African Dwarf Frogs Care Guide
African Dwarf frogs belong to the family Pipidae, genus Hymenochirus. In total there are 4 species with the common name African Dwarf Frog: Hymenochirus boettgeri, Hymenochirus boulengeri, Hymenochirus curtipes and Hymenochirus feae.
All four frogs look very similar and do not have many distinguishing features; The main difference between these frogs is their native habitats.
- Hymenochirus boettgeri is located in central African republic.
- Hymenochirus boulengeri is located in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- Hymenochirus Curtipes are found in the Republic of the Congo.
- Hymenochirus feae is endemic to Gabon.
They are all small, fully aquatic amphibians that reach a maximum size of 3 inches and weigh only a few ounces.
The African dwarf frogs can easily be mistaken for the African Clawed Frog. They look very similar, but the clawed Frog is big and very aggressive.
Keep this in mind when buying your first frog, and always do your research to find out what you are buying rather than relying on labels that may be wrong. Read on to know how to properly care for your African dwarf frogs.
African Dwarf frogs are a great addition to your tank. They are nocturnal animals very active at night. They will spend most of their time swimming in the water, sometimes coming to the surface to breathe. These frogs cannot spend much time out of the water because they will dehydrate and die after 20-25 minutes.
They do not have gills like fish, but instead have fully developed lungs, they will swim very fast to the surface to breathe, then swim back up moment later.
One of the most common and peculiar behavior of these frogs is known as ‘zen position’. You might see your frogs floating in the water without moving, arms and legs outstretched. This is normal, even though they sometimes look dead!
You may also hear them singing, this is usually used as a means where the male attracts a female by a making a buzzing quiet sound.
African Dwarf frogs are olive, to greenish-brown frogs. Although they are all often different in color, they all have different black spots on their body. These frogs are small amphibians, no larger than 3 inches, and weigh only a few ounces.
Frogs in the Pipidae family have similar characteristics, such as no tongues and teeth. This means they have webbed feet, which are used to help them walk and also to feed themselves. They also have a buccal cavity use to draw in water, which makes them eat by absorbing water into their mouths.
These frogs have no ears, so how do they know their surroundings?
They have special lines of sensory movement next to their bodies that feel movement and vibration.
Males and females show little difference. Females are usually larger in a very different geographic region, known as the ovipositor. Males, on the other hand, have a small apparent gland behind each of the forelegs. The exact function of this gland is not yet fully understood, but the common belief is that it is related to mating.
Habitat and Tank Requirements
It’s no surprise to find that African Dwarf frogs originated in Africa! They are found in tropical forests, in the fresh water of Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, and as far as the Congo River Basin. Here the environment is moist and warm. Light is really important; they are nocturnal animals and are used for a 10-12-hour cycle of light and darkness.
These frogs need water or a very moist environment to survive. As with all fish, it is best to set up a tank, and provide a suitable environment before buying a frog.
African Dwarf Frog Tank and Set Up
Make sure that the surface of the water is higher than the humidity – this way if the frog comes out of the water it will not be dehydrated. As mentioned, light is very important. These frogs are used to normal periods of light and dark, so set your lights on the timer to ensure that the lights are in the 10-12-hour cycle. They do not need as much light as other reptiles or land and water animals; you can just buy a standard LED aquarium light.
Since their skin is very sensitive to chemicals you will need to buy a good filter and water test kit to make sure you always have the best quality water. Always do regular water checks when you are doing your 20% change of water every week. These are the water parameters that you should have for your tank:
- Temperature: 72-78 ° F
- PH: 6.5-7.8
- GH: 5-20
- KH: 4-15
You can either use sand or gravel for substrate. It’s very important to note that when buying a substrate make sure that the grains are large enough so that the frog cannot swallow them.
You should not have strong water movements. These frogs do not like strong water flows as they sometimes like to stay still in the water. Even if the frogs breathe normal air, you may want to consider buying an air pump or air conditioner to maintain good water quality.
However, they are very sensitive to noise and vibration so if you install a pump, you can separate it from the glass of the tank to avoid this problem. For these reasons you may want to consider adding an installation layer, such as Styrofoam or a piece of carpet, between the tank and the stand.
These frogs also appreciate the presence of live plant. You can add floating plants, such as Hornwort or other rooted plants like Java Fern. If you are choosing plants with roots, be sure to cover the roots of the plants as your frog may dig. Eventually, you will need to add more hiding places around the tank, these animals are naturally food for larger aquantic life so they will feel safer in hiding places. You can create hiding spaces using rocks, plants and pieces of driftwood wood.
What Size of Aquarium Do They Need?
Most people start with a 10-gallon tank, big enough to handle a small community of 4-5 frogs. You can also use a 20-gallon tank but, make sure the water is not too deep so your frogs can swim easily to get some air.
Filter and light considerations
One thing you will want to look at early is your filter, a strong filter can cause problems for your frogs. Although they have the ability to swim to the bottom of the tank, African Dwarf frogs are not too keen on strong currents. Therefore, you will need to make sure that the filter and any air columns you have are reasonable.
Lastly, you will want to provide enough light for 10 to 12 hours a day. African Dwarf frogs are nocturnal, but they use that light to stay in the healthy cycle of time. The standard aquarium lights will do just fine.
African Dwarf Frog Food & Diet
Technically, African Dwarf frogs are omnivores which can eat plant-based substances. However, they do very well with meat. In the wild, African frog food consists mainly of small fish and insect larvae. To give your frog the most nutritious food, offer a variety of high-protein foods. These can include brine shrimp, fried fish, and small worms.
African frogs do not need food every day. With good food, they eat well three or four times a week. When giving them food, make sure you do not give them too much food. You should only give them as much food as they can eat at the same time. Therefore, if you leave food behind, it will only stay there and have a negative impact on water quality.
If you are feeding them, consider doing so in pairs of long tweezers. Make a sound to attract their attention and direct them to the food. Most frogs will not swim up to eat, as they spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank.
Breeding African dwarf Frogs
Breeding African Frogs can spontaneously happen in aquariums when kept in groups. However, eggs are less likely to survive to maturity. Encouraging your frogs with adequate food and conditions that mimic seasonal changes will increase your chances of success.
African Dwarf Sex Frogs
While hidden there is a difference between the sexes. When fully grown frogs the Dwarf Frogs are small and have a prominent white post axillary gland that looks like a small lump on the back of each arm. While this plays a role in the production the exact process is still a mystery to science.
Males will also sing from time to time, even underwater! They create a static-like hum that almost sounds like a broken speaker. Females are quiet, slightly longer and robust, especially when carrying eggs.
Conditioning and spawning
- To start breeding, you will need to start feeding your African Dwarf Frogs with frozen and live prey. Prepared foods are in short supply for the variety of nutrition they need to produce breeding gametes.
- Next, you will need to reduce the water level in your aquarium to about half to 2-3 weeks, which mimics the droughts of the African season. As frogs swim to the surface several times a day to breathe they are very sensitive to depth. When installing clean water, allow the new tank temperature to remain 5 degrees cooler than usual at first.
- As you stimulate the natural drought / flood cycle, the males in the aquarium will start to sing regularly, calling for the females. The males will also begin to grasp in the empty water with their forearms, as if training for the Amplexus. The Amplexus position is where all the toads and frogs take when they mate; the male will hold the woman in the back for as long as the sperm and eggs meet in the water.
- As soon as the willing female is grasped, the two of them will swim up and down the water column within hours. Either 100-500 eggs are laid around 4mm in diameter.
- Eggs are coated with a sticky gel that prevents them from being eaten by predators, protects them from infection, and attaches them to floating plants.
- Any available eggs should be removed immediately as tank mates and even frogs themselves can eat them despite the jelly.
How to care for African dwarf frogs eggs
The eggs of the African Dwarf Frog should be removed and placed in a separate rearing tank until hatched within 1-2 days. The 3mm tadpoles initially do not move and use the glue to attach to their place of birth for up to six days. At this time they will not accept food at all. Once they are on the move, they will embrace smaller foods such as worms, daphnia, and baby brine shrimp. And they can also eat each other. Weaker tadpoles becomes prey of their vigorous siblings.
It is a good idea to culture the rearing tank with green water and plants like Guppy Grass and Java Moss. This promotes the growth of algae and protozoan in plants and tanks, which are grazing areas for them.
Your African Dwarf Frog tadpole will have hind legs within two weeks and front legs by three weeks of age. They complete their metamorphosis, losing their tails completely, at 1 month of age. At this stage they should be eating adult food; blood worms, brine shrimp worms, and mosquito larvae should all be accepted.
Currently your African Dwarf frogs are about 2 cm long and can be allowed to grow until they are large enough to be safely introduced into the aquarium!
Are African Dwarf Frogs easy to care for?
They are easy to care for and good for a beginner frog keeper. These frogs are peaceful little amphibians. They are very common because they are easy to maintain.
Try to provide the best environment (with the right tank, water limits, substrate) and you will succeed in keeping your frogs beautiful and healthy. Feeding is not a big challenge; you don’t even have to do it every day, and they eat the same food as your fish.
Tank mates for African Dwarf Frogs?
To provide adequate care for your African dwarf frogs it is important to select the appropriate tank mates for your frogs to avoid them being eaten or bullied by bigger tank mates. The best tank mates for these frogs are other African Dwarf frogs. They are very friendly and do well in groups of three or 4. However, you do not have to stick to their own kind always.
There are other good tank mates that can live in harmony with your African dwarf frogs. Some good examples are:
Aside from the above mentioned tank mates, you can also add peaceful fishes too. However, make sure that the fish that you pair with your frog are not small enough to eat.
How can you take care of the African dwarf frogs with Bettas?
It’s all about the bettas you have in your tank. This has nothing to do with frogs because they are very friendly. If they are on the more tolerant side then there will be no problem with this. However, if they are aggressive you can have a problem on your hands. Think about the temperament of your fish before considering this.