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:
Environmental, Social, Trauma,
Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic,
Keeping African Clawed Frogs and African
Dwarf Frogs by Neale Monks,
African Dwarf Frogs, Amphibians,
Related FAQs: Dwarf African Frogs
African Frogs 2, ADF
Identification, ADF Behavior,
Systems, ADF Feeding,
ADF Reproduction, & FAQs on:
Frogs Other Than African and Clawed,
African Clawed Frogs,
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
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.
I have never seen it eat anything, even when I hold brine shrimp right in front
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
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
<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:
African Dwarf Frog question- choking on
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.
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
<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.
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.
ADF with mouth swelling 4/22/11
I have 4 African dwarf frogs, a Betta and a mystery snail in a
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
Update: The frog in question did die the next
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
<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
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
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,
Re: ADF odd symptoms 9/26/10
Upon reading your reply, I jumped out of bed and fed our poor
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
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:
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>