Housing: It is best to keep each tadpole in its own separate environment so they will eat and leave each other alone. We began with small tanks and moved them into larger ones once they began to get legs. We used natural aquarium gravel for the bottom, added a couple of plants and smooth stones, and a couple of inches of water (don't use tap water until you let it sit out for a couple of days to get rid of the chlorine. I keep some in a milk jug and just keep replenishing it.) Change the water at least once or twice a week, or whenever it looks scummy or smells bad. I scoop out the water with a cup until it is almost 1/2 inch deep, and then add fresh water by pouring it over my hand into the tank to keep from disturbing the gravel too much. Every couple of changes, the whole tank needs to be emptied and the gravel washed.
Once the tadpoles grow legs, they need to be able to get out of the water, and you can use washed aquarium sand pushed to one side of the tank to create a beach and use the gravel in the other side for the "pond." I also added some larger smooth stones where the sand meets the water to keep the sand from eroding and provide a place for the little froglet to climb. The tadpoles don't seem to care whether it is night or day, but the froglets are very skittish in the light and want to hide during the day, so we also added a cave (an aquarium ornament) for them to sleep in. They tend to stay in it all day unless disturbed, and they come out to sit on the beach at night.
Feeding: Start off with Tadpole and Frog Bites which I found at Petsmart. Only feed each tadpole 2 or 3 little pellets per day. Don't overfeed them, but don't underfeed them either. As the tails are shrinking and the legs are appearing, the tadpoles' lungs, teeth, and tongues are developing and they will not eat. They are digesting their tails and will not be able to eat until they have finished this stage. Then, the fun begins...
The little carnivores will now only eat food that moves, and they will feed at night. This is a blessing, because you can feed them at bedtime and turn off the lights without having to witness the
carnage miracle of nature.
We started off trying crickets. If you buy the "crickets to go," it is nearly impossible to get any out of the container without a whole bunch of them escaping, so we got one of these
All you have to do is pull out the black tube, shake a cricket out onto Frog Beach, and then put the tube back into the cricket keeper. We are feeding our crickets a slice of fresh potoato and added a small piece of sponge soaked with water to the keeper for them to drink from. Note: Crickets are stupid. They will drown themselves willingly and quickly. Don't put a water bowl in the keeper.
You can put a couple of crickets in the aquarium each night, but most of them end up floating in the water in the morning to be fished out.
Our next foray into frog feeding involved minnows.
These cost about 10 cents apiece so are pricier than crickets. We had two die of natural causes, one is unaccounted for, and the others swim really fast. So now we are adding a flake of fish food to the aquariums each night as well.
Leo Lionni wrote this really nice book about the friendship between a frog and a minnow, which I now view as a little disturbing.
After these attempts at froglet feeding didn't seem to be too successful, we finally hit on our little darlings' favorite food.
Warning--not for the squeamish...
They must be kept
In. The. Fridge.
And, once a week, you must take them out of the fridge, put in a fresh carrot, and wait an hour or so for them to eat.
One of these lovelies gets dropped onto Frog Beach each night and has disappeared by morning. You actually have to touch them to get them out of the container.
It's funny how two tadpoles have led to a house full of creepy crawlies to feed. Discovery learning is awesome. Really.
Some books we have consulted are below :)