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FAQs About Xenopus laevis, African Clawed Frogs, Systems

Related Articles: Keeping African Clawed Frogs and African Dwarf Frogs by Neale Monks, Amphibians, Turtles,

Related FAQs: Xenopus in General, Xenopus Identification, Xenopus Behavior, Xenopus Compatibility, Xenopus Selection, Xenopus Feeding, Xenopus Disease, Xenopus Reproduction, & Amphibians 1, Amphibians 2, Frogs Other Than African and Clawed, African Dwarf Frogs, Turtles, Amphibian Identification, Amphibian Behavior, Amphibian Compatibility, Amphibian Selection, Amphibian Systems, Amphibian Feeding, Amphibian Disease, Amphibian Reproduction,


African Clawed Frog Questions; fdg., sys., comp.     8/10/12
Hey WWM. Thanks for all the great info! I am usually on here looking for information on my reef tank, but now I have some questions about my African Clawed Frog. I got him about 2 years ago from a grow-a-frog kit and he has always been quite amusing to me. After doing some research recently, I think I may be doing some things wrong. I keep him alone in a 5 gallon tank (his female partner jumped to her death from a tiny hole, which has now been covered) with just some plastic tank decorations and a basic foam filter. I would like to add a fine sand bed and perhaps some more life to the tank. Firstly though, I think I may need to change his feeding. Currently, he is only fed the grow-a-frog pellets, a little bit twice a day. From what I have read, he needs more diversity than this. I would love to get away without feeding him frozen food (if possible) and was wondering if I could get away with feeding him a variety of quality flakes and pellets (wondering if you could suggest any)?
<In my experience these Hymenochirus aren't keen on flake, though they may eat some now and again. Frog-specific pellets are readily accepted, so by all means stick with those as a staple. You can also provide tiny pieces of raw seafood and white fish fillet; slivers of raw shrimp for example is thoroughly enjoyed, and makes a nice treat now and again. There's no real need to provide anything on top of good quality pellets except to avoid problems with constipation. To that end, live, frozen or freeze-dried daphnia and brine shrimps are the two things to use.>
I am also looking to add some more life to this tank. It is my understanding that fish are a no-no?
<Well, additional Dwarf African Frogs and Red Cherry Shrimps are the two obvious additions for a tank this size. Red Cherry Shrimps are cheap, pretty, active by day, and breed readily. They make excellent scavengers and algae-eaters, and to some degree turn flake food into baby shrimps, which the frogs will eat.>
If not could you recommend some plants or inverts or something else that would go well with my frog? Also, my frog produces a lot of waste that generally ends up as a kind of detritus of frog waste and uneaten food at the bottom of the bare-bottom tank.
<Reduce feeding; increase filtration; clean the tank more often. These are really very clean animals.>
I just siphon it out, but if I added a sand-bed how would I clean this?
<The thing with sand is that faeces don't sink into it. That means the sand stays cleaner, and if you have good filtration, the faeces get sucked into the filter which you can clean more easily (hopefully). But if your filter "sucks" in a bad way, i.e., it doesn't suck the water hard enough, the faeces just sit there. This is why some people think sand is "dirtier" than gravel; it isn't, but it is less forgiving. A turkey baster is a great tool for quickly pipetting out detritus such as faeces without the whole chore of getting buckets and siphons out.>
Is there some kind of snail or other invert that would help clean this up?
<No. By definition, adding any other animals will make your aquarium dirtier. The whole idea of "cleaner fish" is a myth, perpetuated largely by the retailers who are selling these supposed "cleaning" fish and other animals. Hmm… keeping the aquarium clean is YOUR job, and if your aquarium is dirty, it's either overstocked, overfed, or under-filtered; quite likely a combination. Foam filters are only as good as the air pump powering them, and if you have a poky (i.e., small, cheap) air pump, the filter likely sucks up very little debris. Upgrade the air pump if you can, preferably getting a reasonably large model with an adjustable output (the Eheim ones feature these) so you can fine-tune the air flow up or down as needed.>
Well, that's all the questions I can think of for now. I may think of more later! Thanks for the help!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: re: African Clawed Frog Questions
(Bob, you may need to edit my previous reply!)<You're fine here>     8/10/12
Thanks for the quick reply! So basically I have a few questions that were brought up by the answers to my previous questions! First of all, when you were talking about adding something to avoid constipation you mentioned brine shrimp.
I have some frozen Spirulina enriched brine that I feed my fish sometimes.
Could I use this with my African Clawed Frog?
Secondly, for the tank mates, I did not know that I could mix African Dwarf Frogs with my African Clawed Frog.
<Sorry, no, absolutely not. Misread your question. You're talking about Xenopus; I was talking about Hymenochirus. I tend to use the Latin names to avoid problems such as these -- their common names are so similar!>

Did I understand you right when I heard this? Also, the Red Cherry Shrimp look really cool, but would my frog make quick meals of them?
<Xenopus, yes, will eat small shrimps.>
I was told they will eat practically anything they can fit in their mouth!
What would be a good amount of shrimp for this tank? Finally, are there any plants you could recommend for this tank? Thanks.
<Ah now, if you have Xenopus in 5 gallons, no wonder the tank is dirty!
These frogs need much more space than this, and a really beefy filter too, I'd recommend a medium-sized internal canister filter of some sort, something like a Fluval U3 for a 20-30 gallon aquarium. It's not that Xenopus can't be kept in 5-10 gallon tanks -- they clearly are in laboratory condition where the water is changed very frequently -- but in an aquarium we expect clearer, cleaner water and for our frogs to live much longer. As for tankmates, Xenopus need cooler water than most tropical fish, and being so predatory, they're not good tankmates for most invertebrates. Your best bets would be Apple Snails as they do well in slightly cool (~22 C/72 F) water. Xenopus tend to uproot plants, but epiphytes work well (i.e., Java fern and Anubias) while they absolutely adore floating plants such as Indian Fern where they will rest and bask under the lights. Plus, floating plants minimise jumping, which has to be good! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Re: re: African Clawed Frog Questions (Bob, you may need to edit my previous reply!)    8/10/12

Ok, so I will start adding some Spirulina-enriched brine to its diet. I just wasn't sure because of the Spirulina. Does once or twice a week sound good? Also, how much should I be feeding this guy? The grow-a-frog recommend twice a day. Does this sound right?
Also contributing to a hard-to-keep-clean tank: I don't know if all African Clawed Frogs are like this, but mine is...not very intelligent…
<"Dumb as stumps" is about right. Or rather, they have very poor vision, and hunt by smell. My Hymenochirus seem to take mouthfuls of sand more often than food.>
When I feed him if the pellet is not directly over his head, he will not see it and won't eat it. It generally takes a couple times before I finally get a pellet to land directly over his head, and he never eats food off the bottom of the tank. I think this is definitely hurting the water quality.
<Hmm… overfeeding? If he doesn't eat the food in front of him, don't add more until that portion is gone. If it's still there 5, 10 minutes later -- remove it!>
Plus, my frog is only getting 1-2 pellets each time I feed. Does this sound normal?
<Yes. They don't need daily feeding.>
I think I remember reading something about them having terrible eye-sight?
So basically my only tank inhabitant option are apple snails? Ok, better than nothing!
<Quite so.>
You think they will be safe from the frog?
<Should be.>
How many would you recommend for my 5 gallon tank?
<None; this aquarium is too small. Xenopus may tolerate poor water quality, but the Apple Snail won't… will die, rot.>
Would I need to supplement feed them or would they eat the left-over food, etc? There is little to no algae in my tank, but plenty of detritus! I will also definitely look into the plants you recommended. I'm inexperienced in the field of freshwater plants but I have a reef tank so...how hard can it be?
<Not very.>
I don't think my light is very good...It is a Marineland fixture with 16 LEDs but I think each LED is like .1 or .2 watts. Is that enough to support any of the recommended plants?
<Possibly not, but Anubias definitely worth a shot.>
Are the floating plants ok if I have an acrylic top on the tank?
<Depends on the plants, but Indian Fern should be. Plants that need cool air above the water will be less good.>
I will also look into a canister filter. You think that would be better than the Tetra Whisper HOB filter I currently have?
<Hmm… doesn't much matter, but the point being that if you get, say, a 15-20 gallon tank for one Xenopus, get a "generous" filter for that tank, one rated at above that, 20-30 gallons say. Xenopus are proportionally more messy than fish -- not only do they make solid waste and urea, but also shed skin all the time.>
If I end up keeping all the equipment I currently have and not upgrading, what does my maintenance (I.e. water changing regimen) look like? Since I have a marine reef tank, I am definitely used to and ok with some maintenance. Am I looking at weekly water changes?
That's what I do with my fish tank so that would be fine. Also, I have no idea why it would affect any of the answers you have given me so far, but my frog is male, so he is smallerish... Thanks for all the help! I'm really just looking for the most affective ways to turn a tank with a frog and a plastic castle into some kind of ecosystem with other life, plants, etc. and ways to better the health of this amusing creature!
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Re: Re: re: African Clawed Frog Questions (Bob, you may need to edit my previous reply!)     8/11/12

Thank you so much for the information I have gotten so far! Basically what I have decided is that a tank upgrade is in store. Unfortunately right now I really don't have the room or funds for a very large tank. However, I have found one that would be an upgrade to the one I have now. It is a 7-gallon bookshelf tank so it is more space, but the best part is the dimensions. I know the African frogs like shallow tanks and this one is perfect! It is 24" long and only 9" tall.
<Still quite small. You already know these frogs are dirty, and can see why the size of the tank is important.>
It also comes with a very powerful filter. I am very excited. I am going to add a 2" sand bed and was wondering if there is anything in particular that I need to look for in a bag of sand that will be suitable for my African Clawed Frog?
<I would not add 2 inches of sand; add just enough to cover the glass. This will be much easier to clean (important!) and will ensure maximum water volume. Assuming your tank is about 24 x 9 x 9 inches (which is 1944 cubic inches or 7 gallons) then even a 2-inch sand bed will be 24 x 9 x 2 will be 432 cubic inches or just under 2 gallons. Out of a 7-gallon tank, that's a fair amount of wastage, I think you'll agree.>
I will be adding some driftwood, decorations, and live plants.
<If you get driftwood and attach the Anubias to that (Anubias is an epiphyte and hates being in pots or the substrate) you should be all set.>
Lastly, I was wondering if this upgrade would now warrant the addition of another ACF and/or an apple snail?
<Another 5-6 gallons, at least, for the frog, and about as much for the snail. Seriously, these frogs need around 20 gallons to be kept in twos or threes.>
If another ACF is ok does the gender and/or size and/or color matter?
Also, would it be okay to keep an ACF from my fish store with this ACF even though he was part of a kit and I think may be slightly different (as a tadpole his skin was transparent; are all ACFs like that?)?
<Xenopus laevis is the common species in the trade; it is available in some variations, including an albino form.>
I was hoping to perhaps get an albino or some other color. What are your thoughts? Regardless, I think this will be a cool tank!
<Do read where you were sent last time around, and digest that before spending your money. If money is limited, then spend it on a bigger aquarium not a second frog, and if space is limited, find a tall tank with a smaller footprint that would offer extra volume of water. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Re: Re: African Clawed Frog Questions (Bob, you may need to edit my previous reply!)    8/11/12

I have been to the article you directed me to and that definitely helped a lot. Two ACFs in a 7-gallon is just not going to work. Scratch that.
Also, the sandbed thing makes a lot of sense. My question is, with a small sandbed will this limit the types of plants I can put in my tank?
<Well, you can't add plants that have roots, but you wouldn't be growing those in a small tank with Xenopus anyway! Stick with epiphytes (Anubias, Java fern) and floating plants (Indian fern strongly recommended) and you'll have a nice range of greenery that should do well with the frogs.>
Also, I found a place online that sells large pieces of driftwood (15") with Anubias already attached to it (perfect!).
The driftwood is long enough that I can add other plants in the future.
<Anubias grows steadily. I've got lumps of the stuff sitting in the garden at the moment because I don't have anywhere else to put it!>
I want to try to add as many plants as possible to help with the water quality.
<Don't rely on this. Think about this scientifically. Plants remove ammonia and nitrate at a rate proportional to the rate at which they grow. So, if you have weak lighting (less than, say, 2 watts per gallon) plant growth will be very slow, and that in turn means they remove ammonia and nitrate very slowly. Not nearly fast enough to make much difference. About the best that can be said is that plants will bring in helpful bacteria and provide additional surfaces for bacteria to grow, but under weak lighting that's about it.>
I will definitely do floating plants as well. This is probably a dumb question, but with the floating plants I assume you just drop them in the aquarium and leave them there?
<Depends on the species. Mostly yes, this is what you do. But some varieties grow above the waterline and are notoriously sensitive to the hot, dry air inside the hood (Salvinia is the classic example, but also things like Pistia). These usually die after a few months, or at least, they never look nice because their leaves are either burned or rotting.
Indian Fern grows above and below the waterline, and so long as you trim away the above-the-waterline stuff, it can be easily grown indefinitely as a below-the-waterline floater. Amazon Frogbit is just as good, and also recommended. For these two excellent plants, yes, add them to the tank, and crop back every few weeks. Both can cover the aquarium in a few weeks under even modest lighting. Aim for about 50% open water, 50% floating plants, but feel free to crop back ruthlessly.>
I guess the real question for me is should I pay a lot more for a 10 gallon kit or will I be able to keep the 7 gallon adequately clean for one ACF?
<For a few dollars, I don't see any benefit to going with 7 gallons. Volume trumps everything else in keeping aquatic frogs, and money spent on the biggest tank you can afford is money well spent. A smaller tank is limiting and can't be upgraded or easily fixed if you find it still has problems.
Why go from 5 gallons to 7 gallons when you can straightaway double the volume with a 10 gallon tank! I don't know what prices are in your area, but a quick online search revealed Wal-Mart 10-gallon tanks go for about $12, which seems a steal.>
The funny thing is that the kit I bought this guy from actually expects the adult ACF to live in like a 1/2 gallon cube its entire life! Had I known more about these guys I would have just bought a big tank and a couple ACFs at my fish store!
<Unfortunately both Xenopus and even more so Hymenochirus spp suffer from being seen as "novelty" pets and are sold by retailers who have absolutely no business selling livestock at all. It's a shame really because both types of frog are very undemanding. But you do need some understanding of their non-negotiable needs from which to work from. There's a nice, readable book by Andrew Gray called "Keeping Amphibians" available through Amazon for precisely 1 cent plus postage. It's not a "deep science" book but it does cover all the basics and has quite a few pages about Xenopus.
If you haven't got this book, let me recommend it as money well spent.
Besides Xenopus, it covers other fun species like Pac Man Frogs and Axolotls that may appeal once you've mastered Xenopus. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Re: re: African Clawed Frog Questions (Bob, you may need to edit my previous reply!)    8/11/12

So I am thinking that getting all the parts separate might be less expensive than getting a kit for my tank upgrade.
<Often can be. The downside is you don't necessarily get the best selection of hardware for your money, and the brand may not be particularly good (not so reliable, or tied to proprietary filter modules for example). In my experience the cheap filters that come with kits only last 2-4 years, which is far less than a value brand like Eheim that may cost twice as much but will last 20 years if properly maintained. Fluval is a good middle market brand that's a bit cheaper than Eheim and adequately reliable. Same for Sera, Tetra and one or two others. But once you hit the cheap Chinese "no name" stuff, reliability plummets. So do bear in mind the balance between a rock-bottom prices and long-term value. the budget aquarium from Wal-Mart will probably be fine (at least here in the UK, you can't sell an aquarium without it meeting some basic standard of safety in terms of holding water without exploding) and repairing leaky glass tanks isn't that big of a deal. But I'd be a little more careful with heaters and filters because you don't want those to die on your -- they usually go bad when you're not looking, or at a time when replacing them isn't convenient. "A poor man can only afford the very best" is a piece of wisdom that often applies here -- don't get the cheapest, but get something you can trust to last for the next 10 years or longer.>
I am thinking of something like the Wal-Mart 10 gallon. I had a quick question about filtration: Is there anything I should or shouldn't have for filtration for ACFs?
<Some mechanical filtration to trap solid waste (faeces, shed skin) but mostly biological filtration (sponges, ceramic noodles).>
Trying to decide on an HOB filter and I'm seeing cartridges, filter floss, bio wheels, bioballs, ceramic rings, carbon, etc. Is there something that would really be good/bad for an ACF tank? Specifically I am concerned about chemical filtration.
<Don't be; you don't need either charcoal (carbon) or Zeolite. Both of these are expensive to use (they need replacing every 2-4 weeks to work as advertised) and serve little purpose in your sort of situation.>
What do you think? Thanks!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Xenopus toad query... hlth., env.     2/8/12
Hello, I have two albino Xenopus toads which I bought about two months ago.
The pet shop could not tell me what sex they are and because of how young they are, it is unforeseeable so far. Recently, the larger of the two named Patra has developed what looks like charcoal markings on the bottom of the front feet, and I cannot find any information as to what this could be. They are both housed in a 3 gallon tank (I know this is too small but they
are small at the moment) with two ceramic flower pots and large pebbles and rocks to hide behind. The water is dechlorinated etc. with tap-safe, is kept at 30 degrees and is cleaned about every four days as at the moment there is no filter. They are both fed on Meal worms, blood worms and the occasional bits of meat and catfish pellets, recommended by my exotic pet shop. Can you enlighten me as to what this could be, and should I be worried? thanks
<Hello Chloe. Do start by having a read here:
One of the best web pages to see photos of sick frogs and toads is here:
While Xenopus is normally extremely robust, bacterial infections are not uncommon when environmental conditions aren't right and haven't been for a long time. That web page provides some ideas on suitable antibiotics. Yes, 3 gallons is way too small, and long term, will cause problems. If the toad doesn't seem to have anything similar to what you see on that page of sick toads, and otherwise seems healthy, I wouldn't worry too much for now, just sit and watch them over the next few weeks. Do also be aware of the "nuptial pads" that MALE frogs and toads (including Xenopus) develop on their front legs during the mating season. These may come and go depending on the time of year. You can see photos online. Nuptial pads are used during spawning to hold onto the female. They often look like rough callosities. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Xenopus toad query, sys.  5/3/12

I've improved my two toads care recently and would like to know if its suitable now, or not. They are in a 10 gallon tank,
<10 US gallons? Better. Not ideal. But better.>
with rocks,
<Smooth I hope, not sharp or jagged.>
three plant, pots and a fake plant.
<All good. Floating plants are the best, even if fake, because the frogs like to float at the surface supported by the leaves.>
They are cleaned out every three days, with a water temp of 22 degrees. They are both fed on a mix of mealworms, waxworks, turtle / terrapin food, blood worms, catfish food, the odd bit of meat and some calcium powder when they have waxworms. Is this suitable or is there anything else I can change? Thanks x
<Hmm… do read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/FrogsArtNeale.htm
Some excellent Xenopus books out there, but "Keeping Amphibians" by Andrew Gray is cheap ($0.01 on Amazon, used) and covers all the basics. Well worth having. Cheers, Neale.> 

Your help and advice is much needed. Xenopus sys., hlth. 11/24/11
Dear WWM crew,
Thank you for reading my email. I recently bought an Albino African Claw Frogglet.
<Small? Or just a "frog" size of Xenopus laevis I'll take it>
Im not sure of the age. When I first brought him home he was fine. I set up the tank after doing research on this little creature because the pet store that sold him to me didnt know much about their species.
<Mmm, ours: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/FrogsArtNeale.htm
and the linked files above>
I have a 10 gallon tank filled up half 2/3 the way. Right now I have a heater, which I keep at 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and smooth rock display for hiding places. I decided to keep with a smooth glass bottom with a dark cloth around the outside since I didnt want him accidently eating sand or rocks. I have not gotten a filter
<Absolutely necessary
. Amphibians are very sensitive to accumulated metabolite and variation in water quality>
yet but change the water ever couple of days so its not too messy in the tank. The pet store said that they just put fish pellets for the fish in the tank and guessed that the frogs ate them too, I have bought freeze dried Hikari Tubifex Worms or him to eat. Sadly, now that Ive had him for a couple of weeks Im noticing very strange behaviors and I cant seem to find any diseases that match his criteria.
<Highly likely these are all traceable to environment... You NEED an adequate filter>
When I first brought him home I used hard water because I didnt find any articles saying I couldnt. He was fine at first but after a couple of days he started swimming oddly, swimming up to the top and then floating down over and over and when Id turn on the light or walk towards him hed start thrashing his legs. Doing more research I found out hard metals are toxic so I bought Aqua Safe Plus by Tetra which is a water conditioner and dechlorinator all in one. I changed all of the water and added the conditioner in to fresh water.
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm
re establishing cycling in aquatic systems. Simply changing the water here won't do>
So to keep you updated on the time frame he was in the hard unconditioned water for about a week then I changed the water with the conditioner. I still used the hard water but I thought the conditioner would help, but he wasnt getting any better, in fact he was getting worse, he was now trashing at random times and spinning so that his belly would be facing up and then hed flip over for about a minute over and over. Then he would stop and just float around my guess was that he was exhausted from thrashing. Today I decided to get regular city tap water for him and added the conditioner/dechlorinator to the water hoping he would be able start controlling his legs. When he first started thrashing I thought he was just nervous around people but now I fear there is something more going on. It seems almost like he is epileptic and it gets set off by people walking towards him. I havent moved him to a shallow tank because I often look over and he is floating at the top where he can breathe. The closes symptoms I have been able to notice are cramping leg or slightly paralyzed leg syndrome but I wanted to check in with the experts before I tried any remedies. Any advice you can give would be very helpful. Sorry for the length, I wanted to give you as much detail of the situation as possible. Thank you for your time.
<One last time; this system needs ongoing biological filtration... Is this clear? Bob Fenner>

Recent (Strange) tank conditions with Albino African Clawed Frogs 9/19/10
For about a year, I've owned two Albino African Clawed Frogs. I bought them from Wal-Mart (not the greatest place, I know, I know...) but they've really thrived for the past year.
<Xenopus are tough animals. Very resilient to human "use">
About 4 months ago, I got a new, used 10-gal tank, stripped and reapplied silicon tank sealant, disinfected the tank, bought a filter (10-20 gallons, external), etc. Everything was fine until about 5 days ago, when I did my once-a-month complete clean
<Mmm... not good to change all out at once. Hopefully you don't sterilize the filter/media at this time>
on their tank. About 3 days afterwards, I noticed a weird, cloudy whiteness that was floating in the water. It seems to be made of small particles and wasn't absorbed by the filter. I decided to change it when I
came back from class. When I came back, The water was completely opaque.
In panic, I did another complete clean and bought a new filter (10-30 gallons, internal). The filter seemed to take care of the weird white mist-like particles for about a day, but it has since returned. What is this stuff?
<Mmm, likely gametes... sex cells, though if only slightly cloudy, could be skin mucus... secreted by the frogs>
My trusty Google research on bacterial and fungal afflictions led me to believe that my frogs would have white fuzzy patches growing on them, but they seem to be perfectly healthy. The only change is that they're hanging out by the new filter nonstop. Their appetite seems normal and they're swimming normally.
<Ah good>
I looked through the submissions on WWM, but found nothing quite like this.
Could it be the new sealant (it hasn't been a problem for 4 months)?
<Mmm, no>
Or are my froggies sick?
<Perhaps just stressed by the new water conditions, some aspect of water quality, but appear to be fine. Going forward, I would save a good half of their "old" water and put it back in with them, and not clean the filter, change the media out at the same time... perhaps alternate this with the tank cleaning... as in do one, the other, every two weeks, half month. Bob Fenner>

African Clawed Frogs... sys., 06/9/10
<Hello. Melinda here today.>
I have recently bought two ACF froglets they seem to be doing alright.
<Good to hear.>
I just switched to a new 10 gallon tank because the two froglets before died from ammonia poisoning.
<Then the tank wasn't cycled. This issue should have been addressed prior to purchasing more animals. Please read here on cycling:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwestcycling.htm. Also, this ten-gallon is marginal for two African Clawed frogs, so do be careful. Frequent maintenance may be needed to keep water parameters in check, where
a larger aquarium would allow you a little more "wiggle room" when it comes to maintenance. Please read here on care of African Dwarf Frogs, along with the linked files below the article's title:
How do I keep the levels of spiking to high?
<Mature the biological filter prior to adding any life with fishless cycling, as detailed in the link above. After you have Ammonia and Nitrite levels of zero, your only worry should be Nitrate, which can be removed with frequent water changes.>
I have a regular tetra whisper filter that uses those bio-bags. I am planning to do a 10%-25% water change weekly and I am feeding them the prepackaged bloodworms.
<Please do read on WWM re: feeding. Bloodworms are fine as a part of a larger, more varied diet, but feeding only one food is going to lead to nutritionally deficient animals. Here is a link on feeding:
Any advice to keep these new ones healthy?
<Return them until the tank is cycled, which, using the fishless method, will likely take about three or four weeks. Simply place a pinch of flake food in the tank daily, and watch Ammonia and Nitrite spike, then go back to zero, and Nitrate increase, as is detailed in the link above. Do a water change, and you're ready for frogs. If you choose not to return the frogs you've got, they will likely suffer the same fate as the two before them. The tank must be cycled, and this needs to be done while animals aren't present. Aside from that, read on nutrition, systems, etc. on WWM, so that when you do get the frogs and place them in your newly-cycled aquarium, you're ready to provide the best care possible. Please do write back if you have any questions after reading.
Re: African Clawed Frogs 06/9/10

<Hello again. Melinda here.>
1. I cant return them unless it is an exact exchange. At my petstore there is no here take my frogs back for a couple of weeks.
<I can't believe they wouldn't just take them back. Maybe they won't return your money, but the frogs get to live. Maybe you could purchase some of the foods I suggested you read about on WWM as an exchange, as preparation for buying more frogs once you're ready?>
2.They sell these frogs quite frequently so my guess is that every person out there is not waiting until cycling and keeps them in a new tank from day one
<A good bet. What would you like to do? The right thing, or what the others do? I'm telling you the way to keep your animals healthy, because you asked me. Personally, after keeping and rescuing fish which grow quite large, and advising many on their care, only hearing excuses in return, I'm sick of hearing about what "every person" who takes the fish home does. This is your responsibility, and your conscience. Not anyone else's.>
3.When I asked at the petstore they just told me to do the 10%- 25% water change every 4-5 days to combat the ammonia.
<Well, then, do that. This is ridiculous advice. Ammonia could easily spike to extremely hazardous levels with this regimen. Again, I've given you my advice, and you're left to choose who to listen to. I'm not trying to sell you anything, while the fish store will likely make plenty on the various medications they'll sell you when the frogs get sick, as well as the possible sale of new frogs.>
5. My petstore wont take the frogs back but has offered free ammonia tests.
<That's good. They'll likely offer to sell you a myriad of "cures" when your frogs fall ill, as well. Again, I've given you my point of view on the matter, because you asked.>
6. I need a more practical solution with what I have. thanks
<You can do more water changes, and might keep the frogs alive through the cycling process. This is not the most humane, or conscientious, option. I have never experienced ammonia poisoning, but I'm guessing it's something
like rolling around in fiberglass insulation. There's no reason to subject any creature to this treatment. The best thing to do is find these frogs a new home and then purchase the animals when you're ready. I'm not trying to be mean, but you chose not to find out "why" the previous animals died, and how you could stop it from happening again before purchasing more. I'm only trying to get you to start from where you should -- the beginning -- rather than place these animals in danger.

Blind Albino African Clawed frog 6/3/10
<Hello Danielle. Thanks for writing in. But please, don't send 6 MB of photos next time. We do specifically ask for photos around 500 KB in size, otherwise one or two people's messages will fill up our e-mail space, causing other people's messages to get bounced back unread.>
I have had my blind Albino African Clawed frog in a 10 gallon tank with a couple of what were suppose to be feeder guppies
<Wrong food for this species, and a darn good way to introduce parasites.>
but he can't see them to get to them so they are now pets I suppose and live plants for about a month. I have been feeding him feeder/ghost shrimp
<Not adequate food; shrimp contain thiaminase, and long-term, this will cause all sorts of problems through Vitamin B1 deficiency. Good staples include earthworms, wet-frozen bloodworms; in moderation, prepared dried foods may be accepted, but used too often will cause constipation.>
because they hang out on the bottom of the tank so they are easy for him to find. I have tried blood worms and of course he can't see them so it is just a mess.
<Indeed. The blue and white pebbles aren't helping here and were a really bad idea. If you use plain "smooth" silica sand the bloodworms won't sink in, and the frog can find them through touch and smell. With pebbles the bloodworms will just fall into the cracks. I cannot stress too strongly how important research is when keeping pet animals, and just because a pet shop sells something it doesn't automatically mean it's worth buying.>
A couple of days ago I got him a new bunch of shrimp and 1/2 of them turned white and died.
<As they do.>
They weren't fuzzy or anything just not see through anymore.
I don't know if it makes a difference but most of the shrimp were pregnant.
<No difference.>
But before this my frog developed black spots which almost look like markings on his back and hind legs.
<Looks normal to me.>
He eats fine and moves around just fine doesn't act sickly anyway. The people at the pet store I got him from said that without his eyes (which are completely missing BTW) they couldn't for sure say he was Albino
so he might not be and was probably just his natural markings coming in.
<Likely so.>
But I thought he was a little big for him not to have any markings yet if he was going to have any. His Veins on his feet and one very defined vein on his arms are visible too. I attached a photo of him in the tank and out of the tank. If you could let me know what you think about the pet stores response and what I might need to do different if there is something wrong with him and/or my tank and what it may be I would really appreciate it.
Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Need some advise
Is it good for African clawed frogs to have algae in their tank? 2/9/10

<Provided water quality, water chemistry, and water temperature are all good -- it doesn't matter! Xenopus enjoy hard, basic water (around pH 7.5, 10+ degrees dH) and moderate temperatures (around 18 C is ideal). Zero
ammonia and zero nitrite are important. Other than that, these frogs are adaptable, and while they won't eat algae, they won't be bothered by it either. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: African clawed frogs...
Cycling Update: Ammonia 1.0, Nitrite .25, 1/18/10
<Ammonia at this level is very toxic, so I wouldn't feed at all for two days out of three, and I'd be aggressive with the water changes. Do make sure your tap water has zero ammonia (some water supplies do contain some
ammonia) and if your tap water has ammonia, be sure to use a water conditioner that removes ammonia as well as chlorine and copper.>
pH 8, Nitrate 0 The frogs are active, eating well, and look healthy. The 3 remaining Tiger Barbs are showing some signs of distress.
<Yes, Barbs are very sensitive to ammonia and nitrite.>
You can see they are gasping a bit. As for the Green Corys, they look fine.
<I bet they're unhappy with the cobblestones though! Have tried decorating with cobblestones, and while pretty, eventually I changed to sand or fine gravel. Why? Firstly most fish hate the cobblestones. They can't burrow
nicely. Secondly, the cobblestones trap detritus and quickly make the tank messy. Best avoided.>
My tank looks extremely clean from the decreased feedings and daily water changes.
<Do remember water clarity and water quality are quite different things.>
Thoughts or comments?
Thanks, Alex
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: African clawed frogs... 1/18/10
Thanks again Neale. Well you are correct. I tested the tap water before and after adding my chlorine/chloramine conditioner and received 1.0 ammonia readings.
<Do note that you will get a "false positive" AFTER treating water with chloramine in it, so do check the water *before* adding water conditioner or dechlorinator. That's what matters. Chloramine, as its name suggests,
breaks down into chlorine and ammonia when it reacts with some water conditioners. If a water conditioner says it treats for chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia, then this isn't a problem. But if the water conditioner only treats chlorine, not chloramine, then the ammonia sits around afterwards. More of a problem. So, to recap, test your water without any conditioner added. If it contains ammonia, or if you want to be careful, simply choose a water conditioner that treats chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia, all at the same time.>
So any recommendations on the product to buy?
<Many brands; all should work fine.>
I'm sure the product you advise will take care of ammonia as well as chlorine in my tap, so maybe I should just stop using this generic conditioner altogether. Kind of hard cycling out ammonia when every water change, I'm adding more.
<Again, do make sure you don't have a false positive.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Planting Xenopus aquaria 10/29/09
I have an African Clawed Frog tank and want to switch from artificial plants to live plants. I would like to make it heavily planted, with a variety of plant species that would survive the frog's rough playing and swimming. Any hardy species that would grow tall and full? Can they be planted in traditional sand substrate? Any special care for plants?
(chemicals, fertilizers, lighting?)
I am open to multiple suggestions and would really like to make an attractive tank.
<Hi Jenna. The easiest approach for these frogs would be a combination of epiphytes and floating plants. This would mean you could leave the substrate just as it is, or even replace it with a shallow (1-2 cm) bed of smooth silica sand if you wanted to give them something to dig in. Anyway, epiphytes are of course plants that grow attached to other things. In our case, things like Java ferns, Anubias, Bolbitis, and Java moss are all options. You can buy these already attached to bogwood, so all you do is arrange them in the tank however you want! Instant greenery, and very low maintenance. They come in lots of shapes and sizes, and by stacking the bogwood lumps, you can build up the greenery right up to the top. Because these plants get their nutrients from the water, you only need add fertiliser to the water, and because they grow slowly, a half dose is probably ample. They are not fussy about light, and should thrive in most aquaria. The only downside to these plants is that they tend to become algae magnets if exposed to strong, direct light, so you want to add a few floating plants to stop this. Floating plants also provide shade, and your frogs will happily rest among them at the top, almost like they're using them as a hammock. A good choice would be Indian Fern, but you could add some Salvinia and Amazon Frogbit for variety. Cheers, Neale.>

ACF/undergravel filter 10/27/09
I have a tank of ACFs and have been reading up on undergravel filters - however I often feed my frogs frozen bloodworms and live black worms. I was wondering if the undergravel filter will end up sucking the bloodworms out before the frogs have had a chance to eat them.
<An undergravel filter should work fine in this application. They don't have strong suction, and provided you feed in moderate amounts, the frogs should eat the worms all up before they get sucked into the gravel. Do
review the cleaning, maintenance of undergravel filters though. At minimum, you need to stir the gravel once a month, and remove any dirt and debris.
Cheers, Neale.>

ACF and cycling tank: meanwhile what should I do? - 10/24/09
Hello Neale and all from Hong Kong,
<Hello from England!>
Thank you so much for your guidance in the ACF article. I have a "situation" and would love to hear your advice. I was given 2 albino ACF female froglets, along with 2 dwarf gouramis I believe (with no equipment whatsoever, by my 8-year-old niece) on Aug 17 this year. And I don't even keep fish! I had zero experience and knowledge about aquarium matters. I brought them home in a plastic tank no larger than a shoe box. And I didn't even know I had to dechlorinate my water until one week later!!! OMG!
<Oh dear...>
Thank goodness they lived on. At first I switched them to a 3g plastic tank without a filter (90 % daily WC) for a month. Just when I thought they were happy I learned about the cycling process and started testing the water (and freaked out). I wanted to buy Bio-Spira but I don't see any refrigerated kind here in Hong Kong. I added a 60L/H HOB with a sponge filter attached to the intake. I moved the frogs to an 8g storage box and clipped on a 300L/H HOB filter with sponge likewise. And then my niece gave me 2 more (albino ACF froglets, male)! And they had been kept in 1 inch water!
<Some more "oh dear"...>
Ok...So the 4 frogs go together in the 8g box. The 2 fish in the small 3g tank. With uncycled filters.
It's all temporary. All the time I was preparing for a decent 20g+ tank. I felt sorry it took me 2 whole months to finally put things together four days ago- mainly for having no room space and power sockets (I live in a room no larger than 2 American walk in closets and now I don't have a desk)
<I feel your pain. Here in England, houses are pretty small by US standards, and for me, finding space for even a 10 gallon tank can be a challenge!>
While in the 8g storage box the filter was never really cycled (it began Oct 1). I thought the big tank was on the way and the priority was to minimize exposure to toxins. But though I did a lot of 30-50 % WC and kept them underfed I was barely able to keep ammonia "lower" at .25 on average.
(I picked up debris with a long, thin siphon all the time. I've done WC on alternate days if not daily...everything...It's almost like their respiration alone can give you 0.25 ammonia!)
<Well, yes. Ammonia is released by animals like these all the time, however much you feed them. If you feed them too much, uneaten food decays and produces more ammonia. So you have to find the right amount of food your animals need to keep them healthy. But even then, you'll still have *some* ammonia in the system. That's what the filter is for. Adding fast-growing plants can help dramatically, since they absorb ammonia directly, using it is as fertiliser. But fast-growing plants need good light.>
On Oct 20 I finally got this glass tank installed with an Aquaclear 70, with water fall muffled to the glass wall. One separate sponge filter about inch wide driven by air pump. Water parameters are PH 7 (de-chlorinated tap), KH 1, ammonia 0.25 (Day 4), nitrites 0. Water is filled to 8 inches, 20 gal. with some pebbles (10 pounds? still under construction). Tank is 36X18X18.
<I'd not "waste" water with pebbles. Pointless. Just scatter a minimal amount of smooth silica sand on the bottom, just enough to cover the glass.
That will use up hardly any of the volume of water. You see, the more water in a tank, the more the ammonia is diluted, and the less dangerous the environment will be.>
*Sigh*, what should I do? Should I keep them in the 8 gal storage box with backbreaking water change for 2 months until the large tank cycled? I don't have access to pure ammonia. Will it be the same if I dump the waste water in?
<Just add pinches of flake food ever day or two (or a bit of raw seafood, once a week). This will rot, produce ammonia, and within 3-6 weeks, usually around 4 weeks, the tank will be fully cycled.>
Could you kindly prescribe a course of action for me? Can I carefully cycle the tank with them in? (Don't get me wrong, I love them. I'm saying this because I don't see much difference when they're in the 8g storage box.
It's 0.25 ammonia anyways.)
<You can cycle aquaria with animals in place, but you have to be careful.
In general, I'd avoid this approach. But if you must do it, minimise the food added, in the case of Dwarf Frogs, one or two meals per week for the first 3-4 weeks will be ample. While the tank is cycling, i.e., for the first 3-6 weeks, do 20-25% water changes every 2-3 days rather than weekly.>
There's an LFS nearby where I am a regular customer, but I'm not sure about getting seed materials from them. They keep what looks like Cichlid (?) but knowing next to nothing I can't judge if they're healthy or not. (I dunno, out of desperation I just might.) I was also wondering if putting lots of Zeolite in the 8g will do? Please let me know your opinion.
<Zeolite really isn't worth using. It's expensive, and unless you test for ammonia every few days, it's easy to end up not changing it fast enough.>
Plus, do I need at least 3 degree KH and PH 7.5 for the tank to cycle (as I read somewhere)? If so, how much crushed corals (right?) do I need?
<Yes, filter bacteria are happiest in hard, basic water. Indeed, your Frogs want similar conditions. See here:
There is a recipe for "Rift Valley Cichlid Salt Mix" there. Use this recipe, but at one-quarter to one-half the dose (i.e., instead of one teaspoon or tablespoon, use one-quarter or one-half those amounts). Very cheap, very effective.>
The 3g dwarf Gourami tank has passed the ammonia phase in a week. But nitrite just won't budge. It's dropped some but not completely gone.
Probably because I stole some of their pebbles for the frogs. They're sweet though. There was a bubble nest (I believe) on the first few days I got them (in that shoe box size thing, and despite my chlorine-filled water!)
<Hmm... three gallons isn't enough for a Dwarf Gourami.>
PS: giving them back to my niece is not an option. She has a fairly new, overstocked tank.
I'll be looking forward to your reply and thanks for the great work. Please help me through this... And please pardon my English :)
Thanks and best regards, MJN
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: ACF and cycling tank: meanwhile what should I do? 10/25/2009
Hello Neale again,
Thank you so much for answering!
<Happy to help.>
Sorry to trouble you with a couple of follow up questions:
I think I'll keep the frog in the temporary 8g home while the tank cycles with raw seafood.
1. I gather that I should scale the salt mix down to something like lower-mid PH, moderate hardness, buffer etc by halving or quartering the dose in the main tank?
<More specifically, half or quarter the dose *per bucket of water* you add to the aquarium. Don't change all the water at once, and don't try and change the water chemistry all at once either. Just do your regular weekly water changes, and each time you take out, for example, 5 gallons and add back a new 5 gallons, that new 5 gallons has the right amount of each mineral salt added (i.e., a quarter tablespoon Epsom salt, and quarter teaspoons each baking soda and marine salt mix).>
2. For the temporary 8g, do I add salt mix too (scaling further with respect to volume), in which I'll put some floating plants?
<If you want.>
Does "good light" mean one of those fluorescent plant lights?
<Among other things. My 8 gallon tank is on a bright windowsill and doesn't have a hood, so the plants do great. But whatever you choose, it needs to be a light system adequate for growing plants, something above one watt per gallon.>
3. Then for subsequent water changes, do I need to continue with the salt, scaling down to the amount of water for change?
<Precisely. Each time you do a water change, you add the mineral salts in the amounts needed *per bucket* and not *for the whole aquarium*.>
I guess I'll test for PH KH after every dosing, and daily ammonia etc. tests for monitoring the tanks. That's a lot of tests!
<At least for the first couple of weeks to a month, while you get the hang of things, doing a pH test, a carbonate hardness test, and a nitrite test every 1-3 days is a very good idea. After you're sure everything is stable, then you can switch to doing water chemistry tests once a month, if that.>
As for your concern for the Gourami - I know... but I really can't deal with everything all at once. If they could hold out a bit more I'll come back to them... I want every one of my animals to be safe and happy, just as much... Anyways, big thank you for your help ;)
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: ACF and cycling tank: meanwhile what should I do? 10/29/09
Hello Neale and crew,
Thanks Neale for your reply.
<My pleasure.>
I've done a water change with a quarter dose of the marine salt mix, 2 days ago. But I was so careless I forgot to ask beforehand if this marine salt is fine:
Red Sea Salt
I got a small bag. I saw Instant Ocean but it was huge, and I didn't see Reef Crystal.
<This brand of salt is absolutely fine. For our purposes, get the least expensive marine salt mix you can. You don't really want to be using freshwater aquarium tonic salt, just marine salt mix, but beyond that, it doesn't matter what brand.>
The parameters turned out to be PH 7.2, KH 3 (in water bucket). Somehow my GH test was faulty so I'll have to get another one :( Lucky - ammonia was gone that day, so I thought better of switching the frogs.
<Water chemistry sounds okay. But if you find pH doesn't stay stable, consider slightly upping the amount of the Rift Valley mix you add to the water. A carbonate hardness of 3 degrees KH isn't very high, and something like 4-5 would be optimal.>
A bit about lighting (feel free to laugh): I've read Bob's article on lighting and am wondering if my *room* light , which is just a light bulb on the ceiling, can indeed use a Duro Vita Lite (I ran out of power sockets, but my tank has no hood neither)? Or does it have to hang right above the tank?
<Since these aquatic frogs *do not* need UV-B, you're free to light their tank however you want. They do like basking at the surface under a heat lamp if there is one, and an angle-poise lamp fitted with a reptile-friendly bulb could be pressed into service for a couple hours a day, perhaps when you're home from work and watching them feed and swim about. But beyond that, do what you want! There's no real point to putting the reptile-friendly light in your ceiling fitting though; it'll be too far from the tank to make much difference. An angle-poise lamp would likely be more convenient, assuming your aquarium doesn't have a hood with a fitting for a suitable bulb or fluorescent tube.>
Thank you once again.
Best Regards,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: ACF and cycling tank: meanwhile what should I do? 11/9/09
Hello WWM (esp. Neale),
<Hello again!>
Hello! I'm happy to report that my frog tank has done cycling! Yay!
<Yay indeed.>
It's much faster than I expected.
<Good to hear.>
Thanks Neale, for your generous help!
<No problems.>
The Rift Valley Salt Mix worked great - now I have the right buffer and it must have helped my frogs through the cycling phase.
Thank you so much!
<Always a pleasure.>
All the best,
<Good to know things are working out so well. Cheers, Neale.>

Question. ACF sys., 9/11/09
Hello quick question,
I have recently got back into keeping an aquarium. I am about to upgrade to a 46 gallon tank. I would really like to have a planted aquarium. So with that said I do have 2 African clawed frogs. I know I have a challenge ahead of me with the plants and frogs but i would like try anyway.
<One issue will be temperature. Remember, Xenopus laevis is a subtropical species and does best around 18-20 degrees C, which is quite a bit cooler than most tropical aquaria. Plants shouldn't be too bothered, but as you read through the list of requirements for different plant species, do avoid any that absolutely, positively must be kept warmer that this. It's also an opportunistically predatory species, so tankmates have to be chosen with care on that count, as well as temperature requirements and temperament.>
So my question is on the lighting. I purchased a 36" double linear 96watt 6700k compact light. Now i am worried i am going to hurt the frogs eyes.
<Certainly, they won't like the strong light.>
I was thinking maybe making some sort of shaded area towards the rear. What do you think?
<Would do two things. Firstly, I'd install lots of floating plants; Indian Fern would be ideal. This will cut out a lot of the excess light, and if you use some tall plants to define areas around the sides and back of the
tank, you'll be able to create some nicely shaded areas. Secondly, I'd buy one or two of those floating Betta "logs". These ornaments will be used by the Frogs when they need somewhere to rest at the surface. In practise, Xenopus likes to bask some of the time, but it will need darker, more restful areas at other times.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

pH for Xenopus... 6/18/2009
Hello crew,
I just had a pH crash in my guppy tank and so went to checking the stability of my other tanks. This led to a question. I have a 55g set up with 4 Xenopus and some feeder fish. The parameters test great. Ammonia
and Nitrite = 0 and Nitrate at about 15ppm. The KH is between 80 and 120ppm and the GH is 150ppm. So I think (not sure) that the buffering capacity is sufficient to maintain a stable pH, which I know is more
important than ideal. The pH is between 6.8 and 7.0. I live in a ridiculously soft water area. The frogs are thriving, and growing. I got them as tadpoles in September '08, and they're doing great. So, should I
strive to a pH closer to 7.8, or should I leave it alone?
<If they're happy, and the pH is stable from week to week, leave it alone.>
If I should change it, is it ok to use a Malawi Salt Mix recipe without the Aquarium Salt?
<Malawi Salt Mix doesn't contain "aquarium salt" -- it contains marine salt mix, a completely different thing. As/when Malawi Salt Mix is used, it should contain all three ingredients (Epsom salt, baking soda, and marine salt mix) at the right proportions, otherwise it won't work in the right way.>
Would that do the trick, and is it safe?
<Malawi Salt Mix would be perfectly safe to use with Xenopus frogs. The amount of sodium chloride in Malawi salt mix is extremely small. One level teaspoon of sodium chloride weighs about 6 grammes, and you're adding that per 19 litres, or about 1/3rd of a teaspoon per litre; normal seawater contains 35 grammes per litre, or about six teaspoons per litre. It's a tiny amount in terms of how it would affect the osmoregulation of fish or frogs. Just as an aside, Xenopus are actually quite salt tolerant animals, and under lab conditions can tolerate salinities as high as 60% that of normal seawater! In California for example, feral Xenopus are firmly established in brackish as well as freshwater parts of rivers such as the Clara and Sweetwater.>
Thanks, as always.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Xenopus 5/30/09
I have 3 male Xenopus laevis. Before going to the vet for the dreaded red leg on one of the frogs (now separated in a bucket) they all lived in a 55 gallon, full of water with the filter that came with the 55 gal keeping the water nice and clear.
<Do take estimates of aquarium size with a pinch of salt! These are much like the miles-per-gallon ratings for cars, or numbers of servings on cereal boxes. Would choose a filter rated at not less than 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour; so for a 55 gallon tank, that's a 330 gallon-per-hour rating.>
After seeing the vet she recommended..guilt tripped me into..taking the filter off lowering the water down to about 6 inches or so and now I have this nasty, cloudy, dirty, water hole in my bedroom.
<Don't really understand this advice at all; Xenopus are perfectly happy at depths of 12 inches or more, and the greater the volume of water, the more water chemistry will be stable and better water quality would generally be. If you had Red Leg, then the problem was presumably water quality. Can't see how water depth would be an issue there, and indeed shallow water means less volume of water in the tank, and that means (potentially) higher levels of ammonia and nitrite. In other words, if you can clarify from your vet why shallow water would help -- I'd be thrilled to hear! But to be honest, I can't see this being a relevant factor; would actually return water to normal level, and concentrate on water quality and water chemistry issues.>
that's not the whole or the biggest problem really but I wanted your opinion. the real problem is that the water coming out of my tap is apparently at a 9 (PH) and needs to be at a 7 but I cant find any test strips that aren't the same crappy quality that I have (mine said that the water was ok and her lab quality ones said its at 9) so it leaves me just dumping chemicals in and guessing.
<I'm staggered it's pH 9 out of the tap! That's extremely high for drinking water. If it's at all an option, then I'd instead use deionized water, or rainwater, to which is added Rift Valley cichlid salt mix, as outlined here:
The DIY salt mix costs pennies, and works very well for Xenopus, which love hard, alkaline water. Now, if this isn't an option, I'd first check whether the pH goes down 24 hours after the water is drawn from the tap. Some water supplies, particularly well water, has a funky mix of gases and mineral salts that changes dramatically once the water is drawn and especially if left to sit for a day. I'd also check for ammonia (or else, add a dechlorinator that removes ammonia, like AmQuel); the point being that ammonia will raise the pH of water dramatically, as well as being notably toxic to frogs. It's quite common for drinking water to have traces of ammonia, up to around 0.5 mg/l.>
At this very moment the frogs are in two different buckets because I didn't realize that I should have kept track of how many gallons is equal to about "6 inches or so" in a 55 gal so I really would have just had to eyeball the ph down stuff so that's why there in the 2 different 2 gallon buckets.
<If the tank is rated at 55 gallons when full, and let's assume it's 18 inches deep, then 6 inches would be 55 x 2/3, which is about 36 gallons.>
She had me convinced that the frog had gotten red leg because of not only the ph but the water level and filter (which might have) and that if I don't make all of these changes all the frogs are going to be miserable until they to succumb to these husbandry related issue and die.
So my big questions are 1. where the heck can I get a reliable test strip? what brand?
<None of the strips are as accurate as liquid tests. But they should all distinguish pH 7 from 9, so do check you are using, reading them correctly.>
and 2.does the water movement really stress them out?
<Too much water flow can be a bad thing, but if you use a spray bar to spread out the current, they're fine.>
I mean I know in the wild they live in mud holes but I don't want one in my house!
She actually told me just to let it just get so dirty that I cant stand it anymore and then change it out as long as the ph gets down that they will be better off that way.
<This is, to be fair, how they're often kept in labs. But still... they do perfectly well in systems similar to those you'd use for tropical fish, except they prefer cooler water, around the 18 C mark, and no higher than 22 C.>
So for now they are sitting in their own filth with a very high ph. I guess another good question would be 3.do you know of a good "buffer" I think it's called to keep my ph at 7?
<You can't actually change pH *safely* unless you alter carbonate hardness as well; would recommend a more "big picture" approach as described above.>
Sorry its so long just wanted to have all of the info here. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to look at this.
<Happy to help, Neale.>
<PS. Before I forget, do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Xenopus 5/30/2009
hi again,
Thank you so much for the quick reply! I should have stated before that when I'm checking the quality of the water it is after it has sit out over night to clear all of the chlorine out.
<Ah, the "sitting out" thing only works for plain chlorine; many suppliers now use chloramine as well, and this WON'T go away overnight. You need to use a chloramine-removing water conditioner; if you use non-chloramine-removing conditioner, it breaks chloramine into chlorine (which it neutralises) and ammonia (which it doesn't). Your water supplier should be able to tell you whether chloramine is used; it's very commonly the case in urban areas, less so in rural.>
About the filter I'm not sure what the gallon per hour rating on it is it just came with the 55 gal kit and had been doing a fine job of keeping the water nice and clear for years now.
To be fair to the vet she did say 6-12 inches of water but I figured that if I'm going to be changing out that much water that often id go with the
lower amount but I understand now that that is just going to make this harder to stabilize the water.
<Good; fill your tank up to a depth of 12 inches and your Xenopus should be fine. You can get nifty floating logs made from plastic at pet stores.
These are made for turtles and terrapins, but they'd work great here, too.>
I think the reason she thought that the depth was an issue was that any deeper than 12 inches is going to stress them out (I assumed because they were farther away from the top of the water from the conversation we had) just as moving water stresses them out and that's what makes them vulnerable to opportunistic bacteria an so on and so fourth.
<These frogs do float, and when happy, enjoy basking at the water's surface. Adding floating plants, whether real or plastic, will encourage this behaviour and give them something to hold onto, should they feel the need.>
I even told her that I have a giant plastic plant for them to sit on if they want to say near the top and she said "I'm sure they do so it makes it easier for them to get to the top and breathe" but still said it would be better to just lower it instead. I have thought about using rainwater but that's a lot of water to collect if I'm going to be changing it out that often
<Well, I have a 200 litre rainwater butt in the garden, and find no real difficulty maintaining my tropical fish tanks up to 180 litres (about 47 US gallons) in size. I do a simply 50/50 mix of rainwater and tap water, and find that produces something most fish like.>
but maybe if I was able to get or make a spray bar as you have suggested (great idea by the way) maybe it can go pretty much back to normal and I wouldn't have to keep changing out the water and mixing chemicals in if I could just get the water right and then put the filter back on.
<Quite so. The idea is to use (inexpensive) hardware to simplify the hobby, or more specifically, keep water quality good. Once that's in the bag,
frogs, fish and so on should be low maintenance pets. If I wanted to spend time and money on animals, I'd get a dog!>
Thanks again for your help!
<Cheers, Neale.>

African Clawed Frog question 5/15/09
First of all, thank you so much for your site, it has helped me tremendously!
<Very kind of you to say so.>
We've had two ACFs living in the same 10gal tank for about 2 years. Last night, one of them died - no sign of disease, malnutrition, etc. The tank is kept clean and the frogs are well taken care of.
<Hmm... do review the basics; these frogs should live some 12 years, so two years is well below par. There's a new article on Xenopus and Hymenochirus frogs here:
Do have a read. Xenopus laevis is very hardy, provided its (rather few) essentials are satisfied. Specifically, it needs a reasonable amount of space, water that is well filtered but not too warm, a varied diet (not just pellets!), and water that is hard rather than soft. Often, when a fish or frog is fine for a couple of years and then dies mysteriously, the problem isn't really a mystery at all, but the fact the frog or fish was kept in a tank adequate for a baby but not for an adult. As the thing grows, it puts more strain on the system, or perhaps the maintenance regime, and eventually a tipping point is reached and the thing dies.>
My question is, is the other frog OK to live alone, or do we need to get another frog for him to have a buddy?
<They are fine kept alone.>
I don't really want another frog (mom of two kids and 8 pets), but my first concern is the happiness of our frog - I want him to be happy and not lonely. Also, we've been using an outside the tank filter, with great success. But then I read that the ACFs have a linear line, and using a filter is akin to humans being constantly in the presence of a jackhammer.
What do you think about this?
<The "lateral line" is a sensory system best thought of as being sensitivity to pressure waves moving through the water. Some scientists have described it as touch-at-a-distance. There's no evidence at all that either fish or frogs are disturbed by the flow of water through a filter, and frankly, flowing rivers and the sea are much "noisier" than any aquarium filter. At best, some lazy aquarists might use the lateral line argument to rationalise not using a filter, but that's a flawed argument in my opinion.>
Please help!
Thanks again for all you do,
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: African Clawed Frog question 5/15/09
Thank you so much for your help, it's very kind of you to spend so much time helping people like me!
<It's honestly a pleasure.>
I truly, truly appreciate it.
<You are most welcome!>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Water issues -FW, frogs 11/03/08 What is the best product to use to get rid of ammonia and other toxic substances that are in the water? <Most modern dechlorinators should remove chlorine, chloramine, ammonia and copper from tap (or well) water. If yours doesn't, switch to a brand that does. Do understand that no ammonia-removing water condition does ANYTHING about ammonia from your fish or frogs. That's the job of the filter. All the water conditioner does is remove any small traces of ammonia in your water supply.> I have well water and I always use that without adding in any dechlorinators. Is that water to hard for my ACF? <Unless ridiculously high (i.e., above 25 degrees dH) hardness shouldn't be an issue. If you have very hard water, you could mix 50/50 with rainwater; that's what I do. Otherwise, don't worry about it: most fish and frogs can adapt to harder water in aquaria than in the wild, provided water quality is good.> Plus his diet usually consists of Reptomin Sticks, lean raw beef, and occasionally a worm if I can find one. What types of foods do they like? <Aquatic frogs mostly feed in invertebrates of various types, particularly aquatic insect larvae. These are widely sold frozen.> Plus I think my frog has seeing problems because his pupils are shaped like teardrops. Is that normal? <The eyes should be bright and the pupil essentially circular.> When he was little he used to nibble at my finger and eat freeze-dried bloodworms. But that changed overtime. Then I had to start wiggling my finger on the surface to get his attention. I don't think that he has very good depth perception. I'll put a Reptomin stick on the surface and wiggle my finger. At the time he acted like he really wanted it but he'd always "pretend" like he was getting it by shoving his little hands into his mouth but never actually getting the food. That continued to happen so I switched to beef, then I'd wiggle that in front of his face, he'd eat it immediately. But now nothing. What's happening to him, he's only 10 months old. <Do need information on the environment. Xenopus are subtropical frogs that need a fair sized container containing clean (zero ammonia/nitrite) water at around 18-22 degrees C; Hymenochirus frogs are smaller and need tropical conditions, around 25 degrees C, but still need clean water. So depending on the frog you have, you may need to review environmental conditions. Almost always when frogs get sick it's because of water quality issues. Take care not to overfeed: these frogs need small amounts of food, around 2-3 times per week. Change the water regularly, and make sure the filter is in good condition, rinsing the media if required. The shed skin often clogs small filters. Cheers, Neale.>

Want to check with the experts... 9/19/08
AFCs, snails... sys.

Hello crew,
I have African Clawed Frogs and Apple Snails in the following water conditions:
PH 7.8 (on a dipstick, but liquid showed 8.8, not sure what that's about)
<Liquid test kits are supposedly more accurate, but to be honest all consumer-grade test kits are pretty inaccurate compared to the science-grade kits. In any case, I find it hard to believe the pH is 8.8 given you have low hardness and zero ammonia.>
KH 80ppm
<That's a middle to low carbonate hardness, so do watch pH stability.>
Chlorine 0
GH 25ppm
NO2 0
NO3 0
NH3 0
<Sounds fine.>
This is a brand new tank that's currently cycling with just the snails in it. The frogs are still tadpoles and are in a separate 10g tank. My main question is with regard to PH, KH, and GH. I read in the FAQ that the frogs aren't going to care about a high PH as long as it's stable, and that what I really needed to be concerned about was KH, and GH. So are these levels good?
<They're fine. Keep on top of water changes, and if you observe the pH changes from the day you do a water change to the day before the next one (i.e., it drops) then add a bit of crushed coral to the filter. This will put some carbonate hardness into the water and buffer the pH.>
If not can they be changed to make it better for my new friends?
Thanks for existing.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Want to check with the experts... 9/19/08
Thanks a ton. I've done my research and have decided to switch to sponge filters per your recommendation. If I do notice a drop in pH between water changes, would putting a small oyster shell in the water do the trick?
<Hi Laura. Adding calcareous items like shells to aquaria will inhibit pH drops or cause slight rises in pH over time -- but only up to a point. Once said item becomes covered with bacteria and algae, it's isolated from the water, and it consequently stops reacting. Think of it like the crispy shell around an M&M, in the sense that the sugar coating there stops the chocolate melting when you handle these confections. For now, I'd simply go with what you have, but do a pH test every week or two for the first few months just to get a feel of how pH changes over time. If the pH stays stable, then don't worry about manipulating the water chemistry. Cheers, Neale.>

Heating question, ACF sys.. 9/12/08
Hello all,
Thanks so much for your site. It's very informative. I am currently raising ACF tads and preparing a 55g tank for their eventual permanent home. I've read here and elsewhere that the water temperature should be between 68 and 78 degrees F for maximum health and comfort. My 55g tank maintains 77F, but there is no heater. While perusing your site, I saw that "these frogs can't live in an unheated tank". So now I'm wondering if I need a heater even though the water is at a comfortable temperature for ACF's. I live in Atlanta, GA. The temperature in my house is between 68 and 78 depending on the time of year.
Thanks for answering.
<Hello Laura, and thanks for the kind words. Now, here's the thing with temperature. Obviously wild fish and frogs in the tropics don't live in streams and ponds with heaters! They're exposed to temperature that varies through the day. In the subtropics, where things like Danios and some Corydoras live, the wintertime can be quite cool, down into the mid-teens Celsius (low to mid 60s F). The aquatic frogs from Africa range from subtropical species in South Africa (i.e., Xenopus laevis) through to tropical species (the "dwarf" frogs Hymenochirus spp.) across sub-Saharan Africa. In the temperate zone (for example including most of North America as well as Europe) the climate obviously isn't tropical, and in wintertime especially room temperatures can drop well below what tropical animals will tolerate. So by default, we have to tell people to use a heater. Now, if your home is kept warm all year around and never gets colder than 20 C/68 F, your frogs aren't going to be bothered at all by season variations, and if anything will quite enjoy them. I hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Heating question..
Thanks Neale! I appreciate your help.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

African Clawed Frog and Nitrate Level 8/8/08 Hi WWM Crew, Just want you all to know that I think the crew at WWM is the best! <Thanks!> I have a question to ask; what level can Nitrates be at for an African Clawed Frog? Thanks in advance for your help. Jean <Jean, amphibians generally are sensitive to poor water quality, so the lower the nitrate level, the better. I'd recommend less than 20 mg/l as the ideal, and certainly no more than 50 mg/l. Don't fixate on the nitrate level though. Provided your tank is filtered, not too warm (these are subtropical frogs, remember, not tropical), and you do 25-50% water changes per week, you should be fine. Not overfeeding is also important; they certainly don't need meals every day. Cheers, Neale.>

Smelly Xenopus Laevis 03/26/2008 Hi Crew, I have a question for you. I have searched everywhere but am unable to find specific guidelines on how much to feed my adult African Clawed Frog. Lot's of information on how often, etc. . I had cycled a ten gallon tank to move my little Dwarf frogs into and while out purchasing some Corydoras for another tank we found Robin. She is just beautiful, green with markings, the size of my fist. Sweet as a button, too. Eats from your hand and will even let you rub her head. My whole family loves her and everyone loves to watch her eat. We feed her every other night a diet consisting of blood worms, Krill, nightcrawlers and occasionally feeders (until I found out they are hard for her to digest). Lately I have taken to the night crawlers and krill as they are less messy. Usually I rotate what I feed her Mondays are Krill, Wednesdays bloodworms and so on). Here is my problem. After we had her a week and a half her tank started to smell foul. Like urine. I have been doing 20%-50% water changes every other day I have two other tanks I am cycling with 1 small Danio each, so I am doing water changes anyway). I started doing daily 80% water changes, with no improvement so I moved herewith her substrate, cave and other content) to a 20 gallon long tank. Again after a week her tank smells foul again. I use Prime as my water conditioner, pH is 7.8, KH is 180, GH is 150. Due to the move the tank is cycling again but with water changes I am keeping Ammonia under 1ppm(still toxic I know). The Nitrites are .5-1 and Nitrates are 20. I am worried I am over feeding her, but her belly looks just bulgy when we are done. I was concerned at first I wasn't feeding her enough. I feed her 3-4 cubes of frozen Krill or Bloodworms or 2 good sized Nightcrawlers. I watch her belly to decide how much is enough. So all that being said, any idea's on my odor problem? I wanted to get a male for her to hang out with but if one is stinking what will two be? I will not be able to continue these water changes endlessly. We love her very much my Pug is much consumed with jealousy), and I don't want to lose her, but really cannot tolerate a stinking tank in my Dining room! Nothing I have read ever read mentions an odor in association with them. My Dwarfs don't stink. Please could you help? Thanks so much ahead of time. <Debbie, if the tank smells, it is GROSSLY under-filtered, overstocked, or over-fed. Possibly a combination of the three. Since you have ammonia and nitrite in the water (at critically dangerous levels, by the way) you really need to ramp up water changes and filtration. I'd be looking for a filter that provides not less than 4 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour, and realistically at least 6 times. Undergravel filters work great with Xenopus frogs. Water changes should be 50% per week if filtration is adequate. Feeding can be reduced: these frogs honestly don't need very much food. I'd be feeding an adult Xenopus the equivalent of a small (5 cm) earthworm 2-3 times per week. Until you get water quality in hand, I'd stop feeding altogether.> P.S. How many Hikari sinking wafers should I feed 3 Corydoras schwartzi nightly? I am feeding 3 and they eat them all overnight, but I am noticing algae buildup on tank that isn't in sun. Once or twice a week I throw in some (frozen) brine shrimp or blood worms. No other tanks have this issue so I figure maybe overfeeding? It is very hard not to overfeed. I am learning and getting much better. <Are we talking about the small wafers about 10 mm across? One of those four nights per week is ample. Remember: fish are cold blooded. About 80% of all the food you eat goes into temperature control, since you're a warm blooded animal. Cold blooded animals need tiny amounts of food compared with warm blooded animals. A good rule of thumb is this: feed only as much as your fish can eat in 1-2 minutes, and ALWAYS remove uneaten food at once. A turkey baster is a great tool for this if you don't want to be messing about with nets and siphons. Fish that receive enough food will have a gently convex belly but shouldn't look fat or as if they have swallowed a bowling ball.> Thanks again Debbie <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Smelly Xenopus Laevis -03/27/08 Thanks for the quick reply Neale. So I am over feeding her-very much, it seems. She seems hungry all the time. I will quite feedings and cut back to 1/4 of what I currently feed when I resume feeding her. Can she eat Meal worms or wax worms? <Small mealworms perhaps, but amphibians often find the larger ones too difficult to deal with because they can't chew their food. You may prefer to stick with (wet) frozen foods like bloodworms; half a cube of bloodworms per meal should be ample for an adult frog. There are also floating pellet foods on the market designed for feeding frogs. While not to be used as a staple, once a week these make a good adjunct to a balanced diet.> The night crawlers I get are rather large. I do like to feed live foods as much as possible and I can get the others easily as well. And crickets of course-they kind freak me out. Suppose I could suck it up, though. I did forget to mention I have a penguin 150 on the tank with 2 cartridges in place. I used Bio-Spira at introduction to both tanks as well. I have been doing daily water changes with extra Prime for damage control. No other chemicals. She seems alert and happy-and hungry! All the time. We really are very attached to her so I will take extra care to correct my mistakes-quickly. Surely the over feeding is responsible for the toxins coming up in the tank even after water changes. <Sounds likely.> I will also cut back immediately on the Hikari pellets for my Cory cats as well. They are the round ones with the picture of the julii on the front. I will also make sure if I feed them brine shrimp or blood worms that I won't feed the pellets. These I am sure I do good with as I share one frozen piece among several tanks and have learned to be stingy from feeding my dwarfs. It doesn't take much. I am stingy with flake food as well (I only have the two Danios that eat that for now-they will be dinner after my tanks cycle). My Xenopus just seems so large that she must need a good amount to eat. Guess not. <Indeed not. Many of us humans are overweight because we're terrible at knowing how much food our species needs to eat. We're even worse with animals!> Thanks again so much and have a good night, Debbie <You're welcome, Neale.>

Ingested Pebbles in The Stomach, ACF sys., beh. 3/14/08 Hello, I have adopted 2 African Clawed frogs last Winter. They are doing fine, except I noticed one of the frogs has ingested some of the pebbles on the bottom of the tank. <Does happen...> The other frog seems to avoid ingestion . They are both eating well. I noticed this belly full of pebbles months ago. At first I thought she was pregnant. The other day I put them in the tub for some playtime & extra room as I cleaned out their tank. I saw that the frog with the pebbles had expelled some of them! Oh how great I thought. Perhaps it is the extra exercise. I repeated this procedure of putting her in the tub , and again she expelled more pebbles. As I write this I have her in the tub, she has expelled another pebble. Is this the only way to do this without taking her to a animal clinic. Can she live with the pebbles in her stomach if they are not expelled? She seems quite happy & otherwise healthy. <Mmm, I'm concerned that the pellets might get "too far" down the digestive tract for expulsion... causing a gut blockage problem... I would not try a laxative, other measure> Oh, I have since taken all the pebbles out and replaced them with much larger stones. <Ah, good> Thank you. Having a new appreciation for frogs, Sherry <I do have hopes for the continuation of Amphibians on our planet... many are going... due to too fast changes in environments, pollutants of various sorts... Bob Fenner>

Invite a frog home for the holidays! Sys... 12/24/07 Hello, <Hiya right back!> I really hope you can help me out. <We'll try> A very generous friend of mine just gave me three red eared sliders, the aquarium, food, filters, all the trimmings. <A nice friend!> I've read a lot of information about these turtles on the internet, and I feel pretty comfortable caring for them. <I'll also give you a link below just for more reference> However, my ecology teacher begged me yesterday to take home her albino African clawed frog over winter break. She keeps her frog with two turtles at school, so I figured it would be okay to put Albie, as I began to call the frog, in with the turtles for the ten day break. I worry, however, that the bright heat lamps that the turtles need may hurt Albie's eyes, and that the rather noisy cascade type filter might be bothering his sensitive ears. Please supply me with peace of mind, and let me know if this living arrangement is okay for the frog and the turtles. <It's nice to hear that you care enough to worry. Here are my initial concerns for Ablie 1) She needs a tight fitting top to keep her from deciding to go exploring 2) Unlike a turtle, a frog should have a hiding place where it can get out of sight and feel secure (it's called 'visual privacy') and if you can accomplish this it takes the worry out of the bright light issue with the turtles. 3) Lastly, and this is the big issue - just because Albie is kept with two other turtles doesn't mean that YOUR three turtles would look at Albie and think "Hey Scabber!!!! Look! Cuisses de Grenouille!"> <But there is good news. First, Albie and her brethren (African Clawed Frogs) are pretty hardy as frogs go and unless stepped on, run over or eaten Albie will make it through these 10 days just fine and return to class with a story to tell!> I just can't take seeing Albie kept in the tiny carrying case my teacher supplied me with to bring him home for the entire duration of the break. <My suggestion is that you split the difference -- Let Albie spend time in the aquarium when you are there to be a referee but put her somewhere else when you're not. I've rigged many a temporary home for all kinds of reptiles and amphibians from a cardboard box with a water bowl sitting on top of an ordinary heating pad set on 'low heat'> Thank you for any help you can give me. and have a great holiday. :) <Thank you Amanda - may your wishes come true> <http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm> African Clawed Frogs, gen. care 8/30/07Hello, <Hi there> I am writing with many, many questions. Last year, when I lived in a college dorm, I found myself really wanting a pet, but could not get one because of rules regarding aquariums at school. Next year, I'm moving to an apartment, and think that I am ready to start taking care of my first "solo" pet (my family had a dog when I was a kid, but this will be the first time I'm taking care of something on my own). <Can lead to growth, reflection> I was originally going to get a couple of low-maintenance fish because I wanted to ease myself into the caretaking business, but a friend of mine asked if I would like to take her two 3-year old African Clawed Frogs instead. <Neat animals Xenopus...> I've met these frogs and they are kept by her parents in pretty pitiful conditions (unfiltered, separate, very small tanks in which they can barely extend their legs fully, and they certainly can't swim around!, and they are only fed pellets). So I've decided to take them and give them a better life. However, I have to do this on a limited student budget. Additionally, school is in Chicago, but during the summer and on breaks, I live in L.A. with my family. <I see> I've found some conflicting reports about the frogs online, so I'm going to say what my research has led me to thinking is the way to provide for the frogs that strikes a balance between proper care, cost, and time. <You are wise here> I would appreciate it if you could correct me where my information is wrong, or where I could save money, as well as where I shouldn't. Additionally, if I am being too extravagant in terms of maintenance, it would be great if you could let me know, because I am still a student, and thus, have limited amounts of time (and, as I said, money). <Okay> It seems like I should invest in a 20 gallon long tank, at a minimum (unless completely wrong, this will probably be the size I get, as it seems like the price goes up as the size goes up. <Is a good size, shape> if I can go down, that's great, but i am guessing it's not a good idea, as most estimate there should be 10 gallons/frog). Aquarium gravel depth should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches, <I'd keep in shallow unless the grade is rather large... for ease of cleaning> and water depth should be 6 to 12 inches, with plenty of air on top. <Yes... among other things to prevent escape> Plastic plants and a few good hiding places seem to be a good idea. A non-escapable, netted top seems to be a must. A light is not necessary. It is okay to keep these frogs together, but I probably shouldn't put any other fish in there unless I want the frogs to eat them. <Correct> A varied diet of bloodworms, shrimp, and worms (Tubifex or earth?) is good. <Mmm, expensive, inconvenient, unnecessary and too much likelihood of pest and disease introduction... I'd settle on a bag of frutti de mar... mixed frozen seafood... defrost bits of this...> Feeding them 3-4 times a week is good. I can use pellets occasionally, but not all the time, as they will probably be cheaper, but less nutritious than other food sources. Where can I get these kinds of food? Do I have to go through mail order, or will the local, independently owned pet store carry them? Any providers that are particularly good and not expensive? <Again... I would get the mixed seafood from the supermarket> This is my first time keeping an aquarium, so I'm a little hazy (pun!) on how to take care of the water. Here is what seems to be the case. I need to treat the water before I put it in the tank with a dechlorinator (any brand in particular?). <I like Novaqua or Amquel...> I should have a filter that is not too loud, because ACFs have good hearing. Additionally, I should be testing the water with a testing kit to make sure ammonia, nitrate, and chlorine levels are, not just low, but at 0. pH should be around 7.4. (I assume the filter and a dechlorinator take care of these problems?). <Likely so and your tap is likely close enough pH wise> Temperature should be between 68-75, though I've seen you guys recommend raising the temperature up to 80. For a tank located in a heated apartment in Chicago, will that require a heater? <Mmm, depends on your room/setting... if there's money available I would get/use a small submersible heater for sure> A 10-15% water change every two weeks, or a 25-33% water change every month with a gravel vacuum is enough to keep the water clean. How often should I clean the tank itself (scrubbing the glass), and what should I clean it with? <I would gravel vac once a week and do the water changes at that time... about 25%... A dedicated clean sponge> Product recommendations would be great, especially if you know of something that is cheaper that doesn't sacrifice too much quality (especially if you know where I can get the tank for not too much money, since that seems to be the most important thing to buy). Do you know about how much it is going to cost to get this tank up and running? How about general maintenance once the tank is up? <Likely a hundred dollars or so... and ten dollars a month or so for food, power...> Assuming I keep the tank very clean, will it be smelly? <Hopefully not> This question is to know whether to keep the frogs in my bedroom or in the living room, where they might be more susceptible to my roommate and guests doing something (I'm still a college student, and am afraid that somehow things might get rowdy...I heard the frogs are skittish, and I don't want to scare them with loud music or TV, and I certainly don't want someone to break the tank or something like that...is that likely?). <Mmm, depends on "friends"... Do check re how noisy the proposed filter will be... perhaps an in-tank power type will be best here...> What about tank setup? Should I scrub the tank clean before I fill it? How? <Posted on WWM... just no soap, detergent...> Do I need to put a bacterial start in the water when I am first filling it up? <Not likely... the frogs will bring their own> Do I need to let the tank sit for a day or two before I move the frogs in? <Yes I would> When I leave for university breaks, will there be a problem if the frogs aren't fed for a bit? <Mmm how long> My breaks range from four days to 3 weeks. I am guessing the 3 weeks will be a problem, but four days probably won't. <Correct> Is there a way to give them staggered food, or will I need to find a frogsitter? <The latter is a good idea... but barring this, an automated feeder to offer pellets will work> I know that I will be taking the frogs for the next two years while I finish college, and hope that I can take them with me wherever I head after that. I know that the frogs will still have a home with the parents they are with right now when I go home for the summer, or after I am done with school. My hope is that after I get them a nice new habitat with filters, new food, etc., they will receive better care, because the family has just not spent the money on giving them the right environment. My concern here is whether or not it will be relatively easy to transport the aquarium back to the house (a 20 minute car ride) when I go home and come back for the summer, and indeed, if it will be possible, though not easy, to fly the frogs cross-country should I end up taking a job outside of Chicago when I graduate. <Not impossible to take as carry on...> My last questions are frog-specific. These two frogs have obviously not lived in the best of conditions. Will it shock their systems to just move them in together straight away? <Mmm, not likely> Should I acclimate them to their new surroundings, and if so, how? <Move and place their existing, yes stinky, water with them... change this out weekly as stated above> Should I move one frog in first, let him get used to the new place, then add the other frog? Or should I put them in together for a day, and then move them back to their old tanks for a day, before putting them in for good? <I'd move both in all at once> What about acclimating them to the new food they are going to eat? <Almost never fussy eaters> I am guessing since they are really made to eat what I am going to give them that there won't be any problems with changing their diet. Thanks for reading an e-mail this long. I really want to make sure that these ACFs get the care they deserve, and wouldn't want to just take them without taking care of them. Best, Jessie <You have read the FAQs files here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afclawedfrgfaqs.htm Above? Good to peruse. Bob Fenner>

ACF, Pleco and small goldfish (feeders) 5/22/07 I have had 3 small goldfish in a nice 10 gallon tank for 2 years. I have a top fin 10 filter. <To start with, a 10 gallon tank is too small for adult goldfish, and at some point the pollution they produce will start degrading their health.> Algae started to grow in the tank, so we were told to buy a pleco. <Algae is not eliminated by adding any animals. The reverse in fact: more fish = more nitrate in the water = faster rate of algae growth. The "add a catfish" idea is a myth and cannot scientifically work unless the catfish ate the algae in the aquarium and then went out the tank and into the outhouse to excrete all the ammonia there instead.> We went to PetLand discounts, got the pleco (about 1 Ã'½) and next to that tank were the cutest frogs. I never realized there were under water frogs, or knew anything about them, but my daughter wanted one, so we bought one. <No offense, but buying animals you know nothing about is hardly sensible and sets a poor example to children, i.e., that animals are toys not responsibilities.> Now we realize it is an African Clawed Frog. We bought these 5 days ago. We feed the fish blood worms, so we figured the frog would eat this too. Anyway, we woke up today, and all 3 of our fish are dead. <Oh dear. Dare one ask if you'd done any water tests recently? Usually when fish die "all of a sudden" the issue is water quality, not disease. Besides, your 10 gallon tank is WAAAYYYYY overstocked and the little filter overwhelmed. A Plec can reach 30-45 cm depending on the species, and needs a tank at least 30 gallons and preferably 55 gallons in size. Your goldfish potentially reach 30 cm and the record is 60 cm, so again, BIG fish.> The frog and the pleco seem to be doing fine. <Probably because the loading in the tank has "crashed" down to a safe level where the aquarium and filter can cope.> Do you think by introducing the frog and the pleco to the tank this killed our fish? <Most likely, yes.> I feel so bad. <Don't feel bad, but do try and learn. Fish and frogs are animals, just like cats and dogs, and you wouldn't impulse purchase a dog, would you? So, look over the site and read the articles on goldfish and Plecs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/loricariids.htm .> I am going to go out and buy 2 more frogs, and just keep the frogs and pleco in the tank, and not add fish. Is this what I should do? <Sounds about right. There are two kinds of aquatic frog in the hobby, a dwarf species that gets around 5 cm long and the regular species that gets to around 15 cm long. Both are interesting, hardy animals, but do research their needs.> Thank you, Laura <No problems. Good luck! Neale>

Re: ACF, Pleco and small goldfish (feeders) 5/22/07 Thank you for your quick response. This morning when I woke up, the pleco was also dead! <Oh dear. I'm afraid to say that this isn't uncommon. It sounds as if your aquarium was simply overloaded with livestock, and adding the catfish and frog crashed the system, rendering it inhospitable to life. Please stop and read some basic fishkeeping stuff on this web site or in a book. The importance of maintaining a healthy filter cannot be overstated. Many newcomers to the hobby do things like clean the filter media under the tap/faucet, wiping out the "good" bacteria that clean the water. Also, there are things like dechlorinating the water before using it that matter a great deal. So before you buy anything else, read a little more so you feel comfortable. The basics of fishkeeping are extremely easy to master, but if you ignore them... disaster!> So now I only have the little frog :(. I am afraid the frog is going to die too. <I hope note. Please do a big water change now (50%) and another tomorrow (also 50%) to flush out all the "bad" water. Make sure you use dechlorinator. Add tiny amounts of food (don't feed at all for the next 48 hours). Leave things to stabilise after this, for a week or two, checking the water quality with your handy new nitrIte (not nitrAte) test kit. Better yet, buy some of those little dip-sticks that have pH, hardness, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate measurements built into them. Once you're happy the tank is stable, then you can start adding more critters.> I am so upset that we introduced these to the tank. Should I still get a few more frogs, because I read that they are social and like to be in groups. <Indeed so, but hold off buying more frogs until you are safe the tank is stable. You want perfect water quality for at least 2 weeks.> I will also buy a water test kit. <Very good! Frogs are fun in themselves, and mix well with "oddball" critters like apple snails and shrimps. You don't even need fish, and in a tank of 10 gallons, dwarf frogs, snails, and shrimps would be practical and easy to maintain.> Thanks again for your response. <No problems, and good luck. Neale>

Rope Fish Tank Size 9/15/06 Hello, <Hi Ren, Pufferpunk here> Just wondering, I have a rope fish (around 4 inches long, male) with two African clawed frogs (pretty small themselves at the moment, maybe 1 and a half inches) in a 20 gallon tank. I know the tank is gonna be small in the long run but they seem to be doing fine for the time being. I was just wondering, what size tank should I save up for? <Since these are social animals, they are best displayed in multiple numbers together. I would keep at least two to a tank. That being said, I'd save for at least a 40 gallon tank. I'd keep the frogs in the 20g. They get large (around the size of your fist) & will eat anything they can fit into their huge mouths! ~PP> Thanks a lot, Ren. (P.S. He has dens/caves too)

Frogs hopping mad about ammonia 7/30/05 I currently have a twenty-nine gallon tank with three African clawed frogs. I keep about twenty-five gallons so they don't jump out. <Good idea> My problem is my ammonia is through the roof. <Toxic...> I switched to a canister filter about a month ago. It is keeping the water remarkably clear. I have in the media baskets the foam filters, pre filter (inert ceramic rings,) a carbon bag, an ammonia remover bag, and the media growing rings. I had been doing one third water changes every week, now I am doing two thirds. I am also switching the media every two weeks. <Shouldn't switch...> Two of the four sponges, carbon, and ammonia. I am staggering these out, so I don't disturb the beneficial bacteria. I expected an ammonia spike with the initial set up (the tank is about six weeks old,) but it seems I can't stabilize the tank. When I had a hang on the tank filter, my ammonia was close to nil. <Should have left the hang-on on during this transition to the canister... or used both even better> Granted the water was nasty (ACF's are pretty gross little beasts,) but I didn't have this problem at the time. I have no live plants in the tank and I have about twenty-five pounds of sand. I am currently using ammo-lock to make sure my frogs aren't harmed. I have also monitored their eating habits and they are eating what I feed them. There is very little food left after they eat. The frogs don't seem to be suffering any ill effects at all. The ghost shrimp that I put in (as a snack and to help clean are literality jumping out of the tank when I put them in. Any suggestions for me? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

African Clawed Frog- 10/27/03 Hello to some very helpful folks! <Hi there, Pufferpunk here> I have been reading a lot of your postings and FAQ's to learn as much as possible about my newly acquired singing/smiling African clawed frog. <they are forever smiling, aren't' they!> I got him from a friend that got him as a "grow-a-frog" in 1996 for her kids. <He's 8 years old? He must be pretty large!> He has lived most of his life in a big fish bowl with gravel. I now have him in a 10 gallon tank. <I think at least a 20g would be better. They really like to swim. Make sure you have a top on there tightly, w/no escape holes.> Just about everything I have read on the net and your forum says to be very careful what you put in the tank. <I'm pretty sure that means tankmates. These frogs will eat anything they can fit in their mouth. I thought I was safe keeping mine w/Cory catfish. I figured they'd never eat them. I came home to find one stuck in my frog's mouth w/the spiky fins pointing in a direction that wouldn't let me remove the fish without killing either the fish or the frog. The frog got a thick white milky film over it's entire body. It died the next day ={> I would love to have a hiding place and some pretty bigger rocks or tunnels for him to enjoy. Maybe a plant or two. <Expect any plants to get uprooted. You could float a few. They love caves.> Heating or boiling beach rocks seems to be no-no! <I see absolutely no problem with that.> What about glass objects? <Bad idea. Nothing sharp that could cut the frog.> Also, in one area of your site, it says to feed him 2-3x per week. He has always been fed every day and has only eaten frog pellets. Those things are so small... how many at a time? <Mine love crickets, krill (frozen or freeze-dried) & worms. Even my young ones eat every 2-3 days> There also seems to be some debate about filters. What do you think? <Mine live in the water section of a river tank. I think a good HOB filter, probably the same kind you use for the turtles would work.> I have only had him a week, but he now comes up to the top of the water and seems to be smelling me. My hands are clean, is this ok that I touch his head? (<It's probably ok to touch them a little. You could certainly hand feed them! As w/any aquatic creatures, make sure you wash your hands w/antibacterial soap after touching them, to prevent from getting salmonella.> I know their skin is very sensitive to chemicals and such. As you can see, I have plenty of questions about this little fella. I also have 4 assorted turtles----my life has gone aquatic! <I have 8 assorted box turtles that live in an outdoor habitat in the summer & a big kiddie pool in the winter. A softshell, African sideneck & Asian leaf turtle in a 55g river tank. I also have another 55g river tank w/assorted frogs & a dwarf African bullfrog living w/the aquatic turtles.> Thank you so much for ANY info you can give me! Joan <Your very welcome--Pufferpunk>

Bugs 'n' a frog I noticed these really weird white insect things in my African clawed frog's bowl. <The regular, enormous clawed frog, or the dwarf frog?> They're almost as small as pieces of dust, are sort of oval shaped, and only stay on the sides of the bowl. When I looked at it really close, they were coating the whole walls of the bowl, so it looked like white dust! <These sound perhaps like water fleas (Daphnia).> I decided to clean its bowl out right away. I even put this water purification stuff in there for amphibians and fish, <Dechlorinator?> but they still came back in about 2 weeks. And there were still a whole bunch of them. what should I do? <Chances are, these little critters are mostly harmless, and are probably feeding on leftover food for your frog. Please try very hard not to overfeed, or you'll likely never be rid of these critters. As you reduce feeding, they'll probably die out and go away. Also do keep on top of keeping your frog's home clean. Please look over this information: http://www.pipidae.net/ .>

Science, frogs, and ORP Dear Dr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo here for WWM while our friend Bob is away on a Red Sea trip... a charmed life he leads!> I am a molecular biologist working in Boston. I saw your article on-line and was hoping you could help me with a bit of advice. I study frog embryogenesis, and for this purpose, keep a facility of 300 frogs (Xenopus laevis, the African clawed frog). These frogs lay eggs which my lab experiments on. Anyways, for about a year and a half we have had excellent luck with our facility, but now we're having a problem and I wonder if you have any advice for me, since I'm not the kind of biologist that knows much about water and husbandry issues, unfortunately. Briefly, what I have is this. City water (horrible, and full of chloramine and other nasty stuff) goes into a facility on the roof of my institute which puts it through a sand pre-filter, then over a carbon bed, and then through reverse osmosis. It then comes down to my facility (through pipes of questionable quality) and is cleaned again by a smaller point-of-use water polisher (de-ionized etc.). It is fed into a large plastic holding tank, where we add the right amount of artificial sea-salt, adjust the pH, and take measurements. From this holding tank, about half of the water is taken each day to perform a 10% exchange of the water in the actual tanks where the frogs live. They live in a flow-through system of about 20 tanks, plus a number of filters (including a bio-filter for the urea, carbon filters, a UV bulb to kill bacteria, etc.). The parameters in the tank (and thus in the system as a whole) are supposed to be: pH = 6.7 to 7.0, salt = 1800 microS. When everything was going fine, our ORP was always about 240-290. Recently we experienced a crash - a few frogs which succumbed to opportunistic infections which the vet said was due to stress. At the same time, we noticed the pH being consistently low in the holding tank, <hmm... and 6.7 is low enough with regard for the dynamics of culturing this amphibian and most any aquatic organism (higher levels of dissolved organics, weakly buffered purified water that you are using, natural inclination for pH to fall, etc)> so we had the small water purifier system checked out and found out that the company which is supposed to service it had screwed up and it was in horrible shape. They've since supposedly replaced everything and fixed it, but we still have a problem: the ORP will not go above 200. <interesting...> They claim that the ORP is meaningless <wow... I would strongly disagree as it pertains to aquarium husbandry/aquariology. ORP is significant and quite indicative of overall trends in water quality. Although we may not need to target any one specific set point, a consistently low range is indicative of a flaw in the system as you suspect> and I don't know enough to argue with them, but I do know one thing: when things were going well, it was consistently higher, and the change makes me concerned that something is still wrong. <agreed... as a measure of ReDox potential, these low ORP readings are indicative of so-called "lower" water quality... at least as they relate to live aquatics and sensitivity to oxidative/reductive potentials. However, the solution to this problem may be as simple as better aeration. Do experiment. Other common solutions to raise ORP may harm the frogs unfortunately (iodine and potassium permanganate primarily). Else it may be a compositional flaw with the source water> Most importantly, this problem is as measured in the *holding tank* - so it is isolated from all the complexities of the frog habitat. The only thing which goes into the holding tank is: supposedly pure (17 MegOhm) water from the purifier, and the salt which we've been using all along. We had the water tested, and they didn't find anything unusual. So, here's the million dollar question: do you have any idea what could be responsible for the low ORP in water which just came out of the purifier? What sort of problem with the water cleaners, salt, etc. could be responsible for this change? Thank you very much in advance for any help you can give me. <do consider if any aspect of aeration or aspiration of source water through this filter may have been tempered with the cleaning/changes in purification. It really could be that simple. But if 6-12 hours of vigorous aeration does not markedly improve ORP, lets look harder at the water composition. At that point, try perhaps filtering the water through a chemically absorptive media like Poly Bio Marine's "Poly Filter pad". The product changes colors to reveal concentrations of conspicuous impurities. After some passes... lets test the sample again to see if that moves the ORP.> Sincerely, Mike Levin <best regards, Anthony>

Science, Frogs, and ORP Hi Anthony, Thanks for getting back to me. <Steven Pro in this morning with the follow-up.> >> wow... I would strongly disagree as it pertains to aquarium husbandry/aquariology. ORP is significant and quite indicative of overall trends in water quality. Although we may not need to target any one specific set point, a consistently low range is indicative of a flaw in the system as you suspect. <That's kind of what I figured... >> do consider if any aspect of aeration or aspiration of source water through this filter may have been tempered with the cleaning/changes in purification. It really could be that simple. But if 6-12 hours of vigorous aeration does not markedly improve ORP, lets look harder at the water composition. At that point, try perhaps filtering the water through a chemically absorptive media like Poly Bio Marine's "Poly Filter pad". The product changes colors to reveal concentrations of conspicuous impurities. After some passes... lets test the sample again to see if that moves the ORP.<< interesting - I'll try it. Can extra aeration hurt anything (like the frogs, for example)? <No, will be fine if not beneficial. But in particular, test a sample of your processed water for ORP. Then aerate it for 6-12 hours in a separate vessel (no frogs or anything). Then retest for a change.> Cheers, Mike <Good luck, Steven Pro>

African Clawed Frogs 5/23/06 Hi, <Hi Anthony, Pufferpunk here.> Two quick questions: * At what temperature should the albino: Xenopus laevis (African Clawed Frog) be kept? <68-75(F) degrees is good.> * Would it be ok to keep three Albino frogs (6") and three common Plecos (6", 5", and 3") in a 36 gallon tank, with gravel, rocks and a decent sized filter? <Your subject line said dwarf frogs but yours are definitely not dwarves! I wouldn't keep an adult ACF in anything less than 15g each. A 55g would be nice for 3. They really like to swim. They have huge appetites & foul the water quickly. I would do 90% weekly water changes on them. Plecos are big poop machines & the common one grows to 18", certainly too large for even a 55g. Here's a great site for your frogs: http://members.aol.com/sirchin/afc.htm Good luck with them! ~PP> Thanks for your help! Anthony

Frog Tank With High Ammonia 1/31/06 Hi, I am hoping that you can shed some light on what is going on in our tank. We have had this 10 gallon tank set up with 2 baby albino ACFs (African Clawed Frogs) for over a month and it was cycled before we added frogs. They are still very small frogs and we plan on a bigger tank once they grow a little. Anyway, something disrupted the biological filtration system. I am not sure exactly what happened. We raised the temp slightly (approx 2 degrees F) which I know will effect it slightly. The only other thing I can think of is that one of the frogs was extremely constipated and was extremely compacted with food. She finally passed it about three days ago. Two days ago when I tested for ammonia with a newly purchased test kit because I had been using strips and have learned they aren't all that accurate. The ammonia was around 1.0 ppm. I immediately prepared some tap water for a 50% water change. Within six hours of the water change the ammonia was back up to the same levels. I tested the tap water and another smaller tank (that I have been using drinking water in -instead of tap) to make sure the test kit was working and both came back zero. I did another 50% water change yesterday and the same thing happened. I tried using some Ammo-Lock out of desperation and tested again after an hour. It made absolutely no difference in the ammonia reading. Perhaps that batch of Ammo-Lock is bad or outdated. But, I still don't get why the ammonia level is rising so fast after a water change. We are using a whisper filter that goes up to 20 gallons. Also the other readings are pH 7.2, Nitrate 0ppm, Nitrite 0ppm, GH about 75 ppm, KH about 120 ppm. Water prep is letting the tap water sit overnight or for several hours and adding 2 drops pH down per gallon (tap water is off the chart alkaline for my pH testing kit before adding the pH down and very hard) and Aquasafe per directions. Any suggestions? Probably the Ammo-Lock wasn't the best idea since we need it to recycle but I was desperate. Should I continue doing a 50% water change everyday. It doesn't seem to be helping much. I would be interested to see if the level would get above 1.0ppm if I let it go but I won't put the little froggies at risk. Thank you so much!! Christi < Go to Marineland.com and go to Dr Tim's Library. Read the article titled "The First 30 Days." The will give you some background on cycling terms so you can determine if your tank is indeed truly cycled. If not add Bio-Spira from Marineland to get the tank cycled now.-Chuck>

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