FAQs About Xenopus laevis,
African Clawed Frog Nutritional Diseases
FAQs on Xenopus Disease:
Xenopus Disease 1,
Xenopus Health 2,
Xenopus Health 3,
Xenopus Health 4, Xenopus
FAQs on Xenopus Disease by Category:
Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal),
Keeping African Clawed Frogs and African Dwarf
Xenopus in General,
Xenopus Reproduction, &
Frogs Other Than African and Clawed,
African Dwarf Frogs,
Beware of Bloodworms, Sewer Fly Larvae... implicated in
disease. Wash your hands if touching!
Albino dwarf frog ailment... Not... actually Xenopus, fdg.,
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
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
Re: Albino dwarf frog ailment
Thank you for your help. We will try a better diet and search at the
websites you suggested.
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>
Sick African Clawed Albino Frog 4/28/11
I have an African Clawed Albino Frog that I have had for three years
now. I have never had any problem until last night. I keep him in a 5
gallon round tank,
never had any filtration
and have gravel on the bottom and no plants or any other frogs or fish
with him. I have fed him freeze dried shrimp since day one.
<Freeze-dried foods are okay occasionally, but for obvious reasons
(I hope) dried foods day-in, day-out aren't good for the digestive
system of animals. They do need variation.>
I have tried to give him freeze dried blood worms and krill and he
doesn't want to eat anything but the shrimp.
<Unfortunately, crustaceans are not a complete food; variation is
My problem is I found him upside down in his tank last night. I was
able to net him without any effort at all. I cleaned his tank( I keep
gallon water jugs that have had Stress Zyme put into them and set them
aside for the next tank cleaning) and put him in a shallow container to
keep a better eye on him because he was not able to swim to the surface
to get air.
<Sounds bad. Do understand that adding potions isn't a
substitute for a proper sized aquarium and suitable filtration.>
He is not eating at all and he is still very un active. He seems to not
be able to use his back legs and when I moved his small container he
almost rolled up in a ball and was acting like he was having a seizure.
He flipped over to his back again and couldn't roll back to his
<Dying. Given these frogs should live more than 12 years and
potentially 20 years, you can see that 5 years is pretty poor.>
His one back leg went out strait as a board and stayed that way. (I
just checked him and his leg is back to normal).
<Spasm of some sort not good.>
He is not eating anything at all now and I still haven't introduced
him back into the bigger tank for fear he will not be able to make it
to the top to get air. When he surfaces in the small container his
breathing is very hard and seems to be taking extremely big breaths. He
also feels cold to the touch. He does not have any shedding skin issues
or bloating or red leg.
I'm not sure of what the water levels are at due to not having
anything to test with
<Should own, at minimum, a nitrite (with an "I", not
nitrate with an "a") test kit.>
and not sure exactly where and what to get.
What could possibly be the problem and what can I do to help him? I
have been reading illnesses and diseases and found little information
on my particular issue. Could you please help Kermit ( the frog). Thank
<Do please read:
The differences between what this frog needs and what you've
provided thus far are the things killing him. A vet may be able to
help, but I really can't recommend anything off the shelf.
That's because this frog is very close to death, and you just
don't have time to mess about with weak over-the-counter
Update: Within the last 5 minutes of writing this I checked on Kermit
before sending this and he now has a long milky slime extending from
his rear feet to under his chin. A quick response would greatly be
appreciated. My 8 year old daughter is very upset thinking her pet frog
is dying. Thanks again.
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
African clawed frog 12/27/10
I have an albino African clawed frog, but she has a lumpy
stomach and a lump on her side under her arm, she seems to be
swimming on her side, we feed her blood worms. she in a 120 ltr tank
with 3 fish and 2 male acfrogs.
we've been having colder weather here although we do have the
heating on, but the tank is fresh cold water. Is she constipated? and
do you think the water could be too cold?
<Hello Liz. Do start by reading here:
Generally speaking, Xenopus laevis does okay in unheated tanks provided
room temperature doesn't drop much below 18 C/64 F. Use a
thermometer to keep tabs on temperature; the cheap LCD "sticky
on" ones are fine. If you need to use a heater, be sure to turn it
to a low setting, and place a heater guard around the heater otherwise
there's a very real risk of the frog burning itself. Yes, cold
conditions can cause a variety of problems including constipation, but
other issues may be at play here instead. Read, and keep an open mind.
Blind Albino African Clawed frog 6/3/10
<Hello Danielle. Thanks for writing in. But please, don't
send 6 MB of photos next time. We do specifically ask for photos
around 500 KB in size, otherwise one or two people's messages
will fill up our e-mail space, causing other people's
messages to get bounced back unread.>
I have had my blind Albino African Clawed frog in a 10 gallon
tank with a couple of what were suppose to be feeder guppies
<Wrong food for this species, and a darn good way to introduce
but he can't see them to get to them so they are now pets I
suppose and live plants for about a month. I have been feeding
him feeder/ghost shrimp
<Not adequate food; shrimp contain Thiaminase, and long-term,
this will cause all sorts of problems through Vitamin B1
deficiency. Good staples include earthworms, wet-frozen
bloodworms; in moderation, prepared dried foods may be accepted,
but used too often will cause constipation.>
because they hang out on the bottom of the tank so they are easy
for him to find. I have tried blood worms and of course he
can't see them so it is just a mess.
<Indeed. The blue and white pebbles aren't helping here
and were a really bad idea. If you use plain "smooth"
silica sand the bloodworms won't sink in, and the frog can
find them through touch and smell. With pebbles the bloodworms
will just fall into the cracks. I cannot stress too strongly how
important research is when keeping pet animals, and just because
a pet shop sells something it doesn't automatically mean
it's worth buying.>
A couple of days ago I got him a new bunch of shrimp and 1/2 of
them turned white and died.
<As they do.>
They weren't fuzzy or anything just not see through
I don't know if it makes a difference but most of the shrimp
But before this my frog developed black spots which almost look
like markings on his back and hind legs.
<Looks normal to me.>
He eats fine and moves around just fine doesn't act sickly
anyway. The people at the pet store I got him from said that
without his eyes (which are completely missing BTW) they
couldn't for sure say he was Albino
so he might not be and was probably just his natural markings
But I thought he was a little big for him not to have any
markings yet if he was going to have any. His Veins on his feet
and one very defined vein on his arms are visible too. I attached
a photo of him in the tank and out of the tank. If you could let
me know what you think about the pet stores response and what I
might need to do different if there is something wrong with him
and/or my tank and what it may be I would really appreciate
African albino dwarf clawed frog problem
Hi there. Would really like your help. I have a 60litre aquarium
with few fish in. I had 2 adcf.
The first one was dies about a month ago now. He went at first
plump in this belly, then within a few days it swelled into what
can only be described as a balloon. I could see through it, and
was just air didn't see no block etc. He ended up at the top
of the tank so full of air he couldn't come down at all no
matter how hard he tried. He just floated. The next day he died.
That was a month ago, now I notice on the remaining frog the
beginning of this bubble seems to be happening, but from the top
of his head down to bottom, instead of sole on his belly. I
don't want him to have the same fate. Any idea how to help or
what this is?
<Unfortunately I do not>
Iv had him 2 and half months. Water checks for everything all
<What re actual measures?>
Temp a stable 27c. Has mixture of granular sinking food, odd
flake left by fish and blood worms weekly.
<I would go easy on offering these last... may be too hard for
the frogs to digest>
The first frog looked like he was going to pop, and sadly this
lil man seems to be going same way. Thanks in advance. Kerry
<Please peruse here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/xenopusdis.htm
and the linked files above... Nothing you state "jumps
out" as a probable cause of disease here. Bob Fenner>
African Clawed Frog Excessive Shedding & Loss of
Hello. Zota is a female AFC just under 2 years old. I house her in a 10
gallon tank with a few live plants, a small terracotta flower pot &
a couple other ceramic (food safe) dishes for her to hide in, & a
few scattered large rocks. I use a heater which seems to keep the water
around 78 degrees, but after some recent reading I have dialed down the
temperature a bit and will be trying to keep it closer to 74-ish.
I have been de-thawing a single frozen brine shrimp and feeding her one
daily, although after reading other posts it sounds like this may be
<I would use other food. Artemia are not sufficient nutritionally.
Please read here:
As a tadpole, I fed her aquatic frog pellets in a little bowl in the
bottom of her tank. She does not seem to find/ eat food that floats so
I am limited to food that will sink and sit in her feeding bowl.
<Mmm, and feed her "in place"... in the main tank>
I sometimes hold food for her and she will take it from my hand, but I
have been unable to induce her to eat for a few days now...
For the past week or so, her skin shedding has increased dramatically
and I am very concerned. She does not seem to be eating her skin nor is
she interested in her shrimp (very odd). I do not see any visible
spots/ discoloration/ or sign of irritation on her body. I am wondering
if I should treat her with some sort of internal bacterial
<I would Not>
even though I do not know what the problem is. If this sounds like the
best course of action, can you suggest a particular product to look for
in a pet store?
Also, I had heard these frogs were very sensitive to sounds and was
told using a filter was the equivalent of them listening to a jack
hammer all day.
<There are quiet filters available... an external canister or
internal power filter would be ideal>
I use a battery operated vacuum for quick upkeep/ removal of debris in
her tank and when I change her water, I usually change all of it and
rinse out her aquarium and I do this approximately every 3 weeks.
<I would not change all the water... I would change a third or so
every week. Read here:
I treat the water AquaSafe and use quick dip strips to reassure myself
that I do not have chlorine/ nitrate/ ammonia/ etc... issues. Your site
seems to recommend using a filter. I have a whisper filter for a
10-gallon tank that I could use if you don't think the sound is too
<Should be fine. Do make sure the opening to the top is small enough
to keep your Frog from getting out>
Thank you in advance for your time & consideration. I adore my frog
& want to help her get healthy again.
<I salute your efforts. Do change the food choice/s here and
discontinue the wholesale water changes and all should be fine. Bob
Re: African Clawed Frog Excessive Shedding & Loss of
Wow! You are guys are great! Thanks so much for the quick response. I
made a donation to the site & will be telling others about you
<Ahh, I thank you>
I did not mean "brine" shrimp... I meant to say I've been
feeding her one krill a day which are pretty large.
<Ahh! That's a "shrimp of a different colour!" And
Euphausiids are fine as a supplementary food (not a staple)>
I'm going to look for earthworms at the pet store and try switching
between the 2 products. For a new food routine I thought 1 krill one
day, cut up worm the next day, followed with a food free day, then
repeat. Does this sound good?
<Mmm, actually, no... I'd feed a dried/prepared food
principally. Search the Net with the string: "foods for
I changed her out to a 20 gallon tank I own which has a nice filter and
kept the 10 gallons worth of her old water to start it up along with
all of her old plants & goodies.
It was quite an adventure in my kitchen today moving fish between 3
tanks & a lot of 6 gallon buckets/ pots & pans full of water.
Several hours later & me with very pruny hands, everyone is in
their new homes. I will take your advice on how to change the water-
which sounds like what I do for my fish tanks.
There is so much information online, it is hard to know what to
<Best to try to understand underlying science, discern fact over
statements that are unfounded, untestable opinion>
I had read elsewhere that frog water should be completely changed out
instead of just 1/3 at a time, but you folks sound much more
<We/WWM do/es have a huge collective practical and scientific
Zota ate a krill tonight & seems to be feeling better. I'll
keep an eye on the skin shedding. I would love to find her a full-sized
(as opposed to "meal" sized) tank mate so she's not
alone. She was the only one in the biology lab at the university I
adopted her from. As a Washington state resident, I'm under the
impression that I cannot buy one and have it sent here. Any ideas on
how I could find her a buddy would be greatly appreciated.
<Mmm, Craig's List... an open statement of what you're
seeking... on "Pets Wanted"... letting the local livestock
fish stores know what you're looking for... An email to the few Net
<Thank you for sharing Shannon. BobF>
African Clawed Frog itch ala Bob 12/08/09
I've written in before and received very good advice about my
cycling tank and African clawed frogs. But I'm having a bit of
trouble now with an itchiness problem and hope you could shed some
This itch came on while they're feeding. It grew more severe over
days, happened to just one frog first, but later 3 frogs of the 4 frogs
I have showed the same itchiness. It could send them to a fit of
scratching, rubbing the legs and scratching arms and even the head,
during and within some time of feeding.
There was also a bit of dark thing along their fingers (inside, not
back of hands). It wasn't fluffy or cottony, looks just like a
pencil line, and when that part shed the skin was dark. I guess they
shouldn't be nuptial pads, because if I'm not mistaken, 2 of
the 3 itchy frogs are females. The 4th frog, a male smallest in size,
was pretty much unaffected - no itch, no dark thing. He's a loner
and doesn't swim much. One more thing is that he refuses
The first time I noticed this was Nov 19, about 10 days after my
was cycled. What I did was:
- a lot of 30% water changes
- added back a new carbon filter (which I removed on Nov 10). This made
a big difference.
- removed dubious items like spare sponge
- reduced feeding. This seemed to have helped too.
By now the itchiness has been brought down to say 80% less, but
it's not completely gone. The dark thing on the hands is still
there, and it can seem lighter at one time and darker other times.
I would like to ask what this could be, and what I should do i.e.
medicate or somehow troubleshoot further?
<I think this may be "just behavioral", but accentuated
with water quality issues. How to put it; your frogs are "itching
with anticipation" re their food, "scratching all over"
at the prospect>
Here's a bit of details about my tank.
- 20 gallon (to be raised to 30 g)
- frogs are a few months old, 2 boys and 2 girls
- pH 7.2, KH 4-5, GH 9, nitrate <10 ppm, no ammonia or nitrite,
achieved by one-third of Rift Valley salt mix (though I skipped the
marine salt i.e. Red Sea since the onset...should I be?)
<I would leave this out>
- diets include ReptoMin, Hikari bloodworms, Hikari brine shrimp, and
sometimes frozen krill, bits of salmon, dried Tubifex and gut loaded
mealworms, daily feeding, skipping one day per week
<Sounds very good indeed>
- no supplements, yet
- regular, small water changes, daily debris cleaning
- no decoration, just a handful of plants and scattered pebbles from
- dechlorinator is AquaSafe
I'm very worried. In the past few months they've pulled through
unfiltered tank and cycling, I just hope it's not some internal
damages. I'm very much obliged to your help. Thank you.
<I think your frogs will be fine in time... They do shed their skin,
and DO have claws... The itchiness will likely go with growth,
improvement in their development. I would try not to be overly
Oh, do read here for review:
and the linked Xenopus files above.
911 -- very sick albino African black-clawed frog...
env., nutritional, reading as usual 7/8/09
We are new pet owners, and have obviously done something
seriously wrong in caring for our 6-month-old albino African
<I see an abscess on the leg>
She is kept in a 5 gallon tank with a Whisper 10 gallon filter
and sand substrate. As the water has remained clear,
we have been negligent in changing the water more than once a
We feed her bloodworms
<Solely? Insufficient nutritionally>
about three times a week (she has been a voracious eater, I might
add). I do not know the ammonia or nitrate levels -- we do not
have the tools to check those levels at this point (nor did we
understand the importance of monitoring such things in caring for
our first aquatic pet when we purchased her).
<Likely there is too much nitrate presence... These issues of
nitrogenous matters are covered on our site>
About three weeks ago, I performed a 50 percent water change and
had unknowingly used a water conditioner that was expired. Our
frog lost her appetite about 10 days ago -- not eating many
bloodworms at all. Then I noticed some small reddish/purplish
spots on her left upper leg (above the knee). These continued to
grow and at one point developed a white kind of fluff on top.
At this point I sought help from the fish store where we had
The owner was convinced this was a bacterial infection stemming
from a chemical burn and quite possibly poor water
She gave us a treatment plan that included water changes every
three days and Triple Sulfa (1/4 pack per dosage -- spread over
After following the treatment plan for a week, I've noticed
only changes for the worse. My frog's entire leg is swollen
to the point that she can no longer use it effectively. The
red/purple spots expanded and then today opened to reveal a white
and puffy-looking wound which is trailing a wispy white matter.
This wispy white matter is all over the tank -- attached to the
The frog is barely moving -- I've already declared her dead
once today (to the utter horror of my 9- and 7-year-old daughters
whose beloved pet this is). I do not hold out much hope, but I
thought I'd look for another opinion. (The pet store where I
purchased her was closed yesterday and today, so I haven't
been able to take her in for an assessment.)
I've attached a picture (not the greatest quality). Thank you
in advance for any information that you can give me. If we
can't save this frog, maybe we can save a future pet.
<Only time, with improved water quality, nutrition will tell.
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Albino African clawed frog, hlth.
12/4/08 hello, I have had my albino clawed frog for about 3
1/2 years now. we have been through a lot together, and he has survived
3 other frogs, when I first got him. I got a 75 gallon tank this past
summer just for him. I have silver dollars and other fish, but they all
live peacefully. Anyway, yesterday, I noticed that he was at the bottom
of the tank, almost on his back. I thought he was dead. I slowly
brought him to the surface, and he started gasping for air. I did all
the research I could find, and although he wasn't red at all, he
couldn't use his back legs. I left him in the net at the top of the
tank, checked my water, it all came out clean, and then had to leave.
When I came back, he was worse, gasping, falling on his back like a
seizure, and he was red on his arms, and legs. I had read where
antibiotics help, so my husband and I gave him some, opened his mouth,
and put some down his throat. <Mmmm... I would not do this... too
indiscriminate (Antibiotics... "against life"...), too likely
to be more toxic than of use administered orally here> Is there a
better way? <Likely so...> He is still eating, bloodworms, but is
weak. Today, he is not as red, but still can't swim. Any advice is
greatly appreciated, and although he is just a frog, he is my most
favorite pet. The only thing I can think would be causing him stress is
I have a sucker fish, a plecostomus but have had it since the start. I
really don't want him (jabba the hut, aka kfc), to die, but
don't want him to suffer either. Please help. Thanks, Michele
<Well... the twin most common sources, possibilities as root cause
here are nutrition and environment... which in turn entail many other
inputs... The best thing period will be to move this animal to other
quarters... Where the possibility of bullying will be eliminated
(should it be the Pleco or other tankmate)... and a smaller, shallower
world will be better for the frog to get about for air, food... Next, I
would supplement this animal's diet... by soaking the food offered
ahead of time with a HUFA, Vitamin product... like Selcon, MicroVit...
to discount there being a deficiency syndrome at play here. Bob
Albino Frog Not Acting Right 7/23/08 Dear WWM Crew, Help;
I have an Albino Frog named Freddie for a year now. He is in a 10
gallon tank with a filter, heater and an air pump. The
temperature is set at 73 degrees. All readings are normal: Ph
7.0, Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0 and Nitrates 10. <Good> Freddie
has been always a good eater who has always been active. Freddies
diet consists of the following: frog bites; alternating with one
of the following frozen brine shrimp, frozen beef heart,
<Though I too have fed this to Xenopus (many moons back), I
would not nowadays> frozen daphnia and frozen/dried blood
worms. Just recently I noticed that Freddie has not been so
active. On occasions when I fed him dried blood worms he started
to spit it out. I also noticed that he was shedding which is
fine, but then he started to have a trail of stringy white
material hanging from his feet for approximately two days now.
When looking at his back, I noticed a black spot approximately
the size of a pea at the bottom right side just above his leg. I
immediately moved him to a hospital tank and set it up with a
heater, a filter and started treating him with Maroxy. For the
last two days he started darting around wildly; could this be a
parasite problem? <Mmm, no, not likely... Where would such
come from?> Also, could the black spot be an impacted piece of
gravel; he did have a bowel movement with no problem yesterday.
Is this treatment sufficient or should I be doing some other
treatment instead like Maracyn-Two? Please give advice. Again
thanks for your help Jean. <Mmm... perhaps a nutritional issue
at heart is my best guess, I'm going to suggest bolstering
this Frog's diet... with vitamin addition to either the
present foods, or dusting crickets before offering. Bob
Re: Albino Frog Not Acting Right... vitamin
referral... off site 7/23/08 Dear WWM Crew, Thank you for
your advise. I will change the diet of my Albino Frog. I have one
question though, What is dusting crickets and how do you do it?
Thanks again for your help - Jean <See the various herptile
sites re... BobF>
Dusting Crickets, Re: frog hlth.
07/28/08 Hi WWM crew, I read on the Internet that I am
suppose to be feeding my Aquatic Frog dusted crickets. I have a
question, how do you dust crickets for a frog that is aquatic;
doesn't the dust come off in the water? I tried to research
this on your website, but can not find any information on dusting
crickets or giving aquatic frogs their essential vitamins. Thanks
for your help ahead of time. Jean <Hi Jean. This sounds like a
total waste of time (not to mention impractical). Instead of
trying to make "one" perfect food, try offering a
variety. Frozen bloodworms are a great staple, but augment this
with live brine shrimps, live daphnia, frozen crustaceans such as
krill, and even very small earthworms. The more different things
you offer, the better. Just as with humans, when animals eat a
varied diet, malnutrition is rarely a problem. Cheers,
Bloated Frog 1/3/07 My albino African claw-toed frog,
Bridezilla, is normally quite large. However, she is now quite swollen
with what appears to be fluid (she ripples when she swims). She is
otherwise engaging in all her normal behaviors, eating, swimming, snuggling with one of the Koi in the tank (they are buddies) and taking
food from Frogzilla, a regular African claw-toed male, who is much
smaller than she. I am very fond of my frogs, so am trying not to panic
about her water retention. Help! Thanks, Sharon Kaczorowski, Delaware
< These things are almost always diet related. Food sits in their
gut and bacteria break it down instead of the frogs digestive fluids
and cause gas. Try raising the water temp to increase the frogs
metabolism. Then go to Kingsnake.com and try to find a frog vet that
can give you more specific recommendations such a