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DIY Tadpole Food Recipe

With spring lots of animals come out of hibernation and one of our favourites are the frogs. Suddenly the pond is teeming with frogs and very soon frogspawn is covering the surface and we head off to collect it and raise our own tadpoles. Ever since I was a child it was one of the family traditions we had. I loved watching the frogs and toads develop from the frog spawn in a tank on the nature table or in a small pond from the eggs to the tadpoles to froglets. Now I have children of my own it’s a great way for my kids and their friends to get closer to nature and start to work on the gap that is forming as children spend more time on screens and less time outside and in nature.

Raising tadpoles is a fantastic way for kids to connect with nature but what do you feed tadpoles as you watch them change. Discover what you can feed tadpoles at different stages of development with these easy recipes for tadpole food.

Raising Tadpoles

Collecting and raising frog spawn to froglets in your own home. Simple low cost Nature activity for kids to do in Spring at home or in the classroom

Tadpoles are relatively easy to raise in a tank and then release back to the pond you found them in or start your own colony of frogs in a new pond within your back garden. You can find our full guide to raising tadpoles with tips on what equipment you need as well as the best way to collect the frogspawn when you find it.

What to feed your tadpoles

One of the questions that I get asked frequently is what do you feed the tadpoles once you have them and I have seen various different recommendations on sites starting with “feed the tropical fish food” or “Turtle Pellets” to buying expensive Tadpole and Frog Food. NO NO NO NO NO!

It’s much easier than you think to feed the tadpoles.

Tadpoles start out as algae eaters – so they are plant feeders. You can use a piece of pondweed from the pond where you found the eggs that is covered in algae as their food source.

However, it’s not needed – the easiest form of tadpole food is a slice of cucumber – slice the cucumber and then remove the outside so that your tadpoles have access to the soft inner layers of the cucumber and let it float on the surface.

Another alternative is to lightly boil some lettuce this will break the tough cellulose layers and then feed a little of this lettuce to the tadpoles.

As they grow bigger and the gills disappear and legs form, they transition into carnivores specifically eating insects. The main source of insects for these froglets are those found swimming in the pond water and on the surface so in the days before you return them to the pond make sure that you have followed our instructions on how to change your tadpoles water and then you should have lots of little insects for the froglets to eat.

So when they first hatch – either algae or the cucumber or lettuce described above. As they transform into frogs they turns into insect eaters so pond insects that you find naturally in pond water.

Equipment Needed for Feeding and Raising Tadpoles

Tadpoles swimming in a tank of water.
Tadpoles via Shutterstock

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If you have an old fish tank or aquarium laying around – fantastic if not then a glass vase will work – the larger the surface area the less frequently you will need to change the water but if not then you don’t need anything special – these little aquariums are perfect they have carry handles, and once the frogs have been released you could easily use them for watching snails, caterpillars or similar creatures during the summer months.

At the point where your tadpoles lose their gills and their legs form they need a place to rest and breathe a rock in the tank is ideal. Although you can use a rock from the pond or garden with the garden rocks you do need to be careful what you are bringing in so we have used rock in the past that is designed for aquariums.

Learning about and with Frogs and Tadpoles for Kids

As I said raising tadpoles is one of the great spring activities you can do with children that will help to connect them with the natural world. As they watch the tadpoles develop you can help them understand what is going on through some fun and easy learning activities.

A fun selection of Frog Books ideal for toddlers & preschoolers including our favorites with bright pictures & fantastic rhymes perfect for Spring Reading

Share some fun books with your youngsters and read about frogs and tadpoles.  We have a fun selection of fiction and non-fiction books which are fantastic to read aloud and share with toddlers and preschoolers however slightly older children will enjoy many of these as well.

Create your own puppets to use in circle time or with your child for the popular children's rhyme Five Little Speckled Frogs. These easy to make puppets are perfect for playing with and helping your child recognise numbers and count aloud as they sing the rhyme.

Sing one of our favourite counting rhymes about frogs and use these cute little craft stick puppets to accompany the song Five Little Speckled Frogs.

Simple and Fun Frog Counting Game for Preschoolers

Based on the song 5 Little Speckled Frogs we created a simple math game to count the frogs going into and out of the pond. Simple addition and subtraction for Toddlers and Preschoolers.

Frog Themed hopping phonics game for children learning to read. Download and print these free resources to help children to blend and read words.

Jump into the pond and support your child as they learn to read with this Frog Hop Phonics Game.

Raising tadpoles is a fantastic way for kids to connect with nature but what do you feed tadpoles as you watch them change. Discover what you can feed tadpoles at different stages of development with these easy recipes for tadpole food.


  1. Bernadett says:

    Hi, we have some froglets from tadpoles. 1 already has front legs. Currently in a see through plastic shoebox. Worried about them jumping out now. Have 1 rock halfway out of water, gave cucumber and boiled egg yolk. How should I amend the habitat, to see most of them mature before releasing back to pond side?

    1. Hi, when they get to this stage we have a netted lid on the “tank” shoe box so that they remain inside. When feeding we only lift up a small corner away from the rock where they are sitting. That way they won’t be able to jump through that corner.

  2. Melanie Perkins says:

    will the pond water hatch flying bugs into my house?

    1. We have never had this problem – change the water as necessary and any bugs will go with the water change.

  3. Useful advice, however we’ve just filled in the pond and replaced with a brand new one I. A different location. The frogs have filled it with spawn still but this new pond won’t yet have much natural food – we will give them cucumber and lettuce when they’re young, but when they’re older is fish food (or anything else) any use to them as a supplement to help them between bugs?


    1. Hi, there is specialist tadpole food that you can buy. However, if you can get some pond water then bugs like water fleas, mayfly lavae and other fly lavae will be present and this should quickly populate the pond. Also any pond plants should come with their own fauna that will provide food for them.

  4. This is so great! We have a koi pond at our new house and last year our first summer we had no koi but we had tadpoles and enjoyed watching them mature into frogs! But we had no idea we could catch them and feed them ourselves. The kids have a portable aquarium like you showed – it’s perfect! I can’t wait to do this.

    1. You and the kids will have such a great time watching them grow. It’s something I remember from my childhood and couldn’t wait to do it with my kids. If you have any questions that come up please ask away.

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