eating plant matter. In order to stay healthy Tadpoles require both protein and calcium. Let’s take a closer look at each of these food choices.
You can feed your little Tadpoles greens (lettuce, spinach), leaves from a creek or special tadpole food.
Any variety of lettuce (except iceberg or Cos) baby spinach, zucchini, green grapes, peas (crushed slightly with the outer skin removed) broccoli or green pepper.
It’s important that you rinse the greens well before feeding them. You can boil or freeze the greens just make sure it’s cut it up into small pieces to make it easier for the little critters to eat and digest.
Avoid celery or adult spinach (chard, silverbeet). Home grown or organic vegetables are best as these are less likely to have been sprayed with pesticides.
A tip for busy pet owners – put several pieces of lettuce together, boil them for five to ten minutes and chop them into tiny pieces. You can put them into bags and use as needed (taking care to defrost them first!).
Protein is required twice during the tadpole’s life cycle:
- initially whilst it’s hatching (the Tadpole will eat it’s yolk sack)
- when a tadpole forms his back legs
Protein should be provided several times a week. However, prior to the development of his legs a baby frog should have protein only once or twice a week.
If you have a creek or stream near you, you could collect some leaves from the creek bed (make sure they have algae on them) and throw those into the bottom of the tank.
Not only will the tadpoles eat the algae but they can use the leaves to hide under.
You can also purchase algae discs to add to your tank and, in the later stages of the Tadpole’s development you can add bloodworm or mealworms once a week.
The cuttlebone can be left in the tank through the whole of the tadpoles development. The liquid calcium will need to be added every time you do a water change (e.g. 2 drops/liter of water).
Ecopond Tadpole Food
You can purchase specially made tadpole food either online or at your local pet store. A popular brand is Ecopond Tadpole Food and is available in both early and late stage formulas.
Both formulas will provide the nutrition the wee tadpoles need to grow into strong and healthy frogs. Ecopond is a vegetable based flake that provides a vital source of food during the early, vegetarian days (up to the point where they form back legs).
Once Tadpoles have developed back legs they require protein and this is provided by Ecopond Late Stage Tadpole Food.
Whether you are raising the tadpoles yourself or are helping some out in their natural environment, feeding them specifically designed tadpole food will give them a greater chance of growing into healthy frogs.
What Not to Feed Tadpoles
Do not feed tadpoles fish flakes, ANY meat products, turtle food, chicken pellets or food made for other animals.
Remember tadpoles are vegetarians and while they can have bloodworms occasionally as a source of protein it’s best to avoid feeding it to them more than once a week. If you’re not sure if a food is safe to feed your tadpoles, best not to chance it.
How much do I feed my Tadpoles?
Tadpoles eat small amounts frequently, usually every 8 hours. Don’t feed them anymore than they can consume within that time period.
It’s not a good idea to throw in a couple of days worth of food at once, they will not be able to eat it and will make the water dirty faster and make more work for yourself.
A tadpole’s life is all about eating and growing so keep an eye out for the food in the tank. As soon as the last meal is done, you’ll need to add more food.
I took this video of some tadpoles eating in the pond at Buckfast Abbey in Devon. Enjoy!