Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.
Surinam toads are well known for their bizarre reproductive strategy (please see article below), unusual appearance, large size and unique habitats. They make very interesting pets but, as most in the trade are wild-caught, present a few problems when first introduced into the aquarium. Last time we took a look at establishing the new Surinam toad and helping it to make the adjustment to captive life (Surinam Toads (Pipa pipa) as Pets: Acclimating New Animals and Special Considerations). Today I’ll take a look at their dietary needs.
A Live Food Specialist
Surinam toads will take live food (or food moved before them as if alive) only. Their favorites are earthworms, blackworms and small fishes such as guppies, platys, swordtails, mollies, minnows and shiners. Use goldfish no more than once each month, and vary the species fed as much as is possible.
Feeding Techniques and Cautions
You can leave fishes in with the frog, as it will likely feed only at night until it has acclimated. Be sure to adjust the fishes to your aquarium’s water temperature (float bag for 20 minutes) so that the frogs do not contract Ick or other diseases that might be transmitted from stressed fishes (also, fishes are more likely to be consumed if they swim about normally).
When using earthworms, introduce them to the tank at night (foe newly acquired frogs). Worms usually survive for 8 hours or so underwater, but add only 1 at first and make sure to remove it in the AM if uneaten.
As mentioned in Part I of this article, Surinam toads often swallow gravel while feeding and are best kept in bare-bottomed aquariums. This is a special concern when using earthworms, which are taken right off the substrate, and blackworms, which burrow into it. If you use substrate, avoid feeding blackworms and offer earthworms from a plastic feeding tong.
Introducing Canned Shrimp and Snails
Well-habituated Surinam toads will consume prawn and other non-living food items that are dropped so as to land directly in front of their mouths. Start your frog off with live food, but after awhile try using canned shrimp and snails to provide dietary variety.
Composition of the Diet
I have kept and bred Surinam toads for a number of years using a diet comprised of approximately 75% fish (platys, guppies, mollies, minnows, shiners and occasional goldfish) and earthworms, with the balance of their food intake consisting of blackworms and shrimp.
Please see Breeding A Skin-Brooding Amphibian: the Surinam Toad (Pipa pipa) to read about captive reproduction of this fascinating animal.
You can learn about the other aquatic species in the family to which this frog belongs (Pipidae) at
Please write in with your comments and questions. Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.