African Dwarf Frog

african dwarf frog swimming

As the name suggests, these dwarf frogs are quite small, just around 1.5 inches in length. The females, as is often the case with frogs, can grow a bit larger, almost by half an inch. Native to Sub-Saharan Africa, the African Dwarf Frog (Hymenochiru) also goes by the name of Aquatic Dwarf Frog. And thatís because they live almost entirely underwater, though they are air breathers as well and do emerge from the water from time to time.

Thereís nothing visually spectacular about African Dwarf frogs. Certainly not in their body coloration. The exception is their weird floating habit when in the water called the ďZen position.Ē With arms and legs outstretched and one foot balancing, itís as if these frogs are meditating on some sublime aspect of amphibious life. Or just reminiscing their previous life as a prince. Technically, this habit is called ďburbling.Ē Whatever that means, Dwarf Frogs make for interesting addition to your amphibious pet collection at home. They spice up the variety of species one can put in any tank aquarium. As social creatures they can be tank mates to some marine animals. Here are a few notes on taking care of the African dwarf frog.


For aquatic creatures, the general rule is to have a gallon of water per frog to give it breathing space, so to speak. That goes for the social African Dwarf Frog as well. They are freshwater creatures, so use plain and clean unchlorinated mineral water. Otherwise, use anti-chlorine tablets on tap water or just let it stay for 48 hours so the chlorine evaporates before putting in the frogs. Two other things to remember: use a shallow 2-3ft fish tank. Dwarf frogs are not known to be great swimmers and anything deeper can be a challenge for these frogs to surface for air now and then. And the other thing is to cover the fish tank. You donít want any of the frogs to leap out of the fish tank.

Check out the African Dwarf Frog Habitat page for more on how to set up and maintain the perfect habitat for your African Dwarf Frog.


African dwarf frogs are docile enough to mix well with freshwater fish like the goldfish, small catfish, guppies, beta fish, tetras, swordtails and platies. Small crustaceans like the cherry shrimp and the Singapore Flower shrimp can go into the mix. That last thing you want is to have predators in the community.

Temperature and Day/Night Simulation

king leonard the african dwarf frog

Dwarf frogs are sub-tropical. So keep the water above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, 75 would be just great. Otherwise, during the wintry months, you definitely will need some form of water heating.

It would be a good idea to simulate day and night ambiance by having some artificial lighting turned on for 8-12 hours and then turned off after. Bear in mind that African dwarf frogs are nocturnal and get to be active swimmers at night. Your room lighting may be good enough, but nothing beats having their own lighting system. Otherwise, they can lose much of their natural instinctive routines and make life quite stressful. And stress in animals is known to make them susceptible to diseases and death.


Dwarf frogs love to hide behind marine foliage. So itís a good idea to have aquatic plants in their tank habitat. Theyíd look nice on your aquarium besides. Any water plant species will do as these frogs are not known to be destructive to any plant life. If you have to use artificial plants, soft silk-based fake plants have to be your choice. Anything harder, like the more common plastic plants, can scratch and injure their delicate bodies.


African Dwarf frogs donít particularly have good eye sight beyond a few centimeters. They hunt by smell with their sharp olfactory senses and by touch. In the wilds, they relish small water-borne insects, mosquito larvae, small fish and worms. In captivity, they need to be fed only once every couple of days. And they eat only from the tank floor. They are not picky though and wonít mind ingesting freeze dried or sun dried foods. Use small plates for their food. These frogs easily learn to dive to these plates come feeding time. Itís cleaner that way.

Frozen bloodworms make a good diet. So do frozen brine shrimps. Not to worry, all these stuff can be had from any pet shop selling a variety of aquarium fish and their feeds.


The mating habits of the dwarf frog are a sight to behold. With the tinier male clasping the larger femaleís midsection in a mating ritual called amplecting, the pair will do some acrobatic loops in tank until the eggs are fertilized. The eggs the female lays need to be separated from the tank onto an aerated fish tank kept at 74 degrees Fahrenheit. The problem is that the other frogs can easily mistake the eggs as fodder and eat them like one. The tadpoles in the other tank need to be fed with powdery feeds available from pet shops. When they mature enough, make sure they get some real meat as these froglettes are carnivores.

Is it dead?

african dwarf frog shadow

These frogs have been known to lie still in the water. And the African dwarf frogs, as mentioned earlier, have a penchant to float motionless on water. Unless there is some obvious body bloating and the frog remains motionless for hours on end, then itís just having one lazy moment floating on a Zen position. African dwarf frogs have been known to live for as many as 18 years.

Now that should be pretty much an introduction on how to care for these frogs. No more difficult than caring for your goldfish. Is it rewarding? For frog lovers, it is.