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My ponds have an abundance of BF and LF tadpoles - and by abudance I mean literally thousands - and despite my predator heavy fishery I see no impacts on their populations nor have I ever witnessed a tadpole being hammered. My theory is that these tadpoles must possess some kind of taste that fish find disagreeable otherwise how could they swim so slowly and in wide open water with such impunity?

Bear in mind my fisheries lack LMB as species, but for HSB, YP, BG, RES, and SMB I have found that tadpoles are not preferred forage, if they are targeted at all.

I have tried to test this theory by tossing LF tadpoles into a pellet feeding frenzy and while they were initially swallowed by SMB and HSB they were soon regurgitated.

I have also seen tanks of BG and SMB overwintered back at Condello's place with LF and BF tadpoles, PK Shrimp and FHM. After a month all the FHM, shrimp and all but the biggest BG were gone. The tadpoles seemed untouched.

It stands to reason an otherwise apparently defenseless, slow swimming organism like a tadpole must have some kind of unseen deterrent enabling it to escape predation or they would have become extinct long ago.

Anyone else witnessed this reluctance to prey on tadpoles? Can someone enlighten us on whether tadpoles possess some kind of enzyme that makes them distasteful? I do surmise once tadpoles become toads or frogs they must lose this defense mechanism as frogs are definitely a preferred forage item for SMB and LMB.






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My experience is that predators decimate tadpole populations.

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TJ. I'm glad you brought this up.I've been thinking about this also.I have a small pond with no fish...and thousands of tadpoles.But no signs of turtles or any other natural predator. My main pond with CC, BG, and GSF(and now YP and WE).... many tadpoles but not like the other fishless pond. I also have a pond with mostly CC, and thousands of fingerlings, and many adult sized CC, I never see any tadpoles, or even frogs for that matter congregating the waters edge. The CC pond is void of vegetation, in the water and at the waters edge. The CC pond is highly turbid, and any sunfish caught from there look almost albino.

I have read and heard that many frogs, including the bullfrog, in their skin produces a toxin, that a predator will find disgusting and not eat the frog.I witnessed a guy a lot of years ago, trying to impress small children who had caught a bullfrog,he pretended to eat the frog, and put it in his mouth, and soon he was frothing like he was rabid.I have had people tell me that Leopard frogs were wonderful bait, but have never had even a bite while trying them. I have never cleaned any kind of fish that had anything resembling a frog or tadpole in their stomach.

I am personally skeptical about the truth of fish eating frogs or their tadpoles.But being from the "show-me-state", I have to see it to believe it.

I do know that large bullfrogs eat nice size BG. I helped my dad years ago clean bullfrogs. Their stomachs contained BG, and larger than you would think.I personally use them for target practice anymore.


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TJ, last summer when we had an abundance of leopard frog tadpoles in our pond-in-the-works my son and his friends insisted on bringing a lot home with them. I'm talking probably around 2000 of these little guys. I have a 150 gallon aquarium that I have LMB, BH, CC, gar, etc. in. Each species in the tank LOVED eating those tadpoles. Not sure if that's the same scenario you're looking for, but in my experience, in a very captive environment, they slurped up the tadpoles and couldn't get enough. Not sure what to think of your experience except that maybe you've spoiled your babies. grin

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Frogs (adults and tadpoles) are some of the best big bass and catfish bait I have ever used. If I can catch one while fishing, it goes on the line immediately.

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I don't think anyone disagrees that frogs are obviously a great LMB, SMB, and catfish bait. See the 6 pages of Cabelas or BPS dedicated to frog topwaters and plastics ad it's obvious. I caught my personal best 29# CC on a sand toad, in fact.

Hope to hear from others on this topic and their experiences...


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TJ:

I have seen 100's of thousands of toad tadpoles in my pond, and their numbers are decimated by the fish. I've also tried stocking BF in my pond, via tadpoles. I had 2-3 make it to adulthood, but they soon disappeared.

Without sufficient cover to hide in, I think they all become food for the fish.


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Tallying a common theme for replies where tadpoles are preferred forage - existence of CC and/or LMB. Still trying understand my experiences where they are rejected as forage as I've witnessed it multiple times. It may have a lot to do with the fact both CC and LMB are like vacuums and consume any ready meal they come across. If my fish were using tadpoles as forage I would think their populations would be noticably impacted and subsequently my fish would have WR of 200! Neither is happening...I'll keep experimenting and logging results.


Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Someone just emailed me this guy's post on another forum who also was able to witness tadpoles in aquarium setting [Springfield BPS]. When there's nothing else, maybe tadpoles are consumed, but in my experience they are not a preferred forage item. I'll keep looking.


04-29-2008, 10:36 PM
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Re: will fish eat tadpoles?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think that tadpoles are a last choice food item. The reason I say this is, I was doing some seminars at Bass Pro in Springfield about 3 years ago. The seminars were downstairs by the large tanks. The fish were fed during my seminar. Mixed in with the minnows were a few tadpoles. Every time one of the larger fish would eat a tadpole, it would immediately spit it back out. The tadpoles died from all the rough treatment and sank to the bottom of the tank. I noticed there were several others on the bottom of the tank from previous feeding sessions. I see lots of tadpoles in my rivers also but few crawfish. I guess the fish like the crawfish better.


Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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It may be that tadpoles are not as tasty as minnows. If both were sitting on the table, would you prefer Fillet Mingon or Butt Steak?

Now, would you not eat Butt Steak if that was the only thing on the table?

Or, would you run 1/2 mile to eat fillet vs. just sitting down to a dinner of butt steak?

I've seen smaller LMB almost end up on the bank after chasing after some of the tadpoles that were in very shallow water.


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This topic reminded me of a conversation I had with a Nebraska biologist about this very subject. Here's what he said.

"I ain't saying that fish will not eat them, but I don't think they like them very much."

Shorty also chimed in.

"Certain types of tadpoles DO leave a bad taste in a fishes mouth and fish DO learn to avoid certain types of tadpoles. If you are going to use tadpoles for bait you need to be selective."

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I find it interesting when reviewing tackle catalogs to note there are hundreds of minnow patterns, dozens of frog imitations, and only a few tadpole patterns. That sheds some light about tadpoles role in forage base.


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I Do know that toad tadpoles tastes just as bad as toads to animals. I have had frogs and frog tadpoles readily eaten in ponds and during fishing. I have attempted to feed toad tadpoles and the just spit them out. Perhaps the tadpoles you have are from toads and not frogs?


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Sounds like the wine tasting event at the next PondBoss convention needs to be replaced with a tadpole blind taste test....

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I have literally thousands of tadpoles and baby frogs/toads every year. The bass boil the water as we walk down the bank and they jump in.

I'm not sure if they're preferred, but apparently they are filling.

I'll be trying some of the new smaller top water frogs this year and find out.


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Bullfrog tadpoles are what dominate my ponds. I see fewer of the leopard frog tadpoles. The only thing that seems to like my bf tadpoles are coons and crayfish.


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Bobby, in my pond they are toad tadpoles. I see the toads in the water, and the tadpoles are black, not brown.


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Fish generally will not touch toad tadpoles in my experience. I have tried over and over again to fed them they eat them but spit them out. Perhaps you have a mixture of tadpoles or your fish are accustomed to them, I have failed trying to use them as food for fish though.....The toad tadpoles mature relatively quickly depending on water temps of course. They are outstanding eaters and will clean up algae and detritus all around the pond. You will soon see loads of miniature black baby toads leaving the water. they get in my red claw pond and dont get bothered. It is inside my fence line and the newly formed toads end up bunched up in large groups in the corners of the wooden privacy fence.

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In early spring a few years ago we noticed frogs surfacing in our pond for a brief touch and go and then apparently were going back down to the bottom. That afternoon we caught CC that were full of intact 4-5" frogs. One had 4 frogs in its belly. The warts of toads are a bad tasting defense mechanism. makes sense that fish would eat frogs and not toads.


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Originally Posted By: BobbyRice
They are outstanding eaters and will clean up algae and detritus all around the pond.


I had thousands of tadpoles last year and no large predators to thin them down because of a fish kill. My pond was algae free until most of the tadpoles became frogs. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens this year.


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Adult frogs and toads will exude toxins of the things they eat as defense, so it makes sense that what the tadpoles eat may be similar. Perhaps some types of vegetative materials will help them produce materials that the fish hate, for example tasting just like a plant.

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I've got a new pond in the process of filling that has millions of tadpoles in it right now, mostly toads. The only fish in there are 500 1" BG and 3 lbs of minnows so nothing big enough to really eat them even if they wanted to. But today I saw a pair of spotted sand pipers (I had to look that one up in the bird book!) gorging themselves on tadpoles with no regard to toad or not. Some species of tadpole are getting pretty big and it was interesting to watch them with binoculars shake the life out of the bigger ones before sucking them down.


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Interesting things you get to see when you own a pond! Tell us more about you and your pond Jimmi... Welcome to Pond Boss!

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I do not know the difference between my tadpoles but tonight when I was out fishing the pond with a small black fly I noticed fish boiling next to a large swarm of small jet black tadpoles. I tossed the small black fly in and began catching a bunch of small long ears and small hybrid bluegills. I did see several of the yoy fish eat the tadpoles.

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Hey Ozark,

It sounds like my tadpoles may be getting a free ride this year - as long as they can keep growing faster than the BG I put in there! grin Glad to hear your tadpoles seem to be being converted into something useful...fish!


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