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I see giant tadpoles and small black ones. Are these the same type of tadpoles at different stages? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I see giant tadpoles and small black ones. Are these the same type of tadpoles at different stages?

Q: I see giant tadpoles and small black ones. Are these the same type of tadpoles at different stages?

Roxanne – Summerfield, FL

A: From your description, it sounds like you have different types of tadpoles living in your pond. But to know for certain, let’s discuss how to distinguish bullfrog and toad tadpoles and understand how they develop into adults.

Egg-Citing Development

Both bullfrogs and toads reproduce by laying eggs in the water. Female bullfrogs deposit their eggs on the pond surface in large round clusters or masses protected by aquatic plants. One bullfrog can lay up to 20,000 eggs, which are then fertilized by the males. Toads create strands of dark-colored eggs that look like black pearls attached to foliage and leaves near the water’s edge.

After seven to 10 days, frog or toad tadpoles hatch from their eggs. Bullfrog tadpoles appear dark green to black in color and they’re big – much larger than other species of frog or toad. They also mature more slowly when compared to their toad counterparts. In fact, bullfrogs will stay in their tadpole stage for almost three years before transforming into adults.

From Adolescent to Adult

A toad’s and frog’s physical development from tadpole (or pollywog) to adult are similar. As tadpoles, they live exclusively in the water and nibble on aquatic plants for nourishment. At first, their bodies are long and narrow and include a tail where they store fat when food is in short supply during the winter months. Eventually, the tadpoles will start to grow back legs, followed by their front legs. And then their tails shorten and disappear, and they develop lungs. Before long they’re full-fledged adults.

Survive and Thrive

As with most critters in the wild, the strongest will survive – and tadpoles are no different. Out of the thousands of pollywogs that are born, only a percentage will make it to adulthood. They have, however, evolved some survival traits that protect them from predators, including their camouflage color that makes them excellent at hiding.

You can help boost their survival numbers by installing a decoy device, like an Owl Decoy or Nite Guard Solar®, designed to chase away rodents and snakes. With its timed head rotation powered by a built-in solar panel, the Owl Decoy will help repel nuisance birds and other small critters during the day. And the Nite Guard Solar® LED lights that resemble a predator’s glowing eyes will keep your pond – and your toads and frogs – safe at night.

Pond Talk: What kinds of frogs and toads live in your pond or lake?

Protect From Rodents &;amp Snakes - Scarecrow® SOL-R Action Owl

How does a bullfrog tadpole grow into a frog? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How does a bullfrog tadpole grow into a frog?

Q: How does a bullfrog tadpole grow into a frog?

Dan – Clovis, CA

A: What would a pond or lake be without bullfrogs? These croaking amphibians – which can grow to 8 inches in length and weigh up to 1½ pounds – reside near water sources, like lakes, ponds, rivers and bogs. The brown-green frogs with the scientific name Lithobates catesbeianus prefer warm, still, shallow water.

Through their seven- to nine-year life cycle, bullfrogs pass through several stages of development. Ever wonder what happens during those stages? Keep reading, because here’s what you need to know.

From Eggs to Tadpoles

Bullfrog breeding, which happens externally, takes place in May to July in the north and from February to October in the south. The female adult bullfrog, which sports a white throat during the mating season, deposits as many as 20,000 eggs in a foamy film in quiet, protected waters; the male, which has a yellow throat during mating rituals, then fertilizes them. Four days later, tiny tadpoles emerge. The little guys are able to fend for themselves right away and will stay in their tadpole stage for almost three years before transforming into adults.

Pollywog Waltz

While they’re in their tadpole – or pollywog – stage, the tiny gilled critters live exclusively in the water and nibble on water plants for nourishment. At first, their bodies, which can measure up to 6¾ inches long, are long and narrow and include a tail where they store fat when food is in short supply during the winter months. After about one year, the tadpoles will start to grow legs. Shortly thereafter, they grow arms. And then, their tails shorten, they develop lungs, and their gills disappear. The tadpoles have transformed into froglets.

From Aquatic to Terrestrial

After that two- to three-year tadpole-to-frog developmental period, the bullfrog ’s final growth stage is when the froglet hops from the water to dry land. Thanks to its fully developed lungs, the now-carnivorous and aggressive frog can now breathe oxygen, and that gives it the freedom to emerge from its watery first home to the shore where it can hunt for anything that will fit in its mouth, including insects, small mammals, birds, fish and other frogs. The adult bullfrog rests by day, and defends and hunts its 3 to 25 meters of shoreline territory by night.

Finally, after three to five long years of growth and development, the tadpole has become an adult bullfrog and reached sexual maturity – and the life cycle begins again. Bullfrogs in the wild live to about 7 to 9 years old; in captivity, they can live as long as 13 years.

Now the next time you hear your bullfrogs croaking, you’ll have a new appreciation for them!

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite part of having bullfrogs in your lake or pond?

What happens to the frogs and toads during the winter? | Pond & Lake Q&A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

What happens to the frogs and toads during the winter?
Dustin – Huntsville, UT

As the temperatures continue to drop you will begin to notice that your pond, once full of life, is now starting to look like abandoned arctic tundra. Gone are the cool summer nights spent on your patio and deck watching fireflies tastefully illuminate your lawn while being serenaded by a choir of frogs and crickets.

While you are inside cuddled under blankets for the season where do your web-footed friends spend their winter? The winter retreat of choice will depend on the type of frog you have hanging around your pond. You will commonly find either some variety of frog frequenting the shallow areas or shoreline of your pond and toads farther inland rummaging about your gardens or front lawn. Both are very similar but can usually be identified by a few visual characteristics. Frogs tend to have smooth glossy skin that feels slimy to the touch while toads have dry lumpy skin. The eyes of a frog tend to protrude further from its head than those of a toad. A toad will usually have poison sacks located behind their eyes which help prevent them from becoming a snack for larger predators.

As frogs are cold blooded they will begin to slow down as their body temperatures drop. When winter arrives they will go into a state of dormancy and wait out the cold weather. The hibernation strategy varies between species of frogs. Toads tend to bury themselves in leaves or mud while frogs can pass the winter at the bottom of your pond below the ice. Frogs produce a type of glucose in their bodies that will allow them to freeze solid and still be able to survive. As the temperatures begin to rise in the spring their hearts will begin to beat again and they will begin to thaw. When they are once again mobile they will actively search for a place to mate.

Since frogs have an arsenal of survival skills to get them through the winter there is not much you have to do to help them survive the cooler months. Instead focus on keeping yourself warm and healthy and try your best to enjoy the snow and beautiful landscapes this winter brings

POND TALK: Do frogs frequent your pond? How do they adapt to the changing season in your area?

My Fish Are Nibbling At My Toes When I Swim. Why Is This Happening And How Can I Stop It? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

My Fish Are Nibbling At My Toes When I Swim. Why Is This Happening And How Can I Stop It?

My Fish Are Nibbling At My Toes When I Swim. Why Is This Happening And How Can I Stop It?

Holly – Wiggins, CO

While we love hand feeding our fish from time to time, nothing ruins your day faster than taking a dip in your cool refreshing pond water only to be reduced to an overgrown chew toy. No one wants to swim in a pond where they feel they may be next one the menu, so how do you stop your touchy feely finned friends from taste testing you and your friends?

It is common to have the smaller prey fish in your pond try to make a quick meal out of your fingers and toes than their larger predator counterparts. It is a sign that your pond may be imbalanced, creating a shortage of food for your smaller fish. They are simply trying to find a snack wherever possible and that includes your precious phalanges. Keep tabs on your fish population to make sure you have a balanced ratio of 3 prey fish to every predator.

If you have an abundance of smaller fish in the pond you may want to introduce some minnows into the water to give them a quick and easy meal that can be replenished over time. If your pond does have an unbalanced population, investigate why this may be. Make sure you have adequate habitat in the pond for your small fish to hide and mature and if you feel your fish are having trouble finding enough food consider manually feeding them using a quality fish food like Game Fish Grower Fish Food.

If you are not quite sure what or how to feed your fish read our Fish Food Blog. Also for some great tips on adding habitat to your pond click over to our Creating Habitat Blog.

Pond Talk: Do your fish nibble at you when you swim in your pond?

The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower Fish Food

Why do fish swim in schools? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Why do fish swim in schools?

Why do fish swim in schools?
Chris – Akron, OH

Most people are well aware that fish – most of them, anyhow – swim in tightly-knit groups known as schools. But when pressed for a rationale, few people know exactly why fish are so intent on sticking together. As it turns out, school is just as smart for fish as it is for people – but for some very different reasons. So, in no particular order, here they are.

There’s safety in numbers. When pond and lake predators look for a meal, they look for easy targets. And while a school of fish might seem like a logical choice, it’s actually easier to identify a single target – and track it down. Schools of fish, on the other hand, present multiple targets. And when a predator goes in for a snack, the school scatters, making it difficult to keep track of a single individual long enough to catch it.

But when survival’s at stake, group behavior can always use a helping hand. That’s why we recommend Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres. When placed in your pond, fish will enjoy improved spawning habitat, and young fish will have a great place to hide when predators are on the hunt. Using our Fish Attractor Spheres, you’ll see improved fish survival rates, healthier stocks, and, if you’re so inclined, better fishing.

The buddy system makes life easier. When a fish goes solo, he faces currents and resistance all alone. And when you have to fight resistance on your own, you have to work hard just to get where you’re going. In schools, however, a lazy fish can draft off the fish around him, significantly reducing resistance. By reducing the energy they need to expend, they can expend even less energy looking for food.

For a good paradigm, think of the Tour de France. During each stage of the race, a few aggressive riders typically break from the tightly-packed peloton. Those lead riders are often overtaken late in the race by riders who stuck with the peloton for the majority of the race to enjoy the benefit of riding behind and among other riders whose bodies reduced wind resistance and made the ride less fatiguing. The breakaway riders, on the other hand, are forced to work harder, making it tougher to maintain the lead. Migratory birds often employ the same tactic, flying in v-formations to reduce drag and conserve energy.

While schooling helps to preserve energy, it’s still important that your fish have the proper food to stay healthy, active, and capable of successful reproduction. We strongly recommend a scientifically-balanced food like Game Fish Grower Fish Food. Designed to promote optimal growth of game fish like bass, bluegill, trout and perch, the large pellets are high in protein, which helps to promote a strong, healthy fish population for more satisfying game fishing.

Having walked our way through fish that do school, it’s worthwhile to note that some simply don’t. In most cases, those fish have evolved with a different set of survival techniques – from hiding to aggression – that works just fine for them.

Pond Talk: Do you often see your fish swimming in a school in your pond?

Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres - 3 Pack

What happens to the frogs and toads during the winter? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

What happens to the frogs and toads during the winter?
Dustin – Huntsville, UT

As the temperatures continue to drop you will begin to notice that your pond, once full of life, is now starting to look like abandoned arctic tundra. Gone are the cool summer nights spent on your patio and deck watching fireflies tastefully illuminate your lawn while being serenaded by a choir of frogs and crickets.

While you are inside cuddled under blankets for the season where do your web-footed friends spend their winter? The winter retreat of choice will depend on the type of frog you have hanging around your pond. You will commonly find either some variety of frog frequenting the shallow areas or shoreline of your pond and toads farther inland rummaging about your gardens or front lawn. Both are very similar but can usually be identified by a few visual characteristics. Frogs tend to have smooth glossy skin that feels slimy to the touch while toads have dry lumpy skin. The eyes of a frog tend to protrude further from its head than those of a toad. A toad will usually have poison sacks located behind their eyes which help prevent them from becoming a snack for larger predators.

As frogs are cold blooded they will begin to slow down as their body temperatures drop. When winter arrives they will go into a state of dormancy and wait out the cold weather. The hibernation strategy varies between species of frogs. Toads tend to bury themselves in leaves or mud while frogs can pass the winter at the bottom of your pond below the ice. Frogs produce a type of glucose in their bodies that will allow them to freeze solid and still be able to survive. As the temperatures begin to rise in the spring their hearts will begin to beat again and they will begin to thaw. When they are once again mobile they will actively search for a place to mate.

Since frogs have an arsenal of survival skills to get them through the winter there is not much you have to do to help them survive the cooler months. Instead focus on keeping yourself warm and healthy and try your best to enjoy the snow and beautiful landscapes this winter brings

POND TALK: Do frogs frequent your pond? How do they adapt to the changing season in your area?

I see the little black tadpoles in my pond every year how do they get from tiny little tadpoles to full grown frogs? – Pond & Lake Q & A

I see the little black tadpoles in my pond every year how do they get from tiny little tadpoles to full grown frogs?

I see the little black tadpoles in my pond every year how do they get from tiny little tadpoles to full grown frogs? Troy – Demotte, IN

Anyone that has had a pond or is near water has probably heard the call of the bull frog. The low call heard that keeps us up at night, is from the male frog during mating season. Soon after, up to 20,000 eggs are laid and tiny tadpoles appear and begin their journey to adulthood.

Tadpoles will begin feeding on algae or other forms of plant life in their area but may also eat eggs or compete for food against other species of frogs if necessary. Since the tadpole stage offers little defense mechanism, many of the tadpoles are not able to survive, though not all are lost as there are a couple ways they are able to escape danger. Coloration makes it easy for them to blend in with surroundings. When you first walk up to the pond you may not notice them right away. At least not until you disturb them and they begin to swim. This movement is defense number two. Their small mass and quick tail allows them to swim hastily away from the opposing threat. If by some chance their tail can’t get out of the way quick enough, have no fear, the tadpole is able to just grow a new one.

As the tadpole continues to growth it will begin to develop eyes, gills, mouth and teeth to continue feeding. After some rapid growth spurts the tadpole can reach up to 6” in length before growing any legs. This process generally takes up to 3 years to complete.

Finally the legs begin to grow. The back legs start first and then the front legs. Now the tadpoles become more mobile, they lose their gills, develop lungs and a hard skeleton. At this point you can see the tadpole begin to take the shape of a frog. The last thing to go is the tail.

The growth process continues as the frog can now feed on insects and other tasty treats that may pass by until the coming spring when they too will join in the spring time calling.

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