How To Take Care Of African Dwarf Frogs As Pets?

African dwarf frogs are the most common types of frogs ever found in the central African regions. There are four basic types of them living there, and they are all identical in their respective behaviors.

These African dwarf frogs are mostly active during moonlit hours, giving them the nocturnally active Amphibians title. Also, they are fully aquatic animals and thus don’t need lands.

African dwarf frogs can hold their breath for around 10-15 minutes and only come to the land for 1 or 2 minutes to take oxygen. If they are to wait longer than that, they get extremely dehydrated and pose life threats.

However, this article focuses entirely on the overall maintenance of African dwarf frogs if you want to have them as a pet. So, jump on board as we go over the important caring tips for petting African dwarf frogs.

About the African Dwarf Frog

The African dwarf frog comes from the genus Hymenochirus. They are really popular as a pet. Though they are amphibians, they still spend their whole life in water. They cannot live on a dry surface. Sometimes they might come to the surface for breathing purposes. But most of the time, they love to stay in the water.

They are really small, like not more than 3 inches. So they live in the small tanks pretty easily. Only 20 gallons of water tank will be perfect for them, which is small. But the smaller size makes them the cutest.

They can live up to 10 to 15 years. If they are taken care of really well, they can live more than five years. There are four species that have the same name. They all look almost the same, but their native locations are different.

They are perfect as a pet and people can take care of them very easily. They don’t require much care or attention, so they are really popular as pets. They eat tiny fishes, bloodworms, frozen dried brine shrimp, etc. Their needs are really simple to fulfill. That’s why people can keep them healthy and happy for a long time. They are pretty, unique, and interesting.

Characteristics of African Dwarf Frogs

African dwarf frogs are very docile amphibians. They are entirely aquatic types of frogs in their lifestyles and environment.

When it comes to holding their breath, these frogs can do it for close to 15 minutes each time. To get the Oxygen they sorely want, all they have to do is surface and take in some fresh air.

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A large portion of their time is spent in the tank’s lower half, which is where the African dwarf frogs are most active.

Their size is pretty small, ranging around 3 inches. They are typically olive-green to brownish-green typed amphibians. African dwarf frogs need quite a large aquarium of about 10 gallons of water. Their lifespan varies from 5 to 10 years given proper care & maintenance. Their food habitat is also based on omnivorous types.

While keeping the African dwarf frogs in aquariums, one thing that needs addressing is that they should not be kept with aggressive fishes. These dwarf frogs may struggle to compete with such mates. But you can easily put another 2 or 3 African dwarf frogs with your pet as they are social amphibians.

Food Diets

While maintaining a pet, the most concerning aspect is its food habitat for its healthy metabolism. The same goes for the African dwarf frogs too. However, you need to be a little decisive while selecting foods for your dwarf frog.

For Single Living Frogs

If you plan to keep your frog as a stand-alone animal in the aquarium, your maintenance becomes a lot easier. You need to supply food pellets that are sinkable. African dwarf frogs mostly prefer to stay in the tank’s lower half. Therefore, you need to put food pellets that can reach the bottom of the tank.

You can also feed them thawed frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, blackworms, or Tubifex worms.

For Frogs Living with Mates

If your aquarium has smaller fishes with African dwarf frogs, you need to consider a few things. Firstly, your fish can become food to the dwarf frogs if the supplied food is less than the demand. The opposite can happen too. Therefore, make sure your frog can have the required foods.

Again, these frogs are slow eaters. Hence, the other fishes can gobble up their food. Keep a tab on this point and regularly check if your pet is getting the necessary food it needs.

Finally, don’t forget to dump the uneaten foods. Allow your pet to consume as much as it likes for the first 2-3 minutes, and then remove all the uneaten foods.

Requirements for Setting Up Home for African Dwarf Frogs

Tank Size

The very first factor that needs proper addressing is the size of the tank. You can’t select a bigger or smaller tank for your pet dwarf frog. While selecting a tank, you need to consider the tank height.

The African dwarf frogs are not strong swimmers. Thus, the height of the surface from the bottom should never exceed 12 inches.

You have no restrictions for selecting the width of the aquarium. However, the ideal water quantity is 10 gallons for the frogs to get proper nutrition. You should not overcrowd the tank. Otherwise, food allocation & feeding will become difficult for your pet.

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No Openings

You don’t want to end up causing the death of your pet frog by neglecting it. If you keep any opening on top of your aquarium, this unwanted incident may occur. It’s in the nature of the frogs to jump often. However, in nature, when they jump out of the water, they can get back in time too.

But if your pet dwarf frog jumps accidentally out of the aquarium and can’t get back in time, it may die due to dehydration. The African dwarf frogs, being fully aquatic amphibians, cannot live on land for more than 15 minutes.

Thus to eliminate their chances of jumping out of the tank, you need to cover all the openings. You can also use a glass aquarium cover, screen-type tank cover, or any homemade cover to close the openings.

Places for Hiding

Hiding places are another crucial aspect for the proper maintenance of your African dwarf frogs. As these amphibians are prey animals, hiding from their enemies is the fundamental part of their behavior. Therefore, you need to provide enough hiding places for them so that they feel secure.

Caves, logs, or other parts will work nicely as hiding places. However, don’t do anything fancy because the painted hiding spots may contain toxic chemicals that may get deposited into water and poison it.


Lighting is another pivotal aspect for the proper maintenance of your African dwarf frog. As these amphibians are nocturnal, they are used to having 12 hours of light & darkness cycle. Thus, you need to arrange lighting in such a way that they feel at home.

You always do not have to spend a lot of money to buy fancy lights. However, if you use live plants in an aquarium, choose LED aquarium lights. These lights are inexpensive and also provide necessary nutrients for plants. They also provide hiding places for your frog and keep the water clean.

Tank Heater

A tank heater is another vital maintenance component for your pet. As these African dwarf frogs are not the usual animals to pet, you need to recreate the environment they are accustomed to living in.

These African dwarf frogs live in the streams or rivers of Africa, where the temperature is 26-27℃. Therefore, to keep your pet in a healthy shape, you should maintain the temperature between 23 to 27℃.

Rooted Plants/ Floated Plants

You can either go with the rooted or floated plant types for your aquarium. Both of these plants provide enough spaces for your frog to hide & rest. They also feel secure in this way. The floated plants don’t require planting or rooting. You can put them floating on the water.

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They absorb nitrate and keep the tank water clean. Some of the most famous ones are hornwort plants.

For rooted plants (the best to go for), you can try Java ferns. These are cheap and require minimum to no cleaning. Also, the dwarf frogs love to hide in it. The rooted plants also maintain the quality of the tank water.

Using substrate as bottom glass coating is another excellent decorative yet beneficial thing to consider.

African Dwarf Frog Health Problems & Treatment

african dwarf frog health problems and treatment infographic including red leg syndrome, dropsy, mycobacteriosis, zygomycosis, viral infection, bump on the head, parasitic infection

Want to get a printable version of this infographic? Click here! [If you want to use this infographic on your website, please link back to this post as the source!]

Maintenance and Care

Taking proper care of your African dwarf frog will lengthen its lifespan. Always remove the uneaten foods. Keeping the uneaten foods for a prolonged period will deteriorate the water condition & bacterial infection will quickly accumulate. Don’t keep any sharp objects inside the aquarium.

Again direct touching these amphibians also pose significant threats. Thus, try to use aquarium nets or gloves if you must. After touching your pet, don’t forget to wash your hands properly.

Do African Dwarf Frogs Need Land?

African dwarf frogs come from the streams and rivers of central Africa. Although these frogs are amphibians, they are mostly aquatic. In fact, this amphibian part works in a counterproductive way.

Though they have lungs and need oxygen to breathe, they cannot stay more than 10-20 minutes on the surface. Otherwise, they will dehydrate severely and die.


Usually, the African dwarf frogs are docile and social. Thus, you can easily accommodate more than one in your tank. If you maintain their foods, habitats properly, they will breed automatically.

But if you face breeding issues, make sure all the required maintenance parameters are strictly followed. After that, you can further raise the temperature to 82℉. This will work as a trigger for the males to make sounds to attract the female dwarf frogs. Once eggs start to stick to plants, remove the adults.

The tadpoles will normally develop frogs after just a few weeks of specialized care.

Red Flags for An African Dwarf Frog

It’s usual for all amphibians to fall sick. If your pet starts to bloat, loses appetite, has cloudy eyes, and loses weight, you need to take it to the vet. Always maintain the water quality as it is the core source of your pet’s livelihood.

Final Words

The African dwarf frogs are exotic pets. Hence, you need to be sure to go for it as a pet. Also, make sure you are capable enough to keep high-risk individuals away from your pet to prevent the transmission of Salmonella. Finally, take proper care of your pet to lengthen its short lifespan.

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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