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What to Feed Those Wriggly New Guests in Your Pond (Yes, the Tadpoles!)

What to Feed Those Wriggly New Guests in Your Pond (Yes, the Tadpoles!)

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Have you noticed those tiny tadpoles in your pond? Congratulations! They’re a healthy sign of life inside your water body and rarely cause any harm.

If you’re wondering what to feed them or if you’ll need to do anything extra, don’t panic. They’re very independent since the time of hatching.

So, what do pond tadpoles eat? Well, pretty much anything.

Read on for more details about tadpoles’ benefits, diet, feeding habits, predators, and pond hazards.

Are Tadpoles Good for Ponds?

Tadpoles turn into frogs if they survive their early life hazards. This, in itself, is a great addition to the wildlife in your natural pond.

On top of that, tadpoles can have several other benefits to your pool, such as:

1 – Food Chain

Tadpoles are an important food source in your pond. They act as both predators and prey, which makes them a significant part of the natural food chain.

2 – Clean Pond

Tadpoles are algae eaters. Therefore, their presence in your pond means clean water. They also consume some insect larvae, helping decrease their spread.

3 – Healthy Pond

When tadpoles survive to grow into amphibians, they give the pond an ideal natural condition. In fact, frogs are bioindicators, and an increase in their population means a healthy ecosystem.

4 Things Tadpoles Eat in a Pond

The good news is that you don’t need to worry about feeding tadpoles. They feed on different things around them from the start.

Tadpoles’ diet depends on their stage of life and the conditions in your pond. For instance,

Stage One: Yolk

Right after hatching, tadpoles consume the remainder of their yolk. They’re not yet accustomed to their surroundings, and would naturally prefer to ease into life with a familiar diet.

This is why they consume the yolk in their broken eggs, which resembles their environment before hatching. Plus, it contains the nutrition necessary for their growth at this stage.

Stage Two: Algae and Aquatic Vegetation

After the yolk stage, tadpoles become mostly herbivores, consuming algae and other pond plants.

Those young, tadpoles are very fragile, so they stay in their shelters and rarely ever go far. This means they would only eat the vegetation surrounding them.

Stage Three: Organic Matter in the Pond

Tadpoles can’t afford to be picky about their diet. That’s why, they feed on whatever they can find in the pond around them, such as mosquito larvae or fish eggs.

As they still keep to their place of shelter, tadpoles, at this stage, tend to feed on any organic matter they can find at the bottom of the pond or floating nearby.

Severe Conditions: Other Tadpoles

If you find your pond tadpoles roaming away from their shelter, it’s a general sign of food shortage. This signifies danger because they get exposed to predators.

Interestingly, tadpoles may sometimes eat each other in cases of extreme food shortage. Basically, younger tadpoles are more likely to fall prey.

2 Facts about Tadpoles’ Eating Habits

1 – Tadpoles Don’t Feel Full

Research shows that tadpoles don’t have the inhibitors that signal to them the feeling of satiation. This simply means that they never feel full.

For that matter, tadpoles are always eating. They need all the food they can get to grow healthily in this early stage of their lives.

2 – Tadpoles Eat in Daylight

Tadpoles tend to eat more during the day. This is mainly because they can see better in daylight.

Like many other animals, tadpoles require bright light to ensure that the coast is clear before they leave their shelters. That’s why they won’t risk straying out at night.

What Eats Tadpoles in a Pond?

On average, the tadpole stage in a frog’s life cycle ranges between one and three months. The bad news is that the majority of the tadpoles in each hatchling don’t make it to the final stage.

This is primarily because of their many predators, including:

  1. Older tadpoles
  2. Birds
  3. Fish
  4. Newts
  5. Insects

2 Ways to Increase Tadpoles Survival Rate in a Pond

Fortunately, there are two ways to help tadpoles survive in your pond.

1 – Increase Vegetation

Simply, increase and diversify the aquatic plants in your pond. The abundance of plants and algae prevents tadpoles from consuming each other.

Add different marginal and floating plants to cater to the needs of tadpoles and other species that would otherwise consume tadpoles.

2 – Diversify the Pond Structure

Add different types of stones, logs, and rocks. Such a diverse pond structure provides extra shelter and hiding spots for the tadpoles. This increases their chance of survival.

In addition to having shelter, these new surfaces can trap organic material that can be eaten by tadpoles.

Do Pond Pumps Kill Tadpoles?

Yes, pond pumps are very dangerous for different forms of wildlife in your pond, including tadpoles.

Pond pumps are typically installed under a protective cover to prevent them from sucking in large fish and debris. However, this cover itself has holes that might allow in small organisms such as tadpoles.

Fortunately, you can do something about it.

A Tadpole-Friendly Pond Pump

The biggest problem here is that the openings in the pond pump can suck in the tadpoles, which kills them. Therefore, covering the grills of the pump with an even finer material can solve the problem.

For this purpose, let’s use aquatic pots, which are mesh pots used for pond plants. They allow water and nutrients without letting compost out.

With such pots, we’ll create a cover for the pump opening that won’t let the tadpoles through.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place a heavy level stone at the bottom of the pond floor under the pond pump.
  2. Put a layer of foam on top of the stone.
  3. Place the aquatic plant basket upside down with its open end on the foam.
  4. With a sharp craft knife, cut a hole equal to the size of the pump outlet on the side of the mesh basket.
  5. Secure the outlet in the hole you’ve cut. With some models, you might need to remove the adaptor before passing the outlet through.
  6. Position the body of the pump so that the suction power is towards the center of the basket.
  7. Put a heavy stone on top of the basket to securely press the open part into the foam.

3 Tips to Successfully Make a Tadpole-Friendly Pump

Creating this protective frame around your pond pump can be tricky. However, there are certain tips that may help you finish the job right, such as:

  1. Use aquatic foam to avoid causing water pollution that may harm wildlife.
  2. You can guarantee even finer holes if you coat the outer side of the basket with greenhouse shading material secured with aquatic sealant.
  3. Make sure that the body of the pump is right at the center of the basket; otherwise, the suction mechanism gets stronger if the body is close to the top of the basket.

Final Thoughts

Tadpoles are a healthy addition to the ecosystem in your pond. They’re important as prey and predators within the pond’s food chain.

So, what do pond tadpoles eat? They consume pretty much anything that comes their way. Upon hatching, they live on the yolk of their eggs as soon as they come out. Later, they start feeding on pond plants and organic matter.

Despite their many predators and pond hazards, there’s always a way to keep your tadpoles safe and increase their chance of survival.


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