Tadpole Leg Growth
To me, one of the fun parts of raising a tadpole is watching the tiny legs grow. The legs start out just as the thinnest little lines - and soon they have toes, knees, and everything!
This can happen extremely quickly. One week ago, none of the tadpoles had any signs of legs. Just a mere seven days later, POOF!
It's important to note that tadpoles from the exact same clutch can grow at wildly different rates. These two tadpoles are from the same clutch as the one below and were photographed on the exact same day.
The one on the right has legs - small, but definitely there. There aren't toes yet - just a lump of a foot that is all together. Sort of like the end of a shovel.
The other tadpole in this photo, the one on the left, is tiny and has no signs of legs at all. He's just pooping.
This next tadpole has thin lines on either side clearly indicating that legs are growing. You can even make out bits of toes. Note that you can see his poop in the center, to show the difference in the way they look.
It's common for new tadpole parents to think, sometimes, that poop is a leg. But see how they are quite different thicknesses? Once you get an idea of how large your tadpole's poop tends to be, you know that you're looking for something much thinner than that. Also, of course, the poop comes out if you watch it for long enough.
At first the leg will be just that thinnest sliver of material on either side. But quickly it will thicken and grow. It'll still stay straight for a while, but it'll get more substantial. Then you'll see the knee bend and the toes will separate.
It's quite normal and natural to have tadpoles at different stages of development. Be sure they all get ample food and enough hidey-holes to rest. If there are a few that are incredibly tiny compared with the rest, consider moving them to their own, smaller tank so they can grow without being harassed.
This next photo was taken on the exact same day, of the same clutch of tadpoles, living in the same tank. The tadpoles love to clump up together and spend time together. This type of behavior is quite normal for them. In this photo you can see a variety of shapes and sizes of tadpoles.
If you look closely you can see that some of the tadpoles have legs, some are pooping, some have no legs at all, and that's just the way they are. Sometimes a larger tadpole has smaller legs than a smaller tadpole. Sometimes the tiny tadpoles have no hint of legs. They all grow differently, at different rates.
This next photo was taken two days later. It's a close-up photo to help show how subtle a brand new leg bud can be. This shows the leg bud of one of the tadpoles. It is growing alongside the anus of the tadpole. The anus is where poop comes out of.
Again, I'll note that over in the nursery there were still tadpoles at the tiny minnow-shaped stage.
This is part of the fun of tadpoles. You always have something new happening!
This video below shows one of the tadpoles just learning how to use its legs.
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