African Dwarf Frog: The Complete Guide For Care, Diet and Tank Mates

African Dwarf Frogs are a great addition to a community aquarium. They are unique, adorable, and peaceful. These frogs will get along great with the other animals in your fish tank.


An Overview of African Dwarf Frogs

African Dwarf Frogs are nocturnal, and you will usually find them active during the night.

There are four species of African Dwarf Frogs. They don’t look very different; the four different species of African Dwarf Frogs simply come from four different native locations spread throughout Africa.

  • The Hymenochirus boettgeri can be found in Gabon, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic. It is the most common African Dwarf Frog and has the largest native environment of the four species of dwarf frogs.
  • The Hymenochirus boulengari is found in the northeast part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • The Hymenochirus curtipes is also only found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • The Hymenochirus feae is only found in Gabon.

African Dwarf Frogs are incredibly small (and also incredibly adorable). They don’t get larger than 3 inches long and only weigh a few ounces.

African Dwarf Frogs are fully aquatic. They spend all their time swimming around in the water and don’t need a dry area to sleep on.

Many people often mistake the African Dwarf Frog for a similar African Clawed Frog. They look very similar. However, the African Clawed Frog is more aggressive and slightly larger than the African Dwarf Frog.

Sometimes these two frogs may be mislabeled in pet stores – keep a sharp eye out when you are shopping for your pet frog so you don’t get the wrong one!

Behavior of African Dwarf Frogs

African Dwarf Frogs are nocturnal. They are most active at night when it is dark. They can be very active and entertaining.

African Dwarf Frogs are fully aquatic animals and spend all their time in the water. In fact, if they spend too much time out of the water, they will dehydrate! It only takes 15-20 minutes out of the water for an African Dwarf Frog to die from dehydration.

While they are fully aquatic animals, African Dwarf Frogs have fully developed lungs. They will spend a lot of time swimming around underwater. They will dart up to the surface for a quick breath before they dive back down and swim more underwater.

African Dwarf Frogs have what many call their ‘zen position.’ Often throughout the day, especially when the African Dwarf Frog is resting or sleeping, they will float at the surface of the water with their arms and legs outstretched. If you see your African Dwarf Frog doing this, it is not dead! It is just resting.

African Dwarf Frogs also making a quiet buzzing sound. When they do this, they are trying to attract a mate.

Appearance of African Dwarf Frogs

African Dwarf Frogs vary in color from olive to brownish-green. No matter the color, all African Dwarf Frogs and black spots on their bodies.

African Dwarf Frogs are very small amphibians, growing no longer than 3 inches.

African Dwarf Frogs have many typical characteristics they share with other frogs in the Pipidae family. African frogs have webbed feet to help them swim around in the water. African frogs don’t have tongues or teeth. They use their handy webbed feet to feed themselves.

African Dwarf Frogs have a prominent buccal cavity. A Buccal cavity is a cavity around their cheeks. African Dwarf Frogs use this cavity to suck in water and filter out food.

There are small differences between male African Dwarf Frogs and females. Female African Dwarf Frogs are often slightly larger than males. Males have small glands behind their front legs, while females do not. Scientists do not know the purpose of this gland but think it’s probably related to mating.

African Dwarf Frog Habitat and Tank Requirements

African Dwarf Frogs come from the Congo River Basin and other tropical regions in Africa. The African Dwarf Frog’s habitat is full of tropical forests. African Dwarf Frogs’ habitat is generally very warm and humid.

It is also important for African Dwarf Frogs to have a regular cycle of light and darkness. As they are nocturnal animals, their behavior will often depend on the light and dark cycles they are exposed to.

Knowing this, it is important to give your African Dwarf Frog and environment similar to its natural habitat. This way, it will thrive and be happy. African Dwarf Frogs need to have a humid environment, and the tank should be all set up before you purchase them.

Make sure the environment above the water is high in humidity. You can achieve this by adding lots of live plants in your tank and having a regular misting system.

African Dwarf Frogs have very sensitive skin which can be damaged by unfiltered water or chemicals. You will need to do a weekly 20% water change in order to have the best water conditions for you African Dwarf Frogs. When you do this water change, perform tests on the water, too.

Also, purchase a great water filter so your frog has the best environment and doesn’t get sick hurt.

The water in an African Dwarf Frog’s tank should be between 72-78°F, have a pH between 6.5 and 7.8, a gH between 5 and 20, and a kH between 4 and 15.

You can use sand or gravel substrate in your African Dwarf Frog’s tank. Be sure that any gravel in your tank is too large for your frog to swallow!

Your tank shouldn’t have flowing water or current. African Dwarf Frogs like to spend a lot of time in their ‘zen’ mode, and if the water is moving, they can’t do this.

Frogs usually breath normal air just fine. However, if you want to keep your frog safe, get an air pump or air stone. This will also keep away bad anaerobic bacteria.

African Dwarf Frogs are very sensitive to vibrations and noises. There are several things you can do to minimize any distress your frogs have. Consider putting some carpet, Styrofoam or other insulation between your African Dwarf Frog’s tank and its stand.

If you do purchase an air pump, try to locate it so it isn’t touching your tank.

Live plants in your tank are great for humidity and air quality. Consider purchasing some floating plants for your tank. You can also purchase some rooted plants – but make sure you cover the roots of the plans or your frog might try and dig them up!

Fill your tank with large rocks or other objects – African Dwarf Frogs love it when they have plenty of places to hide and explore. This will help it not be stressed.

The best tank for a group of 4-5 African Dwarf Frogs is usually 10 gallons. If you have a larger tank, make sure it is not too deep. You don’t want your frog to swim to deep, only to be unable to easily swim to the surface for air. Plan on at least two gallons per frog.

Tank Mates for Your African Dwarf Frog

African Dwarf Frogs are docile and friendly. They do great in a community tank with other peaceful fish and water critters, as long as all of them thrive in the same water conditions.

Here are some examples of fish that do well with African Dwarf Frogs:

  • Guppies are small colorful fish that love to dart around and explore. Be careful, because they can reproduce and overpopulate very quickly!
  • Corydoras is a tiny member of the catfish family. They are much cuter than your stereotypical catfish. You can often find them swimming around the bottom of their tank.
  • Danios are small slender fish that like to dart around, much like guppies.
  • Tetras come in a variety of colors. African Dwarf Frogs do well with schooling tetras, which include Neon Tetras, Rummy Nose Tetras, and Serpae Tetras.

African Dwarf Frogs do well with other aquatic animals. Consider putting Cherry, Bamboo or Ghost Shrimp, or different kinds of snails into your tank. Be careful that none of the other fish in your tank will eat the shrimp or snails before you add them to your tank!

Don’t pair your African Dwarf Frogs with any kind of aggressive fish. Territorial or aggressive fish will stress your African Dwarf Frogs. They may even prey on your frogs, you don’t want that to happen!

Only put Bettas in your African Dwarf Frog’s tank with caution. While Betta fish are small, they may bully your frogs, though they can be docile enough to be great tank companions.

African Dwarf Frogs do best in the company of other African Dwarf Frogs. Have at least 2 or 3 in a small community.

Feeding and Diet for Your African Dwarf Frog

African Dwarf Frogs are omnivores, meaning they like to eat meat and plants. However, African Dwarf Frogs prefer meat. In order to keep your frogs healthy, make sure they have a varied and balanced diet. You can often buy foods, usually pellets, specifically for African Dwarf Frogs that give them a balanced diet.

There are also some great treats your frogs may enjoy a few times a week. These include mosquito larvae, bloodworms, brine shrimps, fish fry, earthworms, and krill. You can even feed them tiny portions of beef heart – but only do this monthly. It is very fatty!

Feed your African Dwarf Frogs once a day when they’re young. As they grow older, you can start feeding them less consistently – as long as you don’t ever overfeed them. Overfeeding leads to stressed frogs and stressed other fish in the tank.

If your frog doesn’t eat food for more than 20 minutes, take the food out of the tank. If they are picky about food, try putting food close to their faces carefully with tweezers. They will be able to better see and smell the food.

Caring for Your African Dwarf Frog

While African Dwarf Frogs are delicate and sensitive, they are also covered with bacteria, and may be dangerous to you! The most common bacteria on your African Dwarf Frog are salmonella. There can also be a lot of bacteria in their waste.

If you need to move your frog, use an aquarium net, or gloves, and wash your hands before and afterward. This will help protect your frog, too!

African Dwarf Frogs have sensitive and delicate skin. Don’t put anything in your tank that might scratch or pierce their skin. This includes sharp gravel, rocks, glass, and decorations. Also avoid putting any small objects with holes in your tank, as your frog might get stuck.

African Dwarf Frogs often suffer from a disease called dropsy. If your frog has dropsy, it usually starts to become bloated and acts distressed. This can be caused by a large variety of bacterial infections and parasites; it is always hard to pinpoint the cause. This is usually deadly.

It can be treatable, and sometimes it’s contagious – it’s always good to do isolate the sick frog. Also, consider visiting a vet who specializes in working with amphibians.

Sometimes African Dwarf Frogs can suffer from fungal infections on their skin. If you see a fuzzy patch on your African Dwarf Frog’s skin, isolate them from your other frogs, as this infection can also be contagious.

Be wary if you see any of the following problems with your frog:

  • Red eyes
  • Red skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

These symptoms are usually from bacterial infections that can often be treated with antibiotics.

Luckily, if you give your frogs quality food and a great environment, they will stay happy and healthy.

Are African Dwarf Frogs Right for You?

African Dwarf Frogs are a cute, fun and unique addition to any fish tank. While they are sensitive animals, they do not need expert care, as long as you create a good environment for them. These frogs get along with other tank mates. They are easy to feed and will make a welcome addition to any tank.


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