Cane Toads and Aquaponics


cairns cane toad

Pest cane toad in Cairns Aquaponics system

aquaponics cane toad cairnsCane toads are a big pest issue in Tropical Far North Queensland. I’ve found them in my aquaponics sump, in my fish pond, wicking bed and in pipes I had laying around the yard. They can get into everything and if this sounds like you too you must get them out before your fish start to die.

Cane toads became pests after being introduced into Australia to control destructive cane beetles in Queensland’s sugarcane crops. Cane toads are capable of poisoning the majority of predators that try to eat them and they continue to spread across Australia. I have found them as far south as Newcastle 10 years ago in Jewels swamp and heard others found them in Belmont and Lake Macquarie. here is no broadscale way to control this pest but scientists are developing a better understanding of the impacts they have on the environment and the ways in which assets, such as rare and vulnerable wildlife, can be protected. Every night the kids and I scout the yard and dispose of any toads we find. I have also put chicken wire around a greenhouse but they still find a way unfortunately.

Cane toads forage at night in a wide variety of habitats including my aquaponics greenhouse. The toad is a ground-dwelling predator, primarily eating terrestrial and aquatic insects and snails. Toads will even take food left out for my dog.

The toads can be accidentally transported to new locations, for example in pot plants or loads of timber and that’s how they typically spread around Australia.

Cane toads need constant access to moisture to survive. Instead of drinking, they absorb water through the skin on their belly — from dew, moist sand or any other moist material. If forced to stay in flooded conditions, cane toads can absorb too much water and die. They can also die from water loss during dry conditions. In Australia there are no specific predators or diseases that control cane toads.

I’ve noticed that Barramundi can often die unexpectedly and although I haven’t yet proven it 100% im almost convinced that the Barra ive lost have died from eating poisonous cane toad eggs or tadpoles.cane toad eggs

I’ve lost about 10 otherwise healthy large Barramundi in this way. pH, ammonia, nitrates and nitrites are all perfect so I blame Cane toads eggs. My anecdotal evidence was that halve the toad string was bitten off  and were eaten and then id notice a few fish would die  each time I found eggs in the pond. Toads are not my friends or welcome at my house.

According to a letter written to provide Advice to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) on Amendments to the List of Key Threatening Processes under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) – All stages of the Cane Toad’s life cycle: eggs, tadpoles, toadlets and adult toads, are poisonous. Cane Toads have venom-secreting poison glands (known as parotoid glands) or swellings on each shoulder where poison is released when they are threatened. If ingested, this venom can cause rapid heartbeat, excessive salivation, convulsions and paralysis and can result in death for many native animals.

There are a number of anecdotal reports and more recently, experimental data, on the impacts of ingestion of the Cane Toad by native species. Studies have been, and are continuing to be, undertaken on the Northern Quoll, vertebrate fauna in Kakadu National Park, reptiles, snakes, and crocodiles to determine the impact of lethal toxic ingestion of the Cane Toad on these species.


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