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African Dwarf Frog Care Sheet

Hymenochirus curtipes
Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.
African dwarf frog care sheet

African dwarf frogs originated in the rivers and streams of central Africa. These fully aquatic amphibians live their entire life in the water. African dwarf frogs can be kept with docile community fish. They should not be housed with aggressive fish whom they will not compete well with. Their colors can range from olive green to brownish-green.

Typical African dwarf frog appearance and behavior

  • Brown, mottled, rough-looking skin
  • Back feet have three "claws"
  • Spends most of the day on the bottom of the aquarium but swims to the surface to breathe air


Care Difficulty Intermediate
Average Life Span Up to 5 years with proper care
Average Adult Size 1¼-2 inches long
Diet Omnivore
Minimum Habitat Size 10+ gallons
Water Temperature 72-82°F


Habitat size

It is best to provide the largest habitat possible for your pet. African dwarf frogs should have a habitat size of 10 gallons or larger

Building your habitat

Keep in an appropriately sized aquarium with a secure lid to prevent escape and plenty of hiding places such as logs, stone caves or other decorations made for aquariums.

  • Substrate - Ensure that gravel substrate on the bottom of the aquarium is too large for frogs to eat 
  • Décor - Plants can be placed near the surface to allow frogs to rest when rising to take a breath. Aquarium decorations such as caves, logs and other items should be included as hiding places
  • Water quality - Stable water quality and parameters to include pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and water temperature are critical to the health of aquatic life. If you are unsure of your water quality, bring a sample to Petco for free testing

Cleaning your African dwarf frog’s habitat

  • Daily - Check filter, water temperature and other equipment. Remove uneaten food
  • Weekly - Test water quality at least once a week
  • Monthly - Change 10-25% of the total volume of water every 2-4 weeks, or as needed. Replace filter media as applicable


What to feed your African dwarf frog

A well-balanced diet for an African dwarf frog consists of:

  • Sinking, carnivorous freshwater fish food pellets or pellets specifically formulated and sized for African dwarf frogs
  • Target-feed thawed frozen bloodworms, blackworms, tubifex worms and brine shrimp

Things to remember when feeding your African dwarf frog:

  • Feed once a day
  • Thaw frozen food and rinse it in freshwater before feeding
  • Allow frogs to eat as much as they are able to for 1-2 minutes, and then remove any uneaten food

African dwarf frog care

  • Introduce new inhabitants to the aquarium gradually
  • Use of copper-based medications is toxic to dwarf frogs
  • Avoid overcrowded conditions as it can lead to stress and onset of disease. As a general rule, no more than 1 inch of adult freshwater fish per gallon of water. Also avoid having too many bottom feeders where your African dwarf frog spends a majority of its time. Maintain good water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration

Where to buy an African dwarf frog

African dwarf frogs can be purchased at your local Petco. Call ahead for availability. 


African dwarf frog aquarium mates

  • Can be kept with docile fish who will not attempt to eat them such as community tetras or loaches. 
  • Can be kept with other African dwarf frogs of both sexes, as they are social and can be housed with two or more of the same species


Signs of a healthy African dwarf frog

  • Swims actively
  • Hides often
  • Eats vigorously
  • Clear eyes 
  • Remains in the bottom half of the aquarium when not surfacing to breathe

Red flags

  • Loss of appetite
  • Hazy or cloudy eyes
  • Does not swim away from capture
  • Bloating
  • Weight loss
  • Signs of disease
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Common African dwarf frog health issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health Issue Bacterial infection Symptoms or Causes Cloudy eyes; open sores, and/or reddening of the skin. Suggested Action Improve water quality and consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health Issue Fungal infection Symptoms or Causes White cottony growth and/or discoloration of the eyes. Suggested Action Quarantine frog immediately; improve water quality and consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.


  • What do African dwarf frogs eat? African dwarf frogs should be provided sinking, carnivorous freshwater fish food pellets or pellets specifically formulated and sized for African dwarf frogs. They can also be target-fed thawed, frozen bloodworms, blackworms or brine shrimp as well as freeze-dried tubifex worms.
  • How do I feed an African dwarf frog? Feed your African dwarf frog once per day according to package instructions. If feeding frozen food, be sure to thaw and rinse food in freshwater before target feeding. Allow your frog to eat as much as possible within 1-2 minutes and remove any uneaten food.
  • How often should I feed African dwarf frogs? African dwarf frogs should be fed once per day and allowed to eat as much as they desire within 1-2 minutes.
  • How long do African dwarf frogs live? On average, African dwarf frogs live 2-5 years with proper care.
  • Do African dwarf frogs need land? No, they do not. Like other frogs, African dwarf frogs are amphibians, but unlike most amphibians, they spend their entire lives in water. They do not have gills and must come to the surface to breathe but spend most of their time underwater.
  • How long can African dwarf frogs hold their breath? African dwarf frogs can hold their breath for up to 15 minutes underwater but then must come to the surface to take a breath before submerging themselves again.
  • How do I care for African dwarf frogs? African dwarf frogs spend their entire lives in water and require specific water quality and temperature. Review Petco’s African Dwarf Frog Care Sheet or contact a knowledgeable Petco Care Center employee for specifics.
  • Where can I buy African dwarf frogs? African dwarf frogs can be purchased at your local Petco. Contact your local store to check availability. 

Additional care sheets

Notes and sources

Ask a Pet Care Center employee about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as mycobacteria and salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life and/or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of diseases.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing and/or caring for aquatic life and should consider having a pet other than aquatic life.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at for more information about aquatic life and disease.

Note: The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, contact your veterinarian.