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Fire Belly Toads Vivarium
From Breeding to Tadpoles
Facts, Feeding
Problems and Illness
The Tank Water
Making the Vivarium
From Breeding to Tadpoles
Frog Links and References


Sexing Bombina's isn't particularly easy. Males are smaller and have nuptial pads on their slightly larger front legs around the 'thumbs' to help them grasp the female but it's like a tiny bump I don't really know how to spot. The only way to be certain is to catch which frog is chirping. Only the males chirp and it sounds more like a hooting sound. Females might have a more pointy butt or a difference in cloaca but I can't confirm that.

Sometimes it's not hard to tell because I've found a chirping male once in a while look pretty loose skinned like he lost weight rather quickly and he's looking kinda baggy there. The majority of the breeding time they've got the partners right with the males on top of the females but most other times the boys are humping each other with the females well out of the way on land somewhere, not wanting to be bothered.


Females can lay anywhere from 40 to 300 eggs in a season as various small clutches ranging from 4 to 20 or so eggs. Breeding the bombina's is not really hard at all. I feed them slightly less, a little more often and change the water much more often. Giving them the sense they sorta hibernated for the winter by starting a weekly water change in the spring pretty much does it since mine don't have any special tank heaters or lighting.

Immediately after a water change my toads are in the grasping position with one on top of the other but isn't necessarily a guarantee eggs are coming any time soon. I'm not exactly sure on it but I'm certain my females first get fat, almost looking like they've gotten pregnant. It's no wonder though considering the amount of eggs they dispense and their size.

Once they dispense the eggs the male releases his sperm which pretty much looks like another bulb of goopy stuff with tiny little black dots in it. For the most part the clear gloopy ball of eggs stay together but they can still end up all over the place in the water on all surfaces from them moving around while the dispensing is going on. The eggs themselves stay where put very well as the goopy stuff was designed to do. If you've planned on breeding them, don't use a water filter. It'll suck up the eggs and destroy them. An air pump particularly during breeding season is fine.

Viable Eggs

Once eggs are noticed they should be monitored within the next 24 hours. Bad eggs turn white, molding over. In one hand this would feed an emerging tadpole, but in the other this same molding can transfer to a viable egg and kill it.

The only way to really tell an egg is viable is that it begins to change shape within the next couple of hours from a round ball to looking something like a small peanut or kind of phalic. This is the time to remove the eggs from the toad tank.

Give the adult toad tank about three more days, to watch for viable eggs you might have missed or any tadpoles swimming around by the third to fourth day. After that it's safe to change the water in the adult toad tank up to a full week. They will begin to want to act like they're breeding again, but the females should be given at least those first three days to have a break. Give them another 5 days to a full week before changing the water again but change it for sure every week from spring to fall for breeding season.

After they've laid one batch of eggs, it might be around 4 weeks before they lay any more, if any.

Eggs into a Tadpole Tank

The best way I've found to take the eggs out of the adult toad tank is to remove anything in the way, rinse them gently into a large bucket off of these objects using a syphon hose or turkey baster and the adult toad tank water. Then, syphon the remaining eggs out of the water with a turkey baster into the same bucket.

Have a tank prepared for the eggs. The tank should have a bottom lined with river or playground sand and activated carbon. Don't use gravel because the tiny tadpoles can bury themselves in it and get stuck. Have plenty of water because there will be allot of them. I'm averaging better than 20 for my toads first time breeding season and these little tadpoles make allot of mess and need constant water changes if there are that many in a 10gal tank or smaller. For less water changes would be more like 10 per 10gal tank.

As long as the water temperature in the new tadpole tank is the same temperature as the adult toad tank they're coming from, it's safe to gather the eggs from the bucket by pouring it into a fish net and then putting the contents of the fishnet into the new tadpole tank. Remove as many of the bad eggs as possible with the turkey baster, but you don't have to get all of them. It will be safer for the viable eggs since they all stick so well together, to remove the last of the bad eggs once the tadpoles have emerged from their egg shells.

Using the turkey baster again, remove the last of the bad eggs into the bucket. Make a water change for the tadpole tank out of it, but keep the bucket overnight, just to check to see if any stray tadpoles ended up in there before you throw the water away. The water change for the tadpole tank should be half the water, but can be less as long as water temperatures are the same.

The tadpole tank can contain some extra things beneficial for a growing tadpole. They like to dig and bury so having larger stones to scramble around, live plants and even a little sphagnum moss will benefit them. Eventually as the tadpoles become bigger, they will need to be separated, having as many as 10 in a 10gal tank or fewer in smaller 5gal tanks. If you have too many in too small of a tank some will outgrow others allot faster and bigger ones may end up eating the smaller ones.

Also tadpoles are extremely sensitive to having the most neutral and clean water. You can use 7 day distilled tap water. Using rain water that isn't green with algae is the most ideal. From feeding and numbers, the water will have to be changed. Depending on the numbers and feeding, this can be anywhere from every 3 days to every week. Tadpoles are very easy to make their water too high in ammonia and/or too dirty, cloudy or slimy from food which is why I like to add a bit of sphagnum moss. Technically it should help break ammonia down into nitrates like the activated carbon does except it will float if I want it to and it's tiny particles are not so alarming as overfeeding. These guys need plenty, plenty of oxygenated, pure, sterilized water.

It's also best to leave them either with an air pump with the air stone closer to the surface of the water than the bottom or with an oxygen stone that doesn't require an air pump and lasts about a month, to provide them the least water flow disturbance possible. They like to spend allot of time just resting in one spot, mostly becoming particularly active only when they're eating.

Feeding Tadpoles

It takes only one more day, or another 24 hours for the little peanuts to start to look like tadpoles and come out of their egg shells. After this they have nothing left to do but become bigger. They will be a little larger than a cooked grain of rice emerging, then about English pea sized by the third day. By the third day they will also begin to eat normally and be fairly hungry for a regular feeding.

The should be fed at least twice a day in very small portions. Very particular favorites for tadpoles are spirulina and daphnia and any varieties of algae available for tadpoles. They can eat less than half of an algae pellet per day, which will mold over very fast in the first feedings because of the residual mold left after the bad eggs were removed. They can also eat a pinch of finely crushed fish flakes twice a day, which will also catch the mold if any gets left over from immediate eating. This will go on until enough, nearly full water changes have cleared most of the mold and the clutter it's clinging to, out. If you don't get enough of it out or overfeed, it will start clinging to tadpoles and clog the aeration of the water and everyone will start dying off.

She got Legs

Within the next month up to 5 weeks, though some say 3 weeks, the tadpoles will get even bigger to about the size of a bit of homony or around dime sized with a long tail. They'll start to show little back legs. Within a week after the back legs they'll have their front legs. If you haven't already, this is the time to start providing land like a strip of bark or move them to a semi-aquatic tank environment.

When they have their legs they'll want to remain in the water for a while but they can begin to be given live foods like blood worms, springtails and mosquito larvae. Then towards land when the tail is pretty much gone, they'll be froglets or toadlets ready for things like pinhead crickets.

Growth Chart, 2007 (Estimate)

Eggs laid
Viable eggs (look like peanuts)
Within 24 hours
Tadpoles emerging out of egg shell
Larger tadpoles develop back legs
Tadpoles with denotable front legs
Starting to look more like frogs.
Little tailless froglets