African Clawed Frog Care Sheet

African Clawed Frog Care Sheet

African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) are a 4-5” long, aquatic, diurnal amphibian. They are native to southern Africa, but known to be invasive in the US, Chile, and Great Britain. Their preferred habitat is areas of warm, stagnant water.

African clawed frogs have smooth skin, a flat body, upward-oriented eyes, no tongue or visible ear, and they have claws on their webbed back feet. Coloring is generally marbled olive, gray, and/or brown, with a pale belly.

African clawed frogs are quite hardy as far as amphibians go, which makes them a beginner-level pet amphibian. With good care, they can have a 20+ year lifespan!

Minimum aquarium size for African clawed frogs

The minimum recommended aquarium size for a single African clawed frog is 20”L x 10”W x 10”H (10 gallons). Of course, larger is always better! Just make sure that the water is no deeper than about 12”.

We do not recommend cohabitating African clawed frogs, as this species is known to have cannibalistic tendencies. However, it can be done if you are familiar with the species, the frogs are about the same size, and you are prepared for what is necessary to keep more than one together. If you decide to have more than one together, be prepared to have a larger aquarium set up.

Do African clawed frogs need UVB?

They are able to survive without it, but we still recommend providing appropriate UVB lighting as part of the setup. Although African clawed frogs are aquatic, they are still active during the day, and UVB wavelengths travel quite well through clear water. UVB lighting also helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and provides other benefits.

The recommended UVB bulbs for African clawed frogs are:

For best results, use a bulb about half the length of the enclosure and housed in a fixture with a reflector. Position the lamp on one side of the aquarium, on top of a mesh screen lid 6-8” above the water.

We recommend lighting to be on 8-12 hours per day, depending on the time of year. You can do less hour on in the winter and more hours on in the summer. Remember to turn lighting off at night.

Best temperature for African clawed frogs

Like other amphibians, African clawed frogs are cold-blooded, which means that they rely on external temperatures to manage their own body temperature and metabolism. African clawed frogs do well with water temps around 68-72°F.

Usually this is room temperature, but if you need help keeping the water sufficiently warm, use an aquarium heater like the Zoo Med TurtleTherm. You can use an aquarium thermometer to make sure the water doesn’t get too warm or cool.

Maintaining your African clawed frog’s water

Although African clawed frogs like stagnant water, that doesn’t mean they like dirty water. Dirty water will make your frog sick. We recommend changing the water every week, but it’s easier to use a low flow aquarium filter. Be sure it’s low-flow for minimal water disturbance — a strong current will stress your frog!

If you are using a low flow aquarium filter, you can perform partial water changes every two weeks. Any water added to the aquarium should be treated with de-chlorinator like Zoo Med Reptisafe to prevent harmful chemicals from being introduced to your frog’s habitat.

Scrub any algae buildup off the glass with a magnetic glass scrubber.

Best substrate for African clawed frogs

Although substrate isn’t necessary to an African clawed frog aquarium, it’s good for making the enclosure more attractive. More importantly, it adds a source of environmental enrichment for the frog to dig in.

Because ingestion is a potential hazard, the best substrate for African clawed frogs is going to be fine-particled, clean sand, like Exo Terra Riverbed Sand. Use a siphon regularly to keep the sand clean. Otherwise, you can keep the bottom bare or use clean tile.

How to decorate an African clawed frog aquarium

An empty enclosure makes for a bored frog. African clawed frogs are surprisingly intelligent! Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of décor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors.

Décor options for African clawed frogs include:

Avoid anything made of metal, as metal is toxic to African clawed frogs!

Make sure your frog has covered areas to retreat to when it wants privacy.

What to feed to an African clawed frog

African clawed frogs are carnivorous, which means that they need to eat whole animal prey in order to get the right nutrition. Here is our recommended feeding schedule for African clawed frogs based on age:

  • Juveniles: daily, as much as they will eat within ~10 minutes
  • Adults 3-4x/week, as much as they will eat within ~10 minutes

Food options for African clawed frogs:

Regularly offer appropriate commercial diets like Tetra Reptomin as part of the rotation. This helps ensure that your frog gets enough vitamins and minerals.

How to handle your African clawed frog

We do not recommend handling your frog. Amphibians generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do, and African clawed frogs in particular are a hands-off pet.

*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!

1 comment

I’ve had these frogs for years. they actually do very well cohabitating, just make sure other ACF’s in the tank will not fit in another frogs mouth and you will not have any issues. Also, I have to disagree about feeding bloodwotms, they can cause red leg, which anyone that’s battled that knows what it costs and that feeding something like bloodworms isn’t worth the risk.

Amanda M

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