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Do koi eat tadpoles in a pond? Are tadpoles bad for your pond fish?
These are common questions. And like most questions in life, the answer is... it depends.
Let's break down whether you have to worry about your koi eating tadpoles, plus how to get rid of these little amphibian larvae if they become a problem.
Do Koi Eat Tadpoles?
Koi will eat frog tadpoles if other food is scarce and the tadpoles will fit in their mouth.
With that said, it's typically rare for them to eat tadpoles, so don't expect your fish to control a growing tadpole population.
And koi fish tend to stay away from toad tadpoles, as they are typically bigger around. Plus, the tadpoles of many toad species produce a toxin designed to keep predators away.
Do Koi Fish Eat Frogspawn?
Frogspawn is the eggs of a frog that are surrounded by a transparent jelly. Koi, and other pond fish like goldfish, will eat these frog eggs if they're available.
Frogspawn is harmless to your fish, so it's up to you if you want to move the frogspawn to a wildlife pond or leave them where they are.
They may or may not be eaten during their different stages of growth. So if you leave them, keep an eye on your pond environment to ensure there are no overcrowding or water quality issues that arise as they mature.
Do Koi Eat Frogs?
We now know that koi will eat frogspawn, and subsequently tadpoles, but do koi eat frogs?
If a frog is small enough to fit in the koi's mouth, then it may eat it. However, while koi carp have been observed eating frogs, it's not a staple in their diet.
If you feed your koi fish pellet food, that will make up the majority of their diet. So, while your koi might eat a frog if all of the conditions are right, it's still pretty rare.
And remember, if you have toads, your koi will be even less inclined to eat them since toads have a toxic secretion that can make koi sick.
Don't know if you have toads are frogs? Toads are warty-looking and bumpy, whereas frogs tend to have a sleek or smooth appearance.
Tadpoles in a Pond: Good or Bad
A small population of tadpoles is good to have in any sized pond or water garden. Tadpoles play an important role in the koi pond ecosystem and can benefit your pond by:
- Helping to keep your koi fish pond clean by eating algae and other organic material.
- Providing a natural food source for your fish
- Help to control mosquito larvae
- Tadpoles continue to play an important part in the ecosystem even as they grow up to be frogs and toads.
In other words, a small and controlled population of tadpoles can actually do your koi pond some good.
With that said, there are certainly some drawbacks to having tadpoles in a koi pond, including:
- Koi won't eat all of the tadpoles in your pond, and if frogs are left unchecked, they can quickly overpopulate.
- An overpopulated pond can lead to oxygen issues, excess sludge growth on the pond floor, and so on.
- Tadpoles, and eventually frogs, may attract more predators to your pond. Herons, for example, can quickly clean out a pond of fish and frogs, costing pond keepers a lot of money and headache.
Like most things in life, the key here is moderation. A moderate amount of tadpoles can be a positive and fun addition to your pond. You'll just need to take the extra precautions of making sure the population doesn't grow out of control and that any predators are handled accordingly.
How to Get Rid Of Tadpoles in a Pond
If you've decided that tadpoles aren't the right fit for your pond, you can effectively get rid of them by:
- First, get rid of any frogspawn as soon as you notice it. Look for frog eggs on the shallow edge of your pond or around plants. This can prevent tadpoles from calling your pond home, to begin with.
- If you already have tadpoles in your pond, you can use a pond net to scoop the tadpoles out of the water for relocation. You may need to scoop them out multiple times over several days to get them all.
- If frogs keep returning to your pond and laying eggs, pond netting placed over your pond, or chicken wire type fence around your pond can help keep them out.
- In severe infestations, you may need to remove your fish and drain the pond (though I can honestly say I've never seen nor heard of a tadpole infestation this bad).
If your pond is being infested by frogs, check out our guide on how to get rid of frogs in a fish pond for some important information.
We do not recommend using chemicals to remove tadpoles or frogs as they can have an adverse effect on not only your fish but the entire pond ecosystem.