African Dwarf Frog Care Guide (Diet, Tank & Breeding)

Keeping fish is an accepted hobby and one of the most popular ones at that. Keeping frogs, on the other hand, is something that has only risen in popularity over the last few years.

African Dwarf Frogs are one of the most popular aquatic frogs in the hobby nowadays and what once was a rare sight is now incredibly common. In the past, it was almost impossible to find aquatic frogs for your home but with their rise in popularity, the chances of you finding them in your local pet store is almost 100 percent.

Habituating in ponds and small streams in Africa, the African Dwarf Frog is a fully aquatic frog which spends almost all of it’s life underwater except for the occasional swim to the surface for a gasp of air.

Like most frogs, the African Dwarves are bottom dwellers and will use their unique color patterns to blend in with the substrates, leaf litter and detritus.

When looked after properly, an African Dwarf Frog can live up to 10 years in a personal home aquarium but looking after them properly does require some special knowledge and understanding of them. This care guide will teach you everything you need to know about keeping African Dwarf Frogs and how to help live a long, healthy life.

African Dwarf Frog Tank Conditions

Although you will often see African Dwarf Frogs living in small vases in the bedrooms of young children, the small environment is far from optimal. Frogs like a lot of space, especially Dwarf Africans, so we recommend at least 5 gallons of water per frog.

However, frogs are social animals so they are best kept in groups of at least 3, making the tank requirements at least 15 gallons. Keeping African Dwarf Frogs in groups will minimize their stress levels and if both sexes are kept, the chances of them breeding is increased.

What Do African Dwarf Frogs Eat?

For gravel and substrate, you need to ensure that the pieces are not small enough for the frog to ingest when lunging for their food. Dwarf Frogs are usually bottom feeders and will often swallow small rocks and stones if they are small enough.

Having such a small intestinal tract, these small stones will typically get stuck and will inevitably cause death. Another precaution is that African Dwarf Frogs are tremendous jumpers.

From solid ground, such as the top of a filter, or a solid leaf, an African Dwarf Frog can easily jump 4 inches, which is more than enough for them to clear the top of an aquarium if there is no lid present.

African Dwarf Frogs require constant contact with water and spending anything more than 15 minutes out of water would more than likely be fatal. If you are interested in keeping DAF, then make sure your aquarium is fully closed. 

Frogs will happily swim in between live plants and if you can somehow expose a broadleaf near the surface, don’t be surprised to see your frogs relaxing on it, grabbing a few breaths of air.

In terms of filtration, we recommend either a sponge filter, a small hang on back filter, or a canister filter. Although filtration isn’t necessary, it is highly recommended.

Frogs, however, do not like a lot of current so it’s important to choose something that isn’t very high powered. Water changes are a must, when keeping Dwarf African Frogs so a 15-20 percent water change at least twice per week is required to keep the level of gases in the water optimal.

African Dwarf Frog Diet: What Do They Eat?

African Dwarf Frogs are carnivorous by nature and in the wild, they will typically munch on small fish fry and insects. In the home aquarium, you should strive to stick to a carnivorous diet as much as possible, with the most common foods being brine shrimp, frozen bloodworms, small whiteworms or earthworms.

Their diets should also include a fish food that is designed for clawed frogs or other carnivorous fish. There are plenty on the market but the one that we recommend is Repto Min by Tetra.

To keep things interesting and to provide a treat for your African Dwarf Frogs, you can also try feeding them small pieces of raw fish such as salmon, tuna steak or tilapia. However, you shouldn’t make this a frequent habit. Once a week is more than enough.

Dwarf Frogs can get fat pretty quickly if you feed them too often so it’s important that you get the frequency right. You should feed the frogs as much as they would happily eat: at least 3 times per week.

When frogs are young (less than a year old), we recommend feeding them daily but as they get older, once every two days is more than sufficient. It’s important to make sure that any leftover food is removed from the tank after an hour of feeding time to prevent it spoiling and affecting the conditions of your tank.

Suffering with bad eye sight, it is sometimes difficult to make sure the African Dwarf Frogs are finding enough food to eat when it comes to feeding time. It can be a good habit to actively feed the frogs with a turkey baster or a pair of tongs.

African Dwarf Frogs are passive eaters so it’s a good idea to be as active as possible during the feeding time to make sure they are taking enough in. One way to make sure the frogs are ready to eat is to train them into associating a small tap on the front of the glass tank with feeding time.

A few taps on the glass, followed by a feeding with a turkey baster or tongs will teach them to associate the sound of the tap with their meal times. After a few days, it will become second nature to them and the whole process of feeding them will become dramatically easier.

Sexing African Dwarf Frogs

male and female dwarf frog

It’s pretty easy to sex an African Dwarf Frog since both sexes have distinct features. The males are generally smaller and will appear to have a V-shaped ridge that spreads from the anus to the rear legs.

When the males are sexually mature, they will often develop small spots behind their armpits which are usually red or white in color.

The easiest way to tell a female from a male African Dwarf Frog is to look at the tail bud. A male’s will be extremely small to invisible, whereas a female’s will be noticeably bigger. Females are considerably rounder and larger in appearance.

How To Breed African Dwarf Frogs

Breeding African Dwarf Frogs is not particularly hard but it does require a trigger in order for the female to start producing eggs. The process is pretty simple; gradually lower the water level in the tank to around 7 centimeters, over a period of about 4 weeks.

Once it’s around the correct level, you need to rapidly increase the water back to it’s normal level using warm water. The warm water should eventually heat the tank up to around 85 degrees Fahrenheit and this temperature should be maintained for at least two weeks.

Breeding African Dwarf Frogs

Throughout this entire process, you need to make sure the frogs are fed plenty of high-quality food with a lot of variety. If you have followed the steps previously mentioned and you have fed your frogs a consistent amount of high quality foods, you should see the females becoming considerably fatter. This means she has generated the eggs and is ready to breed.

When the times has come for the male to fertilize the eggs, he will grab hold of the egg bearing female by her hind legs and will hold on for several hours, initiating a spawning dance. If the female agrees and is receptive to the males dance, she will swim to the surface of the tank and back in a circular motion, releasing the eggs for the male to fertilize.

As soon as the frogs have finished releasing the eggs and sperm, they should be removed from the tank to ensure that none of the eggs are eaten. The amount of eggs will vary but you can expect around 750 per spawning.

After 3-6 days, the eggs will begin to hatch and baby tadpoles will emerge. Initially, the small frogs should be fed microscopic protozoans if you want them to survive.

After a while, the tadpoles will be large enough to move onto other foods such as brine shrimp, whiteworms and Cyclop-eez. It takes around 6 weeks for the tadpoles to metamorphose into small frogs, which are usually around 14mm in length.

The small frogs and their parents should be reintroduced at this point.

Suitable Tank Mates For The African Dwarf Frog

African Dwarf Frogs will generally live peacefully with any fish that is bigger than them. If you are keeping them in a community tank, remember that they are carnivores and will eat small fry if any of the other fish do give birth.

Frogs work well with algae eating fish and bottom dwellers, except for common Plecos. While there are reports of more aggressive fish attacking African Dwarf Frogs and sometimes the other way round, we have had no problem keeping them with aggressive fish such as Bettas or Cichlids.

If you provide the frogs with plenty of hiding spaces, they should be fine with pretty much all fish. However, if you want to keep things on the safe side, then we don’t recommend keeping them with Plecos, Catfish, Bettas or Cichlids.

Because of their poor eyesight, African Dwarf Frogs can often mistake the fins of fish for their food and will latch on and drag the fish around aggressively. If you don’t want a bunch of injured fish swimming around your tank, then we recommend avoiding fish with long flowing fins.


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  1. Terry Shelton says:

    The article states that frogs and catfish all really not compatible. I have a male and female African frog and a pair of Cory cats and they seem to get along fine. They have been together in a 55 gal. tanks for nearly three months.

    1. 3 months doesn’t really mean much… if/when the ADFs grow bigger, they can become slightly more aggressive and can eat fish that are small enough. I’ve seen them take on full-grown bettas before and win. They really do best with only others of their own species.

  2. No mention of their required water parameters? Temperature, pH, hardness, etc..???

    1. the ph level should be 7

  3. Keith Bare says:

    I have a red crab in a Paludarium with my frogs. can the frogs take a little salt?

    1. i heard somewhere that they can live in brackish waters. I’m not sure if this is good for long term though.

  4. My frog just died and now I’m totally clueless. My ph is fine, temp is fine, was feeding blood worms, but, I never saw him eat. Now I read about the turkey baster and maybe that’s where I went wrong???

    1. Do you have tap water/city water?..If so it needs to be dechlorinated by using water conditioner in order for it to be safe for any aquatic life form!

  5. concerned frog mom says:

    my ADF currently lives in a small tank with no filter. he’s been doing okay and i clean the tank when needed but i know he deserves a bigger better tank. the only problem is i don’t have the money or space for one. if anyone has any advice i would appreciate it.

    1. Hello, Concerned frog? Momma➖I would gladly donate a tank to you & you say you don’t have much room? Although, I’m pretty sure you cud fit my tank in. Get a bit crafty_& you’ll find a spot. Also did you say you only have11 ADF?… Ifsd recommend at least adding 1 more asap.

  6. Hello, Concerned frog? Momma➖I would gladly donate a tank to you & you say you don’t have much room? Although, I’m pretty sure you cud fit my tank in. Get a bit crafty_& you’ll find a spot. Also did you say you only have11 ADF?… Ifsd recommend at least adding 1 more asap.

  7. I have 2 ADF and one is super healthy looking while the other one looks malnurished and his toes have no webbing and are curling up.I feed him seperatly. The other frog seems to bully .He misses almost everything he tries to eat.

  8. FrogLover says:

    i got two frogs on Saturday for my birthday, one of my frogs had a red leg and doesn’t use it but the other frog is fine, should i move the hurt frog to a shallower tank (the tank its about 10 gallons and has a filter, heater, and bubble machine) also the hurt frog got stuck in the filter the day i got them so i think he hurt his leg but i don’t really know anything about frogs i just got them. i used conditioner when i cleaned the tank so that’s not the problem i dont think please help i dont know what to do and i dont want my baby to die

    1. My ADF loves being in the Tetra Filter I have. I call the one that goes in the filter Trouble. He knows how to get in and out and catches the food that goes in the filter, I took the the filter replacement out of the filter and shine a flashlight on him and he was on his hind legs eating. So he comes and goes.

      1. Hi Glenda! Trouble sounds interesting!

  9. Hello, I have a ‘crew’ of DAF’s, but one is blown up like a balloon, and another one is so fat he can barely move.
    How do I fix this?

  10. About a month ago I purchased a small AFD which has grown (maybe 50% larger) and acts and looks very healthy . Since I read that ADFs are social creatures, I purchased a friend for him but when I introduced the newbie the first frog started to nudge and nip at the new guy. I watched and thought it may be like some kind of ‘pecking order’ exhibited by other animals and it would ‘sort it self out’ in a bit. But then my first frog attacked the newbie, grabbing him around the middle and it looked like he was violently shaking. Luckily, I had someone nearby that was able to help me get the newbie out of the tank quickly. I now have them in separate tanks with the thought of letting the little one grow closer to the size of his potential tank mate. What did I do wrong? I read that AFDs are docile and get along well with others. Is there a special procedure to get these guys together? I am new to ADFs and any help will be appreciated.

    1. Hi Mary! I’m sorry to hear that. African Dwarf Frogs are generally docile but often fight each other for dominance and territory. Plus, your ADFs are more likely to compete since they’re both males. So, I’d advise that you keep them in separate enclosures to ensure their health and safety

  11. I believe that you need to make sure that you have 2 females with each male or the male will run a single female ragged. I wouldn’t put 2 males together

  12. How do you know male from female frog

    1. Hi Yvonne! Male frogs often have spikier skin than females, and they have thick pads on their thumbs. A telltale sign is their size – male frogs are usually smaller than females.

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