FAQs About African Dwarf Frogs in General
Related Articles: Keeping African Clawed Frogs and African
Dwarf Frogs by Neale Monks, African Dwarf Frogs, Amphibians, Turtles,
Related FAQs: Dwarf
African Frogs 1, ADF
Identification, ADF Behavior,
ADF Compatibility, ADF Selection, ADF
Systems, ADF Feeding, ADF Disease, ADF
Reproduction, & FAQs on: Amphibians 1, Amphibians 2, Frogs Other Than African and Clawed,
African Clawed Frogs, Turtles, Amphibian Identification, Amphibian Behavior, Amphibian Compatibility, Amphibian Selection, Amphibian Systems, Amphibian Feeding, Amphibian Disease, Amphibian Reproduction,
Omg my African dwarf
frog help 2/21/15
So I have a 1.1 gallon tank with a mystery snail a male crown
tail Betta and an African dwarf frog his name is flippers.
<1.1 gallons is too small, too little water... his world is toxic, too
much pollution in too small a volume of water, killing him...>
He was all fine swimming around earlier but I just found him upside down
on the bottom of the tank so I scooped him put and put him in a tiny
container with new water and stuck it in the tank but not exposed to the
rest of the water just so he can get the heat from the light.
<Heat from a light? Hmm... how to explain... aquaria should be heated
with an aquarium heater. Many are sold, of different designs and to
different budgets. Angle-poise and other lamps with incandescent and
halogen bulbs may produce some heat (but LED essentially none and
fluorescents very little) but aren't strong enough to warm water evenly,
and certainly won't
do so at night when they're off (obviously). Using lamps for heating is
(a) dangerous because the lamp doesn't switch off if the water gets too
hot, resulting in very hot surface water compared to the too cold water
at the bottom; and (b) are inefficient, wasting you money because while
they produce some (unreliable) heat, some electricity is used to make
well, which you don't especially need. Do please understand what animals
need before buying them... giving pets names is nice, and I'm sure you
care for your pet animals in terms of affection, but animals honestly
don't give a rip about these niceties. Food, warmth, shelter and a safe
(non-toxic) living environment are what animals need and care about.>
The beta and snail are fine,
<For now. To be fair, Apple Snails are subtropical and do fine in
unheated tanks indoors. Bettas are tropical fish, and don't live long in
unheated tanks, unless you happen to live in Thailand or somewhere like
in fact my snail has grown a lot in the while I had him.
There's algae on my tank but I figured itd just a plant it wouldn't hurt
anything. The frog isn't skinny I see him eat the Betta pellets
and frog food.
<Not just dried/pellet foods though. I hope you add some live or frozen
(not freeze-dried) foods into the mix. Otherwise constipation, bloating
and more serious problems await you.>
What would cause him to go from alive and fine to dead with in like 8
hours. The tank is dirty with algae is that what killed him?
<The short (and blunt) answer is ignorance. The long (and kinder) answer
is that you got the environment wrong. I know, I know, "But he was just
fine for weeks/months and the guy in the fish store said that a 1-gallon
tank was all I needed." So let's start with the basics. The three
beasties you're keeping can be kept together with a bit of planning.
Some Bettas nip
at Apple Snails, but if yours doesn't, great. But while the Apple Snail
might be kept in 1-2 gallons (I have done so without problems), and some
people keep Bettas in this amount of water as well (but I would not),
the African Dwarf Frog is a much more sensitive animal and needs much
more space. Shall we say 4-5 gallons? Something along those lines
also need heat, lots of it. A steady 25 C/77 F, which is mostly easily
supplied by a traditional aquarium heater. You can buy alternatives,
such as under tank heating mats, but plain old aquarium heaters,
specifically, a 25 Watt one in your case, could be had for little money
and unlike the lamp, would last many years, would heat the water evenly,
and cost very little to run. Next up, you need a filter. Some folks
insist these aren't necessary for Bettas and frogs, but mostly those
people have dead Bettas
and dead frogs after as few weeks or months, so we can ignore their
For sure some people keep Bettas in jars, but they're breeders in heated
fish rooms who change 100% of the water every day. Not practical if
you're a casual hobbyist who just wants a pretty pet fish. Get a filter.
An air-powered sponge filter is all you need, and better than a small
internal canister filter. Don't get a hang-on-the-back filter because
these have an opening through which Bettas often jump and frogs almost
always escape, winding up as dried "carpet jerky" as we say in the
trade. ADFs and other aquatic amphibians should never, ever be kept in
open-topped tanks unless such tanks are only half filled. Seriously. The
risk of them jumping out is extremely high. So, we've covered aquarium
size, heating, what else...?
Basically, that's it, beyond varying the diet. Dried foods are all well
and good, but just like humans eating processed foods all day, these
concentrated foods do tend to cause constipation and worse. So mix
things up a bit. Frozen bloodworms you keep in the freezer are
convenient and work nicely, though a very few people (surely less than 1
in 100) seem to have a
slight allergy to bloodworms. You don't need to actually touch the
worms, just hold the package over the tank, push out a block from
behind, then return the package to the freezer. Wash your hands
afterwards though. A safer alternative to bloodworms is brine shrimps.
Again, you can get these frozen (or for that matter live) and because of
the hypersaline places
they're grown, these are probably the safest food you're likely to
encounter, including human foods! Does this all make sense? Cheers,
Re: Omg my African dwarf frog help.... & Apple/mystery snail beh. f'
Also, not as important. I read that snails have breathing tubes. On my
snail there's two little things like he has a moustache
<Sensory tentacles, a mix of touch and taste receptors, used to find out
about his environment.>
but earlier it stuck this giant tube out of the water and did a heave
<Breathing. Apple Snails breathe air using a lung as well as having
gills to extract oxygen from the water. Typically, the warmer the water,
the more they breathe air. Sometimes it's a clue they're stressed, so if
your Apple Snail does this a lot more than usual, first check water
temperature (is it too warm, much over 25C/77F) and then check water
quality (an ammonia or nitrite test kit is used for this).>
Whats going on?
<Biology. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Omg my African dwarf frog help 2/21/15
Im in central Texas.
<Ah, so too cold most of the time for tropical fish, at least at night.
For most tropical fish, 25 C/77 F is the baseline, possibly a little
warmer for a few (Bettas, Angels, Discus and Gouramis for example, which
are good up to 30 C/86 F, a little cooler for a few (Danios, Corydoras,
Platies and Neons, all happier around 22 C/72 F).>
And the snail is a mystery snail.
<Mystery Snails and Apple Snails are the same thing, for all practical
purposes (there's some debate about which Pomacea species is which, but
they're all much of a muchness so far as maintenance goes. Apple Snails
seems to be the more popular name at the moment, and refers to their big
shell (which can get apple-sized after a few years, though very few last
long as a year in aquaria for a variety of reasons). Mystery Snails is a
much older name, said to be because the baby snails (which are quite
big, and hatch from eggs laid above the waterline) appeared in ponds
seemingly out of nowhere. I recommend breeding them when you get the
chance. It's a lot of fun, and the babies are rather cute (for baby
I've only had the frog for a month or so and no one nips at anyone, I
don't have room for a much bigger tank.
<Could I suggest not keeping fish or frogs then? The Betta and the snail
you'll get away with, assuming scrupulous care on your part. How to be
clear on this? The smaller the volume of water, the faster temperature
changes, and the quicker dissolved wastes (such as ammonia) cause
problems. Tropical fish really shouldn't be kept in tanks smaller than,
gallons, simply because keeping them in smaller tanks is either unfair
to them (e.g., you can't keep enough schooling fish for them to be
happy) or else causes physiological stress as conditions go bad. Could I
further suggest having a read here:
You do have some options for tanks upwards of 4-5 gallons, but they are
very specific beasties, in some cases with very specific needs.>
It has an under gravel filter and it stays in the bathroom, which is the
warmest room in the house.
<Good and good, but do see above re: temperature. Warm to you might not
be warm to a fish from Thailand. The ADF is perhaps less fussy, and okay
around 22 C/72 F, but no colder. Apple Snails are fine at room
temperature, even in the UK, let alone Texas. Measure maximum and
minimum water temperatures across the day and night using a thermometer,
midday and again just when you're getting up and before lights/heating
come on. If these fall outside the range required by the animals you're
keeping, well, get a heater!>
And I never turned the tank light off.
<Yikes! African Dwarf Frogs are largely nocturnal. That's when they do a
lot of their feeding. Also, light period (hours of light vs. hours of
darkness) are important for the well-being of animals generally (keeping
humans in bright light 24/7 is pretty close to torture, and at the
least, disorienting after a while). Constant lighting will also cause
It really does keep tank warm. And its waaaaay better then the
unfiltered beta bowl that the fish was in for a while.
<Ever have those discussions as a kid about which would be better, be
hanged or having your head cut off? Perhaps just us Brits with our
bloody mediaeval history! In any case, improving on a Betta (rhyming
with "better", not "beater") bowl is nice, but doesn't quite "get you
into the medals" as they'd say in sporting events. Truly, heating and
filtration are both going to make your aquatic livestock significantly
healthier in the long run.>
But uh thanks for the info....
<Aim to please. Or at least inform.>
Question: there is possibly a 2 to 5 gallon tank in my garage..... can I
use the under gravel filter in that even though it won't cover all of
<Nope. Water flows through the line of least resistance. So if you don't
evenly cover the filter, the water will mostly go through the exposed
part of the filter plate because that's "easier" than going through the
bed of gravel. Make sense? Since gravel costs virtually nothing, a buck
or two should be sufficient for enough to cover the undergravel filter
No need to go to an aquarium store to buy their expensive gravel. So
long as its lime-free, not sharp, and you don't mind rinsing it
thoroughly, then gravel from a garden centre will be just as good and a
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Omg my
African draw frog help
I bought testing strips
GH : 60
<Low general hardness. Not suitable for fish from hard water environments such
as Guppies, Mollies, Rainbowfish, Rift Valley cichlids, etc.>
KH : 80
<Low carbonate hardness. Look out for pH drops between water changes. Also,
animals with calcareous shells, such as snails and shrimps, may have a hard
time. Snail shells may develop distinctive pitting where the shell
PH : 7.5
NO^2 : 0
NO^3 : 25
Waiting for the thermometer a bit longer.
What do those levels mean.
Could they have killed my frog.
<Not directly. But variations in pH could. Nonetheless, some other cause seems
worth considering/more likely. Improper diet/insufficient food, for example.>
I cannot afford a bigger tank for another few weeks. So no more froggies until
I did however buy air stones to put in the filter tube... the pet shop guy said
it might put a little more oxygen.
<Sort of. But how they work is misunderstood. Airstones produce bubbles. As the
bubbles rise they pull water upwards. This creates a current that circulates
water from wherever the bubbles start (ideally, the very bottom of the tank) up
to the top. Oxygen actually gets into the water across the surface. Hardly any
gets in via bubbles. But splashing at the top of the water increases the surface
area a bit, increasing oxygen uptake. So while bubbles help, for best results
you want to make sure the bubbles are rising all the way up from the bottom of
the water column, not halfway down the tank or just below the surface.>
Should I return them or will they help anything for now?
<Aeration is always helpful. It's noisy though, so I prefer not to use it in
tanks where I want quiet, e.g., a bedroom. Better to not stock the tank too
heavily and/or rely on gentle ruffling of the water surface from an electric
Also bought something called a internal filter ceramic ring. It says it helps
maintain water quality by converting harmful waste into harmless compounds. What
do you think? Try or return?
<Do you mean ceramic rings or "noodles", less than a half-inch in length and
that you to stuff a bunch of them into a canister filter? These are certainly
useful. But just dumped in an aquarium they won't do much. They need to be in
the flow of oxygenated water to work. But an "internal filter ceramic ring" as
such, I've never heard of.>
Can you please tell me what the water quality strips numbers mean, whats normal.
How to fix if too high or low. The package wasn't very helpful.
<NH3, NO2 are ammonia and nitrite respectively. They must always be zero.
Anything above zero quickly becomes toxic and dangerous, 0.5 mg/l NH3 is lethal,
and 1.0 mg/l NO2 lethal. NO3 is nitrate. Adequate filtration and not
overstocking or overfeeding keep these at zero. Keep this as low as practical,
certainly below 40 mg/l, and the lower the better. Basically, water changes keep
this down. GH and KH are types of hardness, or dissolved
mineral content. In general terms, low levels of both is good for things like
tetras and barbs from soft water habitats, and high levels for things like
livebearers and Central American cichlids from hard water habitats.
The pH is the acidity of the water. Most community fish are fine between 6 and
8, so long as its steady, though soft water fish may not be happy above 7.5 and
hard water quickly get sick below 7.0. There's more to the numbers, as you can
find out here:
For your Betta, you're aiming for zero NH3 and NO2, a low NO3, a pH steady
somewhere between 6 and 8, and the two hardness levels aren't too important so
long as they're not extreme (your current values are fine).>
Thanks a bunches
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: Omg my African draw frog help
I still don't understand why the frog died.
<See previous emails; his environment was wrong. Something, sooner or
later, would have killed him. Too much light, not enough heat, wrong diet,
harassment by other livestock... impossible to say for sure what went wrong
in this instance. ADFs are somewhat delicate and easily starved. While
widely sold, most have a short life expectancy once they get shipped out to the
retailers and passed onto the average hobbyist. They aren't community "fish" and
don't do well in community tanks.>
The first snail I had died too.
I took it to the pet store they said he wasn't dead but minutes later his flap
thing fell off.
<Been dead a while, then. The flap is called an operculum, by the way. Dead
snails stink, so it's pretty obvious when they've joined the choir invisible.
Pains me to say this, again, but Apple Snails aren't that easy to keep alongside
other animals. Oddly enough, the frog would actually be a pretty good companion.
But the Betta is a bit hit and miss. Even slight damage to the snail can lead to
rapid, fatal infections.>
But it makes me worry because that snail only stayed on the pink castle I have.
The fish doesn't touch it the new snail has been on it but he likes the walls.
The frog would sit in it. Is there a possibility there Could Be lead paint?
<Virtually no possibility unless you've been opening up cans of 50-year-old
paint and using it inside the fish tank. Seriously, lead hasn't been used in
paint for a very long time. The number of aquarium fish killed by lead paint
this century is probably zero. On the other hand, the number of fish (and frogs)
killed by misunderstanding their basic needs is surely in the millions.>
Especially because it's pink. Do you know of that's even regulated in the us.
<No idea. But assuming the US has similar standards to the UK, then lead paint
isn't currently sold.>
How would I even test for that?
<No need. Do also bear in mind that lead paint doesn't suddenly kill people. It
builds up in the body, over years even, causing incremental problems. I think
you're really grasping at straws here with the paint!>
Cause I have no idea why they both died. Cause if the water was fine then what
was it? Could it really seriously be the tank is too small.
<Yes. Most of the fish deaths among casual hobbyists largely come down to the
size of the tank, overstocking, or lack of adequate filtration. Really is that
simple. Kind of like obesity in people. There might be some for whom there are
genetic or whatever explanations beyond their control, but for the vast majority
of people obesity comes from eating too much and
doing too little exercise.>
They're getting a bigger one anyways.
<Then it's an academic discussion. Review the needs of African Dwarf Frogs
(nocturnal, fussy feeders, easily damaged) and plan accordingly. They're
actually cute and rather loverly pets, the males even croak a bit in the
evenings, but they aren't "easy" pets. Doubtless much written online, as well as
here at WWM.
Re: Omg my African dwarf frog help
Ok so im going to get a bigger tank in a week or two when I get some
I saw this awesome 8 gallon bowfront tank for 45 dollars with
everything: filter, heater, hood, lights.
You are not in the US are you?
They don't teach us the conversions in school for money, measurements,
temperature, anything. It seems like everywhere else knows
<Kinda-sort of. If you can use Google, you can do conversions. Type in,
for example, "10 US gallons in litres" and you'll get the litres! It's
If I were to just put the snail in there (keep the Betta in his own
lonely tank) how many African dwarf frogs could I put?
<Half a dozen, at least. Maybe more. Allow about a gallon each, plus a
couple gallons for the Betta. You can pretty much ignore the snail so
long as it doesn't die (dead snails pollute tanks very quickly).>
What about a 5 or a 10 gallon tank? I am not ready for the idea of snail
babies, but tadpoles...yes, but i want to research first. Besides the
males croaking how do I tell what gender the frogs are?
<Males tend to be smaller and more slender/less chunky. They also have
small pink spots near the armpit but these can be difficult to see,
especially in youngsters.>
How do I tell a snails gender? Do you think the pet store people could
accurately tell me a frog or a snails gender?
<Not a chance. But if you get 6-8 frogs, you're bound to get a few males
Are frogs and snails about equivalent when it comes to how many I could
put in a tank?
Do you have any good links on info of African dwarf frog breeding?
<Go online and type "breeding" and "Hymenochirus" into your search
engine of choice.>
Can my Betta stay in the 1 gallon tank and be ok?
<Possibly, but see above. I do honestly recommend a larger, heated,
filtered tank for Bettas, at least, if you want his and your life to be
I found out that if I turn on the heating lamp in the bathroom where the
fish tank is and cover the tank with a towel the temperature is fine.
And that the tank light does keep the tank warm enough during the day
without the heating lamp. Im still upset I don't have a straight forward
cause of death for the frog.
<Indeed. But the problem with environmental stress is that the immediate
cause of death doesn't tell you much about what went wrong. For example,
a drunk driver crashes into a tree, the tree falls down and kills him.
The cause of death was a tree hitting him, but that wasn't the reason he
Thanks for all your help,
<Most welcome. Neale.>
ACF with 4 claws
I have been lucky enough to have quite a few awesome frogs in my life but this
little guy I have now is really neat and I am curious about his features.
My little guy has four black claws. Reminds me of a 'double pawed' cat. The
fourth claw is teeny tiny and almost attached to the 'foot', it is not out on a
toe like the other claws. He also has amazing green eyes. Is
this normal? Google is failing me on the four claw search.
Thank you for your time!!
<In all likelihood you have a "sport of nature" as Darwin would call them, one
of those odd bits of genetic variation we see among animals and plants.
The raw material of evolution, in fact. But in any case, provided your beastie
is happy and healthy, I wouldn't be concerned. Of course if breeding was an
intention, you might elect not to breed from this specimen (most deformities are
not useful to the animal, and may in fact be harmful in the wild by reducing the
chances of survival somehow). But apart from that, just appreciate what's going
on here in terms of gene mutation,
reflect perhaps on how inbreeding causes problems among pet animals generally,
and keep an eye out on this frog to ensure he is healthy and able to keep up
with his tankmates in terms of feeding. Cheers, Neale.>
Looking for advice, ADF care 4/3/13
Thank you for all the wonderful, informative info you have on your site.
It is priceless! I am another victim of Pet Smart's uneducated
sales people. We came home with two African Dwarf Frogs 10 days
ago, and already one is dead. After poring over your website I
realize now that we did not have a big enough tank (2.5 is what they
told me to buy), we should have bought a heater (they said I didn't need
one) and furthermore we are over feeding and not giving them a diverse
<Do need all these>
I think the poor guy had that Red Leg disease. Thanks to WWM I am making
the hour trip to Pet Smart tomorrow to buy a bigger tank, a heater, sand
(instead of the gravel they sold me) and to get 2 new frogs.
<Wait on the livestock until this system is aged a few weeks... Cycled.>
They are taking back the dead frog and the guy that is still holding on,
but doesn't look too good. So now for my questions: how
should I safely transport the frogs back and forth to the store and to
<In a plastic bag, with some water, and just atmosphere, not pure
oxygen... sealed w/ a rubber band, in a light and thermally insulated
container (like a cooler) if possible, rather than just a paper bag>
It is a solid hour drive between the two. I am afraid that is one
reason why my frogs were not so healthy when I got them home.
Also, I thought you should know that Pet Smart printed out a whole
pamphlet for me on ADF that they publish. It says that the frogs
need temps between 68 and 78 degrees ( you say higher)
and to feed them pellets
two times a day (I believe you say every other day and to switch between
pellets and brine shrimp).
<Meaty foods of some sort/s>
There was additional information on their pamphlet that contradicts what
you say on your website.
Thanks so much for your help,
<... Please do review what we have posted/archived re Hymenochirus
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Looking for advice, ADFs, uncycled sys.
Thank you so much for your reply. Mi know how busy you guys must be.
Unfortunately, I got the email after I already went to PetSmart and
bought a bigger tank, a heater, and one new frog to replace the dead
one. There was one surviving frog from my original 2, so I kept
Anyway, bought all the new stuff, had my water tested and brought the
frogs home. My water tested perfect for everything that
you say they need. We have a well and not town water so
no chlorine. But I had both the conditioned tank water tested and
water straight from the tap. They were basically the same.
Bought guys home, set up tank, thermometer, filter, etc, did not
condition water and voila. 24 hours later one guy seemed
very lethargic. He hardly moved from this spot right against the
heater. I was worried he'd be burned, but the PetSmart folks said
the heater was safe.
I moved him a bit and he rested on a plant, but again, very lethargic.
This morning, 36 hours after bringing them home, both ADF are dead.
I am horrified and being that I am working so hard on this, I just don't
understand what I've done wrong. Let alone that my son is going to
The first frog that died last week definitely had Red Leg. I
didn't notice that on these guys.
<.... this system is still not cycled; is NOT ready for livestocking...
Read re on WWM and where you've been referred. B>
feeding Dwarf African Frogs 8/24/12
I have a dwarf African frog (obviously) and not in the best environment.
my 25g is medium planted with plenty of hiding places, but he shares the
tank with Amano, cherry, and ghost shrimp, 3 dwarf Mexican Crays,
countless red Ramshorn snails (getting fewer with the puffer), and a
<May bite the Hymenochirus>
that being said I feed the tank live blackworms (2-3x week), API Bottom
Feeder pellets (a few each day), and frozen bloodworms or brine shrimp
(alternate about every other day - but never on same day as blackworms).
The frog eats the frozen occasionally but always eats the blackworms
readily, even seems to hunt them. question is, is the frog fine
with eating "almost" exclusive blackworms?
<Not really, no>
I've read that they may be too fatty and fatten him up to the point its
hard for him to get to the surface?
<Mmm, please read here:
transporting my frogs to work, ADFs
I have 2 African Dwarf Frogs at home in one of those little units from
Brookstone, with a snail and a plant.
<Unfortunately for you, these kits are overpriced rubbish.
I have 2 more at work who up until yesterday were in the same setup
minus the snail. With no snail their watery world was getting pretty
green, so I moved them on up today to a 5 gallon aquarium along with
<The upgraded tank is definitely worthwhile. The bamboo not so much,
and really, not likely to do well in the long term. Another gimmick
You'd be far better off with a piece of bogwood with a Java fern or
Anubias attached. These don't need much light, and grow well under
water. Bamboo more sort of lingers, and without plant fertiliser,
The bamboo plant still has some algae on it, and I'd like to bring
the other 2 frogs and the snail in to join them. I am concerned about 2
things - how soon to do that so as not to overstress the millionaire
frogs, and 2, whether the snail and frogs will survive the 20 mile
commute to my office (or me, while trying to keep them from tipping
over and driving too!).
<If you transport the frogs safely, this should not cause them
Move the frogs into a large bucket or cooler with a lid. Cover them
with water, maybe an inch or two, but make sure there's plenty of
air above them. Close the lid, and then if its cold, put a towel or
something on the bucket to keep them warm. Drive to wherever. Set up
the new aquarium, fill with water, plug in heater and filter. Once the
water is at the right temperature, dribble small amounts into the
bucket, maybe a cupful every 10 minutes. After an hour you should have
at least doubled the depth of water the frogs are in. The frogs should
be acclimated to the new conditions, and can be netted out and popped
into their new home.>
Right now the frogs at home are in a nice clean tank and seem OK, but I
know it's like living in a pup tent for them and I see how
absolutely delighted the work frogs are in their new watery mansion.
Any advice on my 2 concerns? My goal is frog happiness and a snail to
do some clean up work at work!
<Do read here:
These animals aren't difficult to keep, and when kept properly,
will even produce tadpoles!>
One final question, if I bring in an algae eating fish like a mini
catfish, how soon should I do that for the new tank and what type of
algae eater would you recommend?
<There are no algae-eating fish suitable for a tank this size. The
retailer will doubtless sell you an Otocinclus, but that's a
schooling fish and very delicate, and not at all suitable for this
tank. The bigger algae eaters like Ancistrus are even less suitable.
Without fast-growing plants all tanks become algae-ridden, and nothing
beats an algae sponge or scraper.
Want less algae to scrape away? Then install bright lights and
fast-growing plants. That's really the only system that
Thanks so much!
Re: Need some advise, ADF sys. 2/11/10
Thank you. I have another question how many times should I change my
tanks water and how much of it?
<Do read here:
Answers to both questions are there! In fact, read the whole article,
and check you're keeping your frogs properly.
Question on African Dwarf Frogs, gen.
I work in a toy store and we received a shipment of frogs today. I
already hate the idea that these frogs are shipped to toy stores, I
have the idea even more when I open the package and find that they
company allowed the animals to be shipped in the cold weather, nearly
freezing them to death.
<Hmm... I agree, does sound a rather dubious sort of
Anyways, as I was distributing the frogs into their tanks, I came
across 3 frogs that were floating upside down when in their tanks, but
they were breathing and moving around when I removed them. I promptly
put them into a very shallow tank of water (about 1/4 in) to allow them
to warm up. When they were moving a little, I added some more water (it
was then about 1/2 in)... just enough to cover their bodies, but allow
them to breath without much effort. It took about 5 hours for them to
get a bit more active, but I took them home because I did not trust the
guys at the shop would not just flush them (as they had threatened when
the frogs arrived).
<Gosh! This shop does sound a bit harsh when it comes to
I have now moved them into a modified beta tank (1/2 gallon with lid
and ventilation that they cannot escape from) and they have variable
levels of water. I have an area just over an inch in depth and then
some rocks piled up so that they can relax and be near the surface. I
know that they will need a bigger tank and I have one ready, but I just
want to be sure they are alright before I transfer them. Now that you
have the back story, my question is this: they have been spazzing out
since I put them into the beta tank. (no beta, just 3 frogs) and I am
concerned that they are hurting or something.
<Wouldn't worry overmuch.>
The jump on each other, try to jump out of the tank, hit their little
noses on the wall, and just flail about. They simply will not sit
<They are active animals, and they may well be hungry.>
It is now 10 pm and they have been at it for about an hour now (since I
transferred them). Is this normal behavior or should I be concerned
that they are drowning or something?
<They won't drown.>
They are all still all upright, but very much acting crazy. BTW, we
used spring water from the market, the same water we had used with all
the other frogs at the store.
<Spring water may or may not be ideal, depending on its chemistry.
Frogs need hard, basic water. Often tap water is best. If your kettle
furs up or you know your local water is hard, then dechlorinated tap
water will be fine, and far better than softened water of any kind.
These frogs are tropical animals, so they won't last long at room
temperature; aim for 25 C (about 77 F).>
I would appreciate any help you can give me as I am very new to owning
any amphibious creature.
<Do read here:
<Good luck! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Question on African Dwarf Frogs 11/21/09
Well all 3 frogs died last night.
I had been keeping their water around 72,
<Too cold for Hymenochirus spp.; these are tropical animals that
need tropical temperatures, i.e., a tank with a heater.>
They were acting like they could not get any air so I added more gravel
to the tank to give them less work getting their heads out of the
<They can certainly drown if the water is too deep (more than about
30 cm) but the key thing is that strong water currents and/or overall
weakness will make drowning more probable. Small specimens are best
kept in shallow water (say, 10 cm) until you're sure they're
strong enough to swim to the surface. Even then, having some floating
plants, like Indian Fern, where they can rest close to the surface is
very, very helpful.>
They have not eaten since I got them (about 2 days ago), they would not
even pay attention to the food.
<Often don't care for dried/pellet foods -- use live or
wet-frozen things like bloodworms initially.>
I feel just awful because I was trying to save them from a bad
situation, but they died anyways.
<You did the best you can...>
Was it something I did, or do you think they were already destined to
die when they got shipped in freezing cold water?
<The latter certainly didn't help.>
I have always wanted to have an aquarium and I like little animals like
frogs and lizards, I am just afraid that I do not know well enough how
to care for them since I could not keep 3 little ones alive. What do
<Hymenochirus spp. frogs are actually very, very easy to keep
provided you "go by the numbers". A 10-gallon tank, initially
half filled with water, with an air-powered sponge filter, a small
heater, and a clump of Indian Fern would be a cheap, easy way to keep
them alive. Buy a few wet-frozen foods from the pet store: bloodworms,
brine shrimps, Tubifex, mosquito larvae. Rotate between them, feeding
every other day (done this way, such foods will last six months or
more, so this is a very cheap option).
Augment the diet with pellets once the frogs are feeding readily. If
you're happy the frogs are settled and able to swim to the top,
fill the tank up normally. They could easily be mixed with Cherry
shrimps and novelty snails like Nerite snails and Tylomelania snails,
so you could create a nifty "critter" aquarium. Add a school
of some very small fish suitable for a 10 gallon tank, like
Norman's Lampeyes or Least Killifish, and you'd be all set!
African Dwarf Frog: Questions, Reading
I am getting an African Dwarf Frog soon. Could you please tell how to
care for these guys??
<Many pages have been written on this subject: Do read here:
Thank you very much!!
P.S I've heard that African Dwarf Frogs can swallow pebbles if they
are small enough. Are regular aquarium pebble too small for them??
<Read my friend.>
African Dwarf Frog, lonely? 4/8/09
I am hoping you will be able to help with all of your combined
<Do our best.>
I've had a little African dwarf frog for about two weeks and
he's become lethargic the past four days or so.
<Hymenochirus spp. are quite sensitive animals, and rather more
difficult to maintain than the subtropical Xenopus many of us will have
seen at school or in labs.>
He lives alone in a one gallon tank and I am wondering if he is lonely.
Is that a possibility?
<Not lonely, no. But could be suffering from lack of swimming space,
poor water quality, inadequate water temperature, or any of the myriad
other problems that occur when trying to keep frogs (or fish) in what
basically jam jars. Minimum sensible tank size for this species is 5
He seems in good condition physically, no wounds or sores. And he has
shed his skin once already.
He's been fed HBH pellets, as he didn't do so well with frozen
and dried bloodworms which did not sink and he was unable to find.
His appetite isn't great, he eats about two pellets every day. Some
of the information I've read seems to think that is normal, so I am
not too worried about that.
<It is true that they aren't "big" eaters. That said,
pellets aren't the best staple, and you'll have best results
using (wet) frozen bloodworms, thawed out before use. Feed enough for
the frog to be gently rounded but
not swollen after eating. Freeze-dried food is as good as useless
frankly, being both massively overpriced and also prone to causing
constipation. No idea why anyone buys the stuff.>
The water temperature is around 70-72 and I've treated the water
(which I let sit out over-night) with dechlorinator which also includes
some protection for the skin.
<Too cold. These are tropical frogs, and should be maintained around
25 C/77 F. A heater is mandatory, unless of course you happen to live
in equatorial Africa!>
I've also provided him with plenty of hiding spaces and he's
not too far away from the surface to reach the air.
So my concern is that he hasn't been swimming around much or active
like he was for the first week.
<Most of these dwarf frogs quickly die because people buy them
without supplying the right environmental conditions.>
I did change 25% of the water (and cleaned the rocks since there was
excess food from me trying to figure out how much he would be
He just seems uncomfortable and a little unhappy. He does not respond
like he used to, and he doesn't seem to be afraid of being scooped
up by the net like he was initially.
Any ideas or thoughts?
<Use a bigger, heated tank. Make sure it is filtered. Do 25% water
changes weekly. Use (wet) frozen and live foods every other day.
Provided you do all these things, he should recover quickly. If not,
doomed. Hope this clears things up, Neale.>
Re: African Dwarf Frog, lonely? 4/9/09
Thank you very much, Neale.
<You're welcome, Erin.>
The thawed, frozen bloodworms are hard for him to find since they
don't sink, even when I put them in with a turkey baster. Any other
Something live maybe?
<Live bloodworms will certainly be eaten. But frozen bloodworms
should sink (the ones I use usually do) but do try stirring briskly to
remove any air bubbles trapped in their bodies. If that doesn't
help, switch to a
different brand. Most people find frozen bloodworms work well, so
I'm surprised you've had this problem.>
I had read in a number of places that one gallon was plenty for ADFs
and that they were one of the few aquatic animals that would be happy
in a small tank.
<A lot of people underestimate the amount of space fish, frogs and
turtles require, and you'll see many, many messages here about
problems people have had ultimately caused by this critical error.
One-gallon tanks are difficult to heat and filter properly, and the
small volume of water will be very susceptible to sudden pH and
temperature changes. These can stress livestock severely, potentially
kill them. A five-gallon tank is a good minimum size for these frogs,
and would certainly allow you the potential to keep, say, three
specimens without worrying too much about water quality issues.>
It makes me very sad to think that I've caused him harm by keeping
him in a home that is too small. Most of the "experts" I
spoke with said the home I gave him should be perfect.
<Were the experts selling you anything? Advice from pet stores can
often be somewhat biased in terms of making a sale. As always, advice
collected online from web pages and forums should be viewed with a
I will take one of the plants out and give him more space to swim while
I work on upgrading his habitat.
Re: African Dwarf Frog, lonely? 4/9/09
No, they weren't trying to sell me anything, the bowl with all the
stuff to go inside was a gift from my little cousins, so I felt
obligated to use it.
<Ah, I see. A thoughtful gift, but as is often pointed out, pets
aren't the best presents because of the responsibility and expense
often associated with them.>
So, I researched what could live in it comfortably... talk about
<Perhaps... but I hope you'll see an upgrade to the environment
as an investment, and in the long term will derive pleasure from these
I sincerely thank you for all of the advice, and I'm sure
"Sunny", the ADF, feels the same way. You've been a great
<Happy to help. Good luck, Neale.>
African dwarf frogs... care/sys. -- 09/14/07
Hello, My friend works at a fish store and has an ADF and he said that
he takes his frog out of the water for a less than ten minutes every
now and then. I have one too but I don't want to hurt him in
anyway. But at the same time I wouldn't mind hanging out with him
outside the water. Is that okay? or should I not take him out at all
and put the thought out of my mind? thanks, Claire <Claire, your
friend is completely wrong to remove his frog from the water. No
amphibian should ever be handled except where absolutely essential
because their skins are very sensitive and easily damaged. This goes
double for aquatic amphibians because they have thinner skins than
terrestrial amphibians as well as less robust skeletons. So tell your
friend to stop handling his frog! If he wants something to cuddle, he
should go buy a cat. Cheers, Neale>
African dwarf frogs -- 09/19/07 I have a feeling you are
going to tell me to get a dog... however can I touch the frog at all?
<No.> maybe gently rub his/her belly or the top? <No. For an
amphibian, the skin is sort of like the lungs, because they breathe
through them. So, imagine how much fun it would be I decided to stick
my fingers up your nose and down your throat just to show I cared. Yuk.
There is a very real chance you petting a frog will damage its skin,
partly through friction, and partly through using too much force.>
Or should I just leave them alone and let them do their thing? <Yes.
Animals become *your* friend when you treat them well. Animals love
routine, so habituate your pets to seeing you at the same time, being
fed at the same time, being given food in the same corner of the tank.
Eventually they will learn that you are A Good Thing and will respond
accordingly. Trying to force things we like, such as being touched,
onto animals that aren't tactile, like frogs, is
counter-productive. As far as the frog is concerned, you're a huge
predator that grabs hold of it.> I'm asking because I think mine
are so cute I always want to play with them. <Resist the urge! There
are some amphibians that learn to be hand fed (ideally with tweezers or
else wet fingers), and those you might consider getting. Tiger
Salamanders are a good example. But for the most part, amphibians are
"look but don't touch" pets. This largely holds for
reptiles, too, though I've known tortoises that liked sitting on
people's feet to keep warm!> Sorry for asking so many questions.
And thanks for your help. Claire <Good luck with your pets, and keep
asking questions! People go wrong when they think they know it all --
there's plenty for everyone to learn about keeping pets. Read,
learn, and enjoy. Cheers, Neale>
Re: African dwarf frogs -- 09/19/07 Thanks for replying!!!
I'll tell him. I've decided to have a solely only frog tank so
I will probably be contacting you in the future. Have a wonderful day
Claire <Cool. Good luck with your pet(s). Cheers, Neale>
African dwarf frogs 8/24/05 Hi, have a
question. I have searched your site &
do not see a similar problem. I have
2 ADF in a 2.5 gallon tank, with a filter
running. We first bought pellet
food, then found out through research online they should be fed frozen
bloodworms. <... and other meaty live, non-live foods>
Purchased those 3 days ago now, feeding them
pea-sized amount every other day (is this correct???) <Best to look
at their "tummies"...> My
main question is an odor. <Interesting>
It's gotten milder/better since switching from
pellets, but it still is unpleasant. Had
water checked at the petstore, they said water levels are
fine. Should we do a partial water
change to see if there's disintegrated pellet food causing
odor? <Yes... should do these change-outs weekly...>
suggestions? My pet peeve is pet
stores selling these frogs with zero info on feeding, correct water
levels, cleaning of tanks,
etc. Thanks for the help, Lisa
<Thank goodness for books, magazines, the Net... Bob Fenner>
Dwarf African Frogs Don't Eat - 02/22/07 I'm
worried about my two African Dwarf Frogs and appreciate any
help. The tank is a 2.5 gallon, with rocks and two
small ornaments, all levels check out ok, temp is right on. One of the
frogs has a big tummy, he eats everything and always seems
hungry. We have curtailed his diet and waiting for his tummy
to shrink before indulging him more. The other frog
doesn't seem to want to eat. He is much skinnier and it didn't
appear as though he was eating at all, so we put in him a little
holding tank in the same tank to monitor if he
eats. It's been at least a week under observation and he
has eaten. The contrast in behavior worries me, is this sort
of thing normal? Thanks for any help! < Only feed your frogs if they
are moving and in search of food. Too many times frogs are over fed and
the food rots in their stomach and causes gas and other digestive
problems. Offer them a washed small earthworm. make sure it is alive
and wiggling. If they don't eat that then they are not going to
eat. Keep the tank clean and increase the water temp to 80 F and see if
that makes any difference.-Chuck>
Frog Legs for Dinner? Hymenochirus beh., sys.
2/22/07 Thanks again, Pufferpunk. <No problem>
I'll return Jet this weekend so he can mix with his own
kind. Now I have a question about the frogs, Slim and
Chance. They used to be so cute every evening, swimming and playing and
crashing into things. But lately they've become
reclusive and sluggish. I really don't think I feed them
too much but they aren't as eager for their food anymore, which is
those delicious Frog and Tadpole Bites. I've given them
frozen bloodworms a time or two, but not many at a time. I
shook them (gently) out of their hidey holes tonight so I could
photograph them to show you how normal they look. Do you
think the light is too much for them? It's just your standard 150W
bulb. <Not if you plan on boiling them for
dinner. Sounds like an awful lot of light for that
tank. I would think a 60wt bulb would be enough to warm up a
5g tank. What's the temp in there?> At one time I had
some floating plants in there, and that diffused the light
some. But I took all the live plants out and replaced them
with fake because the live ones were rotting and stinking up the
water. What do you think? Am I just being a
worrier (a general tendency of mine)? <Probably too hot for even the
plants. Check the temp--should be around
Is a 30 Gal tank too deep for African Dwarf Frog?
2/14/07 Hi everyone, I LOVE your site and have learned much from
reading the cache of questions in it. However even after searching, I
still have one question in my mind about my African Dwarf Frogs.
<Okay> I have a 30 Gallon standard Eclipse
aquarium. It has 16 Neons, 2 Otos, several live plants, and
3 African Dwarf Frogs. I know that it's hard to keep all
of these alive together but I have done it successfully in the past in
a long 20 gallon tank for about 4 years. I have an extra
tank available just in case those darn Neons come down with fin rot;
which to my memory they seem to do when the wind blows the wrong
direction! <Mmm, not so much in warm/er, acidic water> However
after reading many articles on the little froggies, I am wondering if
this set up is not good for them. A lot of people have
smaller tanks for their frogs, and there seems to be an
opinion online that larger tanks will cause the frogs too
much stress trying to swim up to the top for air. <Is a good
question, consideration> So, will my frogs be ok in a tank this
deep? <Yes, should be fine... some folks with more aggressive fishes
might be a concern (hence am glad you list the other livestock) as the
frogs go up/down for breaths> its a standard rectangular 30 Gallon
eclipse tank. they seem to be happy, and swim up and down a lot. At
times it seems they may be struggling against the current from the
filter, but whenever they need air they bolt up to the top as if they
were a bullet. So i have the impression that they are happy
and just playing in the water. Though, I just want to make
sure that they aren't struggling and waiting to the last moment to
get their air as a result. I would hate to think they are drowning
while I think they are enjoying themselves! They don't spend any
time floating on top, and they actively crawl around the bottom and
actively hunt for the brine shrimp I distribute on the bottom in front
of them with a never used in the kitchen turkey baster. It seems to
work well if I feed the other fish a little to distract them when I
feed the froggies. In short: My frogs SEEM happy. They do
swim around a lot. At times they just sit, and once in a great while
hide under the moss plant. Will a tank that is about 15
inches high, with a mildly strong current from the bio filter be ok for
them? Thanks for any information you provide. David <Think
you're fine here. BobF>
African Dwarf Frog TADPOLES!!! Need help...pretty
please?? - 02/09/2007 Hey there ya'll, <Christa>
My name is Christa, and I have a total of three
(3) ADF's'¦two (2) in one tank all by themselves (And
Fishy Furniture of course) and the other one is in our 20 gallon tank
with a few fish and a pleco. The reason for my request for
information is this'¦ It was time for
a partial water change in Waldo and Newbie's tank. (the two
ADF's that live together) I know that I have a male and
a female, because I have seen them mate
before. However'¦I got these two little cuties when
they were the size of a small peanut, and since the males do not reach
sexual maturity until after the 6 month mark, I didn't have any
tadpoles that produced from their frolicking.
Well'¦later on that night, after I did
the water change, I noticed they were mating. I didn't
really pay it any mind, since there has been no 'luck' in the
past. (Boy was I wrong!!) The next morning when I
woke, I walked downstairs to turn all the tanks on and feed everyone,
and low-and-behold, there were hundreds of little eggs throughout the
floating grasses at the top of the water and clinging to all sides of
the hexagon-shaped tank. <Neat> I
discussed maybe raising them, with my boyfriend. (who is more the
nature-type than myself'¦ just being
honest. I'm a City-Girl.) He asked me a very
good question'¦ 'What in the world did I intend to do with
all the baby frogs?' So, I spoke with a local Fish and
Supply store here in our neighborhood and asked if they would be
interested in taking them off my hands (most of them anyways'¦
I would like to keep a few) when they are a little older and much to my
surprise, he said he would love too. <Oh yes... are good sellers>
So the journey has begun!! Yeah!! I can't
wait to watch this. I've never seen anything like this
before. Again'¦'City Girl'.
So the little-guy's have hatched, and are
swimming around with itty-bitty tails. It only took about 3
days!! I have received many ideas as to what to feed them,
such as lightly steamed zucchini, lightly crumpled lettuce that has
been sitting in room temp water for 4-6 days, someone even said regular
old fish flakes. <Mmm, yes... and perhaps a bit of
"cultured" algae... "Nori, Kombu"... from Asian
food stores or the area in your food stores...> I am open for
anymore suggestions. I also understand that they need fresh
water and just how important this is to their survival. <A good idea
to make quite frequent small change-outs... ten percent every few
days...> To The Point
Your web site has been rather helpful in
raising my ADF's. However, I can't seem to get an
answer to a few questions I have on raising these teeny-tiny
tadpoles. And I mean Teeny-Tiny!! I have these
little fellas (tadpoles) in a 2.5 gallon hexagon shaped tank with a
filter that suctions from the bottom, and there's a clear cylinder
in the back with bubbles that rise from the bottom. I really
don't know what kind of filtration systems it is called, so I tried
my best to describe it. My questions are these'¦
<Best to use a "sponge" or foam filter here... See Eheim
or Jungle Laboratories sites re...>
1. Should I turn the filter
off? They are going for one heck-of-a roller coaster ride
when they are swept around by the rising bubbles. <Yes... I would
switch to the filtration method mentioned above... or an
"open" (top off) box filter with just Dacron filter
media...> 2. How often
should I feed them? You can't really tell with their
tummies. They don't have any yet. <Daily... I would
keep food present most all the time>
3. How warm should I have the
temperature set at? It is at 78 degrees right now. <This
is fine... put the term "Hymenochirus culture" in your search
tools...> 4. Should I leave
the light on all night? Someone told me that they thrive on
the micro-organisms that grow in the water and this promotes the
growth? True or False?? <Mmm... do need, use
"infusoria" but I would turn the light off regularly>
5. What should I really be
feeding them? The suggestions I've gotten sound a little
weird. <See, weed through the above search...>
6. How often do I need to do a partial water change
for these little guys? <Often... as stated above> So, that's
about it. Thanks for keeping this web site up and
operational. It has been a great source of valuable and
extremely hard to find elsewhere information. New
Tadpole Mommy Manassas, VA <I do wish we had more
on this species, the whole Order, much MUCH for other groups... In
time... And congratulations on your efforts. Bob Fenner>
HELP!!! Sick maybe injured ADF 2/5/07 I have 4 ADFs in
my tank along with 6 platys, 2 mystery snails, 2 ghost shrimp and a pleco. I have 1 teaspoon of salt per 5 gallons of water. <... frogs,
the snails... don't "like" salt...> I originally had
one frog and it seemed to do ok with the salt and everything else, so I
decided to get the other three. I have had the others now for about 2
or 3 months. We just noticed yesterday that one of the newer ones
looked like he was shedding. <Mmm, Hymenochirus do this...> We
have seen them shed before so we didn't think anything of it,
except that it wasn't trying to get it off of himself like they
normally do. Then he started swimming up and we noticed that he has
some kind of injury on the underside of him. Almost the whole right
side (left side to us when we are looking at it) is sunken in. Almost
like he was crushed. We had to run some errands and when we got back we
could see the stuff that looked like his shedding skin was gone, but it
looks like he has a fungus growing on his back. It looks kind of lumpy,
too. I searched your site and found some stuff dealing with the fungus,
though I'm not sure if that's even what is on my frog, but I
didn't find anything like the injury so please if you could help I
would appreciate it. Also, if I have to I would like to know of a good
humane way to euthanize him if I can't nurse him back to health.
Thank you in advance. <I would start to dilute the salt/s in the
water... and look into "Sulfa" drugs (see WWM re this term...
the search tool)... 250 mg./ten gallons... Bob Fenner>