Will Tap Water Kill Frogs?

Although frogs are incredibly adept at surviving in various environments, their primary weakness is their highly sensitive and pourous skin. This weakness has led many amphibian enthusiasts to wonder what kind of water is safest for their well-being. 

Tap water generally contains chlorine, ammonia and chloramines, which are extremely toxic to all amphibians. Such substances can penetrate a frog’s skin and may cause serious health problems including severe damage to their internal organs, or lead to death.

While these hopping little creatures are massive water-lovers, they need specific water conditions to remain safe, happy, and healthy. Thankfully, there are quite a few ways to make sure you provide appropriate water sources whether you’re curious about terrarium necessities or want to create a pond to attract local frogs.

Here are common sources of water and if they are safe for wild or pet frogs:

Water SourceSafe For Wild FrogsSafe For Pet Frogs
TapNoNo
PollutedNoNo
Farm RunoffNoNo
Industrial RunoffNoNo
PondYesNo
RainYesNo
WellYesYes
BottledYesYes
Boiled (Cooled)YesYes
FilteredYesYes
Reverse-OsmosisYesYes
DistilledYesYes

Cleaned and filtered water including bottled, boiled, filtered, well, reverse-osmosis and distilled water need to have minerals including calcium chloride and magnesium sulfate reintroduced to them, and a PH balance between 6.5 and 7.5 to be considered safe for frogs. Water should always be tested before introducing it to amphibians.

If you are looking to get rid of frogs on your property and were wondering if tap water will kill them as a “natural” frog repellent please read this article about safe and natural frog repellents. Do not pour tap water, chlorine or bleach onto frogs in an attempt to kill them on your property.

Is Water Sourced From Outdoors Safe For Frogs?

Outdoor water such as rain water, pond water, run-off water and other untreated H2O is not safe for pet frogs since it may contain contaminated and pathogenic organisms that can kill captive frogs. However, depending on where the water is obtained, these can be excellent sources for wild frogs.

If you are creating a frog pond to attract local frogs, it is highly encouraged to use locally-sourced rain water to fill the pond. Wild frogs will enjoy rain water which is generally clean for the purpose of starting an outdoor frog pond.

Runoff water and local pond water obtained from within a 1km radius around your home can be safe to attract local frogs to a man-made pond depending on where it is sourced. If the water is taken from a nearby farm or chemical treatment plant, it may contain pesticides that can kill the frogs so avoid water sourced from polluted areas (CTNF).

You generally do not need to be concerned with adding minerals to water or testing the PH levels for wild frogs in a natural environment. However, outdoor, untreated water can be detrimental to indoor pet frogs. So do not use untreated water for pet frogs or amphibians that are kept in aquariums or terrariums indoors.

Is Cleaned Water Safe For Frogs?

Cleaned water including bottled, boiled, filtered, well, reverse-osmosis and distilled water need to have minerals including calcium chloride and magnesium sulfate and a PH balance between 6.5 and 7.5 to be considered safe for frogs. Water should always be tested before introducing it to amphibians.

Let’s have a look at different water sources in more detail, and how you can make it safe for your amphibians. But before diving into each type of water, here are the basics of water safety for captive frogs.

How to Provide Safe Water to Captive Frogs

When choosing water for pet frogs and amphibians it is essential to start with clean water and to add any minerals that may have been filtered during the cleaning process. The pH balance should also be tested before introducing the water to amphibians and needs to be neutral, or between 6.5 and 7.5.

  1. Start With Clean Water: As we already discussed above, be sure to choose a clean source of water for your pet frog such as bottled, boiled, filtered, well, reverse-osmosis or distilled water.
  2. Add Any Missing Minerals: A few companies, such as Aquasafe, Reptisafe, and local pet stores sell amphibian-safe water products. These products remove harmful substances while adding beneficial ions. Be sure to use amphibian-safe products made for your specific type of pet, and follow the instructions on the package or set out by your veterinarian.
  3. Check The pH Balance: Aquarium water test kits can help you check pH levels and pick up additional substances, such as ammonia and nitrates. Before using any kind of water for frog environments, it will be worth checking the pH (Potential of Hydrogen) level. Use a pH level test to discern the pH level, which will range between acidic and alkaline.

Now let’s have a look at a few reasons why you should not use “pure” cleaned water for your pet frog. The main reason is that cleaned or filtered water generally lacks essential minerals that amphibians need to remain healthy.

Cleaned Water Generally Lacks Minerals Frogs Need

Distilled water is safe for frogs since it has no minerals, chemicals, or impurities. However, frogs still require minerals and certain pH levels for best health. The complete pureness of distilled water may be a downfall in this area, but it is safer than many other available options on the market. 

Bottled water is mostly safe for frogs, as impurities are removed through filtration systems beforehand. Many companies claim to add minerals back into the water post-filtration and claim to offer water with neutral pH levels. But, not all labels are entirely accurate, which can cause issues. 

One could use an RO (Reverse Osmosis) system for large amounts of water. Such devices will remove chlorine from tap water before it is used for frog habitats. These devices also remove nitrates, lead, arsenic, pesticides, and much more, but still need to have essential minerals added back into the water to be safe for frogs.

However, reconstituted distilled, filtered, RO, or bottled water is safe and beneficial for frogs when done properly. Commercial products such as magnesium sulfate and calcium chloride can raise the mineral content of the water. After this process, it will need to be tested to make sure the pH level is appropriate. 

Why Frogs Cannot Drink Tap Water Straight From The Tap

Frogs cannot drink tap water since it generally contains chlorine, chloramines, fluoride and many other substances that can injure or kill frogs. Such substances are used in water treatment protocols worldwide to destroy various harmful bacteria and pathogens before it reaches the public.

Frogs have incredibly sensitive and porous skin, which is vital for their survival. But, this sensitivity is coupled with weak spots, and any harmful substances contained in water sources will automatically be absorbed directly into the frog’s body. They use their skin for many functions, including protection, breathing, and drinking. 

Most aquatic frogs prefer to absorb oxygen through their skin, although frogs can use their lungs, mouth linings, and nostrils for breathing as well. They drink through their skin by absorbing moisture from the air, soil, rain, or the water surrounding their bodies. 

The chlorine, chloramines, fluoride and other contaminants in tap water are incredibly harmful to frogs. For context, chlorine is a common form of amphibian poison, so water straight from the tap can cause severe health problems and can lead to fatalities. In high concentrations, contact with these substances can cause death in minutes. 

However, there are ways to make tap water safe for frogs, as well as other sources of water that you can safely use in your backyard to attract frogs, or in your home for your indoor pet frog. Thankfully, there are a couple of ways to make standard tap water safer for frogs. 

You Can Make Tap Water Safe For Frogs

These chlorine or chloramine treatment processes are beneficial for human usage, but they are unsuitable to frogs. Still, the use of these substances varies by location. You could start by contacting your local municipality to find out which chemicals are used for water treatments in your area to better understand how to treat your tap water.

Chlorine is fairly easy to remove from tap water, although it will take some preparation and time. 

It is possible to remove chlorine from tap water by letting it sit:

  1. Find a safe location to store water
  2. Fill a large container with tap water
  3. Do not cover the container
  4. Let the water sit for 48 to 72 hours
  5. Test the pH levels and add minerals if needed

The chlorine will naturally dissipate over time, and the process typically takes at least 48 to 72 hours. In some cases, the chlorine may evaporate within a day. But, it’s best to be safe and allow over enough time before using it for frog environments. 

It is possible to remove chlorine from tap water by boiling it:

  1. Find a large and clean pot to boil water
  2. Fill the pot with tap water
  3. Bring it to a boil for 15 full minutes
  4. Turn off the water and let it sit until room temperature
  5. Test the pH levels and add minerals if needed
  6. Make sure it is completely cool before introducing it to your frog

Boiling water is quite popular since it takes less time, but you should still carry out tests after preparing the water to ensure it is pH neutral, contains necessary minerals, is cool and safe for your pet frog.

More About Frogs And Water

Finding an appropriate and practical water supply for your beloved amphibians can be complex. But, it’s worth the effort to ensure your froggy friends are happy and healthy. With some inexpensive tools and knowledge, you can give amphibians the aquatic habitat of their dreams. 

Learn more about frogs, water and their ideal environments in these guides on our blog:

Sources 

ESP Water Products, How to Remove Chlorine From Drinking Water

FrogLife, Just Add Water