General Considerations When Raising Tadpoles

Frogs are fascinating amphibians which are increasingly being kept as pets by enthusiastic herpetoculturists. Caring for frogs in captivity naturally results in a desire to have a go at breeding them, providing other frog-keepers with captive born stock, making some money to recover the costs of buying the animals and equipment, and an amazing opportunity of observing the amphibian life cycle from egg to frog. Any successful frog breeding project must include research about, and a plan of how to raise the tadpoles.

Tadpoles are the larval form of frogs. The vast majority of amphibian species reproduce through externally developing eggs which result in aquatic tadpoles, and after a period of growth, undergo metamorphosis, which completely changes their morphology to froglets, which can live on both land and water. Because of the huge variety of types of frog that are bred in captivity, this article will not be able to provide detailed information about raising tadpoles of a specific species, but will discuss some universal considerations that are applicable to all tadpoles.

The vast majority of frog species start their life cycle as complete aquatic larvae, making the care of tadpoles is not dissimilar to that of aquarium fish and fish fry. Once the eggs are laid by the female they should be removed from the frog terrarium and placed in their own aquarium. The water in which the tadpoles will be reared must be dechlorinated, the easiest way to achieve that is by treating tap water with an aquarium fish water conditioner, which removes chlorines and chloramines. The water should be maintained at a temperature that is specific for the particular species of frog that you are breading, which might necessitate adding a heater to the aquarium.

It is best not to use gravel in the tadpole rearing tank, since it makes cleaning easier. Initially no filtration or aeration should be used, since the tiny tadpoles will find it hard to swim against the currents created and could be sucked up into the filter. It is easiest to start with a low water level, and gradually increase it by adding more dechlorinated water at the same temperature as the tank water, since water changes with tiny tadpoles are difficult. As the tadpoles grow in size and the rearing tank becomes filled with water, daily water changes of 50% of the water will become necessary to keep the water quality high. Gentle aeration with an airstone and an air pump should be added about 2 weeks after spawning. Biological filtration may be added using a simple sponge box filter driven by an air pump.

Feeding strategies for the tadpoles will depend on their species, and should be researched for each species that is raised. During the first few days after hatching, the embryos will not require food, since they will be absorbing their yolk sac. It is however preferable to start feeding too early, rather than too late, since starvation at this early stage in development can seriously delay growth and might lead to developmental abnormalities. Many frog species are herbivorous during their larval stages and can be fed on lettuce and other greens, which should be blanched under boiling water to soften them. Tadpoles of the African clawed frog are basically filter feeders and should be raised on infusoria, or powdered algae tablets. Providing some light over the tadpole tank will encourage the growth of algae and green water, providing a non-polluting and self-sustaining source of food. Carnivorous tadpoles such as those of the horned frogs, are perhaps the most difficult to feed, since they need live food and would probably do best on fish fry. They are often cannibalistic and will require isolating as they grow.

Caring for Chubby Frogs (Asian Painted Frogs)

About Chubby Frogs:

The Chubby Frog got its nickname because of its plump, round body. It is also called the Asian Painted Frog because of its origin and the fact that it has two stripes on its back that are outlined in black or dark brown, giving it a “painted” appearance. The frog’s scientific name is Kaloula pulchra. All the Kaloula pulchra frogs in the pet trade are wild-caught from their various natural habitats which include leafy forests, rice fields, and even small towns. During the daytime hours, these frogs stay hidden underneath leaves and debris. They emerge for feeding in the evening.

Choosing a Frog:

Make sure you pick a healthy Chubby Frog at the pet store. For one, make sure the frog is actually chubby! Its body should be full and round. If the frog is underweight, you’ll see bones sticking out. Examine the eyes for clarity, and the skin for open wounds or abrasions. If you go to the pet shop during the day, the frog should be hiding. If you find it out in the open, that could be a sign of illness. Of course, it could also mean that somebody else was recently examining it. Be sure to ask the pet store owner if someone was recently handling the frog. Unless the frog is disturbed or ill, it will remain hidden during the day.

Chubby Frog Housing:

A 10- to 15-gallon enclosure will give your frog the amount of room that it needs. If you’d like to house 2 frogs, a 20-gallon tank is recommended. Be sure to use a terrarium with a tight, screen lid secure enough to prevent escapes. These frogs are great climbers!

The bottom of the enclosure needs to be layered with substrate, at least 2″ deep for burrowing. Steer clear of gravel, wood chips, sand, and vermiculite or perlite. The best substrates for your Chubby include peat moss / potting soil mixes, eco earth, organic mulch, and coconut fiber.

Furnish the terrarium with potted plants, driftwood, and other items that the frog can use for hiding or climbing. To prevent the frog from uprooting plants while burrowing, you may wish to keep live plants planted in pots rather than directly in the substrate.

Your frog will prefer the temperature to be between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a heat lamp or under-tank heater to maintain the temperature. Aim for about 80 degrees F. during the day, and no cooler than 70 degrees F. at night.

A few times per week, mist the inside of the tank with water. Humidity is important for your frog. The water MUST be 100% chlorine-FREE!

NOTE: Day / Night Difference – Your frog needs to be able to tell day from night. For this reason, an under-tank heater may be better than a heat lamp. That way, you can maintain the temperature at night without having the bright light on in the frog’s face. Also, you should keep the frog’s terrarium in a location where it can naturally experience light during the day and dark at night. Try to keep it in a room that will not have lights turned on often at night.