Quick Reference

Tadpole Nourishment

Food preferences of dendrobatid tadpoles.

The life cycle of dart frogs is amazing. As juveniles they are fee swimming, armless, tailed, scavengers. They then metamorphose to limbed, tailless, predators and live the rest of their life on land. The diet of the juveniles obviously differs from their parents, but as the frog is formed during this stage, their diet must be nutritiously complete.

Egg Feeders

One of the interesting evolutionary tricks some dart frogs do is "egg-feeding". Egg feeding is where a female lays eggs in the pool the tadpole is growing. She lays one or a few eggs every couple days and the tadpole feeds on these eggs. In true egg-feeders the tadpoles will eat little to nothing besides the eggs they are fed, while in "obligate" egg-feeders the tadpole will eat other foods if available. Obligate egg-feeders, though having the egg-feeding behavior, are able to thrive on other food sources so are classified here as omnivores. True egg feeder tadpoles eat only eggs but will thrive on this diet.

Algae Feeders

Tadpoles that feed on algae appear to shift between filter feeding and grazing. Recently hatched tadpoles may be getting a significant amount of their nutrition by passively filter feed on the small particles of allege and other organic material floating in their water. As the tadpoles grow they move toward grazing on the algae and organic material that settle or grow in their pool.


Tadpoles need a diverse and full diet to thrive. The easiest way they can get this is by eating a great variety of foods. Many tadpoles are omnivores - feeding on whatever plant or animal material they have access to. Some tadpoles take it to the extreme by being cannibalistic.

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