How to Find & Care for Bullfrog Tadpoles
Science for Kids of All Ages from Science Prof Online
As a science educator and mom, I always look for ways to make science fun and interesting for my own elementary school-age children.
How to Find and Care for American Bullfrog Tadpoles
We keep our tadpoles in a 10 gallon aquarium, about 3/4 full of spring water, with a with a pump and filter. The tank floor is covered with pebbles, about 2-inches deep.
Where Can You Find Bullfrog Tadpoles?
How to Find Bullfrog Eggs and Tadpoles In Nature
Kids love catching tadpoles and touching slimy masses of frog eggs! If you want to gather eggs and tadpoles from nature, breeding season is the time to do it.
The American Bullfrog breeds in the spring throughout its native range in North America, and where it has been introduced worldwide in the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Asia.
During breeding season, sheets of eggs can be found attached to aquatic plants at the shoreline of ponds.
One of the features of the Kid Science area of this website is a detailed look at our adventures with bullfrogs, including bullfrog tadpole metamorphosis.
This page has everything you need to know to find, house and feed bullfrog tadpoles.
The information falls into five categories:
- How to find frog eggs & tadpoles.
How to Take Care of Tadpoles
Where do our bullfrog tadpoles live?
How is the tadpole tank cleaned?
We clean the tank every few weeks by removing about half of the water, while using a plastic siphon to stir up the stones and matter that has settled to the bottom. We then replace the water with spring water (You can also use pond water, or dechlorinated tap water). We have well water but don't use it for the tadpoles, since it is treated with salts from the water softener.
What do the tadpoles eat?
In the wild, tadpoles eat algae, aquatic plants and insects. In the photo and drawing to the right, you can see the "whiskers" around the tadpoles mouth that helps it suck up algae like a little vacuum.
For the first several months, our tadpoles ate a combination of algae in the tank, nibbled on aquatic plants, and we fed them goldfish food, algae wafers, and tadpole food. We now feed them a little bit of tadpole food every day.
HOME SCIENCE PROJECT
We are keeping Dugesia! These cute, cross-eyed "immortal worms" have an almost limitless ability to regenerate. Even a small piece of one can grow onto a new worm!
to meet our flatworms!
Where to Purchase Bullfrog Tadpoles
We began our tadpole project in the winter, so we had to order our bullfrog tadpoles through the mail. Carolina Biological Supply offers a a few different types of living frog eggs, tadpoles and adults. The smallest number of bullfrog tads. The smallest number of tads were able to order was 6 (seven actually came in the shipment). Tadpoles are also available through Home Science Tools, but they offer a smaller variety.
They seem to respond best to tadpole food, so that is all that we currently feed them. We buy the tadpole food through Home Science Tools, linked above. If you can buy tadpole food at a local pet store, you'll avoid shipping costs.
Meet Our Bullfrog Tadpoles!
We got 4-month-old tadpoles in December, so as of July 2013, they are about 11 months old. During the five months we've had them, four have died and one, Biggie Tad, after completing metamorphosis, escaped the tank and died. All openings on the tank are now covered.
We are not sure why we had so many tadpoles die. Maybe we did not keep the tank clean enough (Water didn't always get refreshed regularly, and distilled water may have been used, which is not recommended). Maybe they should have been fed only tadpole food and fed more often. Perhaps that's why our supplier sent so many tadpoles.
We have been more careful and are now sticking to this routine: Refresh with spring water every two weeks. Feed daily, only the amount of tadpole food they will eat quiclky. Excess food makes the tank get dirty faster.
The photo to the right shows how the tadpoles arrived, in a plastic bag of water inside a Styrofoam container with a heat pack and bubble wrap. We were told the tadpoles were about 4 months old when shipped. The largest was nearly 7 centimeters long.
If you purchase tadpoles, they come with a warning not to release them, or the frogs they will become, into the wild, even if the American Bullfrog native to your region. So be prepared to provide a home for your tadpoles once they become adult bullfrogs. It is recommended that one adult bullfrog be housed in a 20 gallon tank, with five additional gallons for each additional bullfrog.
More Bullfrog & Kids Science Resources
Biggie Tad: Jumped out of small opening in top of tank shortly after metamorphosis. Oops! RIP.
Lumpy: Completed metamorphosis 7-23-13. Congratulation Lumpy!
Tiny Tad: Never morphed. Disappeared from tank in spring of 2014.
More Rad Tad
Info & Activities:
Young children are natural born scientists, full of curiosity! Join the at-home experiments and explorations of a scientist mom & her kids.
Latest Tadpole News
Sad news today. Lumpy, the little bullfrog we raised from a tadpole 2 years ago, died of unknown causes today.
Thanks for showing us how cool frogs are!
> See Lumpy's Story
Below is a poem about frogs by Mary Ann Hoberman
from the fantastic book of science-related poetry
This is a great book for your home library, comes complete with a CD of the poets reading their poems!
Wet bog …
If you are not a herpetologist (scientist who studies reptiles and amphibians) it may be hard to tell one type of frog egg, or even tadpole, from another, but collecting any type will give you a great window into frog metamorphosis.
The tank contains live aquatic plants, as well as pots and rocks so that there are many places for the tads to hide and feel safe. Here are instructions on how to set up your own tadpole tank.