Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Get to know your African Dwarf Frog 2012

EDITORS NOTE: This was first published back in 2009. Since each Christmas, we gain so many new EcoAquarium Owners, it's a good idea to repost this article since it covers a lot of ground concerning African Dwarf Frogs.

This holiday season, someone somewhere is getting a gift of an EcoAquarium(TM). If you have received one, you may now be searching out more information about your desktop eco-system and it's web-footed inhabitant. Here's some info about our star of the show...Hymenochirus Curtipes, the African Dwarf Frog.
Small in stature, big in personality...
Home Swamp Home
African Dwarf Frogs (ADF) are originally native to the rain forest swamps & wetlands of West Africa, but due to man's development of the land in the region, it's natural habitat has virtually all been erased.

Today, all African Dwarf Frogs sold by us and in pet stores, are farm-raised under controlled conditions. But that's far different than their natural habitat...

African Dwarf Frog, (ADF) natural habitat is shallow pools & puddles of low oxygen, stagnant water. The cold-blooded amphibian is fully aquatic but have lungs instead of gills, perfect for life in still shallow water with little or no dissolved oxygen. The African Dwarf Frog sense of smell exceeds it's vision. The frog evolved into a creature suited for turbid, muddy water of a shallow pool or swamp, where it would inhabit a sandy muddy bottom seeking food. In an aquarium, African Dwarf Frogs do not require much light and prefer close confined spaces free of predators.

An African Dwarf Frogs lifespan in captivity is on average 2 to 3 years but has been known to exceed 8 to 10 years. In nature, its greatest concern was to avoid being eaten, but not so in an EcoAquarium. With no threat of predators, and cared for properly, a African Dwarf Frog can flourish much longer than they would in the wild. The African Dwarf Frog has been a popular species of frog for aquariums due to it's minimal needs & docile behaviour.

The size of the EcoAquarium is a perfect fit. The depth of the water closely mimics the African dwarf frogs natural habitat. You will see them often swim to the top for a breath of air and the small size of the aquariums gives them a easy, short trip to the surface. While they often are popular additions to standard freshwater aquariums, the depth of an aquarium can often make the trip to the surface for a breath of air a long & stressful trip. In nature, the African Dwarf Frog is accustomed to 4" to 6" inch water depths or less.

African Dwarf Frogs will molt, or shed their skin on occasion, making them appear “mossy” during the process. This is normal. The discarded skin will become part of the ecosystem food chain and does not need to be removed.In fact don't be alarmed if you see one frog picking at the skin of another and eating it.
The EcoAquarium: A world onto itself
It's very easy to maintain a healthy EcoAquarium environment.  First & foremost, you should always use bottled spring water at room temperature for periodic water changes, as well as to clean anything you may put in your EcoAquarium since tap water & bottled drinking water often contains chlorine. Any chlorine introduced to a EcoAquarium can kill off the filtering bacteria in the gravel, as well as harm the Lucky Bamboo plant and your frogs. With Bottled Spring Water you can be sure you are using clean chlorine-free, mineral rich water, without having to treat it to de-chlorinating chemicals. We also recommend avoiding putting your fingers in the water since doing so can introduce chemicals and pathogens that can affect the bio-system. It's wise to wash hands with bottled spring water before and after doing any maintenance to your tank. Consider your EcoAquarium as a separate bio-system onto itself. The less exposure to the world outside the better.

Your EcoAquarium does not need direct sunlight. African Dwarf Frogs evolved in dark muddy water, and loves its nightlife. Also, the lucky bamboo plant in the aquarium is an aquatic undergrowth plant that thrives in full shade. Keeping everything away from direct sunlight also helps maintain a stable water temperature.

Remember, your African dwarf frog is fully aquatic and spends it's entire life in water. Keeping the lid of your EcoAquarium in place keeps frogs from getting out, or other uninvited guests (like the Cat) from getting inside.
A little feeding goes a LONG way...
African dwarf frogs are not big eaters. Our recommended weekly feeding is four pellets of our frog food per frog, per week. Of any problems associated with care & upkeep, over-feeding is the biggest culprit. Uneaten food can spoil and cause the water to become cloudy. It can effect water-quality making the need for water changes much more frequent. Best rule of thumb... a little bit goes a long way. By the way, other 4-legged family members may LOVE the taste & smell of frog food too, so keep your frog food in a safe place away from prying paws.

African dwarf frogs have personalities. You may notice they anticipate feeding times, or develop a routine of hanging out in a particular place in its home at a particularly time each day. All African dwarf frogs like to do a "Zen" pose, where they stand motionless... and you may hear them sing at night. They'll grow on you.
When it comes to information..
You can find more information online about Mr. Hymenochirus Curtipes, especially on our website. Feel free to study up, and always remember we're happy to answer questions and offer advice. Give us a call if you wish, our frog experts are always ready to leap (pardon the pun) to your aid.We also have a moderated page on Facebook, we try to answer any questions there as well, however, the best way to get a question answered is to give us a call at 843-448-8880 Mon-Fri, 9AM-6PM.


  1. What does it mean when my dwarf frogs don't eat their skins?

  2. They're just not hungry. They occasionally eat the shedded skin. But sometimes they don't.

  3. My husband and I have many fish tanks and he is very knowledgable on the care of different size tanks and aquatic life. What we don't understand is how you are claiming that they are ok in such a small amount of water with only 2 water changes per year?? I do know that the "so called" eco-system with the living gravel and the bamboo, does not always work due to amonia spikes, therefore, killing the frogs. In such a small amount of water I do not believe that the nitrogen cycle will fully take place as you are claiming. I also wondered how knowledgable are your employees on the subject of this subject??? I would really like to hear how you tbink this actually works. Thank you.

  4. Hi Dawn, you have some valid questions based on your experience with aquatic fish tanks. However you are looking at the functioning of our EcoAquariums from a typical fish tank perspective.
    Indeed, it is impossible to establish a self-sustaining balanced ecosystem in any volumes larger than 3/4 of a gallon, not without some form of aeration or ammonia fixing by chemical means. However in small volumes, natural circulation, the proper combination of bacteria, & the right amount of surface area in the gravel, a semi-closed loop ecosystem can be maintained with minimal maintenance. The African Dwarf Frog is also more suited to a low oxygen, high PH environment as well, having evolved from a world of shallow rainforest swamps, in water full of decaying plant & animal matter.
    The EcoAquarium is a design developed by a Marine Biologist from UC Berkley, based on NASA Earth Science research for an aquatic environment able to be maintained on board SkyLab. The combination of the right plant, animal & bacteria, along with narrow tolerances of temperature & lighting, all come into play to create a very stable, low-maintenance habitat.
    Our Eco-system isn't "so-called", we've sold millions of EcoAquariums which are functioning perfectly today with minimal maintenance. We also have on staff a Licensed Veterinarian who monitors & advises us on our product production, overseeing our efforts to create safe & humane aquatic habitats. The process of a self-sustaining, self-regulating bio-culture is grounded upon valid marine science.
    Many of our customers have told us they've had frogs live over 9 years, far beyond a normal lifespan for these frogs if they were in the wild. We conservatively estimate 3 to 5 year lifespans with confidence. (I personally have two 6 year olds here at my desk called "Jimmie Crack Corn" & "I Don't Care.")
    If the Eco-Aquarium is kept out of direct sunlight, left as undisturbed as possible, and the frogs are kept fed, years of enjoyment maintaining a balanced aquatic world can be achieved. Your welcome to learn more about our EcoAquariums here in our website FAQ:

    1. Your system truly works. I have had my frogs for 5 years now. It's ironic that my betta fish requires more time to keep his tank clean than my frogs do. I'm glad your company cares about the welfare of these frogs and I'm happy to be a returning customer.

    2. Thank you for your response, but I'm not completely sold on this idea, I work n a store that sells them, and the bamboos keep dying and need many water changes, why do you think this is happening?

  5. My bamboo is turning yellow, what should I do?

    1. Relocate the EcoAquarium to a darker location. Too much sun is a big culprit in killing lucky bamboo. If the plant fails to green up and turns pale & soft, remove it and replace it.

  6. First determine if you may have your ecoaquarium where it is getting any sunlight. The Lucky Bamboo plant will wither if it is getting any sun. You may want to relocate the tank to a dark location for a few days. If the Bamboo is still yellow or turning pale white, you will have to replace it. We do have replacement Bamboo available.

  7. I live in the country and have a very deep well (727 ft.). May I use well water when I need to clean and refill my ecoaquarium?

  8. Can a moss ball be added to the aquarium?

  9. Good Question, Carrie Ann! We're currently investigating more about these fascinating little balls of algae. While we strive to keep our EcoAquariums relatively Algae free, we're very interested in the way this particular plant can actually help keep other forms of algae at bay. Since the little Marimo Moss balls do make a popular fresh water aquarium plant, we don't see a problem with it, however we are looking further into how compatible it is in the balanced ecosystem environment found in our EcoAquarium.

  10. Answering Annejk's question... yes, your well water should be fine as long as there is no chance of any Chlorine in it.
    We specify commercially bottled Spring Water for two reasons:
    1. No Chlorine. It is vital that no chlorine is present. The Frogs, plants & most especially, the nitrifying bacteria present in the brown "Living Gravel" cannot tolerate it. We never recommend using tap water either, since it typically is Chlorinated by municipal water treatment. We also do not recommend trying to de-chlorinate water yourself using any chemicals, the volume of water in our EcoAquarium is too small to be able to treat with accuracy. Natural Spring water is nature-filtered, and mineral rich.
    2. All commercially bottled water MUST meet common quality control standards set by a governing body, generally the bottling industry itself. Since the quality standards are common industry-wide, a bottle of Spring Water bottled in Maine, has the same standard of quality of a bottle of Spring Water bottled in California. It's not that it's better than water you draw from a well, or from your own spring, just that it has met a minimum standard. As a added precaution, I'd recommend before you use your well water, let it sit in a open container for a day, so if there is any Chlorine in it, it has a chance to come out of solution & evaporate.

  11. I just got my ecoaquarium earlier this week and feed my frogs two pellets per frog, but one frog ate them all. Should I be worried? Should I feed the frogs separately, if so what would be the easiest way to accomplish this? The one frog that did eat is larger then the one that didn't. Thanks

  12. While we suggest two pellets per frog, somehow the frogs didn't get that memo. Sometimes you do get one frog "hogging the plate". In that case, you can try staggering the feedings so that the big frog eats, and then would be less hungry.
    It's very likely you have a larger female, and a smaller male frog. Females tend to dominate... When Momma's not happy... EVERYBODY'S is not happy. It's natural that she would rule the roost AND hog dinner. BTW, the "two pellets per frog 2X week" rule is a suggestion to keep folk from over feeding and possibly tainting water conditions with spoiled uneaten food. Indulge your frogs with more food if they are hungry, just don't overdo it. If there's uneaten food in the tank, hold off until they find & eat any leftovers.

  13. I have two frogs not sure whether male or female interested in knowing the sex of each and if they will reproduce

  14. Hi... We've had our frogs for about 3 years. A few months ago, one of them died. We have no idea why. I can say though, that the remaining frog was clearly upset, trying to "wake it up" and hovering over it as I tried to remove that dead frog from the tank. Since then, we all feel so bad that this frog is now alone. Is it ok for us to introduce another frog to the tank? I don't want him to be alone for the rest of his life, but I don't want to upset him either.

    1. Tracy, I'm afraid you're giving too much credit to the intellect of an amphibian. On a rational sense, African Dwarf Frogs sole existence is to seek food, seek something to breed with, and seek safety from predators. Beyond that there not a whole lot to these frogs except what human traits we project upon them.
      Your three year old mature frog may only see a new addition to the EcoAquarium as a younger competitor to it's domain and it's food supply. In nature, these frogs are less communal than you'd expect, seeking out it's kind only to mate. Otherwise it prefers a solitary existence in a space safe from predators, where it can find food.

  15. I have 3 frogs in my ecosystem and I was curious how u can tell gender and if u have mix gender will they mate over time

  16. Easiest way to determine male & female is size. Males are smaller & skinnier, females are larger and more broad across her rump. (Baby's got back) Also temperament... females are dominant... When Mommas not happy, no one's happy. Females regard males only as something to breed with and not much else.
    Felames are far more aggressive toward food, often driving males (or any other frog away from food.
    In the beginning, we wanted our breeder to supply us only male frogs, but in time, that became unfeasible. While we still try to pair frogs male/male, female/female, unfortunately since we deal with very young frogs, it's a toss up if we succeed. Consequently it's a 50/50 chance of getting a male & female pair of frogs. They will try to breed, that what they do... eat, poop & breed. But it's very unlikely to have a successful brood.


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