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A tadpole is the larval stage of the members of the class Amphibia. They do not remain to be tadpoles for long since they are frogs in making. When they are provided with a suitable living environment and quality diet, these tadpoles transform into frogs with time. The tadpoles are a healthy and beautiful addition to watch, and they are docile and skittish, and they are endlessly captivating to watch. These creatures eat a plant-based diet.

The tadpoles are easy to take care of, and they require minimum effort with less disturbance. They will also not cause any harm o the other animals in the pond or plants. The tadpoles are the most vulnerable stage of the frog cycle, and therefore they prefer living in silence and in places that offer them shelter. Despite their small size, these creatures play a major role in aquatic food webs. This species serves as prey to many different animals and transfer the energy between the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

The most interesting part about the tadpoles is the fact they are not demanding and will need minimum resources to maintain them. The process of growing them up to the stage of becoming frogs can be quite Interesting, and therefore if you are interested in knowing about all they eat and more about the tadpoles, this article will guide you.


Generally, the tadpoles are herbivores in nature, and they mainly eat plant-based food. Algae and duckweed. The diet of these species can vary from one species o the other, but the common species found in the United States, such as tree frogs and bullfrog tadpoles, eat the soft plant matter. In the wild, these tadpoles will eat the algae and other aquatic matter several times a day. This is mainly because they can only survive in water. During the hatching time, the tadpoles usually have gills, and they cannot survive outside water.

When they are immediately hatched, they usually feed on the York that is left from its egg since the York is rich in nutrients. They will then find some cover from some water plants such as lily pads or duckweed and they also serve as food source for them. The tadpoles are not supposed to move far away from the cover since they are very vulnerable to predators during the first few months. If there is the availability of plant matter such as duckweed and algae, they will eat them before hunting.

If they have to hunt, they will do so by snatching anything small enough to fit in their mouth so as it swims near them. They usually hunt only small species, such as small redworms and mosquito larvae. They will only eat the fresh based food when the plant matter is limited. Since they eat meat under special circumstances, they can technically be classified as omnivores, but as they begin, they are usually herbivores strictly.


 Baby tadpoles have limits on what they can eat. As hatchlings, they are very small in size, and only a few things can fit into their mouths. The diet of the hatchlings will mainly consist of their eggs and algae. This is because algae are so easy for them to find. During the first 24 o 48 hours after hatching, the tadpoles usually depend on their egg York since it is enough to provide them with the needed nutrition. After that, they will begin to eat algae and other soft plant matter. The hatchlings will also feed on any organic matter such as gravel, detritus and silt.

Whatever they eat, they will eat it constantly. Their metabolism is high, and they grow fast. It is very important for them to grow big and fast since they are under threat of being eaten by many predators. As the tadpoles grow, their intestines will gradually shorten in order to accommodate the carnivorous diet since fresh is easier to digest. The hatchlings are not so much interested in meat, but as they grow in the other stages later, they develop the interest.

 The hatchlings contain some intestines that are long and coiled and they are important in enabling them to digest the plant matter. This is because the plants contain cellulose which is a compound that is a bit challenging to digest. This is why the plants’ matter needs a longer time in the digestive system. The long intestines give the herbivores more time to break down the plant and absorb as many nutrients as possible.


The pet tadpoles can feed on a variety of foods, but it is advisable to stick to the herbivorous ones. Some of the common and best food to feed them include boiled cabbage or lettuce. Both these types of vegetables are rich in calcium and protein that helps a tadpole to grow legs. Neither of these varieties contains many nutrients. Boiling finely chopped vegetables makes them softer and easy to eat.

Some of the other foods to feed the pet tadpoles include;.’

  • Tadpole food
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Green peas
  • Egg yolks
  • Baby spinach
  • Algae wafers

The best food to feed them is the leafy greens that are rich in protein and calcium. If you decide to feed your tadpole with the pet store food, ensure that you get the right one; it should be well labelled, such as six weeks and younger. This is because late-stage food has a high content of protein, and it is likely to contain more animal matter. For the pet, the herbivore diet is the best option. It is only in the wild that they can eat meat-based food when need be.

Some of the keepers prefer feeding their pet tadpoles the bloodworm as a rest, but if your pet is under six weeks old, do not do that. The bloodworms are ideal for the tadpoles that are older than six weeks. The feeding should be a pinch at a time for not more than 30 minutes or until they stop eating.


The wild tadpoles eat anything that is insight. This includes anything that remains in their egg, algae and the roots and leaves of the aquatic plants. Duckweed and mosses are some of the favourite equative plants. The tadpoles will also feed on mosquito larvae, bugs, frogs’ eggs, and the remains of any dead animal they find in the water. If there is limited food within their environment and they are desperate, they will start eating each other. They must consume a lot of food, and therefore the wild tadpoles are not picky eaters. Below are some of the foods they eat in the wild;

  • Algae
  • Protozoa
  • Mosses
  • Duckweed
  • Mosquito larvae
  • Algae
  • Bacteria
  • Detritus
  • Frog eggs
  • Fish eggs
  • Red worms
  • Carcasses in water
  • Water striders


There is no difference between the diet of the tadpoles that are kept in other water sources such as creeks with slow currents or shallow ends of streams. The only difference is that the pond species will have less variety of foods. The ponds have limited space and amount of plant matter. This, therefore, means that the tadpoles are more likely to eat meat. The pond tadpoles have their diet consist mainly of algae and mosquito larvae.

However, if the pond has fish since they will also feed on the fish eggs and any dead fish that is in the water, frog eggs, and sometimes they turn against each other. The tadpoles usually turn into the feeding on fresh if the plant matter is limited, and this mainly occurs when they are living in small water bodies such as ponds.


As said earlier, the diet depends on which stage they are in. The early-stage tadpoles should be fed with herbivorous dirt. You can feed them boiled or chopped vegetables. They include;

  • Zucchini
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Baby spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Green peas

If you have a pet tadpole, you should not feed them wild food such as wild algae. This is because the pet tadpoles have a weak immune system compared to the wild ones. Feeding them with wild food, you are risking infecting them with parasites and diseases. However, as the tadpoles grow, you can add some protein into their diet by introducing foods such as bloodworms and late-stage food from the pet stores. This should only happen after six weeks.

 To ease the process of eating, you should boil and chop the vegetables. Start by boiling, and you can finely chop the food into small pieces. You can use a pair of tweezers or just your fingers to put food in the water after they have completed feeding on the first repeat this until the tadpoles stop eating. They are usually good and will not overeat. However, to be on the safer side, ensure that the feeding session does not go beyond 30 minutes.

If you find out that there are some uneaten foods in the water, you can use the net to remove them. The uneaten food left in the water will rot and end up fouling the water and will eventually stress the tadpole. Also, the water in the tank needs to be cycled frequently. Also, on feeding, it is important to ensure that you rotate the kind of diet you feed to your tadpoles. This will ensure that they get a variety of nutrients in their bodies. Most of the keeps prefer to have a feeding schedule.

A feeding schedule is very important since it helps you figure out if your tadpole loves a specific type of food. This is helpful to know if it becomes ill and you need to coax it to eat. Below is an example of a feeding schedule for tadpoles;

MondayBoiled baby spinach, boiled cabbage
TuesdayBoiled cucumber with seeds removed, Boiled kales,
WednesdayBoiled baby carrots, Algae wafers
ThursdayBoiled leeks, Boiled broccoli
FridayBoiled zucchini, Boiled cabbage
SaturdayA few pinches of tadpole food, boiled green peas
SundayBoiled broccoli, Boiled kale


As said earlier, the tadpoles are frogs that are not yet grown, and they are within the cycle of developing into adult frogs. They, however, go through a life cycle that involves four stages, and they begin from an egg, tadpole, froglet or a mature frog. 


The adult usually pairs up during the spawning period through cracking and loud vocalization. When the pairing process becomes a success, the female will lay her eggs in a vegetation that is dense. Some of the frog species will take care of their eggs throughout, while some will leave the nest completely. The eggs will take between one to three weeks to hatch.


After breaking free from the egg, the baby frog emerges as a tadpole. In the beginning, the tadpoles have a huge head with a mouth and rudimentary gills along the trailing tail. For about two weeks after hatching, the tadpole is usually not active and will be feeding on the remaining York. Once the York is over, the tadpoles will start to become active as they grow their hind legs. As time goes by, the exact species of frog becomes a bit easier to identify. The lings will also begin to develop and replace the gills, and the tadpoles will now be able to navigate outside the water.

 During this period, the diet mainly consists of plant matter and detritus. This stage lasts for about two months.

The transformation process mainly depends on the temperature of the environment. If the temperatures are low, the tadpole might have some delay moving from one stage to another.


At this stage, the tadpoles will resemble a mature frog, but they are not yet mature. They will have all four legs, lungs and tadpole tails. The lungs at this stage will have fully developed and replaced the gills. After about 12 weeks after hatching, the frog will have full access to the terrestrial life. The main diet of the froglets is the insects, but they will still be feeding on plant matter.


After the froglet loses its tail, the frog is fully mature. This stage happens from 12 to 16 weeks after the hatching. The frog is now free to live between land and water. At this stage, they mainly freedom worms, insects and other meaty foods. When the breeding season starts, the mature frog will be ready to start the cycle all over again.


Once your tadpoles have reached the later stage of growth, which is six weeks and above, they are ready to feed on more protein-rich foods. They now become omnivores and develop more complex structures and begin to grow limps. To ensure that their development needs are met, you can replace their vegetarian means gradually with the following foods;

Fish food– During every feeding time, you can sprinkle the vegetables with small amounts of fish flakes, more so the pellets. This should, however, not replace the natural food entirely since they should be accustomed to their natural diet.

Egg York – The egg is rich in protein and calcium, and it should be provided in a hard-boiled form. Ensure you drop a small number of particles in water at a go to avoid clouding it.

Frozen crickets- Tadpoles also need to be fed with live insects, but instead, you can feed them on dried or frozen crickets.

Brine shrimp – The brine shrimp is ideal in either frozen or flake form, and it should be fed once per week.

Small mealworms – This can be provided in live form and should be purchased from a reputable breeder or pet shop. Ensure that you get the sizes that will be manageable from the tadpoles.

Bloodworms – This is very rich in protein, and it can be found in pet stores.

Small fish – The live fish fry or juveniles are the best treatment for the late-stage tadpoles. You can provide them with some hiding spots in the tank so as to stimulate the natural feeling. The tadpoles will be grateful to chase them around until they catch them.


The tadpoles love eating and should be fed once a day. As you begin, it is important to have a feeding schedule so that you can have feeding frequency and the rate of food consumption. Once you have gotten used to everything, it should be easier to determine how much food to feed your tadpoles.

 The feeding session for the tadpoles should ideally last for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the tank size and how much time you have. To prevent closing up in the tank, ensure that you provide food in small bites, and it should be pinched. You should refrain from feeding them more than they can take and also ensure that you remove any food leftover from the tank to avoid polluting the water.


Despite the fact that the tadpole might eat just anything that is provided to them, it is important to avoid some food types. Just like some foods can be harmful to us, there are some foods that can be harmful to the tadpoles. They include dog food, cat food with coarse grains, wild-caught larvae and bugs, processed foods with preservatives or seasonings and nutrient-poor foods.

It is advisable to try and stick to healthy sources of proteins, vitamins and carbohydrates and minerals. You should also ensure that you provide enough food regularly and ensure you provide a variety of food alternately to ensure they get all the necessary nutrients. Feeding them one type of food throughout can derive them some important nutrients. Also, ensure that the food changes as they grow as required.


Do tadpoles eat boiled eggs?

 Yes, tadpoles eat eggs. The yolks in specific, and they are a good source of protein and can be offered during feeding times in small portions.

Can tadpoles eat bread crumbs?

 Yes, tadpoles love eating bread crumbs. This does not mean you should feed them with the bread crumb. This is because they have very little nutritional value, and since they are not found in the wild, they are not compatible with the digestive system of the tadpoles.


By reading through this guide, it is now clear that you can be able to deal with the diet of wild and pet tadpoles. They generally eat their own eggs when hatched, algae and roots of aquatic plants, insect larvae, and other leafy green. Generally, the tadpoles’ diet should strictly consist of vegetables such as cabbage and spinach once a day. The diet can now be omnivores once the fish grows to a later stage after six weeks. The feeding should be done with a lot of care to avoid overfeeding them. Also, the food should be boiled and sliced into small pieces so that they can be able to feed with ease.

 Also, you should be careful to avoid some foods such as bread, animal food, human food, and other wild-caught meat and bugs. By maintaining everything as dictated, you will have a healthy tadpole that will later develop into adult frogs.

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