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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Care Guides > African Dwarf Frog Setup Steps

African Dwarf Frog (Hymenochirus curtipes)

Experience Level: Beginner

African Dwarf Frog Swimming

Aquatic Frogs

Did you know? These are fully aquatic frogs that cannot survive permanently out of water, and do not require land areas in the aquarium. They use their lungs to breathe air at the water’s surface. African Dwarf Frogs are peaceful; however they may eat very small fish if hungry.

Step 1Choosing an Aquarium

(A) African Dwarf Frogs can do well in a small aquarium (5 gallons or larger), but if housing a large number of frogs or housing them with tropical community fish, then a bigger aquarium is needed.

Aquarium Stand
(B) An appropriate aquarium stand will safely support the weight of your filled aquarium.
• Aquariums weigh as much as 10 lbs. per gallon capacity and require strong stands.
• Locate your aquarium in a low-traffic area, away from direct sunlight and drafts.

Hood and Light Fixture
(C) Place an aquarium hood with light fixtures on the aquarium to reduce water evaporation, splashing, and escape. A screen terrarium lid can also be used with African Dwarf Frogs.
• The light should be on for 8-12 hours a day. Turn it on during the morning feeding, and off after the evening feeding, or use an automatic timer.

Step 2Filtration and Heating

Filtration (mechanical and biological)
(D) Undergravel filters or power filters will provide aeration and filtration for the aquarium. Consult filter package for appropriate filter size.
• The filter should move the water in the aquarium through the filter media 3-5 times per hour. The flow should be gentle enough to not blow the frogs around in the aquarium.

• Add beneficial bacteria supplements to your aquarium to promote biological waste break down during initial setup.
Water Heater and thermometer
(E) Use an aquarium heater to maintain the water temperature. The general rule for aquarium heaters is five watts of power for each gallon of aquarium water.
• African Dwarf Frogs require water temperatures ranging between 68-78o F (20-26° C).

Step 3Substrate and Decor

Aquarium Gravel
(F) Use 1.5 lbs. (680 g) of aquarium gravel for every gallon (4 L) of tank capacity to make a 2-3" (5-8 cm) layer on the bottom of the aquarium. Rinse the gravel in a clean container before adding it to the aquarium. 
• Do not use soaps or detergents to clean the aquarium or decor as they may be toxic.

(G) Decorate the aquarium with live or artificial plants. African Dwarf Frogs will sit among the leaves of the plants and rest underwater.

Ornaments and Rock Work
(H) Use ornaments and rocks that are designed for aquariums to provide underwater resting places for the frogs.


Do not release African Dwarf Frogs or any other pet into the wild. They likely will not survive, but they may transmit diseases to the wild animals or otherwise be harmful to the environment.



African Dwarf Frog Habitat

Water Quality Testing
PetSmart offers free aquarium water testing. By bringing in a sample of your aquarium water, we can test the quality within minutes. See the guide on Setting Up an Aquarium for more information about aquarium water quality and water testing.

Things to Watch For
• Thinness or decreased appetite

• Swollen joints

• Excessive shedding of the skin

• Inflamed or discolored skin

• Abdominal swelling
If you notice any of the signs described above, speak with a PetSmart store associate or a veterinarian about the health of your pet.

PetSmart Cares
Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet AssuredTM program; a program designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well-being of our pets. The program includes:
• Specific standards our vendors agree to meet in caring for and observing pets for common illnesses.

• Specific standards for in-store pet care.

• The PetSmart Promise: If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.