Saturday, July 16, 2011

From Compost Heap, To Worm, To Frog (or whatever else I feed with them) and Back to Fred

Not too long ago, I posted about my compost heap - Fred the Compost Pile. I described some of his aspects and let you know how I knew he was healthy. You may recall that one of the best signs of health about a compost pile are that it is full of life. My compost pile is loaded with all sorts of insects, bugs and worms and I suppose with a lot of helpful bacteria. During the warmer months, I make it a habit to collect earthworms of one sort or another from within the depths of Fred and from a few other areas around my small garden where leaf liter builds up and eventually decomposes.

I put those worms to good use. For instance, today I collected about 50 worms within 10 minutes. I probably passed up at least another 50. After collecting them, I brought them inside and fed them to my various critters. well, actually, before going inside, I gave a couple to my tortoises that were outside enjoying the sunny not too warm day. One of my Redfoot Torts gobbled up a few by himself. Even my male Hermann's Tortoise, which usually shies away from worms, took half of a big one today. Then it was onto inside to feed my turtle, frogs, salamanders, newts and fish. They all got a good share of them.

Female African Clawed Frog,
click it to big it.
The male and female African Clawed Frogs got 2 apiece. They can really gobble them down although today the male swam around for several minutes with part of his second worm protruding from his mouth. Eventually though he shoved it down into his belly. Those frogs can be ravenous. That they eat well shows in how much they have grown. The male was probably small as one of my thumbnails around when my son brought it home. Now it is about 3 inches long, snout to vent length, and much bigger around than he was when we first got him. The female was probably 3 to 3.5 inches long, svl , when I got her. She is now at least 4 inches long and a lot bigger around too. They love to eat, and it shows. They especially seem to like earthworms although they have eaten guppies, mosquito fish, different bugs, dry pellet tropical fish food, and the male has eaten a few of my tropical fish (at least when I had him in the fish tank, the frogs now have their own tank). They also have eaten lots of those earthworms.

Male African Clawed Frog,
click it to big it.
I try to not overfeed them and usually give them food only about 4 to 5 times per week. One worm could probably last them a good couple to a few days without them growing much. At the rate I feed them they eat well, the water does not foul (yes the water is also filtered) and they grow but do not grow too fast or become overweight. When fish, like guppies or mosquito fish, are in their tank, they have a ready food source that they must catch but that is usually not to easy to catch.fords the frogs some exercise. They do not overly excite or scare the fish in their setup, I guess because they are sort of ambush hunters, and creep up ever so slowly then pounce, or just wait for a fish to swim close enough and then pounce. If the fish make it past a week, they are given a reprieve and I remove them to the tropical tank when I do a partial water change on the frog tank.

I am hopeful that by mid winter or early next spring, the frogs may be large enough and ready to breed. There eggs will serve a couple of purposes. First off, I will incubate at least half of them. The other half may just be thrown into other tanks as food for my fish and other amphibians. From the eggs that hatch, I will likely raise at least 1/2 of the tadpoles to maturity. The others may also be used as food for my tropical fish and other amphibians and my turtle. Nothing will be wasted.

When I say nothing will be wasted, I pretty much mean it. I take old water from my tanks and sometimes use it to water my garden and to water the compost pile. There are a lot of built up bacteria and nitrates (almost no nitrites) in that water from the decomposing bits of plant material and fish food. I siphon as much of that stuff withthe water each week and throw it on the pile now and then when I remember to do it. In addition, I take any excess plants that have grown in 2 of my tanks and throw them onto Fred as well. I don't know if Fred appreciates it or not, he is not the talkative type of trash heap as you may see on TV, but the bacteria, bugs, insects and worms in him sure do seem to like it as they are all thriving. While the compost pile is not sustained solely by stuff from the fish and amphibian tanks, what does come from them and goes onto the heap helps it to decompose. In the long run, that waste fouled aquarium water helps produce the worms that the frogs, amphibians and turtles will again eventually turn into more matter to decompose on the heap. Such is the circle of life for Fred and my frogs and other critters.

All the best,
Glenn B

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