Are African Dwarf Frogs Good Pets
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Are African Dwarf Frogs Good Pets? [how to care for a dwarf frog]

The African Dwarf Frog is a tiny, adorable amphibian frog that is hilarious to watch and makes a great addition to any tank or home. You will love to watch them swim and play. With so much to love in one tiny, affordable package, almost anyone can keep them.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about keeping African Dwarf frogs as pets.

What is an African Dwarf Frog
What is an African Dwarf Frog? (Image via Wiki Commons Public Domain)

What is an African Dwarf Frog?

African Dwarf Frogs are freshwater, amphibious frogs of the “Hymenochirus” family. 

These small but personality-filled frogs are a fabulous pet frog to keep by themselves or add to your aquarium. 

They make great tank mates for your other docile fish or animals in your home aquarium. 

The African Dwarf is known to bring life and energy to its tanks and is entertaining to watch. When healthy and happy these little frogs will swim around in silly ways. 

They are able to get along well with just about any species of fish that are not predatory or aggressive. They are also a great choice for first-time or beginner aquarium owners.

Where Do African Dwarf Frogs Come From?

These small size frogs originated in the rivers and ponds of Africa. They are typically found mostly in Nigeria, the Congo, and Cameroon. 

Where Do African Dwarf Frogs Come From
Where Do African Dwarf Frogs Come From? (Image via Wiki Commons Public Domain)

Anywhere in Africa with a warm climate and large river systems, you can more than likely find these little frogs. 

Interesting Facts About African Dwarf Frogs

There are so many interesting facts about the African Dwarf Frog. 

To start off, their scientific name is Hymenochirus Curtipes, but most people refer to them as Dwarfs, African Dwarfs, or the little swimmer frog. 

Did you know that the Dwarf Frog, after it sheds, will eat its own skin? 

African Dwarfs are not very good swimmers, despite their athletic-looking stature.

Interesting Facts About African Dwarf Frogs
Interesting Facts About African Dwarf Frogs

African Dwarf Frogs even SING when they are happy! They sound like a dial-up internet connection. You may believe your filter is making noises when in reality, you just have a very happy frog.

African Dwarf Frogs actually have no teeth or tongues. They will simply leap at their food, catch it in their mouth, and sometimes use their front legs to aid in “chewing” the food. 

African Dwarf Frog Characteristics

It is always good to know as much as possible when making a decision about having a pet.

What Do African Dwarf Frogs Look Like?

These unique pet frogs can range in color slightly. Generally speaking, they are a mixture of olive green to light brown colored. 

What Do African Dwarf Frogs Look Like
What Do African Dwarf Frogs Look Like? (Image Open Source via US Government Department of Health)

Sometimes they can also have spots, and most of the time, they have rough-looking skin that has little bumps all over it. Their faces usually are slightly lighter than their bodies as well. 

Differences Between Male and Female African Dwarf Frogs

There are a few differences between female African Dwarf frogs and male versions. These differences make telling them apart quite easy in comparison with a lot of other species. 

The females are a great deal larger than the male frogs; they are usually the ones who are capable of reaching the full 3-inch length. 

A female’s body will also be slightly more elongated, and they will have very noticeable genitals. The males, in contrast, have little white bulges that are directly behind their front legs. 

How Big are African Dwarf Frogs?

Typically African Dwarfs can reach up to three inches, but most of these small frogs only measure around two inches. 

They are quite small. The females are up to 40 percent larger than the males and will be more prone to reaching the full three-inch length. 

If you plan to keep your frog in a tank that is a fairly small 5-gallon or 10-gallon sized aquarium, they will be much smaller than frogs kept in 20-gallon or larger tanks. 

These frogs may only mature to around a length of one and a half or fewer inches. 

How Long Does an African Dwarf Frog Live?

The lifespan of an African Dwarf frog tends to be around five years but it will vary based on how well they are taken care of.

Where Can I Buy an African Dwarf Frog?

Most pet stores do not keep African Dwarfs in stock, and I would advise against buying them at a pet store due to the risk of the frog having a disease or infection from improper care. 

They can be found by searching for breeders or bought online. They can be shipped right to you. 

The price for an African Dwarf Frog is only around $5 or $6 in most places, making them a very affordable pet. 

Some places you can find African Dwarf Frogs for sale:


Pet African Dwarf Frog Behavior and Personality

These pet frogs are great frogs for just about any freshwater tank. They enjoy the company of other frogs and fish as long as they are peaceful tank mates. 

African Dwarf Frogs are not a territorial species, but they may at times feed on other extremely small fish. 

They will happily swing around and hang out on toys or plants that are placed in their tank. They will also routinely come to the surface of the water in order to breathe as they do not have gills. 

African Dwarf Frogs Like to Hide

They will also enjoy hanging out at the bottom of the tank and hiding in pieces of wood or other hiding places.  

The African Dwarf is a very social creature and does well even in a small aquarium and they do enjoy being with another frog or having companion fish. 

African Dwarf Frog Care Requirements

Generally, caring for your new frog will be easy, but during times when they are shedding, the care can become a little more demanding and tricky. 

They will need frequent water changes as poor water quality can aid in the development of bacterial infections, fungal infections, and other health issues.

How to Feed an African Dwarf Frog

You will want to make sure you feed your frog in the morning and evening to keep them happy and healthy. You want to make sure you never add too much food. 

Generally, what they can eat in two minutes is a great idea of how much you should feed them. 

Watch the frog closely while it eats to make sure it’s getting enough food, as some of the other fish in the tanks may eat their food. 

A great idea would be to even remove your frog for feedings in a separate small vase. This will help keep your water clean and aid in monitoring your frog. 

African Dwarf Frog Snacks

These aquatic amphibians enjoy lots of different snacks too! Some good examples of additional treats include:

  • Bring shrimp
  • Mystery snails
  • Flightless fruit flies
  • Tiny, live foods that would naturally be found in African rivers.
  • Tubifex worms
  • Food pellets

A proper diet will keep your frog healthy and increase its lifespan. 

African Dwarf Frogs eat many different things, and the best times to feed your frogs are early in the morning and then again during sunset. 

Be careful with overfeeding these frogs as they can become obese. 

What Habitat is Needed for an African Dwarf Frog?

Since these frogs come from equatorial African regions, you will want to try your best to make your aquatic tank as similar to their natural habitat as possible. 

Here is a list of basic information that you need to know to keep your frog safe when setting up your aquarium.

  • Beware of deep tanks, typically no deeper than two feet, due to the risk of drowning as these frogs are not very good swimmers.
  • Avoid anything in the tank that could be swallowed, including pebbles.
  • Always use safe decor and aquatic plants.
  • You will want to use a sponge filter or other water filtration system that your frog cannot get into.

In order to recreate the Dwarf’s natural habitat, make sure the tank has warm water between 75-80 degrees. 

It is recommended that you provide at least five gallons of tank per frog, but many people use two or five gallons for 2-3 frogs. 

Give them at a bare minimum, at least one gallon per frog, to avoid overcrowding issues. 

What to Put in an African Dwarf Frog’s Tank

African Dwarf Frogs enjoy having lots of organic material in their aquarium and caves to hideout in. 

Your filtration system should be well working to maintain the PH balance of the water and rid the water of any potential diseases. 

You will also want to avoid having any sort of strong currents or vibrations in the tank, as these will upset your frog.

Your Tank Water Level is Important 

African Dwarfs are not strong swimmers, so making sure the depth of the water doesn’t exceed two feet and that there are no currents will ensure their safety. 

The pebbles, gravel, or substrate you provide needs to be large enough not be able to be swallowed. 

African Dwarfs are natural forgers, so if they think they can eat something, they will try to eat it. You don’t want them to choke. 

Tank Plant Choices

  • Java fern
  • Java moss
  • Amazon sword plant
  • Duckweed

Water Temperature and Requirements

Water type: Freshwater

Tank size: 5-10 gallons

Temperature: 75-80 degrees

Water hardness: 5-20 dGH (dGH is degrees of general hardness)

Acidity levels: 6.5-7.8 pH

Water supplementation: Your African Dwarf will need a start-up bacteria in their water, such as Tetra SafeStart

All fish housed in the tank should have the same requirements.

African Dwarf Frog Care is Not Hard

Overall, care and maintenance for your frog are not too difficult. You will want to change at least ten percent of your tank’s water weekly. 

Although some people change it much more frequently than that. Every month you will want to change around twenty-five percent of the water. 

Make sure that added water is up to temp before adding it into your tank to avoid shock. 

Additional Tank Tasks Include:

  • Scrubbing and cleaning the gravel
  • Vacuuming substrate every week in order to remove any uneaten food pieces and feces.

Make sure you never handle your African Dwarf. Your bare hands can injure their delicate skin, and the risk of dropping them is very high due to their slimy and wiggly bodies. 

These frogs also have very sensitive fingers, so ensure that there are no sharp objects in your tank. Everything should be fairly smooth to the touch.

Common Problems That an Arise With Dwarf Frogs

Common health problems that affect Dwarf are bacterial infections and fungal infections. Bacterial infections can infect their skin, eyes, and even mouth. 

Fungal infections generally present themselves as white, slightly transparent, fluffy growth on or around the eyes. 

You can treat both of these conditions by changing your tank water, doing a pH test, and adjusting anything you need to as necessary. 

It is also recommended that if you notice any of these issues, you contact an African Dwarf Frog or aquarium specialist to ensure that you are taking the correct treatment measures. 

You will also want to quarantine any frogs that are affected, as well as remove any fish from the tank until the issue clears up. Sometimes, a copper supplement will do the trick. 

Are African Dwarfs Poisonous or Dangerous?

Not at all! African Dwarfs are not dangerous to humans, but they can carry salmonella, as can any frog species. Generally, you will only get salmonella if you handle the frogs without gloves.

Fish Species to Put in Your African Dwarf Frog Tank

African Dwarfs generally get along with any freshwater fish that isn’t aggressive, with one exception for the Betta fish. 

Bettas are usually aggressive and territorial but seem to do ok with some frogs. You may want to steer clear of a Betta, but many have had success. 

When choosing tank mates, make sure their requirements line up with your frog’s requirements. 

Great tank mates for the African dwarf frog include:

How to Breed Your African Dwarf Frogs 

If you plan to breed African Dwarf Frogs, it isn’t a hard process. They will, in essence, take care of everything themselves. 

You will want to aim to simulate natural breeding conditions in the wild during their breeding season.

Here are some recommendations if you plan to breed your frogs:

  1. “Start by gradually, over one month, lowering the water levels in the amphibian-only tank until the water reaches 3 inches deep.
  2. Next, fill the tank with warm water at 85°F, maintaining the warmer temperature for three weeks.
  3. Increase the feeding volumes and frequency, providing lots of protein-rich treats while still ensuring there’s no buildup of excess food that could rot and dangerously increase the nitrate levels of the tank water.
  4. Within two to three weeks, the female frogs should begin growing bigger — a sign that they are developing eggs inside their egg pouches.

    The pairs will soon breed, and you can look forward to the mating calls and grumbling sounds of amorous frogs as the eggs are fertilized.
  5. Tadpoles will hatch after three to six days. Ensure there are loads of hiding spaces in the tank, like ferns and caves, where the tadpoles can hide from hungry tank mates.”

Should You Get an African Dwarf Frog for Your Existing Aquarium?

While these frogs make fantastic additions to most aquariums, if you are starting from scratch, you will need to factor in the cost of getting started. 

They provide joy and entertainment to owners, and they are quickly becoming cherished and loved pets. 

You will also need to think about your time and how often you are able to care for and clean your tanks. 

Next, consider the fish you currently have if you already have a home tank. Make sure your fish will get along well with the frog. 

If you decide that an African Dwarf is for you, then make sure you introduce them into their new tank gradually. 

Related African Dwarf Frog Questions

What if My Frog Won’t Eat?

Try removing the frog and feeding them in a separate dish. If this still does not work, consult with an aquarium or frog specialist.

Can I Have Two Same-sex Frogs in the Tank?

Yes, you can house multiple frogs of the same sex if you do not want tadpoles.

Are African Dwarf Frogs a Good Pet For Young Children?

They are a great addition to your family but ensure that you monitor children, especially young children, with any pet they have.


African Dwarf Frogs make great additions to most freshwater tanks or are entertaining to keep in small groups. They provide enjoyment to all and can have unique personalities. 

With little care requirements, low prices for purchasing them, and moderate lifespans, African Dwarf frogs are a great pet choice.

Are African Dwarf Frogs Good Pets

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