FAQs About Xenopus laevis,
African Clawed Frog Social 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 large, aggressive fishes, algae eaters, turtles,
African Water Frog, hlth. 12/26/10
Hi! I have a couple questions. I Have two African Water Frogs
<Xenopus laevis, I take it? The African Clawed Frog, a common
laboratory frog sometimes kept by hobbyists.>
and one of them recently looks like it has a cloudy looking bubble on
<Physical damage; do read here:
Once the eye is damaged, poor water quality makes it easy for
infections to set in. A combination of antibiotics plus Epsom salt can
What could this be and is there anything I can do for it? I also have
two Plecos housed with these frogs.
<Do not do this. For one thing, Xenopus laevis is a cool water
animal that should not be kept in a tropical aquarium. It is best kept
at room temperature, 18-20 C/64-68 F being about right. Secondly,
Xenopus laevis is easily damaged by Plecs. As I hope you realise,
Plecs, i.e., Pterygoplichthys pardalis, are very big and very messy, a
single specimen needs 55+ gallons, and because males are territorial,
two specimens will need 100+ gallons. Simply by moving about
there's a good chance the armoured bodies of the catfish will
scratch the delicate skins of the frogs.>
Also, what is the average lifespan of these frogs?
<10-20 years if kept properly.>
Mine are about five and six years old. I read awhile ago that they only
live to be around five
but I have been reading questions from others on your website and some
state that their frogs are up to sixteen years old.
<Indeed. Kept at room temperature and in the right conditions they
live a very long time, longer than, say, a house cat.>
African Clawed Frog damaged extremities 10/15/09
Hi, we have an African clawed frog that we have had for several months.
He is in a 20 gal tank with an Oscar.
<Have you read anything about the natural diet of Oscars in the
Alongside things like crabs and crayfish,
<They also eat frogs. Keeping
the two species is going to end badly.>
Just in the last 2 days he appears to be losing an arm and now the
other arm appears to be injured too.
<Very likely physical damage. So far as your Oscar is concerned,
this frog is food.>
It started about two days ago with white string like stuff hanging from
his arm so I called our local pet store and they told me to treat him
for a bacterial infection.
<The white stuff is decaying flesh. You need to get this frog to a
vet. It needs antibiotics.>
I did that and he seemed to be better in the morning however by last
night his arm was almost completely shredded.
<No surprise at all.>
From his elbow down to his fingers is just an open wound and as of this
morning his other arm is starting to have the same white strings. Local
pet store said to continue to treat and it would regenerate its
<Regenerate its arms? Of course it won't! The arms are gone. The
two options here are treating it with antibiotics, or else euthanising
it, both of which will require a vet. You cannot euthanise a frog in
the same way as a fish because (obviously) they breathe air, so
anything adding to the water won't kill them. For gosh sakes, stop
this cruelty, and call a vet or an animal welfare charity.>
He appears to be acting normal besides the obvious. He appears to be
eating, he doesn't eat much in front of us but he is good sized and
doesn't appear to be losing weight rapidly or anything. He is
swimming around but cannot really use his arms.
<Well, maybe if you treat this frog, he'll recover to a degree,
and will manage without his arms.>
His legs seem to keep him moving. His actions are the same as before
this happened. I can't find any more information about this on the
web and just want to make sure I do the right thing for this frog.
<Much written about Xenopus laevis here at WWM; do start here for
Note these frogs need relatively cool conditions, and certainly not a
tropical aquarium. Keeping them with fish isn't recommended, let
alone with a fish that eats frogs...>
My concern was that the Oscar had damaged him but the local pet store
didn't think so.
<Second dumb statement from this pet store.>
Do you think this could be the case?
They have grown up together in the aquarium and I have never seen
either be aggressive to the other.
<You can play Russian Roulette a bunch of times and not get killed.
Doesn't make it safe.>
Oh, we also have an algae eater which also hasn't been aggressive
as far as we have seen. Thank you for any advice you can provide.
<Plec-type catfish will opportunistically rasp at the decaying flesh
on any animal that can't move properly. Nature red in tooth and
claw, and all that. So get this frog out, NOW, into its own aquarium.
Call a vet. Treat with antibiotics. Euthanise humanely if necessary.
Next time you stick two animals together, check to see what they eat
first. Hope this helps.
Is my Albino ACF sick? 9/6/09
I have a new Albino ACF that I got about two weeks ago.
<Question: How did you mature this aquarium first? You
can't expect to add a frog to an immature tank and expect him
to do well.>
He was perfect looking when I bought him at our local Wal-Mart,
but now he has tiny little black dots covering his back from his
head to his toes.
<Xenopus tropicalis, Xenopus longipes, and some other Xenopus
species are grey with small black spots. You may have one of
these other species. Refer to Google re: systematics, photographs
of the genus. What you are seeing may be entirely normal.>
He is otherwise healthy, I believe. This started about three to
four days ago after he shed his skin. I keep him in a 10 gallon
aquarium. I also have two Mixed Balloon Mollies, one Black Molly,
an odd looking Algae eater similar looking to the Plecostomus
(though I have not found a picture of him anywhere on the
Internet that tells me exactly what he is),
<Presumably Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus or Pterygoplichthys
pardalis, the two common "Plecos" of the US
an Apple Snail, and two Orange burst Glofish.
<Obviously, this collection of animals isn't REMOTELY
viable in a 10 gallon tank. For a start, Mollies need a good 20
gallons or more, and the water should be brackish. Danios (what
you call Glofish) need a tank 60 cm/2 feet long if they're to
be happy, and should certainly be in groups of 6+ to avoid
bullying and premature death. Even the frog needs a tank bigger
than this, 15-20 gallons, minimum.>
They all share the same tank.
<Why? Did you research the needs of *any* of these fish before
you bought them? At least some Xenopus, e.g., Xenopus laevis,
need subtropical water, whereas Mollies like things fairly warm.
There's no good reason to mix any of these animals.>
I did not like the gravel in the tank so I opted to put seashells
in it instead (I hope this will not harm them and I cleaned the
shells well before I put them in).
<Seashells are a bad idea. Two issues. Firstly, they harden
Mollies won't mind, but your other animals might. Secondly,
they trap food, leading to pockets of decay and foul
I constantly keep a check on the water and the Nitrates are at 40
mg/L, Nitrites are at 0 mg/L, the water is very hard at 300 ppm,
Alkalinity is at 180 ppm, and pH is at 7.2. I have now managed to
get the Nitrates to the fringe of being okay for the fish, but I
have trouble keeping it down.
<Nitrates not critical for Xenopus, but is so for Mollies,
which, in freshwater rather than brackish, are hypersensitive to
nitrates above 20 mg/l.>
I use Tetra Easy Balance with Nitraban, which says is supposed to
help maintain the tank with less frequent water changes.
<Garbage. Don't believe the marketing!>
I do not get a lot of time to do water changes so this works well
The water is crystal clear, I use Tetra Whisper filters with
Carbon, I keep a heater, which I have just lowered to a
temperature of about 80 degrees F since I was treating the tank
for Ick and it was at about 85 degrees F.
<Far too warm for Xenopus laevis, though Xenopus tropicalis
won't mind. Do, please, read here:
The treatment was performed a few weeks before I added the ACF. I
love animals and I am very interested in keeping a colorful and
<I love animals too. However, we all have to learn to separate
out affection for animals as an abstract concept from the hard
work of giving animals what they need. This is the tricky part to
life. Animals are
demanding and expensive. That's why I don't keep all the
animals I'd like!
I'd love a pet dolphin, but that's never going to happen.
But what I can do is review the needs of whatever I see in the
aquarium shop, and then put together what I need to keep them. In
your case, you have a collection of fascinating animals, yes, but
not necessarily in the conditions they need.>
I have an air stone. I have three plastic plants in the tank and
feed the fish and frog a blended diet of Wardley Tropical Fish
Flake Food, Hikari Tropical Algae Wafers (my Mollies love them),
and Tetra Freeze Dried Blood Worms (also a favorite among my
Mollies). I have done extensive research about all of my fish and
the frog and have been able to improve my tank. When I first
started, my fish were dying left and right, but now all of the
new ones I have been great, with the exception of a small Pleco
ended up with a very bad looking abrasion just under his eye and
a big hole in his tail fin before he died. I can't seem to
keep the Pleco very well since he was my second one.
<Your tank is too small for Plecos. Even the common species
need 55 gallons. Sure, not when they're 2-inch babies, but
they grow fast, and in small tanks will react quickly to bad
water quality. Things like sores and ulcers are often signs of
environmental stress, so looking backwards from that, my best
guess is that something in your tank wasn't right. Review,
and act accordingly. We're happy to help here at WWM, so if
you want advice on a fish *before* you buy it, feel free to ask.
We're not selling anything. In fact, we'd just as soon
convince you NOT to spend your money if we think a fish
wouldn't make sense in your aquarium.>
I try to keep the tank maintained as well as possible with my
work schedule. None of my fish seem to have any problems. The
frog eats very well and is semi-active and has gotten more active
since I first brought
him home. I also am able to see some of his veins, mostly in his
legs and one on his lower back. They are very thin red lines. I
suppose they are his veins, they look veiny. So, is it normal for
my frog to have little
black speckles or dots all over his back and is it normal for me
to see the red veins or whatever they may be?
<Difficult to say. When Xenopus and Hymenochirus frogs are
stressed, one of the things that does happen is their skin
reacts, becomes irritated. On humans, you'd call it a rash or
inflammation. Anyway, if left uncorrected, the skin starts to
become damaged, and you end up with bacterial infections, such as
the notorious Red Leg.>
I have attached a picture of the frog. including the picture as
an attachment is the only thing I can do with this email. Am I
being paranoid? I did hours of research last night to no avail. I
even tried the suggested Google search engine on top of the
others I had checked and Google sent me right back to your page.
I laughed hilariously at that and decided to give up on my search
and finally send you an email. I had to get some sleep first
though as I had ended up staying awake until 4:30 this morning
researching this issue. Please help me, I would hate for my new
frog to die.
<I would hate that too. As another animal lover, I'm
really keen you enjoy your pets and that you pets are healthy
living with you. In this case, I think the frog is not so much
ill yet as reacting to environmental stress.
As such, fixing the conditions, e.g., if this is Xenopus laevis,
as is usually the case, then cooler water will be important. A
more varied diet will help, with the accent on soft rather than
dried food. And so on. See
the article mentioned above.>
I am beginning to get attached.
<Thanks for writing, and good luck, Neale.>
|Re: Is my Albino ACF sick?
Thank you much for your advice Neale.
I did not research the fish at first since it was a start to a
hobby I thought my husband and I could enjoy.
<Ah, enjoyment of this hobby tends to be in direct proportion to
the research done first! Like gardening or foreign travel. Numerous
good books out there, many inexpensive but useful.>
I started out with a 20 gallon tank that was given to me, with just
Black Tetras, Red Tetras, and the Algae Eater I referred to at
first, however that tank is now sitting empty in our back yard due
to my lack of knowledge at the time in cleaning it and it got a
crack across the glass from one side to the other.
<We've all done this... cracked the glass by dropping
I have since learned not to do a full water change and more
importantly not to use such hot water.
A mistake that I will most definitely avoid again in the future.
After that, we went to the nearest store and bought the biggest
tank they had that we could afford at the time, which was the 10
<In itself, not a disaster, but I would caution you to select
fish extremely carefully. Most of the "community fish"
you see on sale need 20, if not 30 gallons to do well. Do read
This was mainly to get the fish back to a tank quickly.
I then started to research the proper care and maintenance of fish
and the different types that you could have together.
Please understand, the town I live in is rather small compared to
most, so we don't have much to work with.
<I feel your pain! My hometown doesn't have much of any kind
of aquatics at all, just a fairly hopeless garden centre that I
tend to use as my benchmark for what a BAD aquatic retailer looks
I am not a small town kind of person and moved around a lot as I
Being only 25 now, I understand the importance of having the
resources you need and that it is harder to obtain in a small
<Mail order often helpful here. Research your needs first, so
you can shop with confidence. I don't even drive, so anything
bigger than, say, a 10 gallon tank would have to be mail ordered
This being said, the information I obtained from Wal-Mart may not
have been sufficient enough to have the kind of fish and aquarium I
<This chain does seem to have, ahem, a mixed reputation as a
supplier of pet animal goods and advice.>
I have had the aquarium for about 4 months now and it was
stabilized for about two weeks before I added the frog. Needless to
say, I was not happy with the Tetras and gave them to a friend so
that I could have more tropical fish that were 'prettier'.
I started out with just the Mollies and the snail. I added the
Mollies before I got rid of the Tetras and some of them died, I
think from bullying from the Red Tetra, which led to the purchase
of more mollies so that I finally ended up with the amount that I
mentioned in the original email.
<Mollies are not easy, and among other things, are sensitive to
low pH, high nitrate, and poor water quality. Their size and
liveliness also makes them difficult to recommend for tanks less
than 30 gallons in size. Adult female Sailfins can get to 6
inches/15 cm in length! Shortfins are smaller, but still,
they're some 8 cm/3 inches long at maturity, so even a
"long" 20 gallon tank will be a bit crowded. Furthermore,
Mollies do, on the whole, live longer and healthier in slightly
brackish rather than freshwater conditions. They don't need
much marine aquarium salt mix added to their water, but a bit
helps, around 0.5-1 oz per gallon, but that's more than most
freshwater fish will tolerate. Hence, many would suggest (including
me) that Mollies are best kept in a single-species set-up. Or, at
least, combined with other fish that like slightly saline water,
such as Guppies, Glassfish or Gobies.>
So, by this time, I had done some research on what type of fish
were compatible with Mollies.
Everything that I found suggested that other community fish were
okay and my husband wanted Glofish so I got the two mentioned
previously. I was aware of the fact that they do better in groups
of 6 or more but they are not cheap, to us people in the small
<Well, they're not even sold here in the UK, so you're
doing better on that count! They're genetically modified, as
you probably know, and there's less consensus here in Europe
that such things are ethical and/or safe.>
So, two it is until I can afford more, and I have kept an eye on
them and they seem fairly happy.
<Two males will fight though, and they can be nippy when
They are very active as all the material I have read suggested they
<Yes, hence the need for a long tank, 60 cm/2 feet being about
The Algae Eater is the only large fish in the tank and keeps mostly
<Depends on the species. Gyrinocheilus aymonieri for example
(the "Chinese Algae Eater" or "Sucking Loach")
becomes highly aggressive when sexually mature, and is NOTORIOUS
for causing problems in small tanks. The true Plecs though, in
general, ignore other, non-Plec type fish (they are pretty
territorial towards one another though).>
My research showed that the Mollies and the Glofish were both
peaceful fish and were compatible.
<Nothing you read mentioned Mollies preferring slightly salty
water? Do please read here:
I have had them together and living, what I find to be very well,
together for about a month now.
<A month isn't long.>
As I mentioned before I have just added the frog, mainly because I
saw it at the store and they seemed interesting.
<Yes, they are.>
I did a little bit of research before I bought it, but I suppose
<Often the case.>
I promise you, I am normally a very thorough person, so once I had
them all together I made sure to get all of the information I could
gather in order to maintain a healthy and peaceful aquarium. So far
all is well with the exception of the appearance of the spots on
the ACF. I did research the pictures on many sites and I am
positive it is an Albino African Clawed Frog, though I wonder if it
may be pigmented, but the pictures I have viewed don't seem to
match the black spots he has.
<Does sound like the albino morph of Xenopus laevis, a
cool-climate clawed frog that doesn't do well in tropical
My main concern was whether it was normal for the frog to do this
or if I needed to change something quickly.
<I don't think the black spots are a disease, so there's
no immediate danger. But your tank will be too warm for this
species in the long run.>
Basically, should I be alarmed or just keep an eye him?
<A little from column A, a little from column B.>
From what I gather you are saying that I should maintain the water
and keep the diet varied, with mostly soft or live foods.
<Yes; frogs are prone to constipation when given dried
I was able to dig up some worms today and cut them into small
enough pieces for him to swallow. He definitely loved them.
I will continue to try to give a variety of food to him, bearing in
mind that the live food provides more nutrients and prevents
I am aware that they need a lower water temperature, so I have
started lowering the temperature slowly as to not shock any of the
fish with a sudden change.
<There's not much overlap here, to be honest. Mollies
absolutely must be kept warm, at least, fancy Mollies from pet
stores do. Once the temperature gets below 77 F, they tend to get
sickly, and the ideal is somewhere around 80 F. This is too warm
for Danios (which do best around 75-77 F) and far too warm for
What do you suggest that I do about keeping Nitrates down?
<Depends what your tap water nitrate content is. If you have a
nitrate level of 20 mg/l or less out of the tap, then regular
(weekly) water changes of around 25% should be ample. Just
don't overfeed your fish, and take care to remove uneaten
All of my other tests show to be good according to the chart that I
have to compare the tests to.
I may be a novice hobbyist, but I do hope to get better.
<You will. I've been doing this for some 25 years, and still
manage to kill fish by doing stupid things!>
All things get better with time and some trial and error, otherwise
we would not have the technology we have today.
<Yes, very true.>
I did find your information helpful, but for some reason I picture
you to be a Simon Cal.
<Both British, may be the clue...>
Not intending to offend you, as I find it rather comical.
<Well, I suppose the point is we're both plain spoken and
honest, rather than trying to make friends. If you like me,
that's nice, but what I want above all is that you understand
what I'm saying. There are also differences in how Brits and
Americans use their common language.>
I believe you are a very intelligent person, but feel that you may
underestimate the intelligence of those that refer to your site for
assistance and guidance.
<Always difficult to judge intelligence from an e-mail; indeed
e-mails generally tend to be written casually rather than
carefully, so it's all too easy to misjudge things. It's
not my intention to alarm or upset, merely to inform and
Keep doing what you do. You are great, as I am sure you are aware
I hope to be able to get a bigger tank soon. In the meantime, I try
with what I have and maybe it will be okay, though I completely
understand the affect the small aquarium may have on the fish.
Please forgive me if my email seems a little scattered, my mind
thinks differently than most and I end up confusing myself and
others rather easily.
I find it amazing that I can be an intelligent person but yet so
simple minded at times, well a lot. I hope it is a refreshing
difference from your normal inquiries.
<Always nice to hear a little more from our
African clawed frog... A cry for help w/ no info.,
Just a question have two African clawed frogs one albino one
regular one.....looks like the one frog has some sort of white
patches on his back foot.....the webbing between looks cloudy and
fluffy???? any ideas??? seems to be swimming eating....stays at
bottom like he does all the time???? try send you a picture of
<... What? Need data... to make a first-order approximation
even... System, water tests, history of maintenance,
foods/feeding... Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
African clawed frog 4/4/09
look at his foot it is cloudy or white????
<I'd say more of the former. B>
Re: African clawed frog
About my African clawed frog white patches on his foot.......
<Deadly toxic... see WWM re>
hardness 200 (Calgary water, safe)
alkalinity 160 (safe)
change the water once a week in a 20 gallon tank
<Not all of it... see WWM...>
......with gravel filter siphon........
they eat Repti sticks 2-3 a night
frog pellets a few feed frozen blood worms every 2-3 days
they seem to be acting as normal.....swimming, eating, all seems
<Look good too>
there house mates are one balloon molly seems fine no white
patches or anything and a sucker cleaner fish......he seems
<Might be causing troubles here... is this a CAE?
thanks hopefully can figure out what's the matter with
<Keep reading. BobF>
African albino clawed frog, hlth. 04/21/08
hello, I hope you can help. I have a 7year old albino African clawed
frog always healthy he swallowed an upside down catfish. I believe they
are barbed. <Yes... the dorsal and pecs> after 3 days he spit the
fish out and now floats around hardly moving. he didn't eat for 8
days and now he ate a couple of Spirulina sticks and a few small
bloodworms. can he have internal damage? <Yes> that's why he
cant stay on the bottom? <Possibly> he has starting eating and is
much more active but still hasn't spent much time fully submerged.
any advice is greatly appreciated, we have become attached to
"froggie" <Xenopus are very tough... I would just wait
here, be patient, and hope for a self-cure. I take it there are no more
swallow-able tankmates present. Bob Fenner>
Re: African albino clawed frog
04/22/08 no more edible tankmates, 2 large goldfish both larger
than the frog! hope u r <... no Netspeak please...> correct,
thanks for the advice I came across your site totally by accident just
when we were giving up hope. ps froggie has stayed submerged a bit
longer today! <Ah good. B>
African Clawed Frog ... comp.
5/2/06 Hello Crew, <Hello Matthew!> I'm new to the
interesting life called African Clawed Frogs. <Cute but dim,
aren't they? I have a pair myself.> As such I have a question
regarding the webbing on its back feet. It appears it is either
shedding its webbing or it has been "eaten" by one of my
other fish. Am I looking at infection or poor water condition? <It
is hard to say without knowing what tankmates are in with it. It is not
recommended to keep African Clawed Frogs with fish. If the fish
don't nibble at the frog, as the frog gets larger, it will damage
the fish. Infection is often a sign of poor water quality, so do try to
keep the water pristine to allow the frog to heal.> Will this
webbing regenerate itself? <If the frog is not harassed and the
water quality is good, then yes... frogs do have a remarkable ability
to heal/regrow.> Hope to hear from you soon <Do separate this
frog... and make sure it has no "escape routes" (an inch-wide
crack in the canopy is enough to lose these renowned escapologists).
Best regards, John.> Sincerely Matthew