Dwarf Frog Central FAQ

Aquarium Health

Question: My aquarium plants don't look healthy. Any suggestions?

Answer: Dwarf frogs are one thing, being a knowledgeable aquarist is another. Here are a few links to get you started:

San Francisco Aquarium Society Resource List

Online Aquarium Magazine

Fishlink Central

Feeding Tadpoles

Question: I want to breed my dwarf frogs and you say that the tadpoles need Infusoria. What is Infusoria and where do I get it?

Answer: I have been kind enough to supply that information here: All About Infusoria

Telling Males from Females

Question: How do I tell a male African dwarf frog from a female?

Answer: Sexing Your African Dwarf Frog

Tank Conditions

Question: I have a few questions about the African Dwarf Frogs before I will consider buying one. Do they need bubbles to aerate the water? Will they get along with a somewhat non-aggressive betta? Will there be any problems if they are kept in a pH of 7.0 instead of 7.2-7.6? And finally, is a one gallon fish bowl enough for a betta and one or two frogs?

Answer: The dwarf frogs don't need to have aeration in their tank. They breathe from the surface using lungs not from the water using gills like fish do. If you decide to keep dwarf frogs I recommend that you get them their own tank for a couple reasons: 1. There's no such thing as an non-aggressive betta and, 2. the frog's water should be at a higher pH (about 7.6-7.8). They've evolved to live in a higher pH and that's where they do best. A one-gallon tank would be big enough for two dwarf frogs.

Question: We think your website is very helpful. Could you help us out please? 1 year ago my girlfriend got me an African Dwarf Frog. His name is Bernie. We love him very much. In the morning, he swims over to the end of the tank and says good morning. A couple of months after we got Bernie we got Molly. We thought he would like a little friend. Well! when we put Molly in Bernie's tank he started to bite at her feet. For all we know, Molly could have been a male too. Bernie bit off three of molly's toes. I took Molly out right away. She recovered in a few days. She died 4 months later after getting caught under one of her rocks. She broke her leg and could'nt swim to the top for air. We were devastated. 2 months later we got Shayne. After reading you web site we think Shayne is a female. Bernie is going nuts in his tank. Humming like crazy. They look at each other all the time. Their tanks are right next to one an other. We want to start breeding, but we are afraid to put them together. What do you suggest?

Answer: It sounds like Bernie was unusually aggressive. At one point I had over 60 dwarf frogs in a 55-gallon tank and I never saw them attacking each other. Since Bernie is now singing he's definitely ready to mate. If your other frog is a mature female then you'll soon have hundreds of eggs. Here's what I suggest:

Carefully transfer the female to Bernie's tank. Do this when you have time to watch them for awhile. If Bernie behaves himself for the next hour or two then they should be fine living together. Let us know if they start breeding.

Special note: Don't let what happened to Molly happen to one of your frogs. Be sure that any rocks or other heavy objects are secure and stable. Dwarf frogs like to root around in the tank. If a heavy object can topple over there is a risk that a frog can get caught under it and be injured or drowned.

Question: What types of live plants would be best? Is sand better than gravel? I have an under-gravel filter, is this adequate?

Answer: The plants you choose are up to you. I don't know of any that are better than others. I don't recommend snails. They carry parasites. Use an algae-eating fish instead. The corry catfish are also good to help keep the tank clean. Under-gravel filtration is fine. Most under-gravel systems promote the growth of beneficial bacteria that keeps the tank and the inhabitants healthy. For gravel, I recommend something smooth. The frogs spend a lot of time on the bottom and a rough gravel can irritate their skin and make them prone to infection. Sand would be a good choice too. There is also a very small smooth gravel available, but it tends to be pricey. Let your budget be your guide.

Dwarf Frogs and Fish

Question: What kinds of fish should I keep with my frogs?

Answer: If you want to breed your frogs you should keep your breeding pair in their own tank with no fish. Most fish will consider the frog's eggs to be a wonderful feast. The only fish I recommend to share the tank with your dwarf frogs are algae-eaters and bottom feeders.

Question: My frogs are trying to get out of the tank. Should I cover it?

Answer: You could put a cover on, but it might be better if you lowered the water level a bit. The dwarf frogs can't climb glass so as long as they can't jump to the rim of the tank they should stay at home.

Question: I just bought an african dwarf frog and every time i try to feed it my other fish always it the food. what should i do?

Answer: This is a common problem when aquarists add dwarf frogs to a community fish tank. A typical tropical fish can feed a lot faster than a typical dwarf frog. I had email from an aquarist last year with a very clever solution to the problem. She found a small glass bottle that the dwarf frogs could fit into. She placed the food in the bottle and sank the bottle into a corner of the tank. The frogs soon learned that they food was in the bottle and the fish never figured it out. Just be sure to put the bottle in the same place in the tank for every feeding.

Question: I was wondering how many tropical fish I could keep with my African dwarf frog in a 20-gallon tank. Also I was wondering if it would be better to have more than one frog in the tank.

Answer: A 20-gallon tank can support numerous fish and frogs. The main issue when keeping dwarf frogs is the kind of fish they live with rather than how many. Most tropical fish can be very aggressive. Some will attack the frogs and most species will eat the frog's food before they have a chance to feed.

The only fish I recommend to share a tank with African dwarf frogs are algae-eaters and bottom feeders. A 20-gallon tank could support one medium-sized algae-eater and 1 or 2 bottom feeders. If you design your tank right you could also keep 4-6 frogs. Be sure to include areas where the frogs can hide if they feel threatened. They also have sleep cycles and they prefer to be in a safe place to sleep. I had good results using pieces of slate tile that I stacked on rocks. The frogs could slip into the slate "cave" and feel secure. Don't worry, they won't hide all the time. They like to be out swimming around and searching for food.

Mating Behavior

Question: I have 2 new dwarf frogs and love them. I have a few questions. I've read your information but I am wondering if I need to do a usual 25% water change a week using something such as Stress Coat to treat the new water, or should I use Stress Coat and change out all of the water? Distilled or tap? It is about a gallon bowl with a plant. Also, frogs seem to just stay camped out in the roots and only come out to eat. Are they laying eggs???

Answer: A 25% water change once every week or two should be fine. I recommend a small siphon to remove feces and any uneaten food from the gravel. StressCoat can be used to remove chlorine and chloramine from tap water. AmmoLockII is good for controlling ammonia and comes in a resin form that you can use like gravel. Just follow the instructions on the package. Unless your city water is really bad there is no need to use distilled water. Some hardness in the water is actually helpful and distilled water is very soft. For the best biology in your tank use Cycle instead of StressZyme. The Cycle is more expensive but it will last a long time in the refrigerator and is a lot better than anything else on the market. The frogs under the plants are acting normal. They aren't laying eggs though. I have a page on my site that describes how the African dwarf frog mates: Hymenochirus mating behavior

Dwarf Frog Size

Question: My dwarf frogs are getting really big. Is this normal?

Answer: Hymenochirus frogs grow to a maximum of 2.5 inches. There is a frog called the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) that looks like an African dwarf frog when young, but grows to be 5" or more. They are aggressive and will kill your dwarf frogs and even fish. Check with the store that you got them from to see if they know what species they are. You can also check the Xenopus Express site to see if the frogs pictured there are like yours.

Handling Frogs

Question: My daughter brought a frog home from school. She wants to hold it. Would handling the frog kill it?

Answer: Most frogs should not be handled much if at all. This is especially true of the African dwarf frogs. They need to be in water all the time and they will dehydrate quickly when taken from the water. Also, they stress very easily and can get sick.