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I bought bullfrog tadpoles for my pond. What do I need to know about them?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I bought bullfrog tadpoles for my pond. What do I need to know about them?

Q: I bought bullfrog tadpoles for my pond. What do I need to know about them?

Iris – Kirkland, WA

A: Those big croaking amphibians sure love living in a water garden. Bullfrogs gobble pesky bugs and nibble on nuisance algae while entertaining their human hobbyists with their leaping prowess and trance-inducing ribbit-ribbit songs.

When they’re adults, bullfrogs are impressive creatures: As one of the largest frogs in the world, they grow to 8 inches long and weigh up to 1½ pounds. When they’re tadpoles, they’re impressive, too. The dark green swimmers measure up to 6 inches long, which is larger than most other frog species, and sport a dorsal fin that begins behind its arrowhead-shaped body.

Caring for your tadpoles involves understanding their habitat, diet and developmental stages. Here’s what you need to know to grow your baby bullfrog into a beefy bug-eating adult.

Healthy Habitat

Bullfrog tadpoles like to swim in shallow water on fine gravel bottoms. As they grow, they tend to move into deeper waters. They have speckled-skin camouflage to help protect them from predators, but you should still plan to provide a wide variety of floating and submerged plants, like parrots feather, frogbit and water lilies, as well as rocks and other hides to your pond. The little guys will hang out among them should a hungry bird or fish fly or swim by for a bite to eat.

Algae, Please

When they’re young, bullfrog tadpoles are herbivores that love to nibble on the string algae that forms along your rocks and under plants. Though they have been observed eating frog eggs (gasp!) and other newly hatched tadpoles, the algae should keep them more than satisfied – at least until they become adults. That’s when they become carnivorous critters with a hankering for bugs, rodents, reptiles, birds, small fish and even an occasional bat.

From Tadpoles to Adulthood

While they’re in their tadpole – or pollywog – stage, these tiny gilled critters live exclusively in the water. But after about one year, the tadpoles will start to grow legs. Shortly thereafter, they grow arms. As their tails shorten, they develop lungs and their gills disappear. The tadpole, now several years old depending on where it’s growing up, has finally transformed into a froglet that can make the leap from water to dry land.

Once your tadpole has grown into an adult, you can expect that bad boy to be around for 8 to 10 years. Enjoy your new pond pal! Ribbit!

Pond Talk: Have you ever been to a frog-jumping contest? If so, tell us about it!

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Why do I need aquatic plants in my water garden? When should I get them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Why do I need aquatic plants in my water garden? When should I get them?

Q: Why do I need aquatic plants in my water garden? When should I get them?

Melissa – Sedalia, MO

A: It’s a water garden, not a vegetable or flower garden, right? So why do you need plants in your pond? What purpose do they serve? Well, even if you don’t have a green thumb, there are some very good reasons why plants belong in your pond—four of them, in fact.

  • Fish Cover: First of all, floating plants like water lilies and water lettuce provide your pond’s inhabitants cover from predators and bright sun. Your koi and goldfish will appreciate the safety and shade those leaves provide, particularly when a heron comes to visit!
  • All-Natural Water Filter: Bog, floating and underwater plants, like water hyacinth, parrot’s feather and irises, naturally filter the water, too. They’re nicknamed “nature’s water filter” for a reason: They remove excess nutrients from the water while releasing oxygen during photosynthesis.
  • Habitable Habitat: Plants also create a perfect habitat for your aquatic life—both above and below the waterline—by providing food and shelter. Fish and snails hang out around the leaves and stems, frogs hunt for bugs and hide in the shade, and birds and insects flock to the flowers for nectar.
  • Aesthetics: Aquatic plants’ flowers and greenery make for some nice scenery for you, too. Imagine water lilies and irises bursting with color, and curly corkscrew rush and lizard’s tail softening the outline around the pond. Not a bad view while enjoying a balmy spring evening!

Even though Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, it’s still cold outside—too cold for plants. But you can still start thinking about cultivars you’d like to grow in your water garden!

You could head down to your local water garden retailer and check out their selection, but a better option is to order plants via mail order. Simply flip through your favorite mail-order nursery catalog or check out the assortment of aquatic plants at The Pond Guy®. Place your order and voila! Your aquatic plants will be delivered in the spring.

In many cases, if you place your order early the nursery will hold your order until the weather in your area is suitable to grow the plants. Another benefit of having your plants shipped: They’ll be less expensive because you’re not purchasing a full-grown potted plant. Once they arrive, they’ll need some time to grow—but once they get growing and blossoming, you won’t even know the difference!

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite aquatic plant?

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