African Dwarf Frog Care Guide

How to Raise African Dwarf Frogs? Maintenance and Breeding

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In addition to gorgeous fish species, you can add other creatures to your home aquaria, such as snails, turtles, or even frogs. They will help diversify your ecosystem, building a lively and breathtaking habitat in your own house.

And one of the ideal not-fish creatures to introduce to your tank is African Dwarf Frog.

African Dwarf Frogs are evil cool little species that will bring a lot of fun and entertainment. With no real natural defense, it’s vital to set up your aquarium and give the proper care to these creatures.

In this article, we’ll show you how to build your tank and ensure the right conditions so your frogs can have a happy and healthy living time.

Let’s start now!

African Dwarf Frog Overview

African Dwarf Frog Overview
African Dwarf Frog Overview

African dwarf frogs are amphibians in the family “Pipidae” and the order “Anura”. They hail from equatorial regions of Africa like the Congo Basin.

The name “African dwarf frogs” refers to some species:

  • Zaire dwarf frog
  • Western dwarf frog
  • Gaboon dwarf frog
  • Eastern dwarf frog

They are all somewhat similar when it comes to appearance and ecology. The biggest difference between species is their geographic variety.

Members of this group live in shallow pools and slow-moving inland water bodies. In spite of being completely aquatic, they don’t have gills and must swim to the surface for air regularly.

Both larvae and adults of each type are predatory. Their diet mainly includes fish babies and aquatic invertebrates.
Instead of using a special tongue (like other frogs), they use a suction-feeding technique to engulf prey.

The average lifespan of African dwarf frogs is about 5 years in captivity.

You might be surprised as your frog seems to act “weird”. They are quite interesting critters and have a variety of behaviors.

Frogs can float motionless near the water surface – even upside down – for some periods of time. Besides, they will dart up and down in the water column for breathing.

How to Set Up an African Dwarf Frog Tank?

How to Build a Tank for African Dwarf Frogs?
How to Build a Tank for African Dwarf Frogs?

Tank Size

Fortunately, African dwarf frogs don’t grow very big, so you don’t need to make a large investment to raise them.
If you decide to keep only one frog, you should use at least a 5-gallon tank, and then add another 5 gallons for every extra frog.

These frogs are social and friendly, loving to hang out with their buddies. Therefore, I would suggest setting up a larger aquarium (at least 15 gallons) so that you can raise a group of three or four frogs.

Another thing to note is that African dwarf frogs have to be able to reach the water surface to breathe. Thus, it’s ideal that their aquarium is no more than 2 feet deep, making sure they can easily swim to the surface to respire.

Water Parameters

African dwarf frogs are tank-raised and can get acclimated to a broad range of water parameters. However, these species prefer soft to moderately hard water. They are vulnerable to nitrite and ammonia, so they will grow best in an established and well-cycled tank with a filter.

  • Temperature: 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Ammonia/Nitrite: 0
  • Nitrate: <20 ppm
  • pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • GH: 5 to 20
  • KH: 4 to 15


Filtration is an important part of any African dwarf frog tank. Filters do much more than move water around.

Fish and frogs create feces and urine that blend into the water of the tank. Since this waste starts to rot, it gives off deadly ammonia.

If you don’t use a filter, that waste will accumulate gradually until the water becomes a toxic soup that harms any fish or frogs living in it.


African dwarf frogs prefer dim lighting, so you don’t need to spend much money on an ultra-bright LED.

In addition, these frogs don’t bask in sunlight as reptiles. There’s no need to add a UV bulb for this type.
If your aquarium is brightly lit, ensure to create several heavily shaded spots for the frogs to retreat if they feel shy.
Plants and Decorations

For an African dwarf frog tank, you had better use plants and decorations that they can’t hurt themselves on.

Remember NOT to use anything with rough surfaces or sharp edges. Otherwise, the frogs might scape their delicate skin as they clumsily swim across the decor.

These species do feel shy sometimes, so it’s a great idea to build some hiding spots for them. Live or silk plants will be a good cover for the frogs to feel safe from predators.


African dwarf frogs hail from a very warm area, so you definitely should install a heater for their tank.

Raising your frogs at a warmer temperature will make your pets more lively and active. It’s ideal for keeping a consistent temperature from 68 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.


Aquarists still debate about what type of substrate you should have in an African dwarf frog tank.

Some assume that if you choose sand, the frogs might accidentally absorb sand as they eat and then the sand will get to their intestines and kill them.

They say that they raise these frogs on gravel with no problems and that’s the most appropriate substrate to use.
Then some aquarists argue that sand is a better choice. Frogs will absorb pieces of gravel and die eventually.

Therefore, you can go with whichever you want, but remember to get an inert substrate that won’t affect your water parameters.

The Nitrogen Cycle

Including a filter can save your aquarium from becoming a death box where aquatic animals die gradually.

Usually, we consider bacteria a bad thing, but bacteria are actually beneficial for aquarium filters. There are some species of good bacteria living in the filters.

One type absorbs the ammonia released when fish waste breaks down and becomes nitrite. Nitrite is extremely toxic. However, fortunately, there is another type of bacteria that almost consumes the nitrite in the water and turns it into nitrate.

Nitrate is far less toxic than nitrite and can be enabled to accumulate in the water column in between water changes.

Without a filter, there is not enough space for beneficial bacteria to transform fish waste for you. They need bio-media (special filter media created for beneficial bacteria to live on) so that there is sufficient surface area for tons of bacteria to process wastes.

Water Flow

African dwarf frogs grow best with low-flow water.

It’s recommended that you add a sponge filter to your aquarium. They consist of wonderful mechanical and biological filtration, mitigating the risk of frogs getting sucked into a power filter.

If you are already installing a HOB filter, you can hinder the flow, which means you can use something to break up the flow.

African Dwarf Frog Diet & Feeding

What Do African Dwarf Frogs Eat?
What Do African Dwarf Frogs Eat?

African dwarf frogs are finicky eaters, so they are quite challenging to feed. Besides, they’re also slow eaters and cannot compete with fish. Most aquarium owners worry that the frogs’ food source needs to stay in the water for a long time without disintegrating. As they’re slow eaters, they might decide to return to a food course at a later time to get another bite.

The most suitable food options for these frogs are frozen bloodworms or live blackworms. Frozen bloodworms are the more popular food source that will not disintegrate in a short time span.

You can feed your frogs with freeze-dried bloodworms as an alternative option. However, dried bloodworms tend to float on the surface while frozen bloodworms sink to the bottom when they defrost. If you don’t want to feed your pets every day, you had better go with live blackworms.

African Dwarf Frog Breeding

How to Breed African Dwarf Frogs?
How to Breed African Dwarf Frogs?

It’s quite easy to breed African dwarf frogs. The real challenge is to raise the tadpoles.

You need to prepare a separate tank to grow the tadpoles. A 10-gallon tank with an air-driven sponge filter and a heater will be great.

If you want to encourage the frogs to start spawning, you should stimulate a drought and flood cycle. Keep the water about half in the tank for about two weeks. Then, pour in dechlorinated water that’s about 5 degrees colder than the tank water. Next, you’ll set the tank heater to turn the temperature up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Before the whirlwind froggy romance happens, males often swim to the water surface and make some sounds to attract female frogs.

As the magic moment comes, the male will take the female around the “waist” in front of her hind legs. He will latch on like this for the whole mating process.

The female will go to the top of the aquarium, pulling the male along the way, so she can drop eggs at the water’s surface. Meanwhile, the male will produce sperm into the water to fertilize the eggs.

The eggs are sticky, so you should take them in a glass jar. Only collect the eggs from the water surface. The ones falling to the bottom usually don’t hatch.

It’s ideal for keeping an empty bottom tank without any decor and maintaining the water around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition, you need to keep the water clean and clear because the tiny tadpoles are very susceptible to poor water conditions. You can perform regular water changes to eliminate waste and maintain a healthy habitat.

The eggs will hatch within 2 to 7 days and can freely swim 5 days after that. You can feed them with commercially prepared fry food specifically for baby fish. As they become larger, they can eat baby brine shrimp and frozen daphnia.

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Undoubtedly, African Dwarf Frogs will help you completely relax after an exhausting day at work.
Just bear in mind that these animals require frequent upkeep and specific environmental conditions to survive. Therefore, make sure you’re responsible for these living things before bringing them to your tank.

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