September 8

A Beginner’s Guide To African Dwarf Frog Care And Tank Setup


If you are looking for aquatic organisms for your Aquarium and the colorful freshwater fish bore you out, an African Dwarf Frog may be the perfect perky addition. These squiggly little creatures are unique additions that add diversity to the cliché aquarium layout.

With their tiny webbed feet and jet-storming ways, African Dwarf Frogs are great pets. The heir of the Hymenochirus family is surely a change of pace to the entire aquatic community once you put them in.

If you are a beginner, African Dwarf Frog care is the easiest to get the hang of. Even though they are omnivore-turned-carnivores, they are quite sociable within themselves and other non-predatory fishies.

Hailing from the depths of warm ponds and the murky waters of Africa, the African Dwarf Frog is a peaceful petit creature that will be your buddy for many years. The following article unravels facts on African Dwarf Frogs and how to take care of them from the get-go.

Typical African Dwarf Frog Appearance And Behavior

Typical African Dwarf Frog

The African Dwarf Frog is a shy aquatic creature that lives in freshwater puddles or shallow, murky ponds. They have multiple species. You will find a range of green, grey, and brown African Dwarf frogs, even golden ones if you are a lucky duck. They are fully aquatic and dry out if left on the land.

However, they are born with a healthy set of lungs rather than gills. So, your croaker will leap to the surface to get a fresh gulp of air to breathe effectively. They do this every 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how well filtered and aerated you keep the water.

When fully adults, expect them to get around 2 to 3 inches long. They like to stay put rather than swimming around aimlessly.

Getting To Know Your African Dwarf Frog

These critters are quite shy, clumsy, and, sadly, a bit slow. They will keep chilling with their pals on the bottom, darting spontaneously in the middle, to the surface, and back to their routines.

When they are feeling super lazy, they tend to latch onto a floating water plant or any substrate to keep their head near the surface. This way, they don’t have to waste precious energy to keep their survival possible.

They love to hide in between or under decorations. So, make sure you do have aquarium scaping on your to-do list.

Apart from being the experts at lazing around all day, they are well-known escapists! Be sure to cover your tanks as they will escape and die. Once they enter the exploring rage, they will free themselves from inevitable death.


Before diving into the specifics, we need to get one confusion out of the way. When purchasing your African Dwarf Frogs, do not confuse them with African Clawed ones. They all look the same when young.

How Do I Spot The Right One?

Always compare the front legs. African Dwarf Frogs have webbed front legs. The African Clawed Frogs, despite their name, have separate digits on their front legs.

Moreover, the African Clawed Frogs will always look like more confident beings, with plumper limbs and vivid personalities. African Dwarf frogs will be the shy skimpy ones in comparison.

Albino African Dwarf Frogs are very rare in comparison with the clawed species.

    Identifying Male And Female African Dwarf Frogs

    Male And Female African Dwarf Frogs

    With your aquarium all decked out with freshwater and fancy plants, it’s time to populate the pool. But first, you need to know how to differentiate between the two genders. This next step will greatly impact your tiny frog community in the long run.

    Deciding Whether You Want To Increase Their Numbers

    Having a tiny frog family as my pets is surely on my bucket list. Make sure to have both genders, as it gets a little tricky to know what is what.


    • The main distinguishing feature is a white mark or specks Male frogs have behind their front legs. These are called post-axillary subdermal glands. Make sure to check in with the place you are buying from. Any white spot may address an underlying condition. So, make sure to double-check, just in case.
    • They are smaller and slightly skinnier than their female counterparts.
    • Males usually reach the age of maturity in approximately 9 months.
    • They will usually sing to attract female frogs. Their song sounds like a humming tone or a quiet buzz when you get close to the tank. 


    • Females don’t have post-axillary subdermal glands.
    • Female African dwarf frogs are slightly chubby and longer than their male counterparts. 
    • A female African dwarf frog will have a cloaca between its legs. It will appear like a small bump. This is where females store eggs and pass the waste. 
    • Like males, female African dwarf frogs reach the age of maturity in approximately 9 months. 

    African Dwarf Frog Tank

    When it comes to the African dwarf frog care, consider the following about habitat:

    African Dwarf Frog Tank Size

    African dwarf frogs thrive in large tanks. Therefore, it’s best to provide them with the largest habitat possible for you. If not, their minimal habitat requirement is 5 gallons per unit. Don’t put your pet in a tank smaller than that.

    Building Your Habitat

    Once you have the right-sized aquarium, the next step is to build the environment so your pet can thrive. Consider the following important components of the tank:

    Live Aquarium Plants

    Place some live plants near the surface to allow your pet to rest when they rise to take a breath. You should also provide the tank with plenty of hiding spots like stone caves, wood logs, and other aquarium decorations to ensure some me-time for your favorite pet.

    Aquarium Hood And Lighting

    A hood is essential for any aquarium, especially African dwarf frogs. They are prone to jumping around, and they will escape the tank if you don’t have a lid. Get some full-spectrum lighting for your tank (T5, if possible).  

    Aquarium Filters

    Stable water quality and water parameters are critical for good health and long life. These include parameters like ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, temperature, pH, etc., providing your aquarium with enough filters to keep water quality good for their healthy living.


    Like bottom feeder fishes, African dwarf frogs tend to eat on the gravel substrate at the bottom of the tank. Therefore, ensure it is large enough that they cannot eat the substrate. You can also add some carpet aquarium plants to protect the bottom. 

    Cleaning Your African Dwarf Frog’s Habitat

    Regular cleaning is a must for the African dwarf frog’s habitat. This includes:

    Daily Checks – check water temperature, aquarium filters, etc., and remove any leftover food

    Weekly Tests – Test water parameters to ensure consistent water quality at least once every week

    Monthly Maintenance – Change at least 1/4th of the total volume of water and replace filter media every month or whenever necessary.

    African Dwarf Frog Food

    African Dwarf Frog Food

    Like every other living organism, the African dwarf frog needs a balanced diet to live a healthy life. It should consist of:

    1. Food pallets specifically made for African frog dwarfs.
    2. Frozen food like blackworms, tubifex worms, bloodworms, and some brine shrimps
    3. Treats like mosquito larvae, fish fry, brine shrimps and krill, etc
    4. Tadpole bites (if your frog likes them)

    5 Tips To Feed Your African Dwarf Frog

    1. Don’t give them extra rations. It can lead to obesity and cause stress and unhappiness. Having too much food in the tank can also affect water quality.
    2. If your frog shows any sign of stress, feed them with tweezers. Chuck a tiny bit of food and place it on top of their head so that they can notice and eat the food.
    3. These frogs are nocturnal. Therefore, feeding them at night is best – just before bed. Remove any excess food after 15 minutes.
    4. Keep a steady feeding schedule. It will help with digestion as well as their internal food consumption processes.
    5. They can sometimes struggle to find their food. Using terra cotta fish or tweezers can help them out. Also, you should ensure that you place food at the same spot every time you feed them. 

    African Dwarf Frog Eggs

    It’s hard to spot a pregnant African dwarf frog because they don’t get pregnant. They lay eggs. 

    The eggs of African dwarf frogs are very delicate. They need warm water and a higher pH than adult African dwarf frogs. Their adults are very prolific egg layers, with one adult dwarf frog laying around 8 thousand eggs yearly. However, they are not very parental and often eat their eggs if you don’t remove them from the tank. 

    So, if you breed fish in the aquarium, you have to be extra careful. 

    African Dwarf Frog Lifespan

    The average life expectancy of these frog species is around 5 years. However, some can live longer if the living conditions are favorable. In contrast, others may die young if they lack proper care. 

    African Dwarf Frog Kit And Supplies

    Below are all the supplies you need to maintain a healthy African Dwarf frog aquarium:

    • At least a 5-gallon aquarium
    • Aquarium hood
    • Frozen brine fish
    • Bloodworms
    • Freeze-dried tubifex worms
    • Appropriate food (dry and frozen)
    • Live plants
    • Artificial plants
    • Water conditioner
    • Water Filter
    • Water testing kit
    • Thermometer
    • Airline tubing
    • Check valve
    • 3- to 5-inch net
    • Freshwater substrate (large enough that it can not be swallowed)
    • Heater 
    • Hydrometer
    • décor items
    • Airstone
    • Air pump
    • Full-spectrum lighting—T5 recommended
    • LED lighting

    African Dwarf Frog Tank Mates

    African Dwarf Frog Tank Mates

    African Dwarf frogs are social butterflies as long as other inmates don’t fit in their mouths. This means avoiding buying fish or shrimp smaller than an adult African Dwarf Frog’s mouth.

    Remember, they are carnivores; they will eat anything that fits in their mouth.

    Vice Versa

    Know that African Dwarf Frogs aren’t that chunky. Know that other fish might try to take a piece out of them if they fit. You already are aware that they aren’t big on athleticism. So, they become easier targets to larger fish.

    Here are some fish that suit being in the same community as African Dwarf Frogs:

    • Guppies
    • Tetras
    • Betas
    • Mollies

    Out of all of these, Betas are the frontline peace bringers.

    As for the unsafe batch, anything that can be eaten or eat the frogs is a big NO-NO.

    My Friendly Neighborhood Goldfish?

    If you already keep goldies at your place, try managing independent aquariums. Goldfish may be the age-old friendly fish, but it will peck out the living life of your African Dwarf Frogs.


    Below are the signs of a healthy frog, as well as some red flags:

    Signs Of A Healthy Dwarf Frog

    • Actively swims around
    • Often hides away from sight
    • Starts eating vigorously as soon as you feed
    • Has clear eyes
    • Spends most of the time in the bottom half of the time

    Signs Of An Ill African Dwarf Frog

    • Hesitant to eat
    • Has cloudy or hazy eyes
    • Becomes lethargic and does not swim away from capture
    • Bloating
    • Shows signs of weight loss

    Common Health Issues In African Dwarf Frogs

    There are two common health issues in this frog species.

    Bacterial Infections

    Symptoms – Cloudy or hazy eyes, reddish skin, open sores

    What to do – You need to improve the tank’s water quality. Also, consult your aquatic specialist for proper treatment.

    Fungal Infections

    Symptoms – Discoloration of the eyes, white cottony growth on the skin

    What to do – You need to quarantine your pet immediately. Moreover, improve your water quality and consult an aquatic veterinarian for proper treatment.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    What Do African Dwarf Frogs Need In Their Tank?

    African Dwarf Frogs need the following in their tank:

    • Fine sand substrate OR large gravel for the bottom of the aquarium
    • Decorate caves, smooth stones, and logs
    • Adequate lighting 10-12 hours of the day
    • Heater to keep the temperature stable between 72 to 78 F
    • Under gravel water filter
    • Screen cover or tank lid
    • Artificial or live plants

    Are African Dwarf Frogs Friendly?

    Yes, the African dwarf frog is a very friendly and socially active frog specie. They are gentle amphibians who love to stay in groups and co-exist very well with almost all fish. So, you can definitely keep them with other best pet fish species for kids

    What Happens When You Touch An African Dwarf Frog?

    African dwarf frogs are very small, delicate, and gentle amphibians. They are so sensitive that even oils on your hands can cause skin damage. That means holding them is not generally recommended. If you hold them wrong, you can easily snap their bones.

    Moreover, their skin must be kept wet at all times. Keeping them out of water for more than 10 minutes can lead to dehydration, causing internal organ failure and death.

    How Many African Dwarf Frogs Can Life In A 20 Gallon Tank?

    Generally, an African dwarf frog requires a 5-gallon tank. But, 2-3 of them can live just fine in a 10-gallon tank. In a 20-gallon tank means 4-8 frogs can live without any major issues. However, you should talk to a qualified aquatic vet if other species are in your tank. 

    How Many African Dwarf Frogs Should Be Kept Together?

    African dwarf frogs are very friendly. They do best when kept in a small group of 3 to 5. You shouldn’t keep more than five African dwarfs together as that can overcrowd their tank as that can impact the water quality.

    How Do Big Do African Dwarf Frogs Get?

    They are some of the smallest frog species in the world. Usually, the African dwarf frog size ranges anywhere from 1 to 2.5 inches in length from vent to snout. However, a few of them can get as big as 5 inches in length. 

    What Do African Dwarf Frogs Like In Their Tank?

    African dwarf frogs love plants – artificial or living – in their tank. That’s why they love to live in planted tank aquariums. Even if your tank isn’t planted, make sure there are plenty of plants to keep your African dwarf frogs happy. 


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