African Dwarf Frog Tank Mates, Care, Food & Guide

If you really want to add something unique and special to your aquarium, how about introducing an African Dwarf Frog with tank mates to your tank setup?

African Dwarf Frogs are perfect for a community tank. This small species is peaceful in nature.

Since they are nocturnal animals, they can only be found during the moonlit hours when they show some very peculiar behaviors. They have just one big flaw.

In this blog post, you will learn from the personal experience that I have gained in my fishkeeping career which you should know to successfully care for African dwarf frogs and African dwarf frog tank mates.

Level of Care:Intermediate
Temperament:Very Peaceful
Color Form:Olive-green to Green/Brown
Lifespan:5 Years
Size:3 Inches
Minimum Size of Tank:10 Gallons
Tank Set-Up:Fully Aquatic
Compatibility:Tropical Freshwater Communities
African Dwarf Frog Fact Sheet

Overview of African Dwarf Frog

The species African Dwarf Frogs belong to the Pipidae family, in the Hymenochirus genus. There are a total 4 species that have the common name African Dwarf Frog: (1) Hymenochirus feae, (2) Hymenochirus boulengeri, (3) Hymenochirus boettgeri, and (4) Hymenochirus curtipes.

Each of the four frogs looks very identical and they don’t have a lot of distinguishing features. Their native locations are the main difference between these 4 frog species.

  • Finally, Hymenochirus feae is only endemic to Gabon.
  • Hymenochirus boulengeri is treated as endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North-East region.
  • Hymenochirus boettgeri is commonly found in Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, and Gabon.
  • In the Republic of the Congo, Hymenochirus curtipes is found.

They are fully aquatic amphibians, small in size, that only weigh a few ounces each, and reach a maximum size of 3 inches.

It is normal for them to be confused for the African Clawed Frog. Their appearance is mostly similar. However, the size of the Clawed Frog is bigger and they are more aggressive.

When buying your first frog keep this in mind. Always do your own research before purchasing them to know what you are actually buying rather than relying on labels that could be incorrect.

Typical Behavior

To your aquarium, the African Dwarf Frogs are the most entertaining additions. Since they are nocturnal animals, when the sun goes down they will be most active. Being a complete aquatic frog, they will spend the majority of their total time in the water swimming. They occasionally rise to the surface in order to take a breath.

If the African Dwarf Frogs spend a lot of time out of the water then they will get dehydrated and die after only 20-25 minutes.

Unlike fish they don’t have gills, alternatively, they have highly developed lungs. They are able to swim very fast to the surface for oxygen, and after that dart straight back down a moment later.

Another peculiar and funny behavior is known as the ‘zen position’ and is very common with these types of frogs. If you observe closely then you might notice your dwarf frogs floating at the surface of the tank with no movement, with their arms and legs stretched out. Usually, this behavior is normal, even though the frogs sometimes seem dead!

You might also hear the frogs singing in peculiar voices. A female is attracted to an adult male by making an unusual buzzing sound.


African dwarf frog tank mates
Image: Jordantea (Flickr)

The color of African Dwarf Frogs is brownish to olive green. Though all the African Dwarf Frogs tend to vary in color, they all have one common thing distinctive black spots on their bodies.

Being small amphibians, these frogs weigh only a few ounces each and grow not more than 3 inches.

Frogs belonging to the Pipidae family have some common characteristics, such as no teeth and no tongues. It means that they all have webbed feet. Their webbed feet are used in order to help them move around, but also to typically feed themselves.

Also, these frogs have a buccal cavity that will draw in water. It lets the frogs eat by sucking water into the mouth.

African dwarf frogs have no ears. So how do these frogs know about their surroundings? This species has peculiar sensory lateral lines along its body. These sensory lateral lines sense vibrations and movement.

Slight differences can be seen in the case of Males and females. Generally, the females are a little bit bigger in size with a more distinct genital region, which is known as the ovipositor. On the other hand, Males have a tiny visible gland behind both front legs.

This gland’s exact function is not well understood to date, but the general assumption is that it has something to do with the mating process.

Tank Requirements and Habitat

African Dwarf Frogs are found in tropical African forests, within the freshwaters of Cameroon, Nigeria, and Gabon, all the way to the famous Congo River Basin.

In this region, the environment is rather warm and humid. It is very important to have light; these frogs are nocturnal animals. They are used to a 10 to 12-hour cycle of darkness and light.

To survive, these frogs require a very humid environment or water.

As with all kinds of fish, before purchasing the frog, it is important to set up your tank and create the right environment for their survival.

African Dwarf Frog Tank Set-Up

Ensure that the environment for your frog above the water is high in humidity. Because if your frog leaps out of the tank water then they will not get dehydrated.

As discussed above, light is highly essential. These kinds of frogs are used to normal periods of dark and light, so set up the tank’s lights on a timer with a view to making sure the lights are on a 10 to 12-hour cycle.

Unlike other amphibians or reptiles, these frogs don’t require fancy lighting; you can just purchase and use a normal LED aquarium light.

Their skin is very sensitive to chemicals. You should purchase a good water test kit and filter to ensure to always have the perfect water quality. Perform checks on the tank water on a regular basis when you change your 20% weekly water. The following are the ideal water parameters for your aquarium:

  • pH: 6.5-7.8
  • Temperature: 72-78°F
  • kH: 4-15
  • gH: 5-20

You can use either gravel or sand for substrate. If you are going to purchase gravel for your tank, confirm that the grains are big enough for your frog to not swallow the gravel.

Any strong water movement shouldn’t be there. African dwarf frogs don’t like speedy water flows as occasionally they prefer to be motionless in the water.

Generally, frogs breathe normal air, however, you might want to consider purchasing an air stone or air pump to keep the quality of the water optimal and useless anaerobic bacteria away from the tank.

These frogs are highly sensitive to vibrations and noise so if you want to use a pump, you can isolate the pump from your tank glass to avoid the problem of noise and vibration. That is why you might also want to add a layer of insulation, like a piece of carpet or Styrofoam, between the stand and the tank.

These African Frogs also like live plants. You can either put floating plants in, such as Java Fern, Hornwort, or Temple Compacta.

If you are purchasing rooted plants, ensure that you nicely cover the roots of the plants as there is a chance that your dwarf frog may dig them out.

Lastly, you should have to add a lot of hiding rooms around your tank. These species are usually preyed upon and they will feel much safer with spaces in order to hide away. You can create hiding rooms using pieces of driftwood, rocks, and plants.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

For African Dwarf Frogs, usually, a lot of people begin with a 10-gallon tank. However, it is too big to host a small community of 3-4 frogs. Alternatively, you can also use a 20-gallon aquarium. But while purchasing a 20-gallon tank, ensure that the tank’s water is not too deep so the frogs can swim easily up for air without suffocation.

You must provide two gallons of water per individual frog.

African Dwarf Frog Tank Mates

This species is good for communal tropical freshwater aquariums. If you keep your tank’s water conditions ideal and your fish and frogs well-fed, then you will face no problems.

These frogs should be kept in similar communities. They are very peaceful creatures.

The perfect tank mates of these frogs include peaceful small fish such as livebearers (Platies, Guppies, and Mollies), as well as Danios, Corydoras, schooling Tetras like Rummy Nose Tetra, Neon Tetra, the Serpae Tetra.

Apart from this, if you are in search of other companions, the Bamboo shrimp, Cherry, and Ghost, along with snail species, can be a good option too.

Add snails and shrimps with caution, because there is a chance that they may be viewed as food.

As long as your fish are not small enough to fit in the mouth of your frog and they are peaceful, they will make nice tank companions.

Always avoid aggressive large fish such as Cichlids. Large aggressive fish will always stress your frogs out and likely prey on them for sure.

Are The African Dwarf Frogs Compatible With Bettas?

The answer is simple, yes, but with caution. You can place these two together. This comes down to the temperament of your Betta’s individual aspect. Some Bettas will not bother a frog, whereas others are really aggressive.

If your Betta fish is aggressive, it might bully your dwarf frog and eventually kill your frog. Therefore, if you finally decide to add both betta and frog to a tank, observe them carefully to ensure they are compatible.

Keeping Them Together

These frogs prefer to live in a small community. They are known as social and it’s recommended to keep your frogs in small groups of at least 2 or 3 per aquarium/tank.

African Dwarf Frog Feeding and Diet

Although the African Dwarf Frogs are assumed as omnivore species, a meaty diet is preferred by them. In order to make sure your dwarfs receive all the nutrients required for a healthy frog, try to keep a varied diet.

There are a lot of pre-prepared pellet-based foods available which must form the basis of your frog’s diet.

Again, you can provide your dwarf frog a variety of treats many times a week, which includes brine shrimps, earthworms, bloodworms, fish fry, mosquito larvae, and krill. Also, you can feed them beef hearts as an extra tasty treat. However, as it is very fatty only offer this once a month.

A maximum of the above-mentioned foods can be found either live or frozen. It is up to your own choice as to whether you feed them frozen or live food.

While these frogs are in a young stage, feed them once a day. However, as they mature, you should feed them in a smaller amount.

When they become adults, you should feed your frogs once every two days. Give them small-sized bites and only feed your dwarf frogs what they can easily consume in 15 minutes.

Never overfeed your frogs as it will lead to poor water quality and obesity which leads to stressed fish. It will also harm other African dwarf frog tank mates. Never leave unconsumed food in their tank. Remove whatever the frogs haven’t eaten after 25 minutes.

If the frog is not eating well wasting their food and being fussy, you should use tweezers to feed them directly by opening their mouth. If possible squeeze the food almost on their faces so they can easily notice it and consume it.

African Dwarf Frog Care

These types of frogs are delicate animals and highly sensitive.

As this species is an amphibian, these frogs might be a danger to their owners. Even though these creatures are not venomous, however, these amphibians might carry a high amount of bacteria, especially in their feces or on their skin.

Salmonella is quite problematic for humans and is the most common bacteria discovered. Instead of touching your frog, use an aquarium net. Always wash your hands and use gloves before and after handling your frog if you really need to handle your dwarf frog.

Try to avoid placing anything sharp such as decorations or gravel in the tank as these species are rather sensitive. Apart from this, protect in and outlets so your frog won’t get stuck.

Dropsy is one of the most common diseases. Usually, this situation is the ultimate result of a mix of various conditions and is deadly. The dwarf frogs will begin to bloat showing indications of distress. Unfortunately, this condition can be caused by so many different reasons, from bacterial infections to parasites.

Based upon the root cause, sometimes it’s contagious and sometimes it’s treatable. If you have any doubt or suspect dropsy don’t hesitate to check with a vet who specializes in amphibians.

Other issues that you might face in the case of African dwarf frogs and their tank mates are bacterial or fungal infections. These types of fungal infections appear as fuzzy patches on the skin of your frogs.

There is also a nasty fungus which is known as Chytridiomycosis. This is contagious. If your frog is infected then it should be isolated immediately.

Bacterial infections can cause various problems. Lethargy, loss of appetite, red skin, or eyes are all indications of distress. Typically antibiotics can show their magic. Don’t forget to double-check if the antibiotics you are going to use are amphibians safe.

If you maintain the right environment and optimal water quality with a good feeding schedule, your frogs will surely not have a lot of issues.

African Dwarf Frog Facts

  • African dwarf frogs are fully aquatic amphibians. They spend the majority of their time underwater. However, to breathe they have to come to the surface.
  • They are social animals. They give company to one another and they enjoy it.
  • Frogs can carry quite serious nasty diseases. Therefore always make sure to avoid contamination. Wash your hands with soap or other disinfectant every time after touch your frog.
  • There is no need to feed the frogs every day.
  • African dwarf frogs are not great swimmers. Hence you have to maintain the flow of water low.
  • There is a higher probability you might witness some funny behaviors such as ‘zen position’.


What Is The Lifespan of African Dwarf Frogs?

The lifespan of African Dwarf Frogs is quite short, living up to 5 years.

How Much Does The African Dwarf Frog Cost?

They can be easily found in pet shops and online stores. African Dwarf Frogs are available in different colors and sizes from about $1.50 to $5.00.

Is it OK to have one African dwarf frog?

The tiny aquariums typically sold in shops that cater to African Dwarf Frogs aren’t sufficient. African Dwarf Frogs shouldn’t be kept alone because they’re social creatures and each frog requires four to eight liters of space inside the aquarium (so the minimum size for an aquarium is between 8-16 L with two Frogs).

Are African dwarf frogs simple to keep?

Frogs are known to have an extended lifespan and are relatively simple to take care of. You can expect about five years of enjoyment from your pet when you have the right habitat and food. In addition, African Dwarf Frogs are simple to care for, they also provide a non-allergenic pet that lives in a confined aquarium that is small in size.

Does my African dwarf frog need land?

African dwarf frogs live all their lives underwater. They cannot survive on dry land for more than 15 minutes.

Do African dwarf frogs hug?

A lot of people express concern about their frogs when they observe them hugging one with no movement for a period of up to an entire day and a half. This is an expected behavior for frogs, and it indicates it is a sign that they’re mating.

Summary: Is The African Dwarf Frogs Suitable For Your Aquarium?

These frogs are very common and easy to keep and maintain. Being small amphibians their nature is very peaceful.

Provide them with the best possible environment (with the right water parameters, substrate, and tank) and you will 100% succeed at maintaining and keeping the frogs along with African Dwarf Frog tank mates healthy and nice.

You don’t even have to feed your frogs every day, so feeding is not a big issue. They eat pretty much the exact food your fish eat.

So what’s next?


Dibyajyoti Bordoloi is the creator and author of, a third-generation experienced fish keeper and owner of a successful pet breeding farm. He is also a member of the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation And Conservation (Assam), the Marine Aquarium Societies of North East India, and the Kaziranga Nature Conservancy of Assam.