How to catch tadpoles

How to catch tadpoles

Think back to your childhood and recall some of your happiest moments. What were you doing? Where were you? Who were you with (if anyone)? Last evening, my family was out on a late evening walk to go look at the fireflies that grace us with their diamond-like sparkling at dusk on these warm summer nights. The wetlands near our house seem almost magical with the thousands of fireflies that surround us as we stroll down the path. The sight of the twinkling fireflies always inspires my daughter to break out in her sweet, made-up songs while the rest of us listen, smile, and walk quietly beside her.

As we made our way back home, we all started to talk about what makes us happy (I guess the fireflies inspired us). All of our answers contained one commonality: being outside. Happiness for me is hiking, spending time at the cabin, and gardening; my husband said playing soccer, fishing, and camping; my daughter piped in with spending time with the chickens; and my son said exploring or treasure hunting. Now, my son doesn’t go treasure hunting for items like money, jewelry, etc., he, for the most part, hunts for natural treasures. Like tadpoles!

How to catch tadpoles

Catching Tadpoles

Late in the spring, when the edges of the lakes or creeks begin to warm up from the sun, tadpoles start to emerge from their eggs and swarm the shallow waters. This year my son had his trusty sidekick (my daughter) join him in his treasure hunt for tadpoles. The two amigos collected the supplies needed for the hunting expedition and set out on their tadpole hunt.

Supplies needed for tadpole hunting:

  • bucket
  • minnow net (using hands works too)

How to catch tadpoles

With feet sloshing in and out of the shallow, warm water, my son and daughter slowly and carefully tiptoed through the marshy edge of the lake. Within minutes I hear: “Oh my gosh! There are millions of tadpoles in here! Mom, you have got to come and see this!” I could read the excitement on my kids’ faces as they scooped up tadpoles and plopped them in the bucket.

How to catch tadpoles

My son also pulled out some type of aquatic grass to add to the bucket, not only to give the tadpoles shade if they needed it, but to give them food and oxygen too. After collecting quite a few tadpoles, we brought the bucket home and constructed a nice home for our tadpoles to grow in.

How to catch tadpoles

Building A Make-shift Tadpole Pond

A tadpole home needs:

  • Fresh water from a lake, pond, or creek (tap water has too many chemicals for tadpoles to live in).
  • A large, shallow container (we use an old saucer sled).
  • Rocks or other items that break the surface of the water (when the tadpoles morph into frogs or toads, they need a way to get out of the water and breath air).
  • Food such as algae, natural organic matter that has decomposed on the floor of the lake, and other aquatic vegetation such as duckweed (most of these things can be found in the environment you found the tadpoles living in).

Observation

After bringing the tadpoles home, my children decided to explore the tadpole water as they added the tadpoles to their make-shift pond. For hours, the two of them sat exploring the creatures in the water with their net. Every new organism was put in a separate clear container for observation. They found, snails, clams, minnows, tiny water bugs the size of a deer tick, and a fresh water shrimp!

We have had the tadpoles in their pond for over a month now. According the Minnesota DNR, Minnesota frog and toad species can take a little less than two months and up to two years to make the metamorphosis from tadpole to adult frog or toad. Within the past month most of our tadpoles have begun to grow their legs and arms,

How to catch tadpoles

and some have morphed from the aquatic vegetarian with tails and gills, to omnivorous toadlets (that eat insects) with limbs and lungs.

The toads you see above still need to develop their tough bumpy skin, and at this stage, they are smaller than my pinky fingernail.

How is the rest of the pond life fairing? The duckweed in our make-shift pond has at least tripled in number, the aquatic grass plant is still healthy, and the shrimp, minnows, snails, and other aquatic species are alive and well. We have ourselves a healthy microcosm we get to observe each and every day. What a fun and interesting learning tool!

Microcosms are a self-contained model of something that is much bigger in size. Our microcosm is a pond, complete with tadpoles, shrimp, minnows, aquatic plants, snails, and mud. We’ve also had rain that continues to fill our pond with natural water a few times per week. This year, our pond has been completely self-sustaining. After setting up the pond, we’ve had to put no work into it. The only work we do is to sit and gratefully observe.

How to catch tadpoles

Embark On A Treasure Hunt For Tadpoles

Seeing the complete metamorphosis from tadpole to toad has been so much fun for our whole family. Once the last toad leaves our pond, we will return the water and the rest of the pond inhabitants back into the lake. I urge you to go outside on a treasure hunt of your own in search of tadpoles. Then you can enjoy a summer full of exploration, transformation, learning, and excitement by the side of your own little pond.

Posted February 27, 2016 by Full Service Aquatics

How to catch tadpoles

I learned while researching this blog topic of tadpoles that the ancient Egyptians used the image of a tadpole in their system of hieroglyphics. I thought it was pretty cool that the tadpole made it into the sacred carvings of this ancient culture. The image of a tadpole was drawn to represent the number and quantity of 100,000. I wondered why would a tadpole be used to represent this massive number? How did ancient Egyptians relate such a massive number to a puny tadpole? And then I remembered the plagues…. The Egyptians endured some doozy like plagues, including a plague of frogs. I realized that Egyptians must have experienced absolutely massive numbers of tadpoles filling the shorelines of the mighty Nile, and it made a bit more sense how a single tadpole could represent such a massive number; as well as representing fertility and proliferation. Tadpoles just got even cooler to me!
Tadpoles, or pollywogs as I called them as a kid in Georgia, are the metamorphic offspring of frogs and toads (salamanders, and newts too!). Tadpoles congregate in huge schools as they develop and can easily take over some ponds for a few weeks every year. A tadpole is the larval stage between egg and adult frog, and vary in sizes quite a bit depending on the type of frog or toad. They only live in the water during this stage and breath with gills, but are still considered amphibious. Tadpoles have large heads in proportion to their bodies with 2 eyes and a small mouth, no legs or arms, and a long broad tail that they wiggle to propel themselves through the water. Their coloration can range from deep black to grey/green and their skin is very slick. And there is no mistaking them when you see them.
For pond keepers frog egg sacks will typically be found along the edge of your pond. Egg sacks are rounded and look like clear tapioca with little black dots. Tadpoles can be found in your pond just about everywhere once they hatch. I’ve seen them embedded in algae growth, hanging around lily stems, free swimming. They mostly stay in schools stay in shallower areas and crowd into the edges of ponds. Tadpoles enjoy basking in the sun, but they will be quick to scatter, with some pretty impressive bursts of speed. You’ll see them sitting in lily pots and other plant containers. Large koi and other large pond fish may try the “pollywog du jour” for an occasional meal but they won’t make an impact on population counts. The other usual suspects such as the heron, raccoon, snakes will also make meals of the tadpole when the opportunity is there.
Pond keepers should enjoy this incredible fleeting display of nature happening in your backyard. Pond keepers should also be paying attention during this time for filter intakes getting plugged up (yikes), or tadpoles getting sucked into pumps (yucks). They can even get into skimming systems, but like fish, they seem to know not to go there. They don’t need any special care or feeding in a backyard pond setting, tadpoles are fully self sufficient.
The tadpole stage of a frogs metamorphosis begins at about 1-3 weeks when the frog egg hatches. After hatching the tadpole will live off of the egg yolk for a week or so, and then begin to swim and live off of algae growing in the pond. Around 8 weeks old they are developing legs and arms, at the same time the long tail is getting smaller and smaller. Tadpoles look really cool at this time being more like a tiny frog with a long tail. By 12 weeks they have become frogs and begin leaving the water, develop lungs, tougher skin, and that big ol’ frog mouth!
For pond keepers that enjoy having all these proto frogs and pollywogs boppin around the pond you may be disappointed that of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of eggs laid in your pond only a very small fraction of adult frog would reside at your pond. Frogs are mostly solitary critters, they move on; or have other fates like making that once in a lifetime mistake of asking a blue heron for directions.
Tadpoles have been around for millions of years and today’s pond keepers are helping that to continue. We often hear about the massive habitat loss and die off of frogs around the globe; of course these losses extend to tadpole, but tenfold. Tadpole season is a multi-week experience that signals Spring is here., but Summer is coming soon! Backyard pond keeping is an effective way to help increase habitat and conserve numerous local species; so enjoy the tadpoles and share the pond keeping lifestyle with your family and friends.

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9 Comments

Do tadpole eat koi fry or eggs?

Hello Robin. I’d have to say yes, a large tadpole (and some get pretty big) would likely take down a few koi eggs or small fry. -Mike

Mike,
I have a pool that I intend on turning into a rainwater reservoir this year. I had it drained it and now it has a couple of feet of water filled with a melodious group of troubadours. I have a conundrum! I don’t want to drain the oool again until the tadpoles have a chance to become frogs and leave on their own accord. And I do not want to contribute to the spread of the Zika Virus. Your thoughts?
I found this website to help me figure out what species of frogs I have my backyard based on their calls – https://wwknapp.home.mindspring.com/GAFrog.Toad.html

There are a large number of developing tadpoles in a very small backyard pond at my father’s home. We have fed them and there are probably 100 of them, some beginning to develop legs. There is a stream on the property, but it is about 200 yards from the pond. Should we move them there, or let them find their own way?

Hi John. I think the tadpoles will do fine finding their way to their next destination. I don’t think I’d move them unless you simply want them out of your pond. Thanks for reaching out. Cheers! -Mike

We have huge tadpoles in our FLA pond. They are not getting legs at all. Are they useful for cleaning the pond? Guessing they are bullfrog larvae but they have been around for about a year.

Hello Gail. Tadpoles would not really be a creature that I’d look to for cleaning or scavenging a pond to any noticeable degree. Cheers! -Mike

I have a smallish two tiered fountain in my side yard. I haven’t maintained it at all. We have had a lot of rain here (south OC CA) and there is algae starting to grow in it. Is my fountain too small or a bad place to put tadpoles in? My boys would love to have frogs bouncing around and to try and catch tadpoles. Hard to do that here for kids nowadays. If the fountain is a bad idea…obviously I wouldn’t turn it on…what do you recommend. A tank/aquarium? A barrel? We also have a lot of slugs eating our homegrown strawberries and maybe it would help with that problem?

Hello Gail. I would be more inclined to use a barrel for the tadpoles thank a fountain. I don’t think they would affect the slugs behavior in any way. Good luck!! -Mike

How to catch tadpoles

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If your swimming pool has been invaded by tadpoles, chances are good that it looked inviting to a pair of frogs that decided to leave their eggs there instead of finding a proper pond. A swimming pool is not a very good environment for tadpoles because it probably has little for them to eat and, if chlorinated, can kill them. The best way to handle your little guests is to move them to a more suitable location as soon as you can.

Fill about one-half of a bucket with the swimming pool’s water. Using more water may cause some tadpoles to slosh as you move them to a new location. The bucket must be large enough to hold all of the tadpoles from your pool. They won’t need a lot of space because they won’t be in the bucket long, but the bucket should be large enough to allow them to be submerged completely in the water and to move a bit.

Catch the swimming pool’s tadpoles with a net, and transfer them to the bucket containing swimming pool water. A regular pool net used for skimming leaves and other debris can be used to catch a lot of tadpoles, especially tadpoles not near the pool’s edges. Use a smaller, long-handled, handheld net, such as one used for aquarium fish, to scoop out tadpoles close to the pool’s sides, and put them in the bucket.

Take the tadpoles to a safe location and release them. They will thrive in a pond, creek or lake. Ensure that their new location won’t dry up during the next couple of months. If the tadpoles run out of water too soon, they will die. Some tadpoles, such as those of bullfrogs, may take as long as two years to develop into frogs, but six to 12 weeks is the common length of time for most kinds of tadpoles to become frogs.

How to catch tadpoles

Think back to your childhood and recall some of your happiest moments. What were you doing? Where were you? Who were you with (if anyone)? Last evening, my family was out on a late evening walk to go look at the fireflies that grace us with their diamond-like sparkling at dusk on these warm summer nights. The wetlands near our house seem almost magical with the thousands of fireflies that surround us as we stroll down the path. The sight of the twinkling fireflies always inspires my daughter to break out in her sweet, made-up songs while the rest of us listen, smile, and walk quietly beside her.

As we made our way back home, we all started to talk about what makes us happy (I guess the fireflies inspired us). All of our answers contained one commonality: being outside. Happiness for me is hiking, spending time at the cabin, and gardening; my husband said playing soccer, fishing, and camping; my daughter piped in with spending time with the chickens; and my son said exploring or treasure hunting. Now, my son doesn’t go treasure hunting for items like money, jewelry, etc., he, for the most part, hunts for natural treasures. Like tadpoles!

How to catch tadpoles

Catching Tadpoles

Late in the spring, when the edges of the lakes or creeks begin to warm up from the sun, tadpoles start to emerge from their eggs and swarm the shallow waters. This year my son had his trusty sidekick (my daughter) join him in his treasure hunt for tadpoles. The two amigos collected the supplies needed for the hunting expedition and set out on their tadpole hunt.

Supplies needed for tadpole hunting:

  • bucket
  • minnow net (using hands works too)

How to catch tadpoles

With feet sloshing in and out of the shallow, warm water, my son and daughter slowly and carefully tiptoed through the marshy edge of the lake. Within minutes I hear: “Oh my gosh! There are millions of tadpoles in here! Mom, you have got to come and see this!” I could read the excitement on my kids’ faces as they scooped up tadpoles and plopped them in the bucket.

How to catch tadpoles

My son also pulled out some type of aquatic grass to add to the bucket, not only to give the tadpoles shade if they needed it, but to give them food and oxygen too. After collecting quite a few tadpoles, we brought the bucket home and constructed a nice home for our tadpoles to grow in.

How to catch tadpoles

Building A Make-shift Tadpole Pond

A tadpole home needs:

  • Fresh water from a lake, pond, or creek (tap water has too many chemicals for tadpoles to live in).
  • A large, shallow container (we use an old saucer sled).
  • Rocks or other items that break the surface of the water (when the tadpoles morph into frogs or toads, they need a way to get out of the water and breath air).
  • Food such as algae, natural organic matter that has decomposed on the floor of the lake, and other aquatic vegetation such as duckweed (most of these things can be found in the environment you found the tadpoles living in).

Observation

After bringing the tadpoles home, my children decided to explore the tadpole water as they added the tadpoles to their make-shift pond. For hours, the two of them sat exploring the creatures in the water with their net. Every new organism was put in a separate clear container for observation. They found, snails, clams, minnows, tiny water bugs the size of a deer tick, and a fresh water shrimp!

How to catch tadpoles

We have had the tadpoles in their pond for over a month now. According the Minnesota DNR, Minnesota frog and toad species can take a little less than two months and up to two years to make the metamorphosis from tadpole to adult frog or toad. Within the past month most of our tadpoles have begun to grow their legs and arms,

How to catch tadpoles

and some have morphed from the aquatic vegetarian with tails and gills, to omnivorous toadlets (that eat insects) with limbs and lungs.

How to catch tadpoles

How to catch tadpoles

The toads you see above still need to develop their tough bumpy skin, and at this stage, they are smaller than my pinky fingernail.

How is the rest of the pond life fairing? The duckweed in our make-shift pond has at least tripled in number, the aquatic grass plant is still healthy, and the shrimp, minnows, snails, and other aquatic species are alive and well. We have ourselves a healthy microcosm we get to observe each and every day. What a fun and interesting learning tool!

Microcosms are a self-contained model of something that is much bigger in size. Our microcosm is a pond, complete with tadpoles, shrimp, minnows, aquatic plants, snails, and mud. We’ve also had rain that continues to fill our pond with natural water a few times per week. This year, our pond has been completely self-sustaining. After setting up the pond, we’ve had to put no work into it. The only work we do is to sit and gratefully observe.

How to catch tadpoles

How to catch tadpoles

How to catch tadpoles

Embark On A Treasure Hunt For Tadpoles

Seeing the complete metamorphosis from tadpole to toad has been so much fun for our whole family. Once the last toad leaves our pond, we will return the water and the rest of the pond inhabitants back into the lake. I urge you to go outside on a treasure hunt of your own in search of tadpoles. Then you can enjoy a summer full of exploration, transformation, learning, and excitement by the side of your own little pond.

Frog tadpoles have gotta be the favorite pet of all time! I know more people who have dealt with tadpoles than goldfish. but then, maybe that sais more about the people I know than it does about pet owners in general. But I CAN tell you that raising tadpoles can be much more than just fun- it is easy and educational too!

How to tell what kind of frog you have from a tadpole:

    Telling what a tadpole is is very hard to do.
    About the only thing I can recommend is to find a regional guide (like go to the library and find a book about what sorts of animals live in your area) and often if there are frogs, they will also show photos of what they look like as tadpoles. There really aren’t any obvious distinguishing features that separate frog types at tadpole stage. Remember there are around 3,900 species of frogs in the world!
    If the field guides for your region don’t have pictures of tadpoles, your best bet is to wait until it becomes a frog and compare the pictures of frogs in the guide.

related pages:

  • Raising TadpolesKnow how to care for tadpoles before you collect them.
  • Looking After Spawn & Tadpoles
  • Weird Frog Facts: Life Cycle of a Frog
  • Avocado Elementary School Tadpole Website Here’s a neat one: a website put together about this elementary schools classroom activities surrounding tadpoles! Great idea pool for teachers!

Where to get Tadpoles:

    I am often asked about where to get tadpoles.

    • Of course, the most obvious option is for those who live near areas with old ponds with frog populations.
      Assuming this is within your reach, hike on down there with a dip net and bucket, slosh through the water and you’ll be sure to net quite a few!
      And you’ll probably have a pretty fun time doing it too. (Bring galoshes!)

  • However, since most of the folks writing me with this question don’t live anywhere near publicly accessible ponds, my first thought would be to ask at the local pet stores whether they have any contacts for getting some tadpoles.
  • A very good place to try is looking up “POND SUPPLY” in the local Yellow Pages. very often you will find that they carry or can order tadpoles for you. Remember if you are going to put these in an outdoor pond, be sure to get only native species of frogs!
  • The other option is to try some of the online reptile and amphibian suppliers.

How to catch tadpoles

Only three more weeks until school starts! I feel like we are both running out of time AND running out of things to do. We’ve done parks. We’ve done splash pads. We’ve done a museum. I’m getting all funned out.

My neighbor must have known we needed a little something different to do. When she told me that she and her son caught some tadpoles at Walnut Creek Park, I knew that would be the perfect outing for us. My girls, they are a bit frog obsessed. We used to have a family of toads living in a tree stump in our back yard, but they moved on when the stump rotted out. I’m sure they found another home where they didn’t have to run for their lives from three gigantic and extremely loud little girls.

Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park (12138 N. Lamar Blvd) is nestled at the corner of North Lamar and Parmer in North Austin. The 293-acre park features a softball complex, a playground, hiking and biking trails, basketball courts, and Walnut Creek Municipal Pool. The park’s 15 miles of trails are popular with bikers (as in cyclists, not so much the hog riders), and there’s even an off leash dog area.

To find our tadpole catching area, we parked near the pool and picked up the trail at its main entrance just south of the parking lot. As a warning, we originally headed east of the parking lot to an area where we could clearly see the creek, but there were no tadpoles, and it wasn’t a good area for catching, especially with three little kids. Thanks to a quick text to my neighbor, we found where we should have gone.

Here, the trail entrance is clearly marked.

How to catch tadpoles

When you get away from the parking lot, the trail on the way to the stream is nice and shaded. Once we could see the (very thin) stream from the trail, we hooked a right and were able to come right up to it. There wasn’t much water and it was maybe ankle deep at the most. Flip flops aren’t great for hiking, but they do make good tadpole catching shoes! (It was a last minute outing okay? I was a little unprepared.)

How to catch tadpoles

It took some practice spying the tadpoles, but once we learned how to spot them, it was on. I’ll say that my husband and I were the ones totally in to this part. This kids were excited about having tadpoles, but not so much catching them. Plus the area around the stream was slippery, and I almost fell a few times. Not that there was any really deep water to fall into, but you know. My pride was at stake.

The tadpoles are dark, with bulbous heads and tiny tails. They tend to stay still at the bottom of the creek unless stirred by a sudden disruption. Like a 5-year-old whacking the water with a stick. Ahem. Once disturbed, they dart around quickly to find a safe spot, sometimes under a small rock, which helps differentiate them from the minnows swimming around.

How to catch tadpoles

How to catch tadpoles

We caught three tadpoles in our jars. Actually, no, I caught three tadpoles. Turns out I have a special hidden talent for scooping them up just right. I knew I would find my calling someday. We also caught a couple of tiny frogs, but we released them before we headed back to the car.

How to catch tadpoles

Make sure you’ve researched how to care for your tadpoles once you get home. We made sure to scoop up a good dose of the creek water along with our tadpoles, so they would have some comforts of home. Our friend Nicole from LiveMom wrote a great article on catching and caring for tadpoles, including what to feed them.

While the kids weren’t really into the actual catching of the tadpoles, they were into the adventure as a whole and really are excited to watch them grow into little frogs. Then I’m sure we’ll release them, maybe back into the same spot, to bring the adventure full circle. But as an outing and learning experience, I give tadpole catching a big thumbs up!

And because we were right there, here are some photos of the playground and pool areas. The Walnut Creek Pool is not a free pool, so make sure to check out the fee schedule and daily swim schedule before heading out.

How to catch tadpoles

How to catch tadpoles

How to catch tadpoles

Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park
12138 N. Lamar Blvd
Austin TX 78753

Leigh Ann Torres is a freelance writer and blogger living in Austin with her husband and three girls. She’s a pretty good cook, a mediocre photographer, and a horrible housekeeper. She writes about the good, the bad, and the ridiculous of life with twins plus one at Genie in a Blog.

A bullfrog baby became a ticking time bomb in the depths of my tranquil backyard pond, and taking action gave me a surprising sense of purpose during the pandemic.

This tadpole kept me up at night.

Editors’ note: This week, we’re running a special report on the science of happiness and how to strive for it during difficult, complex times. Read more about what the research says about how to be happy, how to boost your happiness hormones , why pursuing happiness has a dark side and how a range of people are finding everyday small ways to perk themselves up . Here’s one CNET writer’s story of finding a bit of purpose during the pandemic. Hey, everyone has their ways right?

Like so many people attempting to ward off pandemic-related despair over the last several months, I’ve cultivated a series of hobbies: magnet fishing. Satellite-spotting. Jigsaw puzzles. Sourdough bread. And obsessively hunting for bullfrog tadpoles. Well, one specific bullfrog tadpole I named Chubby Cheeker.

Freaky frogs

Bullfrogs are an invasive species in New Mexico and range clear across the US. They’re big suckers, topping out at around 8 inches (about 20 centimeters) long. Voracious. Known to munch on birds. Birds! If it can fit in their mouths, they’ll eat it. That includes things the size of the precious, innocent little fish that live in my backyard pond. I’m so protective of them, I shoo away roadrunners, concoct elaborate turtle tacos and buy fancy fish foods. I was not going to let a bullfrog become the tyrannical ruler of my backyard paradise.

For 10 glorious days this summer, I was a warrior, wielding nets and fashioning traps from water bottles and duct tape. I stalked the edges of my small backyard pond at midnight with a flashlight. In those moments, I wasn’t thinking about lockdowns or deadlines or politics. It was just me pitting my wits against Chubby, the deviously speedy Concorde jet of the tadpole world.

It started with a neighbor on Nextdoor giving away water lettuce that had turned his pond into a jungle. He just wanted to be able to see his fish again, unobscured by an aquatic carpet of greenery. I went over and scooped the floating plants and their long dangling roots into a bag, but little did I know that bag also contained Chubby. Back at home, I set the water lettuce afloat in the pond I’d fashioned from an old galvanized stock tank.

Entertain your brain with the coolest news from streaming to superheroes, memes to video games.

I first saw Chubby — a big-headed creature as long as a Snickers candy bar — when I poured the excess water from the bag into the pond. He rode the waterfall like he was chilling on Splash Mountain. I immediately recognized what he was and my mind filled with nightmare images of a future bullfrog slurping down my fish like living sashimi. I steeled myself for battle.

Trouble in pond paradise

Let me tell you about my pond. It’s sunken into the ground and home to several common goldfish and a Shubunkin called Dot. There are too many mosquito fish and rosy red minnows to name. It’s my Albuquerque desert oasis.

My pond is my backyard oasis. You can see the water lettuce Chubby hitched a ride on floating near the center of the pond.

Bullfrog tadpoles mainly eat algae and insects, so I knew I had a grace period to catch Chubby before he turned into the Joey Chestnut of fish-eating. My pond is small, around 4 feet wide — you couldn’t even social distance properly with it between you and someone else — but it has plenty of hiding spaces under roots and rocks. Chubby figured this out fast as I probed the water with a net, searching in vain for the fat-cheeked little monster.

My tadpole hunt kicked in as I was struggling more than usual with the stress of the coronavirus pandemic. The only trips I made were to the grocery store. I checked New Mexico’s COVID numbers every evening, watching the spikes, reading the details of the daily deaths. I knew other people had it so much worse than I did. I told myself I shouldn’t be feeling so down, but the weight was real. That’s when my new life’s purpose presented itself: I had to catch Chubby and save my fish.

Frogger in real life

At first, I tried to track Chubby in daylight, looking for a telltale shadow swishing through the pond. Two days in, I switched to a night assault plan. I spotted Chubby hoovering the algae off the rock that holds my submerged filter in place. Easy-peasy, I thought, as I swiped the net through the water. But Chubby was off like a Falcon 9 rocket. I didn’t even get close.

Chubby and I repeated this dance over the next few nights, spending two to three hours together out in the dark. I would shine the flashlight on Chubby, who would keep nibbling algae without a care in the world. As soon as I got close, he was off. Greased lightning. I’ve never seen an aquatic creature move so fast.

This trap didn’t catch Chubby, but it did confuse some fish.

So I did what anyone else in my position would. I went to YouTube. That’s where I found Dillon L. Fishing’s tutorial on how to catch tadpoles. I built a trap by cutting up a plastic bottle and baiting it with par-boiled lettuce. I left it in the pond overnight. In the morning, I strolled out and found two very confused rosy red minnows.

I was going to need a bigger trap. I made another one out of a larger bottle and baited it with corn, just like Dillon did in the video. The next morning I had successfully captured a mosquito fish. Chubby was too smart for me.

By this time, I’d managed to take some photos of Chubby in the water. I studied them for signs he was growing back legs, the telltale first step in becoming a bullfrog. He had some suspicious bulges. I could feel the sands of time slipping away through the hourglass.

Nine days in. The traps weren’t working. The nets weren’t working.

Victory is imminent.

But Chubby’s downfall was imminent; hubris would bring him into my grasp. I went out that night just after 9. I saw Chubby in a new spot eating algae near the surface of the water. I already had a net in position and lifted it underneath him, sweeping him up tail-first.

Catch and release

I plopped Chubby into a waiting bucket of water and commenced a celebratory dance around the pond. I took photos and then gave him some kelp flakes to eat and a bunch of water lettuce to hide out under to make it through the night.

Feeling elation, relief and triumph, I checked on Chubby obsessively until midnight, making sure he was safe and comfortable in his temporary lodgings. As I tucked into bed, I realized I hadn’t checked New Mexico’s coronavirus numbers that evening. That could wait till tomorrow.

Chubby Cheeker is now in residence at a garden center pond.

My neighbor didn’t ask for the tadpole back, so I made other arrangements. I have a friend who’s a gardener at the Albuquerque Garden Center, a beautiful little facility in the middle of the city with a lovely pond filled with koi fish that are too big to fit into a bullfrog’s mouth.

We set Chubby Cheeker free in his new home. He swam away under the lily pads, looking smug like usual.

I had fulfilled my mission to protect my fish. The world might be crumbling around me, but at least I was (slightly) smarter than one New Mexico balloon-cheeked bullfrog tadpole with afterburners that would make an F-16 proud.

Guest Writer: Laurence Wensley Addition of Photos: The Pet Blog Lady

Tadpoles are very easy to raise: they do not require much space and they only eat very little food. This means that looking after tadpoles is really simple and cheap, and this is just one key reason why keeping them as pets is a great idea. However, just like any other pet, tadpoles need a good, clean and safe environment to stay in until they can grow into adult frogs.

Items you need to ensure safety of the tadpoles:

1. A container to hold water for the tadpoles. This can be anything including a fishbowl, a plastic container, an aquarium or even a pond.

2. Shady area – if you opt for a pond, be sure that it is located in a shady space, too much sun is not good for the frogs.

3. Fresh water– if you put the tadpoles in polluted water, they may die due to the harsh chemical substances contained in the liquid. If you can use the same water from which you took them, the better, because they will be able to adjust faster.

4. Food – the tadpoles can eat foods such as lettuce, algae and pond weed

5. Rocks or gravel – once the tadpoles grow feet, they will need to get out of the water from time to time, and the rocks will facilitate this process.

6. Underwater plants – these will facilitate in oxygenation to ensure constant and sufficient availability of oxygen for the tadpoles.

Things to remember when looking after tadpoles

Just like fish, tadpoles will require a regular change of water especially if kept in an aquarium or bowl. This should be done a minimum of two times in a week because if the water gets too dirty, it may become poisonous and the tadpoles may eventually die. In addition, the water should never be too cold or to hot –just a little warm –and if you have to use tap water, ensure that it doesn’t have chlorine because this will also harm the small creatures.

Furthermore, when changing the water for your tadpoles, be sure to make the transition gradual for them; a sudden change of environment is not good. Thus, if you for instance need to transfer them into a pond from a bowl, place the bowl into the pond and in a couple of hours, it will be safe to make the transfer.

While feeding them, if you opt to supply them with lettuce, boil it first and only give a little each day. However, be careful not to overfeed because there will be a lot of food leftover and this will get the water really dirty hence obliging you to make frequent water changes than necessary; this is a very important aspect in looking after tadpoles.

You have to be keen on the species of your tadpoles because this factor very much influences the kind of things they will feed on. For instance, once the tadpoles grow legs, some types turn carnivorous. At this point, if you are not careful on providing them the required foods, they may eat each other.

Keeping the tadpoles in the outside environment is a much better option, thus if you have a pond, this alternative works best because it is similar to their natural environment. Optionally, you can just place the bowl outside as long as it is partly sheltered and the level of water is controlled; the water shouldn’t be too much. When the tadpoles grow legs, be sure to place some rocks in the container so that the animals will be able to get off the water.

Obtaining Tadpoles and the Suitable Foods for Them

• Before you begin on looking after tadpoles, be sure to only get a number that will fit in the available space. Remember, they will become frogs at some point and this means they will need more space because of their bigger size.

• Tadpoles can be easily collected from areas such as swamps, streams, lakes and even ponds. If there are puddles around your home, you can also find tadpoles in such places.

• If you cannot obtain their food from their natural environments, you can easily get some from the aquarium stores –fish food and algae tablets can be purchased in such places. Nonetheless, it is always good to first find out about the species you have and it’s feeding habits so you are confident to give it the appropriate foods.

Tadpoles are low maintenance, thus it is always a good thing even if they are obtained as pets of thechildren. Besides, when a child cares for the tadpoles, they will learn a lot of things with regard to responsibility. Furthermore, looking after tadpoles is always an exciting experience since they later turn into frogs; the regular tadpoles will take a period of anything between 6 and 12 weeks to develop.

Also, keeping tadpoles reminds kids of the importance of nature, and how critical it is to take care of what nature offers. If the frogs are not well taken care of before their full development, they will simply die, and the same case applies to the environment as a whole; it needs to be preserved to remain healthy. Once you have fulfilled your task of looking after tadpoles, you can release the grown frogs in a location close to where you picked them, so that they quickly become accustomed to the new environment.

(My friend Dena raised tadpoles with her son Jack last summer. I’m going to take the time and do the same. I’d make a good tadpole mom I figure)

This article has been provided by whatdotadpoleseat.com. This website has been made to help you understand how to look after tadpoles as pets. Feel free to visit their site to learn more.

Thank you so much Laurence for this fantastic article! I hope this inspires families out there to discover the magic of raising tadpoles. I am going to start soon and will take photos and “action video” along the way.

Tags: family projects, frogs, nature, raising frogs, tadpoles. laurence wensley

Comments

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The lettuce can just float around. They find it! Happy tadpole raising. I think I may do this again this year. So much fun.

Do we need to hold the plant near the tadpoles’ mouth? Or we just need to put the lettuce on the surface of the water?

I have African dwarf frogs and they keep on laying eggs and tadpoles keep happening. It is really awesome however they are very very small and feeding them is a true challenge

Posted by: Josephine Gilmore | April 29, 2021 at 11:08 AM

We raise tadpoles in China. We have every known species living together. We overload the tank! We also put in dragonfly nymphs, snails, waterbeetles, the works. It’s cool watching them interact with each other on natural level, and that means they eat each other too! The strong survive. We let them go into our garden and they do a great job keeping the mosquitos down. We feed them lettuce and fish food. They love it. We have about 100 or more at a time in a 55 cm long tank. Having so many doesn’t seem to bother them. They are thriving. We don’t even have rocks or a resting place for them. When they are ready, the will climb up into the filter system. Thats where my daughters usually find them in the moring, and they gleefully release them into the wild.

The plant is actually very good. Provides oxygen to the water