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FAQs About Xenopus laevis, African Clawed Frogs, Reproduction

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 Systems, Xenopus Feeding, Xenopus Disease, & 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,


African Clawed Frogs        1/30/16
I have two African Clawed Frogs, both males, and in their hornier moments will mate with each other; my main concern is that on the Albino Clawed Frog I’ve noticed ‘bruising’ from where the other has grabbed it.
<Yes; do read up on "amplexus" and the horny pads male frogs develop on their hands in time for the breeding season. So yes, there'll be some chafing!>
Is this something I should be concerned about or is it as normal as I suspect it is?
<Normal enough I suppose. But keep a close eye on them, and ideally separate them while one or other heals. E.g., with some egg crate cut to size and slotted in the aquarium, shored up with a bit of gravel. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Xenopus toad query     3/13/12
thank you for your help, sorry for the late reply. Im moving them into double the space soon, as they are growing quite rapidly haha. it could be that they are pads, but don't males also develop a small tail structure as well? thanks very much x
<Hmm… no, males don't have a tail, but the area around the urogenital opening extend a bit during breeding time. Is that what you're talking about? Do Google images of male frog cloacas for more. Cheers, Neale.>

African Albino Clawed Frogs, last nonsense of the day  2/13/11
I have been reading your site and found it to be most helpful with most of my questions and I first wanted to say thanks for all the info you have and post.
I have two African Albino Clawed Frogs. They were given to me about 15 mos. ago. I didn't know what they were or how to care for them. I had just put them in my aquarium with everything else, that being three fan-tailed goldfish, and a Pleco.
<... not compatible>
This was in my 10 gallon tank.
( I also have a 100 gallon tank with an Oscar and another cichlids but I knew they'd be eaten there.) The frogs are now pretty good size. They managed to eat the goldfish and kill the place.
I had no idea they eat such. They have been eating goldfish pellets all their life, because I did not know what else to give them. They ate what the goldfish ate, so I figured that was fine. The place where they came from had no clue. Imagine that!
<... the Net, books...>
My question is coming. Two weeks ago, I woke up one morning and there were eggs ALL OVER the tank. I had no idea I even had a male and a female. What are the chances?!
I was excited and completely clueless. I knew, like most other things, that they'd probably eat them if I didn't move them. So, not knowing anything to do, I went and bought a small (1.5 gal) tank and took out the plants, which had the most concentration of eggs and I thought my best bet for saving some, and put them in the new tank. All the eggs became tiny tadpoles, and there must have been 50 in there. I was looking for info on what to do, but wasn't finding anything about raising babies. All were good for about a week. I had dropped a couple flakes of food in there b/ cause I had no idea what they needed.
<?! Then why not search, read?>
I got up day before yesterday and they were all gone. There was not one left swimming around. I cleaned out the tank. The frogs, in the mean time, have had eggs all over the tank every couple of days. So yesterday, I took out some more eggs and am going to try again. Please can you explain what is the best way to have some babies live to be frogs.
I did read an article a couple days ago that said if I left the male and female together, that they would constantly breed, which has been the case, and that too much breeding would make her I'll and could kill her? Is that right?
<Not really>
I don't want anything to happen to her, so I did go and get her own 10 gal tank and separate them just to be sure till I find out. Any advice on the babies would be greatly appreciated. I can't seem to find what I'm looking for about raising baby frogs. I had no idea what I had or how to care for them, but I want to take care of them the right way now, I just didn't know.
<Keep reading>
Thank you in advance.
Sent from my iPhone
<Not sent by iPhone. Bob Fenner>

Double checking I'm doing things right; Xenopus and "eggs", not -- 11/03/10
I do have tadpoles and I've discovered a number of egg clusters.
The baby snails appear unfazed when the toads kick them around the tank - I guess growing up with big toad feet kicking them helped a little on that. The snails just continue on as if nothing happened. The poor cameras have had the worst time getting a picture of the egg clusters, but I got a good shot... well, it's not completely in focus, but the best of the ones I've taken. These eggs are incredibly small - much tinier than the head of a pin. The poor camera really had the worst time focusing on the eggs since they're backlit by my window, transparent and very tiny!
<I don't think these are Xenopus eggs. They look too small. Xenopus eggs are quite large -- 2-3 mm across -- and laid singly, not in jelly-like masses. They aren't transparent either. I think these are Physa or Physella eggs. Do use Google to see pictures of Xenopus eggs.>
I think I'll just let nature handle how things work out now. I really only need to maintain the water level and clean the filter unless I want to risk the babies' lives. The plants (which have no actual roots) have been growing like crazy on the surface and even some that the toads did not uproot on bottom have been doing well.
<Floating Indian Fern is the best for Xenopus tanks.>
At best, I'll keep a close eye on the tadpoles and move the adults to a separate tank if things start getting out of hand. I've got a spare tank on standby - filter and all should the need arise. Thus far, they haven't even noticed the tadpoles, but I think I need to do further research on the metamorphosis of the toads for timing. I discovered the eggs last Thursday and clusters have shown up since... Sage has been busy. It would appear the adult snails left eggs of their own before dying, but apart from the already hatched babies, there hasn't been a whole lot of activity for those eggs up above the waterline in three separate clusters of their own. Jennifer
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Double checking I'm doing things right
Well, somebody's been busily laying eggs. There's at least 12 clusters all over the tank. I'm pretty sure I've seen tadpoles in there, too. Jennifer
<Hello Jennifer. I don't doubt that your frogs have been breeding; I just don't think those eggs are Xenopus eggs. There's an easy test: stick some in a breeding trap, let them hatch, and see if you find tadpoles in there or snails. In the meanwhile, use Google to compare the eggs of Physa snails against Xenopus frogs, and come to your own conclusion. Good luck, Neale.>

   Look more like snail eggs to me!

Re: Double checking I'm doing things right - 11/7/10
Actually, now that I think about it, the egg clusters you saw in the picture didn't begin appearing until after all the adult snails were long gone and I'm pretty sure the babies are too young to lay any eggs yet. Besides, you said the mystery/apple snail has to lay their eggs above the waterline - these are below... mostly well below the waterline. The highest cluster I can find is about an inch below the surface. Probably won't know for sure for a couple months, though. Any tadpoles are presently too small for the cameras to catch. At least we know the toads and snails get along when the snails are born in the toads' tank. One of the toads kicks at least one baby snail daily and the snail just keeps going about its business as if the toad's foot means nothing to it. Jennifer
<Hello again Jennifer. As I said last time, the only way to be 100% sure is to isolate those egg masses in another tank and see what emerges. Five seconds on Google should show you what Xenopus eggs look like, and they don't look anything like blobs containing bunches of near-microscopic eggs. On the other hand, that's exactly what Physa and Physella spp. egg masses look like. Again, as I'm sure I've stated before, apple snail eggs are pink and laid above the waterline, and I never said that these egg masses were produced by Pomacea species. These egg blobs have nothing whatsoever to do with your apple snails so forget about connecting the appearance of these egg masses with the happiness (or otherwise) of your Pomacea spp. snails. Look up Physa and Physella on Google and you'll see what these snails look like and what their egg masses look like. As for the happiness of your apple snails, the problems usually occur once the snails are about 12-18 months old, which is when most specimens die. Keeping them alive for 3-4 years so they reach their full, tennis ball size is the hard part. I've never said apple snails are difficult to keep alive for the first year! Cheers, Neale.>

ACF tadpoles  8/2/10
Hi, I have a batch of 9 day old African clawed frog tadpoles. All seem to be doing fine except one - - it somehow lost half of it's tail. It is much too early for metamorphosis to be happening, so I am concerned about the chances of this tadpole surviving.
<Does it have arms and legs yet? If so, not a big deal. But if not, then this chap really will have trouble feeding. Unless you separate it off into a breeding trap and put food right in front of its face, it's going to lose out against the others.>
The injury happened two days ago, cause unknown, and the tadpole has been unable to swim about the tank.
<Likely cannibalism or perhaps damage from an over-strong filter.>
It manages to "flutter" from area to area, but spends most of the time on the bottom of the tank. I figured it would have died by now, but it is still alive. Can they regenerate their tails?
Is there a chance it lives long enough to morph?
<If fed, yes.>
If it does morph, is there a chance it could morph into a deformed tadpole?
<Minimal likelihood of that, I'd imagine. With luck, and some feeding, he should mature nicely. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: ACF tadpoles
They will not start to develop arms and legs for a couple weeks - - they are filter feeders so it wasn't an act of cannibalism.
<Indeed, but under the confines of aquaria it is not uncommon for tadpoles to act aberrantly in this way. So do keep an open mind. It's otherwise hard to imagine how a tadpole could lose its tail.>
They are in an unfiltered tank due to their size (now a little over half an inch).
<I would use an air-powered sponge filter nonetheless. If nothing else, it will keep the bacteria count in the water low, and that will inhibit secondary infections, the most likely cause of death following physical injuries. Sponges also culture all kinds of algae and Protozoans that tadpoles and baby fish consume. Well worth having, and far more convenient and reliable that daily water changes.>
Daily water changes, an aerator and live plants keep the water to level.
<Live plants growing rapidly under intense light can help, but they aren't normally a replacement for filtration. Frogs are acutely sensitive to poor water quality, both in the wild and in aquaria. A filter really isn't an option, it's essential.>
Thank you for your swift response!
<No problem. Cheers, Neale.>

Help!!! ACF... molly... Repro. Et?  2/26/10
I have been searching for the right answers to my questions and I am getting lots of different answers!!!
So I don't know what to do!!
<Like, totally!!!>
I have 2 African clawed frogs and 2 dwarf frogs!!
<Not in the same tank, I hope. They have very different temperature requirements, and the coldwater Xenopus (the big frogs) will eat the tropical Hymenochirus (the dwarf frogs).>
But, my one clawed frogs belly is getting bigger and bigger!!
<Oh noes!!!>
I am believing that she is going to be laying some eggs.
She's not as active as the rest of my frogs and she lays and kinda hides out like she is nesting.
<Not nesting. They don't sit in nests.>
But, the one other kind of frog always follows her around and gets on her and like hugs her here and there.
<It's called amplexus. Male frogs mount the backs of females, and use horny pads on their hands to hold on. As the females extrude their eggs, the males fertilise them.>
I don't know if there is anyway you can help me or not!
<She may not need helping.>
She was never this big and it just kinda came and I don't know what steps I should take!
<Do check you're keeping these animals correctly, here:
In particular, review aquarium size, water chemistry, temperature, and water quality.>
I also have 2 molly fish and they are 2 different kinds I know the one is a sunset molly and the other one is red with a black fin tail.
<Presumably in their own aquarium, and not with the frogs?>
Now, she has a big belly and it's pretty much the same story as the frog!!
<These are livebearing fish. Females will become quite big shortly before birth.>
She lays at the bottom of the Fishtank and kinda goes into places and hides out. She never did this until I noticed her belly getting much larger! I don't know if they are or not????
<Mollies are finicky fish that need very specific things to do well. A large aquarium, lots of warmth, and hard, basic water, preferably slightly brackish. Do read here:
But, the things I have been reading says I need to separate them from the others so they don't get ate.
<"Don't get ate"? You mean "won't get eaten" presumably. Indeed, other fish may well eat newborn fry.>
But, here is another question can I put them both in a separate tank until they hatch or should I get 2 extra tanks for each one??
<Do read here, re: breeding:
I know they say about the nursery nets but if they both are going to have babies that is not going to work right???
<Putting the female in the net will stress her, and can lead to miscarriages. Best to let the baby fish hide among floating plants, and when you see them, move them into the breeding trap.>
I really hope that they are and I hope as well you can help me with this I am a first timer at this and am freaking out!!
<No way!!!>
Because I don't know what to do I want to learn about this as well as understand this!! I don't know if this matters or not?! But, I have 4 big goldfish,4 frogs, algae eater,2mollies,2tiger barbs I believe that is what they are called.
<Not all in the same tank, I hope. Unless it's a HUGE tank.>
So I really hope that you can assist me with this matter because I greatly appreciate your knowledge and helpfulness!!!!!!!! Thanks for taking your time to read this!!!
Sincerely, Maloree Peck
<Totally. Neale.>

Xenopus; reproductive behaviour; physical damage  11/15/09
My juvenile male African clawed frog was trying to convince my female to mate - he was in position holding on to her waist and when she just decided to lay there, he started reaching up with his hind legs and kicking her in the head.
<This is what they do...>
This doesn't concern me - I have seen it before...often with the female tapping her foot in annoyance and disinterest.
<Not sure the foot tapping is "annoyance" -- it's always important not to put human emotions onto animal behaviours. But yes, females may not be ready to mate, in which case they can become stressed. Adding a second mature female will divide up the male's time, and this is hugely helpful.
Adding some floating plants, such as Indian Fern, will give the female some hiding places, and that helps too. Obviously, in the wild the female can swim off, but in a very small tank that isn't possible. Think about the size of the aquarium, and whether it is adequately large for the specimens you have.>
But this last time, my male kicked so hard that my albino female is now covered with scratches! Near her eye and near her armpit...
<The males develop specific horny pads on their hands used during mating, or amplexus, as its called with frogs. These horny pads grab the skin and make it possible for male frogs to hold onto what are slippery, slimy animals. Any damage done should be slight, and naturally heals up assuming good water quality. Your should see what male sharks do to their lovers...>
I added some aquarium salt in the water
<Wouldn't be my first thought, but Xenopus is reasonably tolerant of salt so no harm will be done. Not much good will be done either, it has to be said, and the old idea salt prevented infection is nonsensical (and mostly put about by the manufacturers of boxed salt). Strong salt solutions are antiseptics, that's true, hence gargling with salt when you have a mouth ulcer. But a teaspoon of salt per gallon? Useless. Much, MUCH better to concentrate on providing optimal water conditions (0 ammonia, 0 nitrite) and water chemistry (moderately hard to hard, basic water; 10-20 degrees dH, pH 7.5). Make sure your filter is adequate and working properly, and that you do regular (weekly) water changes. Keep the temperature sensible, not to high and not too low. Room temperature, between 15-20 degrees C is ideal.>
What else can I do to help the female heal?
<Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Albino cave frogs, beh...  9/10/09
Hi I have 2 albino frogs, I have had them for about 3 years and have had no problems with them. Yesterday I found that one had escaped (the larger of the two frogs).
<They will do this from uncovered tanks. So be warned!>
I have no idea how long it had been out of the tank but it was covered in fluff from the carpet etc and where ever else it had been. I put it in a holding tank to try and clean it up, I then returned it to its normal tank
and made sure the lid was firmly shut.
The other (smaller) frog then swam and clung to the frog that had previously escaped, it remained holding on until I went to bed. I woke up this morning to find the larger frog on its back with the smaller one still holding on but to its belly. I thought the larger one was dead but its legs twitch every now and then, also they are making a weird sort of noise that I have never heard before.
<Sounds like amplexus, the mating "clutch" males do to hold onto females.
Males will indeed sing. Males are smaller than females, and males develop little rough patches on the palms of their hands for holding on tightly.
Xenopus breeding is rare but not unheard of if home aquaria (in labs it's stimulated with various chemicals).>
Any ideas, is one dying or drowning the other one?
Many thanks
<Cheers, Neale.>

Albino ACF laying eggs without a mate  1/4/09 Hello WWM Crew; <Hello!> I am new to the aquatic world. In late August we bought 2 Albino ACF's. <African Clawed Frogs, Xenopus laevis?> The pink, larger one is definitely a female. We think the other one, who was smaller and an aqua green color was male. He died on October 10th and we are not sure why. The female has been thriving. We did a water change yesterday and she is in a tank with a filter so we change it about every other week. This morning we noticed a lot of tiny white dots. They almost looked like Styrofoam. <Eggs!> She is also acting strange. I have read that ACF's can lay eggs without having a mate. <Can indeed happen, and indeed was why they were used as a pregnancy test kit in the past: add a little urine from a woman to the tank, and the female frog will lay eggs if the woman was pregnant!> My questions are 1) she is eating these eggs-will they make her sick. <No. Many animals will do this, in effect "recycling" the energy for their next breeding attempt.> 2) I am assuming they are not fertilized-will they become tadpoles? <Indeed. Frogs generally perform external fertilisation, with the male shedding sperm over the eggs as the female lays them. No male, no tadpoles.> 3) should we take these eggs out? <Yes. Think of the eggs as rotting bits of food right now: long term, they're going to ruin water quality.> Any additional information you could provide me with on this topic would be appreciated. <Get a male! Breeding these frogs isn't too difficult, and lots of fun to do. The tadpoles are quite hardy and easy to rear, and most shops will accept good quality tadpoles without much fuss. Do remember these frogs are subtropical animals, and part of the art of keeping them is to allow them to cool down (around 15 C) in winter and then warming them up in spring (around 20 C). When they're warm, they should spawn readily. The usual mistakes with Xenopus are to keep them too warm and to overfeed them. A basic rule of thumb is that what's comfortable for us is comfortable for them, so room temperature in most homes is just about perfect. Feed them no more than 3-4 times per week. Less in winter when they're cool, more in summer. Do this, and you'll find them very hardy and long lived.> Thank You; Dawn <Good luck, Neale.>

Mating season for ACF 11/10/08 Hello. I was just wondering about the male African clawed frogs. I've had mine since he was a wee little froglet. After about 3 months or so he began to develop what I like to call "black gloves". Now I know that these are meant for mating but he's continuously had them since he was about 3 months old. He's now almost a year old. Is he confused? Does it have anything to do with the temp of the water? Or do these guys always have them? Please get back to me with information. Thank you. <Are these Xenopus frogs? When sexually mature the males do develop what are called "nuptial pads" for the breeding season. These help the male grip the slippery females during amplexus. Sexual maturity is attained at about one year of age. There is a vague breeding season in spring (these animals being subtropical, not tropical, in the wild, and so exposed to a cool winter and a hot summer). In reality though commercial breeding is almost always done with hormones. In the aquarium, the best you can do is let them cool down slightly for a few months in winter (around 18 C would be good) and then warm it up a bit in early spring (to the usual 22-25 C). Good conditioning will help, i.e., make an effort to provide live/frozen foods rather than pellets or freeze dried foods. Cheers, Neale.>

Many questions about ACF and tadpole care... 9/13/08
I've been raising 7 ACF tadpoles for two weeks as of today, and just when I think I couldn't possibly have any more questions, another one pops up. Add to this that much of the information on the net is conflicting and I'm at something of a loss. After reading all the posts in your FAQ, it seems like you guys are going to be my best shot at some straight advice. (By the way I've NEVER owned any kind of aquarium before.)
<That's OK. By and large, keeping aquaria is easy if you do things precisely by the numbers. Where people go wrong is doing stuff before they've read up on things.>
So, here's hoping.
1) These tads came in a kit with VERY poor care instructions (they didn't even tell me what species they'd sent) so I'm fumbling some in the proper care department. They've always been, and still are, in a 1.5g container.
I was feeding once a day and skimming the uneaten food off the top about 2 hours after feeding.
<Very good. When raising any small animal, the golden rule is this: little but often. Tadpoles and larval fish have short alimentary canals, and after the first couple mouthfuls, anything else they eat is going to pass through pretty much undigested.>
I was doing 100% water changes daily, removing the tads (gently with a cup), rinsing the gravel, tank, plants etc.. and putting it all back with fresh de-chlorinated tap water.
<All sounds like a bit of waste of time really. Is this some sort of Science Shop kit? Every once in a while we get messages about these things, and the sad truth is that these kits are very much gimmicks, sold to people who have no idea about rearing frogs (or Triops, or Sea Monkeys, or whatever).>
I was advised by the FroggieFriends yahoo group that I wasn't feeding enough and to step it up to twice a day.
<In the wild they'd be eating more or less constantly, but tiny tiny meals. When rearing baby fish, I like to put clumps of Java Moss or algae in the tank. This traps food particles like a sponge, giving the baby animals someplace to graze. I can then add small amounts of food without worrying it's going to get lost in the tank or filter.>
I was further advised I was cleaning too much, to remove the substrate and fake plants, and add an air stone set on low. In addition I was told to stop skimming, but to use a turkey baster to get the yuck off the bottom and do about a 50% water change every day.
<All good calls, but a total waste of time in the big picture. Here's what you really need before wasting time/money on this. Start with a 10-20 gallon glass or plastic tank. Get an air pump and an air-powered sponge filter. The latter looks like a cylindrical block of sponge built onto a plastic U-shaped tube with some suckers. You stick it on the tank, connect to the air pump, and switch on. This will clean the water and also become a breeding ground for tiny animals (infusoria) that the tadpoles will gleefully eat. For the first week or two you'll want to do 25% water changes every day or two while the filter becomes mature, but after that weekly 25% water changes will be ample. The good news is that not only will this work fine for the tadpoles, it'll keep working for the frogs as well!>
So I started doing that, then tested the water for ammonia just to see what it was. Well it was 1ppm, so I promptly did a 100% water change. Today when I tested for ammonia it was about .50ppm so I did a 90% water change. About 3 hours later I tested again (I'm a freak about whether or not they're suffering) and it was between .25 and .50ppm.
<Now, the ammonia comes from decaying food and from the tadpoles themselves (which produce ammonia for the same reason we produce urine). A biological filter will handle this, and I refer you back to my sponge filter!>
So I turkey basted the bottom. Then, I noticed that, today, everyone developed a crook in their tail!!! What's that about? I know the tail will go away, but is this some indication that they're doomed already?
<Difficult to say; sometimes under poor conditions larval fish and frogs will develop deformities. But for now, hope for the best.>
Well, I'm sure they suffering, but I can't get a complete cycle because that would likely kill the little guys. But aquaticfrogs.tripod.com says one wants the tank not too dirty or too clean.
<This refers to the need for algae and infusoria for the tadpoles to feed on; again, my sponge filter will do the trick!>
So I'm at a loss as to what to do to get my little buddies to adulthood in one piece. All help will be appreciated.
2) I'm currently cycling a 55g tank into which they will eventually move, but have a few questions about this as well. First question is about filtration. I currently have an Aquaclear 70 waterfall filter on the tank.
The research I did indicated that most waterfall filters are fine for the frogs BUT.. I found out the frogs have motion sensors in their skin and water turbulence is VERY disturbing to them, so now I'm questioning the waterfall filter bit.
<Depends. Are these fully aquatic frogs or frogs that jump about on land? If the amphibious kind that spend only some time in the water, I'd not worry too much. But I'm assuming "ACF" are African Clawed Frogs, Xenopus laevis, a big, subtropical species that never ever leaves the water. These are very hardy and will be fine with whatever filter you prefer. They're standard lab animals.>
BUT I also read where one absolutely could NOT use ANY kind of under gravel filter for them because this would be like subjecting them to living with a jackhammer 24-7..
<Never heard of this. Undergravel filters are in fact very gentle, and widely used with delicate fish. I suspect this factoid was dreamed up by someone with much interest in frogs but little understanding of their actual biology. It is true frogs are sensitive to vibrations, as are fish, underwater is a hugely noisy place because sound carries so much better there than in air. So I'd worry much more about water quality than whether or not the tank was noisy.>
BUT then I read in your FAQ that under gravel filters are GREAT for these frogs. HELP!???
<I'd actually eschew undergravels for amphibian tanks. Instead I'd use a simple air-powered sponge filter or electric canister filter where possible, and use smooth sand for the substrate. Less likely to cause damage to their delicate skin.>
3) Food questions: Right now they're getting the powdered food that came with the kit. They seem to like it, everyone's growing and seemingly happy.
Is this food good for them all the way to the froglet stage?
<No idea; but personally I'd be expanding their diet as they grew to include things like live daphnia and frozen bloodworms. Dried food loses its vitamin content within a few weeks of opening, so "old" packages become steadily less useful as a sole food item.>
I've been advised that there should always be food in their tank at this stage because they're filter feeders.
<Most tadpoles feed on algae, though whether that makes them filter feeders is up for debate.>
On the one hand, that makes sense to me because it's not likely that there's no food in the water in the wild.
<Tadpoles invariably live in shallow water where there aren't fish. What they do when young is skim across solid objects, feeding on "aufwuchs", the combination of algae and tiny invertebrates. As they mature they tend to become more omnivorous, and at least some tadpole species become carnivorous, even cannibalistic. Before they turn into froglets they will be completely carnivorous, and as frogs feed entirely on smaller animals.>
On the other hand, food in the water all the time will cause more ammonia, which at some point will kill them won't it?
<Correct; which is why we moderate the food that goes in, and provide a filter to remove the ammonia produced.>
So where is the balance between over feeding and under feeding at the tadpole stage. At the froglet stage what do they get? Can pellets or tadpole bites be their staple at this point? Once they're adults, the information about what to feed them and how often is just as confusing.
<Xenopus laevis is carnivorous when mature. Being subtropical it has a lower metabolism than tropical frogs, and so doesn't need daily feedings. Earthworms are a particular favourite, but bloodworms and other frozen foods given to fish make ideal staples.>
You guys are definitely of the opinion that the food that comes in pellet form should NOT be their main source of nutrition. Others say that's fine. So if I don't feed them pellets as their main food, should I just be feeding them live things like brine shrimp and crickets?
<Neither brine shrimp nor crickets will be appropriate to this species. Adult brine shrimp are the fish equivalent of popcorn -- empty calories with no useful nutrition. Crickets will be too hard for them. Go visit your local aquarium shop and buy a blister pack of (wet) frozen bloodworms; these will do the job nicely.>
Why are frozen bloodworms okay, but freeze dried aren't?
<Freeze dried food is overpriced for what it is, and not all animals will take it. Aquatic animals sometimes get problems with constipation when fed freeze dried to excess. Wet frozen foods are the aquarium equivalent of sushi -- nutritious, popular, and clean.>
How often to feed them as adults is also confusing. Some say 3 or 4 times a week. Others say once or twice a week.
<Depends on the quantity. I always advocate "little but often". If you want to feed small daily meals, that's fine. Really, all that matters is that the ammonia is zero. Frogs (or fish) don't explode when they're overfed -- what happens is the excess food decays, and produces ammonia, and THAT poisons them. In tanks with generous filtration, overfeeding isn't really an issue, so you can play it by ear and see what it takes to keep your frogs gently rounded but not fat.>
I guess that would depend, though, on how much you're giving them at each feeding, right? So how much should I be feeding them as adults, and how often? Oh, and in the 55g tank I've put about a 1.5" layer of substrate down. They're small stones, not really gravel. Someone told me that I should clear a space in the corner, and put a small bowl or plate in it so the frogs could get the food from there. They said with the substrate in, they wouldn't be able to get to the bottom to feed. Apparently, this is something they like to do. Do you agree with this?
<All sounds dandy. Xenopus laevis is really very easy to keep once metamorphosed, and I doubt that there's any single best way to keep them. I'd go with a bare tank with a sponge filter only because it'd be easy to clean. But feel free to improvise. Just make sure you can remove uneaten food and that there's adequate water circulation. Floating plants are good with this species, but I'd add some plants-on-bogwood too (Anubias, Java fern, Java moss).>
4) Separation: Tadpoles develop at different rates. I learned from your site that this is an evolutionary protection of the species kind of thing, in case the pond dries up, and a bunch of the more mature ones get eaten right away. (very interesting by the way) I've read that you should "separate tadpoles that are at different developmental stages". Does this mean I should separate big tadpoles from little tadpoles, or does it mean I should separate tadpoles from froglets?
<It's really about cannibalism; if the size differences aren't great, I'd not worry overmuch. If you want, put the smaller ones into a floating breeding trap or equivalent.>
5) Froglet stage: I've been told that once they're froglets and the tank is done cycling, they can go in the 55g tank. It seems like they will still be pretty small as froglets. Can they still be sucked into the filter at this stage? Because it would really stink to get them all the way to froglets only to lose them to the filter!
<A sponge filter will not "suck up" baby frogs.>
6) Cycling the tank: I've done my research about this as well and we've started a fishless cycle on the 55g tank using raw shrimp. We're testing for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate every day (as part of a science project for my 8 yr old.) We're getting a steady rise in ammonia, and expect to see nitrite sometime in the next week or so. No problems really except the STINK. My house smells REALLY funky!
<Too much shrimp! Too much shrimp! You only need a little!>
I've got a huge hepa-filter running next to the tank on TURBO speed. We can't find ammonia without surfactant in it. I've looked everywhere. We've decided to put new shrimp in every other day, and take old shrimp out the day after we put new shrimp in. Will that work or will it mess up the cycle? Do you guys have any suggestions on a less offensive way to do this? (We aren't going to cycle with live fish, it's just not an option for us.) Most of the information out there says that it'll be about 6 weeks for the tads to become froglets. This works out, because most of the information also says it'll also take about 6 weeks for the tank to fully cycle. However, if the tank is ready for life before the tads are froglets, we thought we'd put some mystery snails in the tank.
<I'd remove the shrimp, do a great big (90%) water change, and then add the Apple Snails. They'll keep the filter in good order.>
Well, actually we're planning on putting the snails in the tank regardless.
My question is, if the tank is cycled and we put in 3 or 4 mystery snails will that be enough of a bio-load to sustain the bacteria until the froglets can go into the tank?
What I'm trying to avoid is a re-cycle once I add 5 to 7 froglets (assuming I can get them all to that stage). So if the tank is ready before the frogs are how can I KEEP the tank ready? Well, believe it or not, I think that's it. You said not to worry about the length of the email. ;-) Thanks. I really appreciate you all taking the time to help me and my
little buddies out.
<I hope his helps, Neale.>
Re: Many questions about ACF and tadpole care... 9/13/08

Neale and crew,
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer all of these questions! You guys are the best. I really appreciate it.
<You are most welcome, and we're glad to help! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Many questions about ACF and tadpole care... 9/13/08

Hello again,
I wonder if I could trouble you with a couple of follow up questions?
<Sure thing.>
1) I asked if the froglets would be big enough to put in the 55g tank without getting sucked into the filter. And Neale advised that they wouldn't get sucked into a sponge filter (one he advised me to get). I'm wondering, though, since he mentioned I should be ok with any kind of
filter, how the froglets will do with the Aquaclear 70 that's already running on the tank?
<I'm not wild about these "hang on the back" filters for a variety of reasons, not least of which are the fact the inlet and outlet are in the same part of the tank, and that they are designed to use "modules" the manufacturer locks you into buying rather than giving the option to choose whatever media you want. All this said, assuming that the froglets swim at least as strongly as a small fish, the Aquaclear shouldn't cause any problems.>
2) Apple snails and vegetation: Neale mentioned getting some floating plants, or "plants-on-bogwood too (Anubias, Java fern, Java moss)". I understand that the snails do well with vegetation, but I was under the impression that African Clawed Frogs (ACFs) would pretty much destroy any plant in the tank. Is this not so? Do I feed the snails something other than what I'm feeding the frogs? Is there anything special I need to do to make sure the frogs aren't hogging all the food? Can I get those plants at the local pet store? Will the fact that my aquarium is securely lidded cause any problems for the plants?
<My experience of Apple snails is that they eat most plants, so I'd experiment with a few plants first to see how things go. Java fern should be a good starting point, being ignored by most things, supposedly because its toxic. Java moss and Anubias sometimes get damaged by grazing animals, so I'd buy one of each and see how they did before stocking up on them. I can't imagine your frogs doing any harm to these plants -- they are tough enough for use with cichlids and catfish!>
3) Regarding cycling my tank, Neale said, "<I'd remove the shrimp, do a great big (90%) water change, and then add the Apple Snails. They'll keep the filter in good order.>" Does he mean to do that now, or once the tank is finished cycling? As of today, we're at 3ppm ammonia, 0 nitrItes and 0 nitrAtes. It's only been 6 days.
<I'd do this now. The snails should be fine in a 55 gallon tank, particularly if you took care to ensure the ammonia stayed below 1 ppm. The reason it's so high is the excessive amount of rotting shrimp! With the snails on their own, it should drop to almost nothing. Add a pinch of flake food every couple of days, and the snails will produce the ammonia from that.>
If he means we should change to the snails now, won't the ammonia spike hurt the little guys? I think he might have made this suggestion because I was complaining about the smell using
raw shrimp. He said we had too much shrimp in the tank but we only have one in there, except when we're going to change out the really gross one for a fresh one. Then, there are two in the tank together for about 16-24 hours. But if we can cycle with snails and they're somehow impervious to the pain and damage the ammonia spike causes other aquatic life, then I'll do that.
<It's not that the snails are impervious to ammonia, but that they'll produce so little in the context of a 55 gallon tank that the level won't be high enough to cause harm. I'd be surprised if three or four Apple snails in a 55 gallon tank raised the ammonia to even 0.25 mg/l.>
Just one last follow up question on this subject. Neale said (and I'm not doubting him) that 3 or 4 Apple Snails would be enough of a bio load to maintain a bacteria colony large enough to prevent a re-cycle once the froglets are added. There will be 5-7 froglets (I hope). Will the re-cycle be prevented because the froglets will be small at the time of their addition?
<I'm assuming the froglets will be quite small, Neon-tetra sized. This being so, yes, the filter will be plenty mature for them. Let's say the Apple snails are on their own for a month; that will cycle the biological filter, meaning that once you add the froglets from the tank their in now to the 55 gallon system, all the filter has to do is "step up" the amount of biological filtration. Filters do this incredibly quickly (remember, bacteria can double their numbers in 20 minutes). The tricky bit with filters is going from zero to mature. That takes a few weeks. Going from a mature filter adapted to a few fish to a mature filter adapted to a few more fish is easy. All you need to do is take care not to overfeed, and then to check the nitrite for a couple of days after adding the livestock just to make sure everything is fine.>
Thanks, AGAIN, for the help.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Xenopus Breeding and Care   6/10/08 Hello, <Hi there> I have 4 ACF's that are at least 1 year old. I have 2 males and 2 females. One of the females is a little bit older and quite a bit bigger than the other. Although the males have attached themselves to the females in the past, they have not laid eggs until this weekend. The big female laid approx. 1000 eggs Saturday and at least 80% were eaten. This morning (Monday), the same male and female were "at it" again, and she was laying more eggs. My question to you is twofold. First, what should we do with the eggs to care for them properly? Should we move them to a separate tank? <Yes, this is best> Should we net them off in the parent tank? Second, do we need to separate the males from the females now that they are mature? <If you don't want them to reproduce... more, yes> Will it kill the females to mate too often or too much? <There is speculation that their lifetimes are shortened by too much/reproduction> (I cannot seem to find a lot of information regarding the breeding of Xenopus and how to care for the eggs/tadpoles) Thank you very much for your help. Rachel <Mmmm, please search with the terms: Xenopus laevis reproduction, culture, care... There are thousands of citations. This species has been used in many scientific experiments over decades time. Bob Fenner>

African Clawed Frogs mating  3/14/08 Hi, <Hello there> First off, thank you for your site!! I found it searching for my question and have gleaned a wealth of information. <Ah, good> I purchased 2 Albino ACFs from Wal-Mart a couple months ago as froglettes. I bought 2 because I've read that they are social creatures. Turns out that I have a male and a female. I've been reading quite a bit about their mating behaviors but still have the following concerns. First, I only want 2 frogs and do not have the time or equipment to raise a bunch of tadpoles... <Mmm, I'd be trading one in for another of the opposite sex...> and if I did what would I do with them all once they were grown? <Mmm, either destroy (Xenopus are incredibly invasive...) or selling to/through local to national outlets> Second, I'm a bit squeamish about letting them mate and then letting them eat their own eggs (I know, it's nature, but it just really creeps me out). I've read through searches that they mate 4 times a year mostly during the spring. The mating rituals have begun on our tank. The male has black nuptial pads, is calling during the evening/night and is grasping the female around the waist (and the even stranger thing, he undulates on top of her... umm... like mammals do... I didn't think amphibians did that). <Mmm, yes> They are not doing the flips at the top of the water yet and the female doesn't seem very interested and actually swims away from the male often when he's calling and gets near her. I'm not completely sure what series the events go in for mating, but she's not all fat with eggs as other sites have shown. So I'm not even sure she's ready to mate. <Maybe not> So my question is, do I separate them and if so, when and for how long? <Really... indefinitely> Is there any way to make mating not so attractive (I read about water temp for priming mating)? <Not practically> Also, I noticed that her cloaca is red, is that part of the mating or is there something wrong with her? <Mmm, no, not likely... hormonal, physical...> I know I sound pretty clueless, but I haven't found too much info on ACF mating out there. Thanks in advance for your help. Stephanie <Trade either the female or male and get/keep two of the same sex... Bob Fenner>

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