The Aquatic Tank
This tank is essentially the same setup you would have for fish, an aquarium
with water in it. Pretty much the same considerations you would make for fish
apply here, although frogs tend to shed skin and therefore require either a
more frequent cleaning or a Houdini-like escape artist frogs, even in aquatic tanks!
The classic dilemma, this part always depends on how many frogs you are housing and what
kind.I have two dwarf frogs in a small 2 and a half gallon hexagon
tank and they are doing quite well. More than that and I would suggest moving to the standard 10
African Clawed frogs tend to get quite a bit larger than some would expect and require
a larger tank than their cousin Dwarf frogs. For the Clawed frogs, I would suggest a 20
gallon sized tank setting (at least once they reach full size).
Naturally, if you have more than a couple, you'll need to adjust the space required.
Of course, if you add fish into the equation, you enter a whole new territory of variables. Best consult
your local pet store on overcrowding. (Note: pet stores almost always overcrowd the tanks in house, but
since these are not meant as long term living quarters they are not meant to be taken as guidelines to
how many animals will fit comfortably in a tank!)
Filtration and Cleaning
Cleaning an aquarium tanks is basically the same for frogs as it is for
most freshwater fish, except it tends to be required more stringently
because frogs shed more often. There are numerous filter devices available
on the market. Ask your pet dealer for advice on these.
One visitor wrote to tell me: "a good way to keep the water clean, while frogs are molting, is to put
gold fish in the water. Gold fish eat the skin." (This, of course, assumes the frogs won't eat the goldfish!)
Cleaning your tank also falls under the same categories as proper care of
fish. Special gravel vacuum cleaners can be bought as well, though they basically
consist of a "nice" plastic tube which can be easily made at home. In the best case
scenario, you'll be filling the tank with stale water when you clean it. By this I mean, water
that has been sitting out for at least 24 hours, AND has been dechlorinated. (You can buy
chlorine treatment drops at your local pet store.) That way you are less likely to poison the frogs during
regular maintenance. (My mom once called saying she had cleaned my little sister's frog tank and the
frogs were looking really sick. - i.e. one was dead, the other two were acting like pre-teens after they get
home from a slumber-party - She had forgotten to treat the water, in this case I told her to immediately treat
the water with those "instant-dechlorinator drops to see if it might help, and the surviving frogs were soon
afterwards back to themselves again. I'm not saying add the water to the tank and then treat it, but if
you should find the frogs acting sick after a tank cleaning, try treating the water, or better yet, transfer
them to a temporary holding container with treated water in it while you treat the water in their tank again.
This is still a subject of a lot of debate. Generally speaking, most experts say that unlike lizards, turtles,
and snakes, and other herps, frogs don't need whats called "full spectrum lighting" to be healthy. Full
spectrum lighting aids some animals in producing Vitamin D3. Frogs get this vitamin through their diet, so
only ordinary light is required. Not that this type of light, which can be provided by using special types
of light bulbs available in most pet stores, will do any harm as long as it's limited to a maximum of about
4 to 5 hours a day.
Generally speaking, though, the best rules of thumb are:
Don't use a light that's too bright or you could damage the frogs' vision. Even if it's not bright enough
to damage their vision, a light that is too bright for their comfort will mean frogs that hide all the time,
which fairly boring for the keeper.
The most suitable type of artificial lighting for most frogs is fluorescent. For one thing, they tend not to
produce too much heat.
Some frogs use daylight to know what time of year it is etc...just as they would in nature. A good daylight
period is around 12 hours. Of course, it's even better if the tank gets some sort of daylight in the room.
You probably don't want to have direct sunlight on the tank though, especially since it means algae is going
to go rampant on your aquarium walls, and make cleaning the tank a real pain. (not to mention the fact that
it will need the cleaning much more often)
If your frog requires heating then you're in luck...the aquarium set-up is the easiest for heating maintenance.
There are a variety of heating devices for fishtanks available in pet stores. The most common is the simple
thermostat-controlled glass tube heater that fits onto the side of the tank. You can set a temperature for them
and everything is nice and automatic. They even have tiny ones that fit into my mini-plastic tank for the Dwarf
frogs! The main
consideration here, again, is making sure there aren't any huge gaping holes in the top of the tank through
which your pet can escape. Oh, and one other thing...most heating systems heat the tank to "4 degrees higher
than the temperature it started out on" ... and then you have to adjust it over the next couple of hours (which
may be many hours, if your dealing with a larger tank size) so it's very, very recommended that the frogs are
not put into the tank until you have the heater figured out (generally speaking, put the heater in 2 days
before you get the frogs) because there sometime is a good deal of fiddling with the temperature that goes on
before it gets to be "just right."
When you buy a tank for your pet frog, particularly if we are talking about the African Clawed Frog, be
sure to buy a proper lid for it!!!! I cannot stress this enough, because it is just way too sad to hear the
stories of finding a beloved specimen dried up and flattened behind the radiator 3 years after it mysteriously
disappeared from it's tank! I haven't experienced this problem with my Dwarf frogs, but I'm not taking any chances.
I've covered the holes in the lid with duct-tape to make sure they don't get out.
If you have Clawed frogs, then you most likely have a tank with a filter system that puts large gaping holes in
the back of your lid. You may want to enquire at the pet store what sorts of recommendations they can make for
covering the large areas of exposure to prevent the escape of pets.
This is the part you need to do the least amount of worrying about, simply because
the choices aren't incredibly diverse. Generally, any aquarium gravel will do
well in this case. Make sure to clean the gravel as you would with
any aquarium fish before lining your tank!
Frogs have been known to accidentally swallow the occasional gravel stone, but this is harmless and generally
the stones just pass right on through.
You can also find nice stones to line your tank. The main
requirement is that the stones aren't sharp, leaving areas where frogs can scrape
against them and wound themselves. I use glass marbles to line the tank of
my african dwarf frogs!
Sand also works well in the aquarium.
There are all kinds of aquarium decorations available in pet stores for your tank. Plastic plants are
really good, and a place for the animals to hide is nice too. If you're willing to take the extra energy
required, there are fresh-water aquatic plants that frogs seem to really dig a lot too! Ask about it at your local
pet store. The real plants really add a nice natural touch to the tank environment and they are adored by the frogs
as well, but keep in mind that it tends to require a lot more attention to cleaning and filtration.
If you have aquatic frogs you may have considered housing some sort of fish in the
same tank with your frogs. Of course, you need to keep in mind what sorts of fish
might be considered "lunch" by your frog, and vice versa of course!
African Clawed frogs definitely won't live well with any sort of fish that is small.
The reason, of course, is that African Clawed frogs will eat ANYTHING that they can
fit into their mouths. Don't forget that they may look small when you buy them, but
they grow and this needs to be taken into account when choosing fish-pals. See the
African Clawed Frog Care Sheet for more info.
Dwarf Frogs, on the other hand, are more or less harmless to many types of fish. I've
seen the occasional battle, but the frogs don't have very strong gripping mouths nor
do they have any teeth, so they are generally an annoyance to some fish more than a threat.
Keep in mind however, that adding fish means a more dirty environment with more
likelihood of pH level problems so you need to be very sensitive to overcrowding
and a good filtration method becomes a mandatory piece of equipment. This is particularly
true with fish that eat different types of food than the frogs, as it tends to leave more debris.
Also, if any of your fish get sick, it's really important to isolate them from the rest of the
co-habitants or you risk infecting the whole crew!
The types of fish I've had living with African Dwarf frogs have been: neon tetras, 1 beta fish
(Chinese fighting fish) which has been known to try to fight with the frogs on occasion (and lose pathetically, with
a frenzied beta swimming around the tank and 1 determined froggy attached by the mouth to
its' long beautiful tail.) Bala Sharks, Coolie Loaches, Clown Loaches, and Goldfish.
You'll have to find out yourself what other types of freshwater fish do well with frogs: You can try looking
up fish info at Fish Information Service (FINS) or
try your local pet store.
It is strongly recommended that you check out some of the books in the Recommended
Reading list for more info.
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