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FISH / new pets

A Set-up Guide for New African Dwarf Frog Parents

Tips from home to health to food and fun.


5 things to know about African dwarf frogs

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Size: They grow to about 3 inches (8 cm)
  • Lifespan: They live for 10 to 15 years
  • Did You Know: African dwarf frogs are completely aquatic and have lungs and breathe air at the water’s surface
  • Caution: They can be kept with tropical community fish of similar size, but may eat them if hungry; keep your frogs well fed to avoid this

How do I set up my African dwarf frog’s home?


  • 1 or 2 African dwarf frogs can live happily in a 5-gallon aquarium. But if you’re getting more than that, or if they’ll be sharing their aquarium with fish, they’ll need an aquarium of at least 20 gallons.
  • Put the tank someplace without a lot of people traffic, out of direct sunlight and away from drafty spots.
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Heat & light

  • A lighted aquarium hood provides illumination and cuts down on splashes. (A screened lid is also okay.)
  • Give your frogs 8 to 12 hours of light a day to simulate their natural environment. An automatic timer can help monitor the light.
  • African dwarf frogs like their water tropical: 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (20-26 Celsius). An aquarium heater will keep their water at that frog-tastic temperature. Choose a heater that has 5 watts of power for every gallon of water in the aquarium.
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Cleaning and Maintenance

  • Choose an under-gravel filter or a power filter powerful enough to process all the water in the aquarium 3 to 5 times per hour. Tip: If your little amphibians are fighting to swim against the filter’s current, you need a less powerful filter!
  • A beneficial bacteria supplement in the water can help keep the environment clean.
  • Don’t use soap or detergent to clean anything in the tank; even a trace amount can make your frogs sick.
  • PetSmart offers free aquarium water testing. Just bring in a sample and we can test the quality within minutes. Check out Setting Up an Aquarium link to story here for more info about aquarium water quality and water testing.

Substrate and decor

  • Layer the bottom of the tank with 2 to 3 inches (5-8 cm) of aquarium gravel. (That’s about 1 ½ pounds of gravel per gallon of water.) Rinse the gravel in clean water before putting it in your frogs’ home.
  • African dwarf frogs especially love plants in their tanks, whether living or artificial. They’ll sit on the leaves for a swim break.
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What do African dwarf frogs eat?

  • If your African dwarf frog shares an aquarium with smaller fish, it’s extra important that the frog be fed properly – otherwise those fish may become dinner.
  • But fish can also turn the tables. Because frogs are slow eaters, make sure the fish they live with don’t dart in and gobble up their food.
  • Your frog’s main food should be pellets that sink to the bottom of the tank, where frogs tend to hang out – the food needs to be placed near them so they can see it.
  • Feed your frogs as much food as they will consume in 3 minutes, twice a day.
  • Offer frozen or freeze-dried brine shrimp, bloodworms and tubifex worms as occasional treats to vary up your pet’s diet. Thaw before serving them to your pet.

How can I keep my African dwarf frog healthy?


  • Feed your frog in the morning and the evening.
  • Check the water temperature.
  • Make sure your frog is acting and looking healthy.


  • Change out 10% of the water in the aquarium.
  • Scrub the inside of the tank to remove any algae.


  • Change out 25% of the water in the aquarium.
  • Check to be sure the filter is running smoothly.
  • Vacuum the tank gravel.
  • Scrub aquarium furniture to remove algae.

Once your pet has settled in, be sure to contact a vet if you notice any of these symptoms of illness or distress:

  • Thinness or decreased appetite
  • Swollen joints
  • Excessive shedding of the skin
  • Inflamed or discolored skin
  • Abdominal swelling


  • Fish and aquatic animals can transmit disease to humans. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after interacting with your frog. Children, pregnant women, elderly people and people with immune-system problems should take extra care.
  • Do not clean habitats or equipment in the kitchen sink or near food-preparation areas.
  • Do not release frogs into the wild. They likely will not survive, but they may transmit diseases to wild animals or otherwise harm the environment.
  • Adults should assist children with hand washing after contact with a pet, its habitat or aquarium water.


Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured™ program, designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well being of our pets.

Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.


If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What do African Dwarf Frogs need in their tank?


Your African Dwarf Frogs need several things in their tank, including lighting, substrate, water, filter, décor and heating. Other supplies you'll need to include the right size aquarium, cleaning supplies and the right location.


How big do African Dwarf Frogs get?


African Dwarf Frogs can grow up to 3" long and live up to 5-7 years on average.


How many African Dwarf frogs can live in a 20-gallon tank?


A general rule of thumb for african dwarf frogs is 1-2 per 5 gallon tank. For a 20-gallon tank, this would mean 4-8 frogs. Talk to a qualified veterinarian about the best option.