Dwarf African Clawed Frogs
Dwarf African clawed frogs (Hymenochirus boettgeri), growing to about 3.5cm (1.5in), have become very popular in recent years. They are very similar in their needs to the larger African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis), which they resemble in appearance. Both species are almost entirely aquatic, as reflected by their streamlined, flattened body shape. They have muscular hind legs and webbed feet which assist their swimming abilities. Originating from parts of West Africa, the dwarf species is now being commonly bred. There is now a well-established albino form, with red eyes, as well as the traditional grey form.

They need to be kept in heated water, with the thermostatic setting being kept at approximately 25°C (77°F). An aquarium heaterstat can be used for this purpose, although this must be shielded with a suitable heater guard, to prevent the frogs from burning themselves on the heater component. But a better option can be to use a heat pad under thermostatic control, especially if you are intending to breed them. This is because the water level will need to be lowered significantly, making it hard to accommodate a traditional heaterstat.

An undergravel filter is also to be recommended, to maintain water quality, with suitable decor being positioned in the aquarium to provide the frogs with retreats. Unlike their larger relative, the dwarf African clawed frog will not prove disruptive in a planted aquarium. The water depth should be kept quite low, about 25cm (10in) on average, and there must be rockwork or other decor allowing them to climb out of the water occasionally, as well as some floating plants on the surface.

These clawed frogs are not aggressive by nature, and groups of up to eight can be housed in a aquarium measuring 60cm (24in) long. It is preferable not to keep them in the company of fish, which may snap at their toes, while the frogs themselves may in turn eat small fish. Feeding is generally straightforward, with small water creatures such as tubifex worms, bloodworms and daphnia forming the basis of their diet.


Sexing is not easy, unless the frogs are in breeding condition. At this stage, the females will swell with eggs, while the males will start calling. The water level in their quarters should be dramatically lowered, down to just 7.5cm (3in), for up to a month, and then topped up again with slightly warmer water, heated to 30°C (85°F).

Males grab the females around their hindquarters when mating, with the eggs being fertilised as they are laid. The adults must be removed at this stage, before they eat the eggs which will hatch up to six days later. Rearing the tiny tadpoles can be achieved if you have access to unpolluted pond water, containing tiny protozoans and other small livefoods. Alternatively, you can buy special tadpole rearing foods, and sprinkle powdered tropical fish flake food on the surface for them as well.

Carry out partial water changes regularly, to ensure that the water does not become polluted by wasted food. It is much better to feed small amounts several times each day for this reason. Whenever carrying out a water change, treat the fresh water first with a conditioner, to remove chlorine compounds here.
You then need to ensure that it is at the same temperature as that within the tank, before carefully pouring it in here. When they metamorphose after about six weeks, the young dwarf African clawed frogs will be barely 0.5in (1.25cm) long, but should continue to grow quickly.