What Do Tadpoles Eat

What do tadpoles eat? In order to raise tadpoles successfully into frogs, you'll need to provide a healthy diet that will change as your tadpoles grow.


One of the most important things you can provide your tadpoles with is fresh clean water. Tadpoles not only live in the water, but they also absorb it into their skin. The health of your tadpoles is directly related to how clean their water is. You can use outdoor water collected from sources like streams, creeks or ponds, but be sure that the water is not polluted.

If there is even the smallest chance of the water being polluted, use tap water or bottled water. You'll need to remove the chlorine from tap water before using it. To do this, let the water stand for seven days in full sunlight or add a few drops of commercial de-chlorinator, which is available at most pet stores. When using the drops, allow the water to stand overnight to get all the chlorine out of the water. If you are raising your tadpoles outdoors in a frog pond, make sure to locate the pond away from pine trees and oleanders. If the needles and leaves of these particular plants fall into the water, they can make the water toxic to the tadpoles. 

Tadpoles that are purchased from a pet store or commercial source usually come with a special tadpole food pellet. You may also find tadpole food pellets at some pet stores.

If you catch your tadpoles in the wild, or if you cannot find tadpole pellets, there are a few alternatives.

  • Lettuce: Young tadpoles enjoy eating lettuce, but you cannot just drop it into their enclosure. First, you need to boil the lettuce for 10-15 minutes, drain it and chop it up. After that, the lettuce should be laid out on a tray and frozen. For a small home enclosure, plan on feeding tadpoles a small amount of frozen lettuce every couple of days.
  • Fish Food: Some tadpoles will readily eat flaked fish food.
  • Other foods: Tadpoles aren't always picky. They may eat egg yolk, bacon ring, Cheerios, dog food or cat food.

It is important to watch the amount of food you put in the enclosure. If you put in too much food the water will get dirty quickly and you'll need to change it. If you don't give the tadpoles enough food, they will eat each other.

Changes in a Tadpole's Diet
When the tadpoles begin to develop legs, they will shift their diet from vegetables to meat. At this stage, larger tadpoles are likely to eat smaller, weaker tadpoles. This is a normal part of development, even if it's unpleasant for you.

Depending on the size of the tadpole, they may be able to eat crickets, which are easily found in most pet stores. If the tadpole is still too small for crickets, you can use other small insects.

Yor can feed bloodworms to the tadpoles by laying them inside the upturned lid of a jar. Fill the lid with a bit of water and the worms. The worms can also be placed directly in the water. Aphids and mealworms are also good tadpole meals that are easily found at pet stores. 

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