Do tadpoles make ponds go green?


This excellenmt picture is from Matt Wilsons Blog:

The pond had a bad couple of weeks during the first half of June when it was looking disappointingly green (so disappointing I couldn’t bear to photograph it!).

You can get a hint of it in the first picture of the dragonfly in the previous post.


But why did this happen: well I blame the tadpoles.

There have been so many tadpoles in the pond that I have a feeling that, as they munched their way arround the pond, they have simply overwelmed the mosses that would otherwise be taking up nutrients.  Tadpoles aren’t meant to eat plants (only tiny algae) but mine have certainly tucked into the mosses in the pond. At times you can see them savaging the delicate mosses like a jackal stripping the carcass of a wildebeest.

At the same time the amount of tadpole poo meant that there’s probably been a superabundance of nutrients encouraging the little green monsters.

And there was a downturn in water fleas too – so nobody there to filter the algae out of the water either.

Result: very soupy water.

BUT….the good news is now the water’s beautifully clear again. Water fleas are back, and there’s maybe not such a big tadpole impact as some have become baby frogs and others the dinner of my voracious backswimmers (but don’t worry tadpole lovers – I’ve still got loads!).

At least, its a plausible theory.


2 Responses to “Do tadpoles make ponds go green?”

  1. Jon Cranfield Says:

    You are describing the natural process of booms and busts in plants and animals and I suspect that you would have got the same results if there were no tadpoles.

    Tadpoles need warm shallow water to be able to develop into frogs quickly – green water is over come by allowing aquatic plants grow and shade the water thus preventing the algae from blooming – People often clean out green soup ponds and reset the balance to clean fresh water only to find green algae again.

    Tadpoles will eat most dead matter – animal or plant – so as the mosses died back so they fed on this material – the abundance of tadpoles may have stirred things up and provided nutrients into the water.

    I wouldn’t worry about the tadpoles sounds like they are doing their job feeding the other inhabitants of the pond

    • Jeremy Biggs Says:

      Hi Jon

      The ponds gone back to clear again now! I’d be interested if anyone else had seen such rapid transitions during the summer.

      I think the taddies just temporarily overwelmed the pond – now a few have metamorphosed (and some become backswimmer dinners!), they’re not having the same impact.

      By the way I really think they were eating live mosses – which struck me as a bit unusual, though maybe they were actually grazing algae growing on the mosses. The mosses they were attacking (I use the word advisedly!) are still alive, though looking threadbare.

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