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FAQs About Xenopus laevis, African Clawed Frog Diseases 3

FAQs on Xenopus Disease: Xenopus Disease 1, Xenopus Health 2, Xenopus Health 3, Xenopus Health 4, Xenopus Health ,
FAQs on Xenopus Disease by Category: Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Trauma, Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic, Treatments,

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

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

Clawed Frog, Some Kind of Infection?       9/4/16
<Hello, and thanks for making an effort to provide a useful image!>
I’ve been having an issue with one of my female clawed frogs for about a month now. I noticed some kind of bruises on my frog’s mouth, I contacted a vet that has some experience with amphibians but he was unable to help since he was not familiar with this species.
<Xenopus is very widely kept my scientists, and only occasionally as a pet. Can I direct you to some reading directed at scientists?
You're almost certainly dealing with some sort of opportunistic bacterial infection, perhaps Aeromonas but hard to say without a microscope and doing Petri dish cultures
. But the advice given on those websites is what I'd be following. Tetracycline in particular seems to be a good first choice antibiotic. Do remember to use as indicated, and do remember to remove carbon from the filter (if you use carbon).>
I decided to treat this frog with Maracyn 2 per the directions on the package in a hospital tank and he redness was appearing to subside but now it appears to be back again. There is redness around the nostril now too. I’ve tried applying Bacticine with a q-tip to the affected area and Epsom salt baths feeling maybe this was not a bacterial infection and perhaps some kind of physical injury. It looks *slightly* better right now than the picture I’ve attached but I’m not convinced it’s really healing and going away.. there also appears to be a lump on the other side of the mouth you can see from the attached picture too.
Is there anything else I could try? The frogs weight is normal and is still the most eager eater I have out of my four clawed frogs, so whatever this is, she is still acting like her usual self. This frog is kept in a 40 gallon breeder with three other frogs, which are not experiencing any issues.
I’d appreciate any advice I could get, thank you.
<The fact he's still eating is promising. Go with Tetracycline and you should get a result. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Clawed Frog, Some Kind of Infection?   8/7/16
I’ve placed an order for tetracycline, it was not easy to find any online though. Hopefully the product API sells is sufficient?
<Should be. Be sure to use as indicated. Remove carbon from the filter if used. Antibiotics work better if given orally; baths (i.e., adding to the water) can work but aren't as reliable, may need to be repeated. Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Clawed Frog, Some Kind of Infection?     9/10/16
I started tetracycline treatment in a spare 10 gallon tank with a sponge filter. I went to go change out 25% of the water and add another packet of antibiotics and my frog apparently my frog spawned a clutch of eggs? Pretty weird, I’ve had this frog for over four years and never had this happen before. I even have a oft frisky male with three females and never seen eggs happen, ever. Should this be concerning?
<Nope. Exposure to unusual chemicals has been known to trigger spawning in a variety of amphibians and fishes. Indeed, the whole point of domesticating Xenopus in the 1930s was using them as pregnancy tests -- when drops of urine from pregnant women were added to their aquarium, they'd spawn! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Clawed Frog, Some Kind of Infection?        9/29/16
I think the tetracycline treatment has been successful. The redness around the snout has gone away for the most part and the nostril appears normal now. The swelling appears to be gone too.
<Great! Lovely to hear some good news from our correspondents... it's usually "oh noes, my fish is sick!" Hope the froggy gets completely better before too long. Cheers, Neale.>

My Albino frog (condition not mentioned)       4/6/15
hi, i have had my albino frog for quite some time buying it when it was hardly any bigger than a Congo frog, It has grown within a Large Community Tank 320L (im from UK so don't use Gallons) and now is what i expect Full Size taking up the most of palm of hand However within the past week i have noticed -kind of hard not to.
That One of its eyes has became Swollen and Red, As if it had gotten some sort of Black eye, however at first thought i thought perhaps it had a run in with one of my Catfish, but as the days passed its mouth seemed to be forced Open and i see a large Red ~Something~ Only be described as some sort of Growth and it shows no signs of Stopping and only getting Worse, The Red Growth is only on one side of the mouth and Seems to be under the Eye as well. Looks like it might be a clump of Red Flesh but i fear it could be a tumor and a Death Sentence to the frog. i don't really have another Aquarium set up suitable for the frog without Risking others or himself being Eaten. If there is anything i can do to Improve his/her Condition i would greatly like to know as i can find little on the internet.
If worse turns to worst and indeed there is nothing i can do, Perhaps there is something i can do to make its Last days as comfortable as possible.
It might be worth a note to mention that all my Fish both Scaled and those without scales are Healthy and fine, Water Conditions are also more than Satisfactory and there is no Problems with other Tankmates.....Plus there is nothing missing from my tank so he hasn't Eaten someone bigger than he can chew.
i Greatly look forward to hearing back Your Opinions and Feedback, Thanks for listening (Reading).....Lee H.
<Hello Lee. The short answer is that medicating aquatic frogs is somewhat difficult, and the best/most reliable approach is to use antibiotics. A vet will be the easiest source of these, which is awkward I know, but in the UK, the only legal way to obtain antibiotics. Your frog would appear to have an opportunistic bacterial infection, often referred to as Red Leg.
This is invariably fatal unless promptly treated with antibiotics such as tetracycline. A vet will provide you with details on dosing, etc. Expect to pay around £15-30 for treatment, which may include injections (the best way to deliver drugs) rather than stuff you add to the water (a pretty hopeless method in serious cases). The RSPCA and PDSA may also be able to help, and speaking with people in your local reptile pet club or store may provide some tips on vets able to provide useful support. To be clear: there are NO reliable off-the-shelf medications sold in pet stores, which is why prevention of disease in amphibians is so important. Mixing frogs with fish invariably goes wrong eventually, and while it's hard to say what the immediate cause of your problems was, damage by a catfish or some other spiny aquarium resident is one possibility, even when the frogs aren't kept with predatory or aggressive fishes. Cheers, Neale.>

ACF went rigid during water change       6/23/14
I've just experienced something horrifying and was hoping for some information! I have a young African Clawed Toed and was just moving him to a holding tank while I cleaned his tank. (The filter was apparently not working well so the tank needed some extra TLC.) I used a net to catch him and as I went to put him into the new tank his whole body went rigid and stayed that way.
<Ah, yes... actually a quite common "reflex defensive mechanism" quite a few animals employ to ward off predation... That is, having their bodies go tense, unmoving if/when frightened, in a dangerous situation.>
I assume he's dead and my heart is breaking. Was it a heart attack? Stroke? Impossible to know?
<Could be; but I would not "toss" the animal just yet>
When I purchased him he had a nub for an arm and a bum eye (clouded over and sunken in). He was my little rescue frog and was healing very well (his arm had grown back and was just missing fingers!) Before catching him for cleaning tonight he was moving about and avoiding the net more than usual. He seemed mad while in the net and would not chill out. It's like he tried to hop out of the net and was frozen in time. He's in the holding tank now with just enough water to cover his body, but not so much that his nose is under water.
When I first put in he would move his torso every so often as though to take in air, but that could have been residual muscle twitching, I suppose. I haven't seen movement in about an hour now, just almost standing on the rocks with his legs stick straight and his arms straight by his sides. I'm pretty
devastated. Is there any hope?
<Yes there is. Bob Fenner>
Re: ACF went rigid during water change       6/23/14

Almost 20 hours later and Rigor Mortis has set in, so it would seem that he has left us.
Thank you for your quick response, it helped me calm down enough to get through the work day. Information is so powerful in that way.
My guess is a cardiac event due to the blood pooling. Thank you again. I'm so glad that you were there to help.
<Thank you for this follow-up. BobF>

gagging frog    1/6/14
I have an African clawed frog for the past two days he has been "gagging".
I thought he was dead because he was tank on his back. When i got the net to get him he moved i don't want to lose him. How can i help him?
<Can't help without knowing something about the environment. Just to recap, you need an aquarium (at least 5 gallons, preferably more); a heater (not optional, the water needs to be at 25 C/77 F); a filter (again, not optional); and the right sort of food (you can buy frog pellets or use a variety of small frozen foods like bloodworms and brine shrimps). In the meantime, have a read here:
Also follow the links at the top. Virtually all problems with aquatic frogs are related to their environment, i.e., how well (or not) they're kept.
Hope this helps, Neale.>

African Clawed Frogs; hlth.      12/30/13
Hi. I had two African Clawed frogs, a male and a female, each a little over a year old. I changed out their water about 3 weeks ago and my female laid eggs all over the tank. This was her first batch, I never saw them mating, and none of them hatched. After she laid the eggs she stopped eating completely, but my male seemed fine. Tonight I found her dead at the bottom of the tank. Do you have any idea what happened? Should I be worried about my male?
<African Clawed Frogs, Xenopus laevis, should live for at least 10 years in captivity, so if one dies after only a year or two, then you should definitely review environmental conditions, diet, and other aspects of healthcare. Or put another way, yes, you should be concerned, if not actually worried. As for specifics, it's impossible to give any insight without information on the size of their aquarium (should be at least 10 gallons, preferably 15+ gallons); diet (varied, no "feeder fish", and only fed every other day); temperature (subtropical, around 20 C/68 F); and water quality (filter essential, plus at least 25% water changes weekly).
Start by having a read here:
Xenopus are legendarily long-lived animals under the right conditions, but they are prone to dietary problems as well as bacterial infections if not maintained correctly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: African Clawed Frogs     12/31/13
Thank you for responding so quickly. My frog is kept in a filtered 10 gallon tank, but it is not heated.
<One possible problem right here. Do remember these animals come from Africa. So while they don't particularly need very warm conditions, they do need warm room temperature upwards. In a centrally heated home kept around 20-22 C/68-72 F then a heater won't be needed. But cooler than this isn't recommended.>
His tank is at 65F right now. Is this too far away from 68?
<It's a little cool for good health, yes. Is there a warmer room in the house? Alternatively, get a fish tank heater (preferably one with a wrap-around plastic grill to prevent burning) or use an angle poise light with a bulb (a regular incandescent could work, but a reptile vivarium heat lamp would be better). So lots of options depending on your cost and convenience needs. Do note that the warmer the frog, the more active it will be, and the faster (and therefore better) it will digest food.
Increased metabolism also boosts their immune response, reducing the risk of disease. So while you can keep Xenopus in quite cool water, adding a little warmth has many benefits.>
He also eats pellets every day.
<A good sign. But do try varying the diet a bit. Earthworms are an exceptionally good treat, rich in minerals and vitamins. But even better, their guts contain partially digested plant material that provide useful fibre that will minimise constipation, a common problem when animals are kept in tanks. If you collect your own, obviously avoid anywhere pesticide sprays have been recently used.>
I've tried feeding him worms and shrimp, but he didn't seem to like them.
<Hunger makes the best sauce! Don't be afraid to starve your Xenopus for several days, even a week before trying something new. That said, modern pellets are an excellent staple, provided you're buying a good quality brand. Labs that maintain Xenopus use nothing else and have great success.
There's a very good summary of their needs here:
This is designed for people keeping them in labs, but the basic rules apply to pet Xenopus too.>
I will check the pH of his water, try skipping a couple days of feeding per week, and try shrimp again.  He doesn't appear to have any sores or lesions though. Thank you again for responding and the reading.
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Albino dwarf frog ailment... Not... actually Xenopus, fdg., rdg.     6/21/13
My 3-year-albino dwarf frog has not eaten for 30 days. I have seen it swim around the tank vigorously when I drop his usual diet of a block of frozen blood worms
<... search WWM re these sewer worm, Chironomid larvae. A poor staple food>

 into the tank. Instead of searching for and eating the worms in one gulp as usual, it just swims back up to the top of the water and spends most of the time motionless in one spot, hanging onto the tops of plastic plants with its claws. There are small pieces of shredded skin hanging off its body and it of course looks thinner after not eating for 30 days, but no sign of disease. It is four inches long,
<... this isn't Hymenochirus (ADF) but Xenopus (ACF) likely... Let's stop here and have you read:
Scroll down. Bob Fenner>
 living alone in a 10 gallon tank with 2 plastic plants, a plastic cave, and a plastic frog statue. I changed the filter and the water, but have not changed the temperature of the water.  Last year when it stopped eating for just a few days, several dark spots developed on its stomach and then disappeared. I have not seen any other signs of discomfort or disease besides not eating and peeling skin. How can the frog stay alive for so long without eating and have the
energy to  swim around? What should I try to encourage the frog to eat?
 Re: Albino dwarf frog ailment

Thank you for your help. We will try a better diet and search at the websites you suggested.
<Ah good>
Just as I sent my email to you, my son offered the frog his regular diet by holding the worms up to its mouth with a tweezers and the frog ate the whole block in one gulp! I am still quite curious to know how it could stay alive without eating for a month.
<...search re Xenopus laevis... very tough animals... used in research for various studies... as well as ornamentals. Again, the diet you have results in deficiency syndromes, as well as outright disease... including for folks handling the fly larvae... Read. BobF>

Red Feet/Safe Plants... for...?    5/16/13
<Hello Amanda,>
I have three African Dwarf frogs that I keep in well-water only in a medium-sized terrarium jar.
<Very far from ideal.>
Typically I am very adamant about changing their water as soon as it begins to appear cloudy, but this week I was stupid and lazy and didn't until it was really icky.
<A good reason why an aquarium with a simple filter, even one as small as 5 gallons, would be an improvement. These little frogs are not messy animals, and an air-powered filter does an excellent job keeping the water clean.>
When I change them, I put them in a small vase with clean water to allow them to swim and rinse themselves off.  Usually it's only for several hours, but I noticed one of my frogs were shedding so I left them in there until it was done--this took two days.  Tonight I was letting them move around in our kitchen sink--we rinse it and put a little well-water in the bottom--when I noticed one of them had red feet.
<Very bad.>
So I picked him up and was holding him on a paper towel and saw his feet are bleeding! :(  What does this mean, and is there anything I can do? 
Right now he's in the little vase in some clean water with a handful of the river rocks we keep in the big jar. 
<There's something called "Red Leg" in frogs that's often a death sentence.
It's an opportunistic infection that usually comes about when the frogs have been physically damaged and/or kept in dirty water. There's an excellent summary here:
Early on the infection can be treated, but once established it's very difficult to cure.>
Also, we have an abundance of spider plants at our house, and we were wondering if we could use one of those with the frogs.  Are they safe? 
<Spider Plants (assuming you mean Chlorophytum comosum) aren't good choices for aquatic frog habitats because Spider Plants do best in free-draining soil, so don't like their roots being somewhere damp all the time. Only a few houseplants really thrive in vivaria, mostly those that like humidity.
Classic choices are Syngonium and Philodendron, which can be potted above the waterline but will happily grow down to the water and may even put a few leaves below the waterline without complaint. "Lucky Bamboo" can do well with its roots in the water and the leaves above, but it's very demanding about light, but brightly lit spots in the house may get too hot for your frogs, so approach with caution. In any case, do an online search references "vivaria" with "plants" and you'll find dozens of alternatives.
All this said, because Hymenochirus spp. frogs are fully aquatic, and prefer floating plants best of all, a clump of Floating Indian Fern is probably the best bet.>
Thanks, --Amanda
<Welcome, Neale.>
Re: Red Feet/Safe Plants   5/16/13

Thank you!
I noticed today that the redness that was encompassing his feet has gone down to mostly be in the webbing of the feet.  I've noticed names of various medicines that have been used or recommended, but for my situation which would you recommend?
<Try a combination of Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2; use as directed on the packaging.>
Also, my mom and currently live with my grandparents--they do not like animals, so I'm lucky to have my frogs and hermit crabs--and so our current situation does not allow an aquarium for them since I already have two for my crabs.  We are working on getting our own house, and we've already decided to get the frogs a nice, large aquarium with a filter when that happens.  And thank you for your plant advice.  We actually have a lot of spider plants that are in jars of water and have been for months now, so that's why we were wondering if they could be used for the frogs, but I'll certainly look into getting one of the plants you recommended! :)
<Do start reading, planning:
…and follow the links. Cheers, Neale.>

"Red Leg" in ACFs    5/19/13
Hi Crew,
<Guten tag, Julia!>
this is not a question, but I´ve just read about the ADF with possible "Red Leg" infection, so I wanted to share my own experiences with this syndrome
(if this is of interest; if not, feel free to ignore this Email ;)).
<Ah, not our style.>
A few months ago, I wanted to get a few buddies for my two ACFs (an adult pair, 42 gal tank, filtered, fully cycled, planted. No problems). I was able to acquire three frogs from a lab (one male, two females), which I moved into a 30 gal quarantine tank first. Smooth sand bottom, two terracotta pots, floating plants, an adequately sized canister filter. I checked the water daily (0 NO2, << 25 ppm NO3, pH 7.2, temp. about 68 °C, moderately hard water).
<All sounds good. But do read this excellent summary by the RSPCA on the care of Xenopus spp in labs, here:
Among other things, a somewhat warmer temperature is recommended, around 22 C. I mention temperature because many tropical animals are sensitive to opportunistic infections when chilled, and even if otherwise tolerant of cool conditions, warming them up can get their immune systems working better.>
They settled in just fine and for the first few days, everything was ok; they were active and always hungry just like my other frogs. But after six days, the new male suddenly became listless and had two tiny red spots on his feet as well as slightly swollen hind legs. I had a bad feeling about that and immediately separated him from the females before doing a large water change in the 30 gal tank. The next morning, he was barely moving and had several severe hemorrhages (he spent the night in a clean tank without any decor, so an injury is out of question). I took him to a vet, but it was too late and he died in the evening of the same day.
<Very sad.>
Because of the very fast progression of this infection (36 hours from a perfectly healthy frog to death), the vet gave me some Baytril to treat the females which didn´t show any symptoms yet preventatively. Luckily, this was successful and I could move them to the display tank four weeks after the end of the treatment.
In this case, I can rule out environmental problems as a cause. The frogs have lived under stressful conditions in the lab and I know of some deaths due to Aeromonas hydrophila in the colony before; I think the inevitable stress from being moved was just too much for this frog.
<Could well have been, particularly if they were handled a bit roughly when moved. Capturing frogs can damage their skin as they rub against the gravel, net or your hands.>
I just wanted to show that this is a very dangerous disease which requires a prompt reaction. The photo shows the frog shortly after its death.
<Thanks for sharing. Hope your other frogs do better. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Red Feet/Safe Plants     5/21/13
I just wanted to let you know that we did get the medicine, and are on the third day of the treatment.  I have been putting both types of Maracyn in the water, which is how I understood what you said previously.  But ever since I started it, a white fuzz has been gathering on my frog.  Is this just from the medicine or is there something else wrong?
<If the threads are fluffy, like cotton wool, then it's fungus. Quite common alongside bacterial infections. Methylene Blue and other anti-fungal remedies may help.>
Also, does the Maracyn cause the frogs pain?
<Should not do so, no; it's merely an antibiotic.>
Because when I sprinkle it in the water, I notice he twitches around and seems like he's trying to escape from it or rub it off on the rocks in the water. 
Thank you!
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Bruises on African Clawed Frog    2/5/13
Hello! Last night, and I don't know for how long, my 2 year old albino African Clawed frog Bean managed to somehow get the tube cover off of my water filter, and got himself stuck in the tubing. I got him out, and he looks no worse for ware, but his back legs are bruised. His left leg much more than the right, and he lost one of his claws in this process. His bones seem to be in tact; in his struggle in the filter tube, I think he mostly just had water running over him. The constant flow of water must have bruised him, or his struggling to get out must have bruised him. His webbing between his toes doesn't seem to be torn anywhere, though his toes are a bit swollen from the debacle. I've put him in an isolation tank, with shallow water so he doesn't have to use his back legs so much so he can still peek up and get air. Other than putting in some drops to help prevent infection, and keeping his water warm, is there anything else that you would recommend I do? He's a wonderful well mannered little frog, and otherwise in good health up until this mess. I'm keeping a close eye on him, and he hasn't gotten any worse (or better) in the last few hours.
Thank you so much for any help you can give.
<Damaged frogs can recover well (and their close relatives, Axolotls, are famous for their ability to regenerate missing toes). Your main problem will be secondary infection, i.e., Red Leg. Fish antibiotics can work well, especially if used as a preventative. Do read here:
The problem is that once infection starts, treating is difficult, so prevention is the game here. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Bruises on African Clawed Frog    2/7/13

Thank you so much for your quick help! He is doing a bit better today, his redness has gone down, and a lot of his bruises are now getting to that kind of white scabby color. He has no new injuries, so red leg or anything hasn't set in as far as I can tell. He is a bit active today, swimming around a lot despite his injured feet. I don't know if this is because he is cranky and in pain, or because of something else. I've noticed a few times after he goes for a swim, he does a few almost has recoiling jerks of his feet as if he's hurt himself by swimming, but that doesn't seem to stop him from swimming around again moments later. He is has a tiny amount of Maracyn in his water to help try to prevent infection.
<Do see the previous linked article; Maracyn II or Maracyn Plus are the ones you want to use, rather than Maracyn. In the US, Maracyn, Maracyn II and Maracyn Plus are widely sold in pet shops.>
It is the best medicine I could get him, it is against the law in my state to get him anything stronger without a vet visit (I think the long car ride would do him in).
<Same in the UK; in any case, your vet will prescribe the best medication AND the best dosage, so strongly recommended.>
Would you recommend anything else? Is it alright for him to be moving around so much with his feet still in poor shape? He is in a large shallow jar about the width of a dinner plate now while he is under observation.
I've attached a photo of him today.
Thank you again, and all the best,
<Red Leg is difficult, even impossible to treat without antibiotics. Call your vet if necessary. At least in the UK, buying antibiotics this way isn't much more expensive than buying regular medications from pet stores that won't work for this sort of thing anyway. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Bruises on African Clawed Frog     2/10/13
His injuries are healing well enough, but I think some kind of fungal infection may have gotten to him while his immune system is down. He is twitching a lot mostly in his injured feet, but now his hands. No vet would sell me any antifungal/antibiotic stronger than the Maracyn oxy I have. Is there anything you can recommend? He's a strong little frog, and I'm sure his injuries will heal (his injuries are only in his toes now, as opposed to his whole feet a few days ago) if he has time, but this fungal (?) mystery twitching thing worries me greatly.
<Go to an aquarium shop and buy an antifungal medication. Methylene Blue is an old school medication that should be safe with aquatic frogs, but it's a mild medication and does tend to stain things blue. Where I live, the UK, my favourite medication for fungus and Finrot is eSHa 2000, a good, reliable medication. It's widely sold in Europe but doesn't seem to be sold in the US. In the US, something like Kanaplex would be a good, if not better alternative, combining anti-bacterial with anti-fungal properties.
Cheers, Neale.>

Thank you!!!   3/4/13
Hey there! A few weeks ago, you helped me to treat my frog Bean after he had gotten stuck in his water filter. While he has lost a few toes (though I am hoping they'll come back) he is back to his normal self, alert, swimming around, eating lots and croaking at night. So thank you so much for all of your help in getting better again, I don't think I would have been able to do it without you.
<Ah, this is good news Kelsey; thanks for the update and the kind words.
Cheers, Neale.>

albino frogs, hlth.     12/14/12
We have two albino frogs that we have had in a 10 gallon tank for about a year.
<Are these Xenopus? The African Clawed Frog?>
They have been doing fine, until recently one of the frogs appeared to be stuck to filter in the tank when I came into work in the morning.  At first I thought he was dead, but when I tried to remove him from the tank but he began to move.  So I knew he wasn't dead.   I removed him from the tank and put him in a small tank.  He has just stayed at the bottom of the new tank and occasionally floats upside down.  I use a net to turn him back right side up and he seems to stay that way for a few hours.  He does not appear to be eating or swimming much and his back legs don't seem to move at all. 
The outline of his back feet and the tops of his front arms appear to have a red outline.

The other frog has been rather quiet and not eating either, but I have kept that one in the big tank.  I recently added some plant bulb s which have sprouted in the tank, but I didn't think that these would harm the frogs? 
I have added a few drops of Start Right to both tanks to see if that will help?
Any suggestions on what we can do to save one if not both frogs?
Lori and Adah
<The aquarium is probably too small, but have you tested water quality?
What is the water temperature? What are you feeding these frogs? Xenopus laevis is relatively easy to keep, but they do have some needs, and if you don't provided for them, then things go badly.
Almost certainly you are dealing with something called "Red Leg". It usually happens when frogs aren't kept properly. It's treatable, but you will need a combination of Maracyn II with Maracyn Plus. Otherwise a slow, painful death is certain.
Cheers, Neale.>

ACF hlth... repro.!     12/9/12
Hi I have been researching dropsy or bloating in Xenopus laevis. My frog appears to be bloated but I cannot tell. She has been like this for quite some time.
<May be... full of eggs, perhaps egg-bound>
She appears to active and is eating fine, which is why this has never worried me before. She is housed with an albino male, who does not appear to be bloated at all, in a 20 gallon tank with adequate filtration.
She does eat more then him but she is by no means overfed which is why her size concerns me. I feed her ReptoMin sticks every 3 days.
<I'd add other foods here>
The tank was cooler around 65 degrees,
<Needs to be warmer; this could be a factor>

but with winter coming I have slowly warmed it up to about 72 degrees. Any help would be appreciated, I have attached a picture of her for you to see.
<Please read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: ACF hlth... repro.!       12/11/12
Thank you very much. She appears to be improving. Must have been the cold temperature before.
Sincerely, Christopher
<Ah, good. Thank you for this update. BobF> 

Xenopus; health    6/10/12
i have a problem with my male African clawed frog. he is about 10 months old. i was keeping him with my female acf in a 20 gallon tank, with a small mechanical under water filter, doing full water changes once a week, every week. about a month ago i noticed that my male was lethargic and only ate quite little. he seemed to have an appetite, would start eating but then stop very quickly, like he was full. then i noticed some red 'veins' on his belly. he also would stay on top of the water a lot and breathe, keeping his head out, instead of just touching the surface with his nose. i isolated him in a small tank with no filtration and treated him with tetracycline foe 5 days. then i gave him 12 minute long Baytril baths (2,5 mg in 0,5 liters) for 10 days. no medicine was added to the water where he was living and i was doing half water changes every day. he didn't get better, nor worse. after that i treated him with Chloramphenicol - 130,8 mg/g in 30 liters for 3 days. then i left him without treatment for a few days, keeping up with daily water changes. during all treatments he was shedding quite often. as he still didn't get better i treated the water he was in with Octozin for 3 days and since then i have left him without any treatment. what should i do? he hasn't been eating much. after a while he almost stopped. since 3 days ago he's been eating a little more, but not enough or the way he used to and should. just a little more. he sings a lot and since yesterday swims around a lot. but he doesn't look well. red "veins" are more visible on his body - belly and legs. should i start the tetracycline again? is Chloramphenicol more effective? any help is much appreciated!!!
<Do have a read here:
This is a very useful and succinct review of Xenopus health. The likely problem is what we call "Red Leg" which is really any opportunistic bacterial infection, similar to Finrot on fish. For a bit more depth, see the RSPCA (the main UK animal charity) document on Xenopus. While aimed at professionals like scientists who work with these animals, there's much of use for pet owners too.
Section 4.10.4 on Common Diseases discusses Red Leg as well as Nematode infections, the two commonest problems. Diagnosis and treatment are outlined. Pet shops may not be able to provide the necessary antibiotics (specifically, Oxytetracycline) but your vet will surely be able to.
Cheers, Neale.>

Sick ACF! 5/3/12
Hi, my name is Sam and I have had my ACF from about a year now. I changed the water in her 5 gallon tank about 2 weeks ago and she seemed totally fine.
<Aquarium is far too small...>

I noticed this time that the water got really dirty really fast,
<…which is why this happens.>

and when I went to change the water again, I noticed that her front and back legs seemed somewhat pink in color and she seemed a bit bloated.
<And in turn, poor environmental conditions have stressed this animal, weakened its immune system, and now caused what's likely a bacterial infection.>

Her energy seems fine, and she seemed to be eating, but I am a bit worried because of all the stuff that I have read online. I went to the pets store and the lady there told me to use Melafix,
<Useless; don't waste your money on this.>

a product they had to treat bacterial infections.
<Not much chance of success. Melafix is, at best, a preventative. If a frog is healthy but sustained slight damage, it can help to minimise the risk of infection. But that's it. Once infection sets it, Melafix is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.>
I put some in the tank when I got home, but I am still worried about her. Any suggestions about what is wrong with her and what I should do to treat her would be extremely helpful! Thanks again! Sam!
<Do read:
In particular, review comments on bacterial infections, Red Leg, and environmental requirements.>
There is a picture that is attached as well. I know the quality is not good, but she likes to move around so it was the best I could do with my phone. Thanks again!
<Photo too blurry to be any use at all. But hope the linked article will help. Cheers, Neale.>

Xenopus toad query... hlth., env.     2/8/12
Hello, I have two albino Xenopus toads which I bought about two months ago.
The pet shop could not tell me what sex they are and because of how young they are, it is unforeseeable so far. Recently, the larger of the two named Patra has developed what looks like charcoal markings on the bottom of the front feet, and I cannot find any information as to what this could be. They are both housed in a 3 gallon tank (I know this is too small but they
are small at the moment) with two ceramic flower pots and large pebbles and rocks to hide behind. The water is dechlorinated etc. with tap-safe, is kept at 30 degrees and is cleaned about every four days as at the moment there is no filter. They are both fed on Meal worms, blood worms and the occasional bits of meat and catfish pellets, recommended by my exotic pet shop. Can you enlighten me as to what this could be, and should I be worried? thanks
<Hello Chloe. Do start by having a read here:
One of the best web pages to see photos of sick frogs and toads is here:
While Xenopus is normally extremely robust, bacterial infections are not uncommon when environmental conditions aren't right and haven't been for a long time. That web page provides some ideas on suitable antibiotics. Yes, 3 gallons is way too small, and long term, will cause problems. If the toad doesn't seem to have anything similar to what you see on that page of sick toads, and otherwise seems healthy, I wouldn't worry too much for now, just sit and watch them over the next few weeks. Do also be aware of the "nuptial pads" that MALE frogs and toads (including Xenopus) develop on their front legs during the mating season. These may come and go depending on the time of year. You can see photos online. Nuptial pads are used during spawning to hold onto the female. They often look like rough callosities. Cheers, Neale.>

help needed with African frog     3/4/12
I have two African Clawed Frogs in a 40 litre aquarium.  They were doing very well and cohabitated peacefully with the other inhabitants of the tank.  Recently I noticed that one of the frogs was suffering from a swollen leg.  The swelling is in the "ankle"  area just before the webbed feet.  The webbing seems okay but the affected area has become dark black.
The frog is not moving much, preferring to hover near the surface of the water and seems to have difficulty in moving that particular leg.  He is eating normally, but not moving much. The temperature of the water is 78 degree Fahrenheit and I carry out water changes regularly.  The other frog seems to be in good health.  Can you give me some advice as to how to treat this problem?  Thank you very much.
<Hello Donald. Do have a read of this page, here:
Redness and swelling of the limbs is dangerous, and difficult to treat without antibiotics. It's a bacterial infection, but triggered by environmental conditions, so review and act accordingly.
Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: help needed with African frog
Hello Neale,
Just wanted to thank you for finding the time to write back with your valuable advice. The frog's leg is slowly getting better day by day.
Thanks a lot!
<Glad the help was useful. Good luck, and thanks for the kind words.
Cheers, Neale.>

Aquatic frog question. 2/20/12
I have an albino African clawed frog, and just lately she has this slime/mucousy stuff coming from her mouth. Is this normal or is she sick?

I couldn't find any info about this online anywhere!
<Shedding skin as transparent sheets happens from time to time and isn't something to worry about. But white slime or fluff isn't normal, and can be a sign of bacterial infection. Start by reading here:
What aren't you doing that Xenopus needs to stay healthy? Go through that article, and make changes as needs be. There's also a good visual summary of diseases here:
Cheers, Neale.>

My baby African Clawed, hlth. 99 2/17/12
Hello Crew,
I recently saved a baby African Clawed Frog from a local pet store. He was previously rooming with another SCF s little bit older, and was doing absolutely great! I clean their tank (25 gal) weekly, and I found some marks on baby that resemble bruises. I immediately segregated him from the other frog and goldfish. Are there any recommend treatments tot the little guy? Thank you!
<Hmm, if the frog is basically healthy and feeding, you may want to leave things alone. Otherwise, Methylene Blue is a good, mild medication that doesn't seem to harm frogs. Remove carbon from the filter, if used, because that'll neutralise any medication. Naturally, ensure zero levels of ammonia and nitrite by providing good biological filtration, not overfeeding, and doing regular water changes. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Hump on albino African clawed frog 12/9/11
Dear WWM Crew:
I have an albino African Clawed Frog that has been happily sharing a 20 gallon tank with a cichlid for over two years. The frog is about 4 inches long by now. We also have two cats that have always shown fascination for what's going on in the fish tank, and they spend endless hours watching the movements of the frog and fish.
<Hmm fascination isn't quite the word here the cats view both frog and fish as food.>

Just in case, I always tape the lid of the tank and I cover the gap where the pump goes in, in order to prevent "accidents". <Quite so.>
Well, turns out that all this time the cats were actually on a surveillance mission and the other night they finally decided to put to use the intelligence they had been gathering, and launch a strike.
Shortly after we all went to bed, I heard what seemed to be someone gagging and vomiting. I run to my daughters' bedroom only to find them placidly sleeping. I then went downstairs and found the following peculiar scene right by the front door, two rooms away from the fish tank: one cat looking at me with a "I didn't do it" look in his face, another cat violently gagging and throwing up some kind of white foam, and the albino frog on the ground trying to take advantage of the distraction to make a escape.
I immediately put the frog back in the tank and checked for injuries and scratches. All I could see was a little wound in its right hind leg that looked scratched and as if the skin had peeled off.
<Yes; a puncture wound of some sort.>
Otherwise, the frog was swimming and moving around (first frantically, but then it settled down). I have no clue why the one cat that apparently bit the frog was gagging so violently, but the following morning she was ok.
<Some amphibians do secrete mild toxins through the skin, and these can irritate predators. I have seen a housecat foam at the month after biting a European Toad; after a few hours, the cat was fine.>
I have looked it up and I cannot find any data about albino frogs being toxic to cats.
<Yes, Xenopus do have poison glands in the skin.>
The frog also looked fine the following morning, but by the time I came back from work, it had developed an enormous lump in its back.
<Perhaps infection.>
I was hoping it would be swelling from being hit or bitten by the cat, and that it would go away, but it's been four days and the lump is still there. Any clue on what to do about this?
<Could be infected; a vet would probably recommend an antibiotic at this stage. The aquarium is a great environment for bacteria -- warm and wet -- and frogs are notoriously sensitive to such infections. Would have a vet look at the frog. Or else, get a general antibiotic as per aquarium fish, e.g., both Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 together for the widest range of protection, and dose as per aquarium fish.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Hump on albino African clawed frog 12/9/11
Thanks! I have already started the antibiotic. Frog seems to be ok, although the lump is still there.
<Okay. Good luck, Neale.>

Your help and advice is much needed. Xenopus sys., hlth.    11/24/11
Dear WWM crew,
Thank you for reading my email. I recently bought an Albino African Claw Froglet.
<Small? Or just a "frog" size of Xenopus laevis I'll take it>
Im not sure of the age. When I first brought him home he was fine. I set up the tank after doing research on this little creature because the pet store that sold him to me didn't know much about their species.
<Mmm, ours: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/FrogsArtNeale.htm
and the linked files above>
I have a 10 gallon tank filled up half 2/3 the way. Right now I have a heater, which I keep at 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and smooth rock display for hiding places. I decided to keep with a smooth glass bottom with a dark cloth around the outside since I didn't want him accidently eating sand or rocks. I have not gotten a filter
<Absolutely necessary
. Amphibians are very sensitive to accumulated metabolite and variation in water quality>
yet but change the water ever couple of days so its not too messy in the tank. The pet store said that they just put fish pellets for the fish in the tank and guessed that the frogs ate them too, I have bought freeze dried Hikari Tubifex Worms or him to eat. Sadly, now that I've had him for a couple of weeks Im noticing very strange behaviors and I cant seem to find any diseases that match his criteria.
<Highly likely these are all traceable to environment... You NEED an adequate filter>
When I first brought him home I used hard water because I didn't find any articles saying I couldn't. He was fine at first but after a couple of days he started swimming oddly, swimming up to the top and then floating down over and over and when Id turn on the light or walk towards him he'd start thrashing his legs. Doing more research I found out hard metals are toxic so I bought Aqua Safe Plus by Tetra which is a water conditioner and dechlorinator all in one. I changed all of the water and added the conditioner in to fresh water.
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm
re establishing cycling in aquatic systems. Simply changing the water here won't do>
So to keep you updated on the time frame he was in the hard unconditioned water for about a week then I changed the water with the conditioner. I still used the hard water but I thought the conditioner would help, but he wasn't getting any better, in fact he was getting worse, he was now trashing at random times and spinning so that his belly would be facing up and then he'd flip over for about a minute over and over. Then he would stop and just float around my guess was that he was exhausted from thrashing. Today I decided to get regular city tap water for him and added the conditioner/dechlorinator to the water hoping he would be able start controlling his legs. When he first started thrashing I thought he was just nervous around people but now I fear there is something more going on. It seems almost like he is epileptic and it gets set off by people walking towards him. I haven't moved him to a shallow tank because I often look over and he is floating at the top where he can breathe. The closes symptoms I have been able to notice are cramping leg or slightly paralyzed leg syndrome but I wanted to check in with the experts before I tried any remedies. Any advice you can give would be very helpful. Sorry for the length, I wanted to give you as much detail of the situation as possible. Thank you for your time.
<One last time; this system needs ongoing biological filtration... Is this clear? Bob Fenner>

Skinny Xenopus   9/21/11
I have 4 ACF's (2 male and 2 female) that are all 4 - 4 1/2 years old, housed in a 30 gallon tank. (I realize this may be a bit small for them, that they should be in at least 40 gallons).
<Indeed, but shouldn't be an immediate cause of problems.>
They have been housed the same for at least 3 1/2 years, with 2 filtration systems and a water heater that is set to 75º.
<Sounds good, but do let them cool down in the winter a bit. 72 F/22 C is about right for the winter months. This replicates the subtropical seasons a bit better, and ensures overall better health. But again, unlikely to be a serious cause of problems.>
They are fed both ReptoMin pellets and freeze-dried blood worms about 2 - 3 times a week (read other places that we are not supposed to feed every day/every other day?).
<I'm not too stringent on this aspect. Yes, daily feeding is unnecessary, but at the same time, daily feeding won't cause problems if the water quality is good. The main thing is you have clean water (0 nitrite and 0 ammonia) and frogs that are neither skinny nor fat, but gently rounded about the abdomen.>
We recently started feeding, as a treat, frozen cubes of shrimp. (Not sure what brand...bought at Petco. Tiny shrimp frozen into cubes). We have also fed earthworms as a treat once every few months or so. Their tank is also bedded with small gravel rocks (the colored type). I know from reading about these frogs that these types of rocks are not recommended, but we had never had any problems with them before, so we never removed them.
<Again, rocks are unlikely to cause problems if they're smooth. Jagged rocks are a serious risk, as is sharp gravel. Rounded gravel might annoy the frogs because they can't dig, but shouldn't cause problems. Occasionally frogs swallow gravel, and that is serious, but it's a rare problem. Smooth silica sand is the ideal.>
We also treat the water with Amquel Plus.
A few weeks ago, we noticed that one of our males was getting unusually skinny. He had lost all of the black coloring on his arms/fingers, and looked to be very emaciated. His veins also appeared to be a much brighter red and more visible than the veins on the other 3. We observed all 4 ACF's when we fed them, and this particular frog seemed to be so lethargic that he either refused to or could not swim to the top to feed.
<This sounds like a bacterial infection. "Red Leg" is particularly common. See here for ideas on treatment:
We tried doing a water change and tried to feed more of the frozen shrimp cubes (once thawed, they would sink to the bottom) in order to give him a fair chance to eat. It seemed like he was hungry and searching for the food, but most of the time he appeared to be lost. He would just keep swimming side to side, but never up. (He would go up for air every once in a while, but would never stay to eat). We decided to remove him from the larger tank and quarantine him. The others are eating just fine and do not appear to be acting strangely. They also appear normal physically, except for our biggest female (please see last picture attached - skin discoloration: might be hard to see. Her skin has always been somewhat yellow compared to the others. Picture is trying to show lighter/whiter spots on her skin. Look between eyes and on her back, closer to the left arm.)
Thinking our quarantined frog had some sort of bacterial infection, we began treating the water with Pimafix (made by API, described as an Antifungal Fish Remedy...bottle indicates it also treats internal and external bacterial infections.) I bought this to try only after speaking to somebody at Petco. This did not seem to help any.
<Pimafix won't help here. At best, this medication is a preventative, like the sort of thing you'd add to a cut or graze to prevent infection. It's a fairly mild medication and doesn't do anything to treat bacterial infections once established in the fish or frog.>
In the quarantine tank, he seems to be eating okay. He is now going to the top to eat. In addition to pellets and blood worms, we have also been feeding earth worms more often (not in the same feeding), trying to bulk up his diet in order to put some more weight back on him? He now has the black marks on his fingers/arms again, but is still extremely thin. He has been in this quarantine tank for approximately 2 weeks, and we do not notice any poop in his tank. With the amount that we have been feeding and watching him consume, if he was not pooping, I would assume that he would be bloated, as if he were blocked. When he has not eaten, he appears really thin around the waist/stomach area. His legs also still look very thin (like you can see his bones more).
I cannot seem to find any useful information on ACF's getting thin while still eating plenty. I have attached several pictures (best I could take at the moment). The lone frog is the skinny one that I am emailing about. I have also included several pictures of the other 3, to give you an idea of how big the others are. The pictures of the lone frog are about 15-20 minutes after a feeding of blood worms. I would assume that if he had swallowed a gravel rock and was impacted, that he would be getting bloated more and more after each meal? If you think this is because of a swallowed rock, are there any ways that I can help him pass it? If you think this is more of an internal infection, can you recommend any treatments? Any advice or suggestions that you could give would be more than appreciated.
<Do note that Red Leg is easier to prevent than cure. Xenopus are hardy, and can live 20 years. But they have their limits, any a combination of stress factors including physical damage can make them vulnerable to Red Leg. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Skinny Xenopus 9/22/11

Thank you for the quick reply.
<You're most welcome.>
I plan on picking up some Maroxy 2 this evening/tomorrow.
Just a couple of side notes: I emailed you guys a couple of years ago with a picture of my from with ammonia burns/septicemia. (The homepage picture for Xenopus Disease). After a dose of Maroxy 2, an added filtration system, and proper water changes, he healed up just fine and is doing well!
<Always good to hear a positive outcome.>
Also, I was reading your Xenopus Reproduction section and noticed that you didn't have any pictures up. It also sounds like most people don't have any idea what the frogs will look like when mating. I just wanted to send you a couple of pictures that you could add to your site if you wish. Like I said, we have 2 males and 2 females. All 4 were going at it in these pics.
<Please do send those along! Would be happy to add them to whichever article they'd fit best it!>
Again, thanks for your help.
<Best wishes, Neale.>
Re: Skinny Xenopus
Hi Neale,
I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction. I believe we have jacked up our tank cycle. I have two tanks setup. The first is the 30 gallon that all 4 ACF's reside in. The other is a 5 gallon quarantine tank.
(This tank was never properly cycled...trying to do that now).
The 30 gallon tank is showing 0 Ammonia and Nitrites, somewhere between 30-40 Nitrates, and the pH level, no matter what I do, continues to plummet to 6.0 (possibly lower).
<Does sound as if the aquarium lacks carbonate hardness. Use a carbonate hardness test kit (sometimes called a KH test kit and more or less equivalent to an alkalinity test kit). Carbonate hardness measures the amount of carbonate and bicarbonate in the water, and it's these that prevent pH drops. Alkalinity isn't quite the same thing -- water can be alkaline because of things other than carbonate or bicarbonate -- but again, the higher the alkalinity, the more the water resists pH drops. In your case, you're after a moderately high carbonate hardness or alkalinity.>
I have even tried pH 7.5 (API) to raise the pH level, but it never holds.
<Often don't. These buffers tend to assume you already have reasonably high levels of carbonate hardness. E.g., in a Rift Valley aquarium, you've got a coral sand substrate and Rift Valley salt mix in the water.>
I used the recommended dose for the 30 gallon and it raised the pH from 6.0 (or whatever is was at prior, possibly in the 5's) to approximately 7.0.
Now, 3 days later, I am closer to 6.4 and dropping. From what I have read, and from the local pet store owners I have spoken with, Nitrates and pH go hand in hand.
<No, they don't. Nitrate can form nitric acid in water, and yes, this lowers pH. But in most aquaria this effect is trivial. The major sources of pH drop are accumulation of organic acids from the biological filter and general decay of organic material including plants within the tank. CO2 from livestock will also lower pH.>
The higher Nitrates rise, the more unstable and acidic your pH can be. I know that when a tank is properly cycled, Ammonia and Nitrites will drop to 0 while Nitrates will start to rise. With weekly and routine water changes, you should be able to keep Nitrates in check.
The 5 gallon tank had housed the sickly frog, with a carbon filter. When we began treating with Maracyn 2, we removed the filter and did not replace.
The only filter cartridge in the filter system now is the black filter that came with the system. I do not have any rocks or livestock in this tank at this time. I assumed (and probably incorrectly), that the bacteria that had grown on the black filter would be sufficient to cycle this tank. We removed about 75-80% of the water that was treated with Maracyn 2 and replaced with Amquel Plus conditioned water. After this, Ammonia and Nitrites were reading 0.25, Nitrates were 5ppm, and pH was approximately 7.4. Now, 3 days later, Ammonia and Nitrites are closer to 0.50, Nitrates have remained constant at 5ppm, but pH has plummeted to 6.0 (possibly lower).
pH straight out of our tap is above 8.0. From what I have heard, from online and from pet store owners, Amquel Plus can lower pH SOME, but not by this much. Do you have any ideas? Are you guys available to speak with over the phone? I am getting mixed messages from the local pet stores. Some say to add Nitrate reducing chemicals and pH stabilizers while others say to do a 10% water change once a day for a week to lower Nitrates and stabilize pH.
<Start reading here:
Have a look at the Rift Valley salt mix, and make up new water using that, but to begin with, only use HALF the dosage recommended, since you don't need water as hard as Rift Valley cichlids. Another thing is to draw the water from the tap and let it sit overnight, and ideally 24 hours, so that any dissolved gases can evaporate. Some tap water is chemically unstable.
In the morning add 50% the recommended dose of Epsom salt, baking soda and marine aquarium salt mix, stir well, and then do your water change. (As you'll notice, you're using fractions of teaspoons of each chemical, so this is a really cheap way to buffer water.) Do this for the next week, changing 20% of the water in the aquarium each day. By the end of the week you should find the aquarium is very much more stable, and you should have water chemistry around about 10 degrees dH, 5-10 degrees KH, and about pH 7.5. Perfect for your frogs!>
At this point in time, I do not have a "safe" place for my frogs to live in if I have to cycle their tanks from scratch. I cannot seem to find any consistent information for cycling with livestock, or if this is even possible. Any suggestions or ideas you have would be appreciated.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Skinny Xenopus   10/21/11
Hi Neale,
Just wanted to follow-up with you guys. I have attached a series of pictures. The first 4 are from when I first emailed you guys about my frog looking emaciated, refusing to eat, and while he was behaving as if he was lethargic (around Sept. 20, 2011). You had responded that this sounded like red leg. I began treating with Maracyn Two. (Treated for the full week and had removed the carbon filter during that period). After the full week of treatment, we replaced the carbon filter to end treatment. At that time, he was only willing to eat night crawlers.
A few days after the first round of Maracyn Two treatment, he took a turn for the worst. His toes/feet were tightly clamped. He started getting open sores on his "knees" and the webbing between his toes became infected and began to rot off. I read a little more into red leg and found that in the later stages, these frogs can start to develop open sores and their limbs will rot off. I also read that once it gets to this point, there is almost nothing you can do for the frog, that it is already terminal. Sure enough, his toes started to slowly rot away, down to the bone until the bones snapped off. Not willing to accept the fact that our frog was probably past the point of saving, we tried a full week of very aggressive antibiotic treatment. Once again, we removed the carbon filter and we began dosing with Maracyn Two AND Maracyn TC (Packages said both treat the same things expect that TC also treats septicemia). The packages for these medications say to dose once daily for a full week. We were dosing every twelve hours with each. (Basically quadrupling the recommended dosage - pet store owner suggested that he doses his fish/frogs with medicine every twelve hours when they are sick - he mentioned that after 12 hours, the frog/fish has absorbed everything they can from that dose). The next 4 pictures show his condition while treating with these two medications. (Maracyn Two causes the water to turn cloudy while the Maracyn TC turns the water orange).
While treating, the fuzziness on his toes went away (webbing completely disappeared), his toes were less red, and his sores actually started to heal. During this time, he also started to eat frozen blood worms in addition to night crawlers. And then we made a terrible decision....
We stopped treatment after a week. We were concerned with the cloudy/orange state of the water for longer than a week, especially since we were dosing him 4x the recommended dose. We replaced the carbon filter to stop the treatment. He was still eating at this point. We were (and still are) feeding him once a day with the frozen blood worms. He was willing and able to eat a whole cube. We figured as long as he was now eating and pooping regularly, that maybe we were headed in a good direction. But then his sores started to get worse, and he developed more. (One behind each arm and one on his back side). His toes also began to rot away more rapidly. During this period is when we noticed bare bone exposed/snapped off on his toes.
The next 2 pictures show this condition.
Kicking ourselves in the rear for stopping the double treatment with the Maracyn medications, we went back to the pet store to get more of each.
While there, they recommended we try KanaPlex (made by Seachem - active ingredient is Kanamycin). This medication says to dose once every 2 days, for a maximum of 3 doses. Again, we went with the more aggressive route.
Instead of every other day, we are treating with this medication once a day. We are also not going to stop treatment until his wounds are healed and he looks to be back to normal. We are on day 5 of this treatment and everything seems to be getting MUCH better. He has developed new webbing between his toes and it looks like he might be regenerating skin/meat on his toes with exposed bones. His sores also seem to be healing. During this entire period, he had also became so skinny that he lost his "fat packs", the large humps that these frogs use as energy storage around each kidney.
With daily feeding and a daily dose of this medication, he has "refilled" one pack and is working on the other.
With all of that being said, I do have a question or two.
1) Do you know at what point overdosing with any of these medications might become an issue? They seem to be working and not harming at this point, but is there a time limit that these doses might be good for? Will they eventually begin to do more harm than good? Also, have you had any experience with successful treatment of red leg once it gets to the point of rotting limbs off? From what I have read, a lot of websites recommend to euthanize once it gets to this stage.
<It's crucial to finish off all courses of antibiotics. Not only for your own use in a given situation, but because incomplete usage of antibiotics is one of the major reasons why so many dangerous bacteria have become antibiotic-resistant. Now, in general, they rarely cause harm to animals, so you can use them as often as you want. The only likely danger is to filter bacteria, but if the filter bacteria are okay, or you're able to keep the water clean in other ways (e.g., through use of Zeolite or very regular water changes) then this won't be a major worry. And yes, I agree:
once the bones are visible in the thigh or shins, it's time to euthanise.
The odd lost toe isn't a big deal if the frog isn't otherwise in trouble; amphibians may even regrow lost toes. But if Red Leg is happening, and the main part of the leg is infected, so much so the leg is clearly gangrenous, it's time to painlessly destroy the frog. I'm not an expert on euthanising frogs though. However, the RSPCA (the British equivalent of the ASPCA in the US, publish a document on Xenopus welfare that includes information on euthanasia.
In a nutshell, they recommend MS-222, which may involve talking to a vet or animal rescue. A fish anesthetic like Clove Oil might work, but because frogs breathe air, and can hold their breath quite a long time, this isn't something I'd recommend unless you understand what you're aiming to do and how you'd prevent the frog from breathing.
Benzocaine has also been used to kill frogs humanely, and may be worth considering. Benzocaine can be purchased from drugstores.
2) This frog is still quarantined from my other 3 ACF's. I know that this disease is HIGHLY contagious. Our sick frog was housed in the main tank with the other three for a long time while he was emaciated and lethargic, before quarantined and started treatment. The others have not shown any signs, except for two days ago. I noticed that while they were stationed at the bottom of their tank, (presumably sleeping/resting), all three had clamped toes/feet. None of them are looking red, I cannot see their veins as I could with the sickly one, and they are all still very well rounded and eating normal. As soon as I turn their light on, or disturb their tank in some other way, they "awaken" and they spread their toes like normal. I don't think I ever would have noticed their feet had I not been caring for this sick one. Should I start treating their tank with the normal recommended dosage incase they have the early stages of red leg? Or is it normal for these frogs to have clamped toes while they are sleeping?
<I would assume all frogs are infected and treat with antibiotics. If nothing else, you'll prevent any spread of infection, even if the frogs are healthy now.>
P.S. I have also attached a couple of pictures of the other 3 frogs. You can see that they look MUCH healthier than this sick one.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Dark spot on African 3 Clawed Frog   9/7/11
Hi There-
I have a 3 year old female African 3 Clawed Frog who has a filtered 20 gallon tank all to herself. She has had a dark spot on her back for several months that seems to be getting larger. She does not act sick or have difficulty moving, but I am concerned that it may be a tumor (perhaps a melanoma of sorts)? Have you ever seen anything like this? Thanks in advance for any insight you can provide. I'm pretty fond of the little critter.
Sincerely, Shannon
<I can see the patch, <<RMF deleted these 25 megs of pix>> but it doesn't look obviously serious to me. Perhaps genetic, perhaps damage to the skin at some point. If the frog is happy and feeding well -- it's tank looks lovely and clean! -- then I wouldn't worry too much. There's a nice page of photos of Xenopus diseases here: http://www.xenopus.com/disease.htm
Take a look, and be mindful of what sort of things to look out for on your frogs. Cheers, Neale.>

Twitching frog   8/1/11
Hi there,
My Albino Clawed frog just shed its skin and is has not stopped twitching since. Arms, fingers, toes, legs...pretty much anything that he can move is twitching. He is still swimming around just fine but he has never twitched (to my knowledge) before. I was nervous that perhaps his water was dirty and affecting his new skin so I changed out close to half of it.
I feel really bad for him. Is there anything I should do or is this normal. It doesn't look normal.
<Hello Emily. Sometimes frogs shed their skin more quickly than normal when there's irritants in the water. So check the water is clean (i.e., filtered) and that you're using water conditioner with each weekly water change (use a conditioner that removes not just chlorine but also Chloramine, ammonia and copper). Check that there's nothing "foreign" in the water, like a rusty nail, that might be producing toxins or irritants.
Finally, do make sure the diet is a good, balanced one. Frogs can get nerve damage from a monotonous diet, just like humans can. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/FrogsArtNeale.htm
Short of all this, no, there's nothing specific I'd recommend beyond a good water change (50% perhaps) and a "wait and see" attitude. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick frog   7/7/11
<Hi there. Am responding in place of our usual amphibian staff; as they seem to be out>
I noticed just an hour ago that one of my female frogs looked very weird. On one half of her body (her left side) is swollen. She only appears swollen in the stomach area. It kind of looks like it could be a hernia to me, but I couldn't find any info online about frogs with hernias. She appears to be swimming alright, other than wobbling just a tad.
<Mmm, your images are very small, but I think this one specimen may just be gravid... developing eggs internally>
I have a 110 gallon tank. There are only two albino African clawed frogs, both females. They are also pretty big. I have had these two frogs since they were pretty small (a little over 7 months now), and they have never had anything wrong before.
I also have 3 cichlids. They are pretty calm and rarely aggressive. If they get aggressive it is usually only towards one another and not towards other tank mates. I have 6 other small community fish as well.
<Surprised these haven't been consumed by the Xenopus>

I'm not really sure what information is important. I do regular and consistent water exchanges. I do use aquarium salt and stress coat. I just put in two live plants for the first time yesterday. Every time I have had my water tested it has come out good. I get it tested by my local fish store.
I feed super color cichlid pellets, and I supplement with a dried mix of krill, red shrimp, and Mysis shrimp. I also supplement with bloodworms sometimes. I have not noticed her eating anything tonight, other than her skin that she just happened to be shedding.
I am not very experienced with frogs. I just read about not having gravel in the tank, which I have in my tank of course. I am leaning towards thinking she is impacted, but she doesn't look like the photos of other frogs I have seen that are impacted.
<To me neither>
I currently have her in quarantine in a smaller tank. I was afraid of her swimming around too much, or being stressed out by other tank mates while being hurt. I included some pictures, but they are small.
Thank you so much in advance for your help! I want to help my little girl out.
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/xenopusdis.htm
and the linked files above. I would do nothing to "treat" this animal. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick frog   7/8/11
After doing some further research, I am also surprised that everyone in my tank seems to get along. I've never seen the frogs be aggressive towards the fish or each other, and vice versa. My frogs and cichlids are pretty calm and docile from what other people have been saying.
<Ah good>
Thank you for the information! That makes me feel a lot better. I added her back to the big tank, and she is still eating and swimming perfectly fine.
<Very good>
Thanks again!
<Certainly welcome. BobF>

African Claw Frog tumour?     6/11/11
<Hello Jo,>
My two year old albino ACF has suddenly developed a lump under the skin at the top of his leg, just down and across from his bottom.
He appears to be his normal self, feeding and swimming without any difficulty and the lump doesn't appear to have changed at all in the last couple of days and he is not bloated or discoloured in any way. I feed him every other day on a mixed diet of frozen thawed red/white mosquito larvae, Artemia, daphnia etc, live mini meal worms and dried fish flake.
<Sounds a good variety of foods.>
Is this likely to be a tumour or some sort of bowel blockage?
<If the swelling is in the limbs, then yes, a tumour of some sort, benign or otherwise, is likely. Abdominal swelling caused by constipation is usually very obviously such, and constipated animals tend not to want to
eat much. The use of Epsom salt and live daphnia or live brine shrimp will usually shift constipation. But tumours are virtually impossible to treat.
Fortunately, they're quite rare, and if they don't obstruct a sense organ or orifice, shouldn't cause the frog any undue harm. With luck, the tumour may subside in time. In the meantime, do review basic living conditions, in particular things likely to promote tumour formation -- water quality, lack of vitamins, chlorine in the tap water, use of copper, etc.>
Many thanks in anticipation for your advice.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: African Claw Frog tumour?  6/13/2011

Many thanks for your reply Neale, it is very much appreciated. Since posting my message, my frog has allowed me a better opportunity to get a really good look close up at the lump and it is in fact where I can best describe as directly over his right bum cheek (were he to have one!) I can say with some certainty that it is not in his leg. His stomach and the rest of his body is not bloated and I have watched him eat both the frozen food and the live with his usual vigour in the last few days but the lump has not passed nor changed in size/shape.
My husband is firmly in charge of keeping the tank in tip top condition and I am confident this is all at the correct level. It really is baffling and I feel rather helpless and very worried about my little webbed one.
Thanks again,
<Sorry I can't offer anything more concrete to guide you to a quick cure.
If you Google terms such as "tumour" with "Xenopus" you'll see that such things are commonly investigated in laboratories, Xenopus laevis being one of the classic lab animals. Tumours may be genetic, but they can also be caused by exposure to heavy metals (for example copper) and various other chemicals that are toxic rather than immediately fatal. Vets can remove tumours depending on where they're located on the animal, and when performed properly, the frog can go on to enjoy a long and happy life.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: African Claw Frog tumour?    6/16/11

That's all noted, many thanks for your advice Neale.
Kind regards,
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick African Clawed, please help   5/6/11
Hi there,
I have had my ACF Gus, for almost 10 years now. He has never been ill in his life with me, until I noticed some worrying things over the last few days. Gus has always been on a diet of ReptoMin, and maybe once a week frozen bloodworms. Gus lives in a 55 Gallon tank, with no fish of any kind. He lives alone, with lots of fake plants and hiding places. He is a very spoiled frog! He has a waterfall filter that I run a few times a week. I do regular water changes as well. I decided to do a full tank draining last weekend to redecorate his space. I put him in his bucket until cleaning was done, and returned him to his home. Oh, and just to add, it is tap water, and I always put tap water conditioner in with every water change. Later that night I noticed he was curled up in a ball sort of , legs tucked in. I didn't think much of it because sometimes he sleeps this way, but he did not do his usual night singing, and did not eat his bloodworms that night.
The next day I noticed he was shedding excessively, and has not stopped since. The webbing in between both back feet is also torn, and red around the tears. He also has some small white spots that appear cottony, and a few small red spots as well. For the last 4 days I have kept him in a 5 Gallon sort of hospital tank, changing the water every day, and doing a diluted Pedialyte bath once a day. He has been eating for the last 2 days, very well actually. But he is still sluggish, and his still shedding like crazy. Any ideas?? I love him very much and I want to get him the proper treatment. People have told me everything from Lamisil, to aquarium salts, to tetracycline and I am not sure where to begin! Here are some pics of recent days.
<Hello Ally. Your Xenopus is a good age, so broadly, I'd imagine you're providing good care and that this infection is one of those things that happen even in the best run aquaria. But with that said, do double check the filter is working properly, and remember, it should be running 24/7, 365 days a week. Each time you switch the filter off some of the bacteria die, and when the filter is off, there's nothing removing ammonia. I mention this because young Xenopus may well be hardier than older specimens, and just like people, as Xenopus get older, they become more sensitive to disease as their immune system starts to weaken a bit. In any event, check the aquarium has good water quality -- zero ammonia and zero nitrite -- and also check your water chemistry is appropriate -- hard, neutral to basic water is better than soft or acidic water. Medicate as per Finrot in fish. Your local reptile/amphibian pet shop should be able to advise here, but if all else fails, a broad spectrum antibiotic should help. Injected antibiotics from your vet have the best chance of helping, while antibiotics the frog can eat work almost as well. Antibiotics added to water are the least reliable because of issues to do with dosing. Remove carbon from the filter because that will remove medication. Red Leg is a distinctive health problem with these frogs for which treatment is difficult, and unlikely without help from your vet. There are some useful photos here: http://www.xlaevis.com/diseases.html
Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick African Clawed, please help   5/6/11
Thanks so much for the advice, me and Gus really appreciate it! His webbing appears less red today which I suppose is good! I will try doing everything you suggested!
<Good luck to you both, and we're glad to help where we can. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick frog part 2  5/8/11
Hi there,
I had written you about my frog Gus. Well I have confirmed now it is indeed some sort of fungus. He has stopped shedding, but now he has white little cotton ball things all over him. How do I fix this?? Please help thanks! I bought aquarium salt and tetra fungus guard..are these safe and please advise on the dosages thanks!
<Methylene Blue is available at aquarium shops and is particularly safe and effective, which is why it is used for treating baby fish and even fish eggs. It is known to be safe with frogs. Look for medications that contain just this chemical, such as Kordon Methylene Blue and Interpet Methylene Blue. Use as directed, paying particular attention to concentration, water changes, and the removal of carbon from the filter (if used). Other antifungal medications may work, but I'm not familiar with their safety or otherwise when used on frogs. Cheers, Neale.>

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