Will a Pond Pump Kill Tadpoles?


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Amphibians, with their semi-aquatic lifestyles and extreme form changes as they mature, are fascinating creatures. The tadpoles of frogs and toads are one of the most well-known examples, and watching them develop in your garden pond can be a rewarding experience. But can a pond pump suck in and kill tadpoles?  

A pond pump can suck in and kill tadpoles if you do not take the right preventative measures. Pond pumps can quickly turn into tadpole graveyards due to the suction intended to filter out fish waste and debris, pulling the tadpoles into the device and killing them. 

However, hope is not lost for these amphibians and the humans that wish to keep them safe. Continue reading for ideas on how to protect these wonderful, minuscule animals.

What Can You Do To Prevent Them From Getting Sucked In?  

Pond pumps are dangerous to tadpoles as the creatures are tiny enough to be sucked through the filters and into the pump itself if they get too close. At only 5 mm (0.2 inches) long, it is easy for them to be pulled past the regular pump filters meant to prevent fish from being caught. This means that the best way to prevent tadpoles from being killed is to put something around the filter that they can’t fit through. 

Adding an extra layer of protection between the pump and tadpoles is your best bet at preventing these small amphibians from getting sucked in. However, there are no specific tadpole-friendly pond pumps on the market.

You’ll need to do a bit of modification yourself to prevent these small animals from being pulled to their death. The first option would be to use an item like this Hecaty Pump Barrier Bag (available on Amazon.com). 

The mesh netting’s holes are 1.6 mm (0.06 inches), meaning that tadpoles won’t slip through easily, and the product – available in multiple sizes for different pumps- is simple to slip onto your pond pump. 

A second option involves using an aquatic planter basket, like this TotalPond Aquatic Plant Basket (available on Amazon.com). Using this, you can make your own protective cage. The holes are a bit larger than the mesh bag’s at 4 mm (0.16 inches), but the planter basket is a sturdier option. It takes a bit more work to set up, but only just. 

  1. Cover the pump with the basket upside-down.
  2. Carefully place some stones on top to keep it from floating up. 
  3. You may also need to cut a small section in the basket for the power cord.

With both options, the goal is to have a layer between the tadpoles and the pump with holes large enough so that water can still circulate and be filtered, but smaller than a tiny amphibian. The former is why, for the second option, you can’t simply use a general bucket as opposed to an aquatic planter basket.  

Do You Need a Pump for a Pond?

Considering the above, you may wonder if it would be easier for yourself and safer for tadpoles if you simply removed your pond pump. A pump’s job is to keep the water clean and remove small debris, such as fish waste. If you decide to go without one, you’ll need to take on the job of cleaning and changing the water yourself. 

This means that, on the whole, a pond pump is a necessity, especially if you have fish. Pumps do a lot of work to keep the entire ecosystem of your pond healthy. Check out this article for more information on the importance of pond pumps.

How To Prevent Tadpoles From Getting Into the Pond

As cute and fascinating as tadpoles can be, there are multiple reasons why you may choose to remove them from your pond, even if it’s only to spare them from potential death by the pond pump. As they grow, the amphibians will compete with any fish for food and pose the risk of transmitting diseases such as salmonella to humans.

How To Safely Remove Tadpoles

One important thing to note when considering handling tadpoles or frogs is that some species are protected by state or federal laws. Identifying which species of amphibians have taken up residence in your pond is the first step to removing them.

In some cases, you may be able to deposit the eggs (also called spawn) or tadpoles in a nearby water source or even give the latter away as pets. However, due to the risk of upsetting another ecosystem with introduced new animals and any diseases they may carry, you’ll need to research options in your state for relocating these amphibians.

Now, while you can use a net and bucket to scoop up or add in predators such as koi to remove tadpoles from your pond, the best way to prevent them from ending up there is to stop adult frogs from laying their eggs in the area, to begin with. 

Cleaning out algae in a pond reduces the number of places a frog can lay their eggs. You can also install a fence that’s too tall for frogs and toads to jump over easily around your pond. 

How To Attract Frogs

While some people may see the extra steps and potential downsides as a reason to want to remove tadpoles from their ponds, others may be excited to learn how to help tadpoles grow up safely in their backyard. 

As with preventing tadpoles from ending up in your pond, the way to gain tadpoles is connected to adult frogs and toads. The difference is that you’ll want to attract the animals to your pond instead of convincing them to go elsewhere to lay their eggs. 

To do this, consider adding native plants and other areas for shelter. You’ll also want to ensure that frogs and toads can easily exit the pond; they’re amphibians, not fish.

Summary

If you have a backyard pond, you’ll want to do regular checks for tadpoles, as a standard pond pump will suck them in and kill them. 

You can help prevent this by adding an extra layer between the pump and the young amphibians, such as an aquatic planter basket with holes too small for them to fit through. 

Otherwise, you’ll need to identify the species and look into how to safely and harmlessly remove them.

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Lars

I am always happy to share all my knowledge about how to keep your garden in good condition and make it special.

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