African Dwarf Frog: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding & More)

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Written By Matt Stevens

Hi, I'm Matt! I've been obsessed with fishkeeping for over 15 years now and created this site to share my knowledge with others.

The African Dwarf Frog is a majestic and unique species of freshwater creature that is highly sought after by aquatic enthusiasts and aquarium owners all over the world.

They are known to be highly attractive, and their active nature also makes them fun to watch in the tank.

Plus, they are quite easy to take care of and also have a friendly temperament towards other species. If you are looking to find out everything about caring for them, you don’t have to worry at all.

We bring you this very helpful guide that can teach you everything about caring for your African Dwarf Frog, including their habitat, water conditions, diet, tank mates, breeding, and much more!

Species Overview

The African Dwarf Frog is a beautiful creature with distinctive features and an easygoing temperament that makes it the perfect addition to any aquarium. They belong to the Pipidae family, and their scientific name is Hymenochirus.

African Dwarf Frogs are native to the freshwaters of the Congo River, Nigeria, and Cameroon. They are typically found in shallow rivers and ponds, although they can easily survive underwater without any difficulty.

Life spanUp to 5 years
Color formOlive green/green/brown
Care levelIntermediate
CompatibilityTropical freshwater creatures
Size3 Inches
Tank setupAquatic
Minimum tank size10 Gallons

These species were classified around the 1800s, but they gained massive popularity much later, particularly during the 1970s.

Since they have a distinct lifestyle and habitat, African Dwarf Frogs are commonly found among pet stores all over the world.


The only downside to keeping African Dwarf Frogs in your aquarium is that they have a short lifespan as compared to other species.

Even if you provide them with the best level of care and maintain their water conditions accurately, they would only be able to live up to five years.

Apart from the care and water requirements, the health condition of the frog when you receive it also plays a major role in its overall lifespan.


In their natural habitat, African Dwarf Frogs typically spend more time close to the bottom of river beds and ponds. Their subtle appearance and light-colored bodies help them do this easily.

Generally, these frogs have a body that is muddy brown, deep green, or olive green in color. However, their stomach and limbs are lighter compared to the rest of the body.

No matter what their body color is, all African Dwarf Frogs have black spots on their bodies, which helps them stay hidden among the vegetation.

On average, these frogs don’t grow any longer than three inches, and if their diet is well-maintained, they also have a slim and slender body. There are some noticeable features that separate males from females.

Females are almost 40% larger than males in size, and their pear-shaped body gives them away, as well as a noticeable genital area. The males also have glands at the back of their front legs.

These glands are white and have a bulging appearance, which makes them easy to spot. Although they are believed to play a major role in breeding, there isn’t much information regarding what they actually do.

Strangely, African Dwarf Frogs also don’t have any teeth or a tongue, as is common with other creatures who belong to the Pipidae family.

Due to the lack of teeth or tongue, these frogs put food in their mouth with the help of their webbed feet and push it down their throats.

Plus, these frogs also don’t have ears, so they use a lateral line to sense vibrations in the water, which helps them navigate around their habitat easily.

Often, African Dwarf Frogs are confused with African Clawed Frogs, and the mistake often takes place at pet stores. You can tell the two apart by their feet. The former has webbed feet, whereas the latter has individual fingers and long claws on their front legs.

Plus, African Dwarf Frogs have eyes on the side of their head, and their snout is pointier. On the other hand, African Clawed Frogs have a broad snout and eyes further on their head.


As mentioned above, African Dwarf Frogs can grow up to three inches, even when they are in the wild. Plus, the female species are much larger than the male ones, so you will be able to identify them easily.

This also tells you that you don’t need too much space to let them grow and stay healthy, but we will get to that in the next section.

African Dwarf Frog Care

Although African Dwarf Frogs are incredibly cute and great to look at, don’t ever think of taking them out and handling them with bare hands, even if your child wants to do it badly.

These creatures carry a host of diseases that are commonly experienced by amphibians. If you handle them yourself, you might be susceptible to certain diseases, which is why you should avoid interacting with them.

Another reason why you shouldn’t bring them out of the water is that these frogs only come to the surface of the water to inhale fresh air. After that, they retreat to the bottom of the tank once again.

According to aquatic experts, if you take out these frogs from the tank for more than 15 minutes, you will cause them to get dehydrated and may eventually die in your hands.

Their skin isn’t developed enough to survive in a dry environment, which is why you should let them stay underwater and simply view them from outside the tank.

Before we move on to the important aspects of caring for African Dwarf Frogs, you need to know that they shed their skin several times during their lifespan. This may cause alarm bells to go off in your mind, but you don’t need to worry since it is a natural process for them.

Let’s have a look at the specific care requirements that you should know if you are looking to raise African Dwarf Frogs in your aquarium.

Tank Size

If you are looking to raise African Dwarf Frogs in your home aquarium, you will need a minimum capacity of 3-5 gallons for each frog you have.

Although they are quite small and don’t require a lot of space to move around, this doesn’t mean that you should keep them in a smaller tank where they won’t have any room to swim around and roam comfortably.

Therefore, if you are looking to keep more than one frog of this species, then you would need a fish tank with a capacity of 10-15 gallons.

Another thing you will need to consider is that African Dwarf Frogs are used to living in shallow rivers and ponds when they are in the wild. This means that you shouldn’t get a deep tank if you are planning on raising them in your home aquarium, and this would stress them out.

The best part is that these fish don’t grow up too much when they turn into adults, so you won’t have to worry about overcrowding or changing tanks.

Water Parameters

We might have scared you by stating that African Dwarf Frogs carry a lot of diseases that can be transferred to humans, but that is only likely if you take them out of the tank and handle them yourself.

However, these issues and diseases can be prevented if you give your frogs the right and suitable conditions. Among these conditions, maintaining water quality is also crucial to the process.

To provide your frogs with a healthy habitat, you should maintain a water temperature between 72°F to 78°F, with the pH level set between 6.5 and 8, because they aren’t used to acidic waters. Last but not least, you can maintain the water hardness between 5-20 gH.

Not only will you have to maintain these water conditions, but you will also have to monitor them regularly. If the water quality appears to be changing or failing, then you can change the water partially in order to restore it quickly.

What to Put in Their Tank?

Now that you know about the tank size and water conditions, the next step is to determine how you can prepare a tank that emulates the natural environment for African Dwarf Frogs to thrive and grow in.

You also need to remember that Dwarf Frogs are used to swimming up for air, so they should be able to do this easily in the tank. This is why you should have a tank with a lower depth, so they can quickly swim to the surface without any obstructions.

First and foremost, make sure to keep a soft substrate at the bottom of the tank. You can also keep gravel, but it should be large enough, so your frog doesn’t swallow it accidentally.

Another thing you should keep in the tank is live plants, which can not only be used for hiding, but frogs can also feed off of them.

Whichever live plants you choose, make sure they are properly grounded. These frogs can easily dig up the plants, so you can also divert their attention with hiding places, rocks, driftwood, etc.

Even if you choose plants that have leaves that touch the surface, you may find the frogs perching on them when they come up for air.

Now that you have completed the tank, the next step is to think about the filtration and lighting system. Make sure you don’t choose a really strong filter because it can be detrimental for them.

Although African Dwarf Frogs spend a lot of time near the bottom of the tank, they aren’t used to swimming against strong currents. If the filter is strong and has a pump producing a strong current, the frog might get stuck in the filter pipes.

Last but not least, you also have to manage adequate lighting for at least 10-12 hours daily. The light helps these frogs keep track of night and dry properly, even though these fish are nocturnal.

The best part is that you don’t need an advanced or complex lighting system, and any standard aquarium light would work perfectly.

If you can successfully fulfill each of these requirements for your home aquarium, you can raise happy and healthy African Dwarf Frogs.

Common Diseases

As you may know already, African Dwarf Frogs are prone to several health problems. If you notice redness around their eyes and on their skin, it means that they are suffering from a bacterial infection.

Another common indication of these frogs feeling ill is lethargy and a loss of appetite because they are usually active creatures.

Apart from bacterial infections, these frogs are susceptible to fungal infections, and they can be identified through small patches on their bodies.

Fungal infections may seem harmless, but they have to be addressed proactively. One of the most common ones is Chytridiomycosis, which is also contagious and can be spread to other frogs in the tank.

Another contagious disease is known as dropsy, and it can be caused due to several reasons, including parasites, bacteria, etc. It can be diagnosed by bloating and stress in the frog. Moreover, if you don’t get it treated on time, you might lose your little pet.

If you notice any signs or symptoms of illness, you need to consult the vet immediately.

What do African Dwarf Frogs Eat?

African Dwarf Frogs are omnivores, and they thrive on plant-based foods. However, they enjoy animal-based protein more, such as small fish and insect larvae.

Therefore, you can feed them on brine shrimp, fish try, bloodworms, earthworms, and other high-protein foods to complement their diet.

Plus, you can incorporate fat into the frogs’ diet, such as tuna, salmon, and even beef heart. However, these should be fed to them only once a week and not more than that. Since these are fatty foods, they can cause your frogs to gain weight quickly.

Another great thing about these frogs is that they don’t need daily feeding. Rather, if you are maintaining a high-quality diet, you can feed them three to four times per week.

Make sure you don’t overfeed them. African Dwarf Frogs don’t eat a lot, so the leftover food will continue to rot and contaminate the water. Plus, they will only eat food that is present at the bottom of the tank, not what is floating on the surface.

Therefore, you can get a pair of long tweezers to place the food at the bottom of the aquarium and gently tap the walls of the tank to get their attention. This way, frogs will be aware that you have placed food in their tank.

Behavior & Temperament

Generally, African Dwarf Frogs are quite easygoing and peaceful, and you will have a great time watching them swim and move around their tank. They are usually active after sunset, and they like to spend time underwater.

Since they are aquatic creatures, you may think these frogs don’t have lungs. On the contrary, they have fully developed lungs and use them to take in air from the surface of the water every now and then.

Although they are quite peaceful, they can get stressed and will go into hiding from predators. They can hide around plants, behind rocks, or in caves as well. If they aren’t threatened by any of their tank mates, you will find they have a jovial nature.

Another thing Dwarf Frogs do is that they float on the surface of the water with their limbs spread out, which may appear to you like they are dead or unconscious. However, there is no reason to worry about it. They do so when they want to relax.

These frogs are also docile and get along well with other creatures. However, they see small fish as food, which is why you can’t keep them in the aquarium together.

Apart from this, you can also hear them buzzing and making sounds underwater, especially if they are looking to attract the female species.

African Dwarf Frog Tank Mates

As is the case with most other species, the best tank mates for your African Dwarf Frog will be other creatures of their species. They can thrive when placed together in groups of 3 or 4, but they aren’t particular or adamant about living with their own species.

These Dwarf Frogs get along well with a few species of fish, including:

Apart from these, you can also choose other docile species and creatures to cohabitate in the aquarium with your frogs.


Breeding African Dwarf Frogs is a unique and easy process, but you need to take care of the preparations. They can breed up to hundreds of little tadpoles at one time.

To maintain proper breeding conditions, you will need to lower the water levels by 3-4 inches. This would emulate the conditions that they experience in the wild.

Also, increase the water temperature in the tank to 85°F and keep it like this for a couple of weeks. While you are altering the conditions, make sure to give your frogs a healthy and well-balanced diet.

When you notice the female becoming larger in size, it would mean that she is filling up with eggs that the male frog can fertilize. The breeding process begins when the male frog clings onto the lower body of the female.

Then, both of them will swim closer to the bottom of the tank, and the female will lay her eggs all over the surface. The male frog will release his sperm into the water, which will fertilize each egg.

Once the mating process is complete, you can move the adult pair to a holding tank and wait for the eggs to hatch, which will take anywhere between 3-6 days.

Once you see tiny tadpoles hatching and coming out of the eggs, you can start feeding them Infusoria and slowly move on to brine shrimp. When you see their legs protruding from their body, you can put the adults back into the aquarium.

Final Thoughts

The African Dwarf Frogs are interesting and friendly creatures that are fun to watch and even more fun to keep in the aquarium.

Their care process is quite hassle-free, and you will be able to get the hang of it in no time at all.

Plus, taking care of these frogs is something you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. You also have our handy guide to keep you covered, even if you forget or need help with something!