Tips for raising healthy tadpoles
When it comes raising tadpoles, preparation is key! You need to consider what equipment you will need and what food to feed them.
Before you take on the responsibility of raising tadpoles, make sure you have the time to care for them properly. It may take weeks or even months for them to grow into frogs.
The first step in getting your tadpole equipment together is finding a suitable place for them to live.
The size of your tadpole tank will depend on how many tadpoles you are raising.
A garden pond or a paddling pool would be ideal for a large number of tadpoles. If you are raising just a few a smaller aquarium would be best. A good rule to follow is one tadpole per litre of water.
The important thing is that the container is free of any chemicals or cleaning products which can be poisonous to the baby frogs.
Avoid metal containers or ones that are coated with either porcelain or enamel. You can use a glass aquarium, but it might be heavier to move for cleaning.
Shorter and wider containers are better than long and taller as they are better for oxygen. Containers with removable lids and door openings are very handy. You will want the sides to be clear enough that you can watch your tadpoles develop.
After filling the container with water, you can add aquatic plants to provide your tadpoles with oxygen, food (algae) and places to hide.
To help the plants survive give them a little bit of sun each day – but no more than a couple of hours. Your tadpoles will also benefit from a little sun as it helps them get their vitamin D which aids in processing calcium.
The remainder of the time keep your tadpoles in partial shade. You can add sand or aquarium gravel to the bottom of your tank but it isn’t necessary in the early stages and could make your tank harder to clean.
Tadpoles have gills just like fish and they need clean water to thrive. You can use clean, fresh tap water but avoid doing so if your home has copper water pipes.
Rainwater is best and is relatively easy to collect by putting out clean buckets or using a rain barrel.
As tadpoles grow and develop you will need lower the water level and place partially submerged rocks or wood in the water. This will allow them to climb out and breathe.
You could also add add some gravel that slopes down into the water creating a dry land area for them to climb up to.
Avoid overfeeding your tadpoles as uneaten food will dirty your water. Some food can also change the colour of the water. The water doesn’t need to be crystal clear but you should be able to easily see the bottom of the container.
It is highly recommended that the water is changed frequently (e.g. once a week). On a regular basis scope out one third of the water and replace it with de-chlorinated water to reduce pollution. Allow a small amount of feces to remain in the water as the babies eat them.
Cleaning the tank
To clean the tank you will need to collect the tadpoles in a small bag. Once the tank is clean and refilled, place the tadpoles (still in the bag) back into the water, allowing them get used to the new water.
After about an hour you can remove them from the bag and let the tadpoles swim freely in fresh water.
Optional tadpole equipment
You may want to use an aerator if you have collected your tadpoles from a stream or creek. If you found them in a stagnant pool of water or garden container could likely do without aeration.
You also can purchase an ammonia test kit either online or from a pet shop to monitor the water to make sure it’s safe for your tadpoles.
To remove any debris from the water you can use an aquarium net – just be careful not to scoop out the tadpoles!
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