Today I am introducing you to my smallest pet, and telling you all about African dwarf frog care. If you have ever explored my blog, or if you’ve been around since the beginning, you’ll know what I have pets.
I love animals, and actually wish I could take on more than I have, but I have to be realistic in the care I can provide my pets. These frogs are super cute, extremely entertaining to watch, and quickly steal your heart.
Pet keeping is a learning curve, and is a huge responsibility. Before taking on any animal as a pet, it’s important to become informed about that animal’s needs so that you can decide if the pet is a good fit for you.
Sometimes, animals that seem “easy” to take care, or are labelled as “beginner” actually require a lot more care than you may think. The same is true of our friend, the African dwarf frog!
African Dwarf Frog Care
Tank Size And Water Temperature
You may have seen these little creatures being sold in toy stores or novelty shops in tiny little container with a bamboo plant. Likely, if you asked, the store employees told you that these frogs come from tiny puddles in Africa and can live in tiny enclosures and that the container they were in was a self sustained habitat. They may have even told you that you only need feed them four or five pellets twice a week. All of this is untrue.
African dwarf frogs require larger enclosures. Those tiny containers were maybe .5 gallons. That is like living a cupboard.
At minimum, I wouldn’t place these frogs in anything smaller than a 5 gallon tank, and keep in mind, the smaller the tank, the less frogs you can house. I have a 6 gallon tank and only house two. I could put in a third, but I don’t want to mess up my water chemistry with extra bioload–the poo and extra uneaten food. I actually lost my first pair of frogs when I added a mystery snail to their tank. Ideally, it’d be best to keep a bigger colony of frogs in a larger tank as they are social animals. But never overstock your tank as that can lead to problems you don’t want to deal with–namely sickness and death.
Now, the other thing that is wrong about those tiny habitats African dwarf frogs are sold in, is that they are not heated. You can literally place the container on your coffee table.
African dwarf frogs come from a hot climate, and require warmer water which means they need a heater in their tank, as well as a filter because it a myth they live in puddles. Water temperature for these guys should be 72-78F. The tank size and water temperature are going to be essential in your African dwarf frog care.
Feeding Your African Dwarf Frog
When I first started keeping these frogs, I fed them a pellet diet specifically for aquatic frogs. Later, I learned that they could eat frozen foods such as bloodworms and myisis or brine shrimp. I started feeding them bloodworms only to later find out that bloodworms (even frozen ones) can carry parasites that are harmful to these frogs. So I switched to the shrimp. But these frogs never did well and eventually died.
Now, I only feed frozen shrimp and the pellet food. There are other options you can feed your frog as well, but these are the ones I stick to and the frogs thrive on this. You only need to feed enough that they can eat their meal in fifteen minutes, so I give a small–meaning tiny–pinch of pellets. If I feed a bigger meal of shrimp, I don’t feed them the next day.
Overfeeding your frogs will result in other health problems, including obesity. African dwarf frogs don’t have the greatest eyesight at all, so some people spot feed them, but I have trained mine to know it’s dinner time by tapping on the glass three times. And I think they have a pretty good sense of smell because they always find their food.
Water Changes And Treatment
Key to African dwarf care is water changes and treatment. You cannot just throw your frogs into a tank and never fuss about the water. As I stated above, your tank will need a filter. Preferably one with filter media so it can build up beneficial bacteria essential to keeping a healthy tank.
I honestly don’t cycle my tanks, I simply add water, add the water conditioners to remove chlorine and other things that make tap water nasty to our underwater friends, and then wait several days to add my pets–fish or frogs. I don’t add a lot once because that would really screw up the water cycle and I don’t do tons of water changes at the beginning. This is totally against everything you could ever learn about the water cycle, but it honestly works for me and has the been only way I’ve been able to maintain a healthy tank.
However, I do water changes once every two weeks (it ought be once a week, but again, I find this works) and switch out the sponge in the filter once a month. Every time I change the water, I take out 10-15% and then add in the same amount of clean, warm, treated water (meaning I condition it with Prime) and my frogs are happy and healthy.
I don’t exactly remember how or why I became a frog mom. I do know however that once I had these little frogs home, I was in love. I do like keeping aquatic pets, but it is a lot of work and honestly, in the future I think my frogs are going to be my only aquatic pets.
As suggested above, I have had some luck with keeping African dwarf frogs, and also some losses. I did lose about three sets of African dwarf frogs–the first set after I added a mystery snail, which was a shock as they had been doing amazing; the second set seemed just not right from the beginning and the third set did live a long time until I decided to upgrade them to a larger tank and add in some more froggy friends.
Who apparently came infected with a fungus called chythridiomycosis which killed all of my frogs. I am on to my fourth set now, and had to get a new tank and this time opted for a smaller tank, 6 gallons tank and only two frogs. They are doing amazingly well and are a lot of fun to watch!
Totally aquatic, African dwarf frogs will need to swim to the surface to grab air, and this is alway fun to watch as they usually dive up really fast, bounce their head out of the water and then dive back down super fast.
For a species that generally moves slowly and with goofy movements, this always amazes me. They are nocturnal so you’ll notice them to be much more active at night, however I am lucky enough to have one frog that likes to swim around during the day too. If you are lucky enough to have a male and female, you might even hear the male singing at night! I currently have two males, so no singing, but I did hear my other frogs sing before they were stricken with the deadly fungus and died.
I especially love it when my frogs decided to hang out (literally) in the water. Sometimes they will float up a bit, and then just stay motionless in the water. They also love to hang out on top of the plants, which is why I included huge ones so that I could create a lot of cover for them to hide and hang in. Which means sometimes I don’t see them at all. I didn’t name my frogs only because it’s impossible to tell them apart.
Eventually, I nicknamed them Swim Swim (the one that likes to swim around in the front of the tank) and Where Are You for the one who is always hiding, which sometimes freaks me out as he isn’t always easy to find.
These little frogs are great. Once a healthy tank is established, maintenance should not pose too challenging, and providing a habitat and proper African dwarf frog care should not be too difficult. There are also lots of ways to have fun with your tank by adding in live plants, aqua scaping and providing as natural a habitat as possible.
Always make sure to quarantine all new frogs for eight weeks before adding to an established tank and be sure to get plants from a reputable seller as you’ll have less chance of them with contaminated with pest snails or bacterias. But a simple tank, like mine which I keep bare bottom and with fake plants other than moss balls, will do just as well and the most fun to be had is by observing these goofy and adorable frogs.