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FAQs About African Dwarf Frogs, Nutritional Disease  

FAQs on African Dwarf Frog Disease: ADF Health/Disease 1, ADF Health 2, ADF Health 3, ADF Health 4,
FAQs on African Dwarf Frog Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Social, Trauma, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic, Treatments,

Related Articles: Keeping African Clawed Frogs and African Dwarf Frogs by Neale Monks, African Dwarf Frogs, Amphibians, Turtles

Related FAQs: Dwarf African Frogs 1, Dwarf African Frogs 2, ADF Identification, ADF Behavior, ADF Compatibility, ADF Selection, ADF Systems, ADF Feeding, ADF Reproduction, & FAQs on: Amphibians 1, Amphibians 2, Frogs Other Than African and Clawed, African Clawed Frogs, TurtlesAmphibian Identification, Amphibian Behavior, Amphibian Compatibility, Amphibian Selection, Amphibian Systems, Amphibian Feeding, Amphibian Disease, Amphibian Reproduction,

Aren't wild about dried foods. Sure, they'll eat them eventually, but not with much enthusiasm, and in the case of small animals like African Dwarf Frogs the damage through starvation may well be done by then. Almost without exception, new reptiles and amphibians (and oddball fish) do best given live or "wet" frozen foods first. Once eating, wean them onto dry alternatives.

Need help with African dwarf frog     10/8/15
Hello, about a month ago I got two adfs in a tank with a Betta, Pleco, 8 neon tetras, and two algae eaters. One adf died on day 2 and the second is still alive. Its a 75 gallon tank at 80 degrees.
I never see the frog eat or breath and I'm worried about it.
<Understandable. ADFs aren't aggressive feeders. They compete poorly with bottom-dwellers in particular. I wouldn't keep them with catfish or loaches of any kind, including "algae eaters" whatever those might be. Instead, keep them with midwater feeders, so any frozen bloodworms that hit the ground are eaten by them and them alone. Also bear in mind ADFs prefer to feed when the lights are out, but not necessarily in the dark. So maybe feed them when the room lights are on but before you turn on the aquarium lights, and likewise in the evening before you turn the room lights out but the aquarium lights are switched off. Make sense? Vary the diet beyond bloodworms of course, with prepared ADF foods available, and a useful supplement alongside frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, etc. They don't eat flake, so don't keep them expecting that to work out.>
Mostly it hides in a fake live rock and stays underwater for hours without breathing. I'm fairly sure it's staying underwater all day, because I only see it moving around late at night.
<See above.>
I have never seen it eat anything, even when I hold brine shrimp right in front of it.
<Quite so.>
The tank has several live plants and some snails, could it be eating this?
After reading your blog I realize my tank may be too deep, but at night he seems too swim around easily, going to the surface with ease. Thanks for any help you can provide.
I've attached pics as well.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

feeding Dwarf African Frogs    8/24/12
I have a dwarf African frog (obviously) and not in the best environment. 
my 25g is medium planted with plenty of hiding places, but he shares the tank with Amano, cherry, and ghost shrimp, 3 dwarf Mexican Crays, countless red Ramshorn snails (getting fewer with the puffer), and a dwarf puffer.
<May bite the Hymenochirus>
that being said I feed the tank live blackworms (2-3x week), API Bottom Feeder pellets (a few each day), and frozen bloodworms or brine shrimp (alternate about every other day - but never on same day as blackworms). 
The frog eats the frozen occasionally but always eats the blackworms readily, even seems to hunt them.  question is, is the frog fine with eating "almost" exclusive blackworms?
<Not really, no>
  I've read that they may be too fatty and fatten him up to the point its hard for him to get to the surface?
<Mmm, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dwfaffdg.htm
Bob Fenner>

African Dwarf Frog question- choking on food 10/15/11
I have two African Dwarf Frogs, one male and one female, in a 2.5 gallon tank. I know it's small, but I've heard one gallon per frog should be fine and I live in a college dorm.
<It is actually rather small. 5 gallons would be much better, and I'd urge you to upgrade. A gallon per frog may be reasonable, but there's a threshold value below which aquaria simply don't work reliably. It's to do with the way biological filtration works and how pH varies between water changes. So yes, 5 frogs in 5 gallons would be fine, but 2 frogs in 2 gallons is a risk I'd not accept.>
I originally rescued them from one of those boardwalk stores where they keep the frogs in inhumanely small containers with a piece of bamboo and some pretty gravel.
<Quite so.>
I didn't have very much money (as I'm just a poor college student) so I didn't buy them a heater until the room temperature started to drop below what is tolerable for the frogs with the changing seasons.
<I see. Again, in a very small tank heaters can cause temperatures to go up and down very quickly, simply because the wattage of the heater, which may be designed for tanks up to to 10, 15 gallons in size, "cooks" the water really quickly when there's only a couple gallons.>
It just so happens that the day I bought the heater, my room mate fed them while I was away and fed them entirely too much.
<Ah'¦ this isn't good.>
I was so angry. My male ADF cannot eat. I've found a lot of questions and answers on why a frog may or may not WANT to eat, but it appears as though my ADF physically cannot eat. He spent the past 15 minutes trying to get down a bloodworm and eventually he just gave up and spat it out entirely.
<Was probably too big or too tough. Dried foods in particular are difficult for them. Have you ever eaten jerky? Imagine that for a very small animal that doesn't really have the ability to chew at all. What Dwarf Frogs really want are tiny live foods, or failing that, tiny wet-frozen foods. Once settled, they will sometimes take suitable micro-pellet foods, but it's best not to use these all the time. Instead, balance their diet with wet or live foods. At a pinch, tiny slivers of white fish fillet or seafood might be acceptable.>
I found on one website in the case of overfeeding to have them fast for four days afterwards. It has been four days and the female frog seems to have recovered just fine but my male frog still can't eat. I'm really worried about him. I don't want him to starve to death. Is there anything I can do for him?
<Not much; this is one of those wait-and-see situations. As you probably appreciate, these animals are so tiny that trying to medicate them or manipulate them is fraught with danger. With Dwarf Frogs, the key thing is the prevent problems by covering all the bases up front. Do read:
Is it definitely because of the overfeeding or could it be the newly added heater as well?
<Unlikely the heating, and rather than overfeeding, I'd think about what size/sort of food you're offering. Daphnia for example would be better foods than bloodworms.>
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
- Kelly
<Cheers, Neale.>

ADF with mouth swelling 4/22/11
Dear crew,
I have 4 African dwarf frogs, a Betta and a mystery snail in a 10 gallon tank. They've lived together for 10 months now, with the exception of the snail that was added about a month ago after hitchhiking in on some plants I bought for another of my tanks. The tank is kept at about 77 degrees F. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrates around 5. They are fed every other day, alternately bloodworms and glassworms, sometimes daphnia, with an occasional feeding of brine shrimp. I change 10-20% once or twice a week, depending on my week. I changed about 15% three days ago. I use dechlorinated tap water, which around here is pretty hard. Yesterday, one of the frogs looked like he had something unusual on his throat, a bit of red, but he wouldn't hold still long enough for me to really see. I couldn't tell anything for sure. But today, it is quite swollen and somewhat red. It's transparent, it isn't a solid mass. The red is from blood vessels, it looks like. I've skimmed through the health articles on ADFs and haven't found anything similar.
<Indeed not. If the throat had become swollen over a period of weeks or months, then a thyroid problem might be suspected. Lack of iodine is often the problem here. It's a good idea to use proprietary pellet foods at least once a week purely to avoid problems with vitamins and minerals. Live foods are good in lots of ways, but they can be lacking in certain nutrients. In the wild frogs will eat a whole variety of prey, and that allows them to "balance out" any shortcomings with one particular prey type. However, since this problem has appeared overnight, an infection of some sort seems more likely. Male frogs do of course puff up their throats when singing, and sometimes these "stick" puffed out for a while, but usually deflate normally across a few hours. I'm not personally aware of any specific infection that would cause a frog's throat to stay puffed up, though there may well be one. A specialist frog forum may be a better place to ask about this.>
It is entirely possible when I was changing water that my 6 year old tried to hold the frogs. He wants to grow up to be the person who catches frogs at the fish store, and even though I've told him you can't touch the frogs, I've caught him sneaking into the room while I'm changing water before just to try to pet or hold the frogs. But I didn't notice this until 2 days after I changed the water. I've attached two photos of the frog, who posed quite nicely even though my camera focused on the wrong thing. He seems to be doing alright. The only behavioral change I've noticed is him sitting upright more often, rather then lying on the gravel, and spending a few extra seconds at the top, as if he's having to work a little harder to take in air. Is there anything I can do?
<Unlikely. Apart from a general antibiotic, there isn't much you can do beyond waiting and seeing what happens. Naturally, you'll want to ensure water quality and water chemistry are appropriate, and that the tank is clean and healthy.>
Update: The frog in question did die the next day.
<Too bad.>
When I plucked his dead body from out of the aquarium, the swelling around his throat was gone. I want to be sure whatever he died from is not something contagious.
<Impossible to say for sure.>
Or if there's something I need to be doing different, I want to know.
<It's very, very hard to say what happened here without an autopsy and analysis of the damaged tissue under a microscope to look for specific bacteria or fungi. Very little is known about frog health, and the accent has to be on preventative care. Review diet, and in particular, consider whether the right balance of vitamins and minerals have been offered. Check water quality. Look at the substrate and think about whether it might have damaged the frog (smooth silica sand is good, while sharp sand and gravel are bad). Review tankmates. Check that uneaten food is removed.
Essentially, go down the list of things frogs need, and make sure you're doing everything right. Do also review Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Red Leg Disease, the two most serious frog infections. There's quite a lot about them published online.>
Thanks for your time,
<You're welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

ADF odd symptoms 9/25/10
Greetings. I am inquiring about a <1 year old African Dwarf Frog (Hymenochirus boettgeri).
Tank size-10 gal.
Tank mates-3 zebra Danios + 2 x ray tetras* our new ADF just died last week* no symptoms
total hardness-75
total alkalinity-110-120
Food-3-4 Omega One goldfish pellets every 2-3 days. 2-3 Freeze dried Bloodworms 1X per week.
She has developed 2 bumps on the base of her body along with a protuberance (which used to be much smaller) as you can see in the pictures. Her behavior has changed drastically with her spending most of her time floating on the top of the water rather than exploring the bottom of the tank, playing, swimming, etc. She is eating normally. What are the bumps on her body?
What is the protuberance below the bumps?
Is the change in behavior indicative of a problem?
Thank you for your feedback,
<Hello Gwynne. I'm pretty sure the problem here is lack of food, either simple starvation or the lack of some essential nutrient or vitamin. In other words, you aren't feeding these frogs enough, and in not enough
variety, for them to stay healthy. The bumps are simply bones poking out, and this frog is really very thin. Do read here:
On the whole frogs make very bad companions for fish, and I normally recommend they are kept among their own kind or with other very slow feeders like snails and shrimps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: ADF odd symptoms 9/26/10
Upon reading your reply, I jumped out of bed and fed our poor little frog.
At each feeding she gets her food from a baster. She sees it coming into the tank and goes right for it and typically eats vigorously. I will read further about changing her diet and feeding frequency so she can be the happy healthy frog she used to be. Thank you so much for your advice.
<Glad to help. Hope the frog puts on some weight soon. Good luck! Neale.>

Help- African dwarf frog with curled toes. Nutritional deficiency likely    10/3/06 I am very impressed with your site.  I would appreciate some help if you can.  I've had my African dwarf frog for about a year.  It's fingers and toes have been slowly but severely curling. <Interesting...>   It looks as if it is holding a small ball in both hands. The back feet look as if they were holding a pencil.  The frog can still swim just fine, but it can't straighten it's fingers or toes at all anymore. <Am wondering what would cause such a "clubbing" of feet?> It lives in a 5 gallon tank with goldfish. <Oh...>   I feed it tadpole bites <...> and it also eats the fish's flake food.  Wouldn't want to have an uncomfortable frog-any ideas?   Thank you, Jennifer <Likely a nutritional deficiency at play here... need more (animal source, Tryptophan, Lysine, Threonine...) source protein, and vitamins than the foods you've supplied. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/amphibfdgfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Frog Problems 8/2/05 Hope You can help us we are trying to start a African dwarf frog tank, with no luck. we have a small 5 gallon acrylic bow front tank with a corner bubbler type canister filter, all the water conditions are fine i.e. ammonia, nitrates, ph.... it is NOT heated , the water stays around 72 degrees, the tank has been running for about a month ,MT,  we have tried twice to add frogs (4 young about 1 inch each time) but both times they all died with in a week or two. We are feeding them HBH frog and tadpole bites. We have no problems with our other 3 tanks (thanks to your GREAT help) , 55 Gallon Cichlids tank , 30 gallon GSP tank (soon to upgrade) and a 25 gallon community tank. We have read your forums and seen to have the tank set up right, Caves to hide in, Low water movement, i.e. the canister filter, broad leaf plastic plants (no live plants)  HELP why are we always committing Frogicide? Thank You, Mike < Many frogs are held at wholesalers and retail stores and never seem to get enough to eat. If would recommend that you get a few frogs and feed them Calif. black worms. Just throw them in the tank and the frogs will find them and fatten up. Once they are eating then you will be on your way.-Chuck><<These animals won't live indefinitely on only dried diets. RMF>>

Filter blues, ADF... Sys., hlth.    6/13/07 Hi <Ave.> I bought an ADF a couple of weeks ago from the local PetSmart and named him Lego. <OK.> I set up the tank, researched what he needed, took out the filter the tank came with since it produced a tank wide strong current, bought some frog and tadpole bites, and put in plants and a pot for him to hide in. <You bought the frog before researching the pet? Not good.> Everything seemed to be going good except I wasn't sure he was eating the bites. <No surprise there. These animals really aren't wild about dried foods. Sure, they'll eat them eventually, but not with much enthusiasm, and in the case of small animals like African Dwarf Frogs the damage through starvation may well be done by then. Almost without exception, new reptiles and amphibians (and oddball fish) do best given live or "wet" frozen foods first. Once eating, wean them onto dry alternatives.> After looking it up online, I went to the petstore and bought freeze dried bloodworms. <Never yet met an animal that ate freeze dried anything. I'm told some people have good luck with them, but honestly, in 20+ years of fishkeeping they've always been a waste of money in my experience.> They floated which I read that ADF's don't go to the surface for food and sure enough he didn't eat a single one. <Quelle surprise.> The pet store didn't have frozen any type of food, so I went back to the bites. One day I did catch him eating some and after that the bites I put in would disappear so I didn't worry to much about it. <Well, OK, that's promising I suppose.> After seeing on various websites that a whisper filter would be the best for him, I went back to the store yesterday and picked one up. I installed the pump and added some water to the tank that I already had prepared a while ago so that the water level was high enough for the pump. When I first came home from the store, Lego was laying on a leaf at the surface but he had done this before so I didn't think twice about it. However, after putting in the pump he started going up for air over and over again. <This usually means the water quality has plummeted. Tell me, did you mature the filter in any way before adding the frog? Are you measuring the nitrite or ammonia levels? How much and how often are you performing water changes? What about temperature? These are tropical animals, and need a heated tank. If it's too cold, they're digestive enzymes won't work, and they'll starve to death however much they eat.> Then he would swim around and start all over. Sometimes he managed to stay floating at the surface with no support. <A dying frog...> Worried, when he kept this up the rest of the evening, I turned off the filter and went to bed. When I woke up this morning the poor thing had died in the night. <Again, quelle surprise.> Did the new filter kill my frog? <No.> He did seem kind of skinny so did he starve to death? <In part, yes. But also you almost certainly dumped too much food in hoping to tempt him, but most wasn't eaten, rotted, raised the ammonia, and poisoned the frog.> Should I have gotten him a buddy for the tank? <Definitely not. All you would have had is two dead frogs instead of one.> (the tank is a little less then 3 gallons since I live in a dorm during the school year) <Three gallons!!!! That's a bucket, not an aquarium. To quote someone on a forum I visit, don't put animals in this, cut some flowers and put them in it instead. Much prettier, and they'll last longer.> please help! <I'm trying to help. But please understand this: looking after animals isn't easy, and you absolutely have to "do it by the numbers" if you're coming to this new. Go buy or borrow a book about keeping these frogs. There are lots of them around. Sit, read, learn. Once you're up to speed on the theory, reflect on what you might have done wrong. Having pets while you're at college is great fun. I did, and in the end that experience is how I ended up an aquarium writer. But sometimes time, money, and space just aren't going to accommodate an animal in your life. So think carefully before gambling on another animal's life. I would love to have another frog but don't want to kill that one as well <Provided you read and learn about these animals, certainly, there's no real difficulty in keeping them as pets. And they are fun and fascinating animals. But yes, you'll end up killing it if you try and "make it up as you go along". Advice from most chain pet stores is either useless or downright dangerous, so take anything the sales clerk says with a pinch (bucket) of salt. Good books are priceless here. So please please please do some some reading first.> Jessica <Good luck, Neale>

Floating ADF, what treatment options? Poor environment, no reading    3/17/08 Crew, I bought 2 African Dwarf Frogs a week ago. I have them in an unheated/unfiltered, but treated, 1 gallon tank. <Umm, this is the trouble... Need heated (they're tropical), filtered environment... of larger (more stable) size> Initially I also had 3 Ghost Shrimp, but those died within 24 hours (I think due to the stress of extensive travel and adjustment, and probably due to the cramped quarters of having 5 animals in a fairly small bowl). Their deaths, I don't believe is related to this problem. As soon as the shrimp died they were removed from the tank and they water was changed and re-treated. After about 5 days of having the frogs they started to act a bit strange. They started to just float at the top of the bowl without any movement. They have also stopped eating (they have been on a strict frozen brine shrimp diet in the store and in my home). According to my research on this site and on others, it appears that they do not have red leg, fin rot, extreme bloating, or a fungus related infection. One site I research mentioned that there is a bacterial infection that can afflict these frogs. The symptoms, floating at the surface and not eating. This site did not give any treatment options. I know there are certain types of salts and medicines that could possibly be used to help, but I didn't want to use anything that would not treat this problem. What treatments would you recommend? I really don't want to lose these critters, but I fear that they may be a casualty of my novice status. Please send me any advice you have that might remedy this problem. Thank you. Dan <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/hymenochirus.htm  The linked files on the page. Bob Fenner>

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