African Dwarf Frog Care In The Aquarium
African Dwarf Frogs are one of those pets that you either love or hate, they have no spectacular markings but do have a certain appeal that many keepers find irresistible. They have their own unique personalities and can often be seen swimming in strange ways or even just floating motionless in the water.
The African Dwarf Frogs originate from Africa where they occupy the ponds and lakes from the Southern areas, they also have to survive two main seasons through the year, the wet season where their homes are well filled but they also have to survive the dry seasons where the water levels drop dramatically.
They have earned their name dwarf frogs as the males will only reach up to 1.5 inches in length with the females being slightly larger. They are also quite long lived as each specimen can live will into double figures, there are some records of these frogs surviving for nearly 20 years.
Most specimens nowadays tend to be captive bred but sadly they are often sold without a lot of care information given to their new keepers so hopefully this article will be able to give you a good insight into the world of these marvellous creatures.
Setting up your African Dwarf Frog Tank
The process of setting up the tank for the frogs is quite simple and they do not require anything out of the ordinary but there are a couple of basic rules that must be observed. Deeper tanks are not ideal for the frogs, they may struggle to swim in these and they do rise occasionally to the surface for a gulp of air so having a deeper tank does make this more difficult for them. They also need their own space, for every frog that you add to the tank allow at least 1 gallon of water, this may not sound a lot but they are fine with this rule, obviously the more space that you allow them the better it is for the frog. Dependant on whereabouts you live in the world, they can cope without the water being heated by a submersible heater, cooler climates will require heating so the temperature range you should be aiming for is between 21-24 deg C (70-75 deg F) and a small internal filter should cope with any waste produced, this is also dependant on the size of the tank used. Most keepers house their frogs in tank of approximately 20 gallons, this is a nice small tank to keep clean and keep the water quality high.
Selecting the substrate for the tank is a matter of personal choice, if you are not concerned about the aesthetics of the tank, bare bottom makes cleaning easy, smooth gravel or sand can be used but you will need to use a gravel vacuum or a syphon tube on a regular basis to remove any detritus. Using the 3mm gravel seems to work the best, it is too large for them to swallow with their food but not large enough for them to get trapped in the substrate and damage their delicate limbs or even drown in the worst scenario.
African Dwarf Frogs like their surroundings to be as natural as possible plus they also prefer to have hiding places if required. Adding lots of plants to the tank is the ideal solution, preferably live plants as these will also help to keep the tank balanced as well by consuming nitrates and phosphates. Try to add species of plants that have broader leaves as these can be used as perches by the frogs and also provide the required cover at the same time. For extra cover anything that is aquarium safe can be used as long as the access points are large enough for the frogs to use them as caves, aquarium decorations, small plant pots or even rocks can be used. If using rocks make sure that they are stable, if they topple they will injure the delicate frogs, all aquarium décor should have smooth edges as the frogs can cut easily so preventing the problems in the first place will save a lot of hassle at a later date. The water flow should be low, if your filter has an adjustable outlet valve, turn this down as low as possible and keep the lighting levels medium, preferably set these on a timer so that they replicate natural daylight hours and switch off at night.
Make sure that there is a tight fitting lid on the tank, these frogs can jump when they want to so sealing that exit will prevent them from escaping from the tank.
Feeding your African Dwarf Frogs
When feeding your Dwarf frogs try and get into the habit of placing the food on small plates in the tank, the frogs will soon recognise their feeding sites and home onto these plates at feeding time, this makes it easier for the frogs to find the food and also prevents food getting trapped in the substrate thus making the tank maintenance a lot easier. Only feed the frogs every other day and they will require meaty foods in their diet. These are readily available in the pet stores, frozen bloodworm or frozen brine shrimp that have been de-frosted are ideal as are the commercial foods prepared for frogs such as Reptamin. Finely chopped earthworms make for a free snack but ensure that the worms are cleansed properly by storing them in newspaper for 24 hours prior to the feeding.
Only feed as much as they can eat at each session, it is very easy to overfeed but this will simply foul the water as the uneaten food starts to decay.
Breeding your African Dwarf Frogs
Knowing how to sex the African Dwarf Frog is quire a simple matter, the males tend to be smaller than the females with a slimmer body shape. If you look closely just behind their armpits you will also see a gland on the males, this is known as the Post Axillary Subdermal Gland and is small but you can see it with the naked eye. Females also possess a bump between their legs for passing of the eggs and emitting their waste.
The males are capable of emitting a buzzing sound when attracting the females and during this time he may also perform a dance by arching his back and kicking out with his legs. When the female is ready to breed, the male will latch onto her from behind and the pair will rise to the water surface where the eggs will be laid. The spawning time can vary from a few minutes to hours but during the process the female will keep taking breaks, dropping to the bottom of the tank with the male still attached. Once spawning is complete, the pair will separate and carry on with their normal routine.
Raising the tadpoles can be a bit tricky, the eggs need to be placed into a separate tank and the temperature set to the higher end of the scale. They also need alkalinic water and when performing any kind of water change is must be done very slowly as any swings can be lethal to the tadpoles.
The tadpoles are very small when they hatch and cannot accept any larger particles of food, use a liquid feed that is provided for fish fry and as they grow slightly wean them onto newly hatched brine shrimp.
As with all tadpoles, when they start to develop they can become carnivorous and predate on their smaller relatives, be prepared to size the young so that similar sized tadpoles are always kept together!
If you have any questions about African Dwarf Frogs or would simply like to leave a comment then please use the comment box provided below this article!