Aquarium Setup

African Clawed Frogs need a substantial amount of room to swim, along with ample hiding places. When creating their home, there are many things to account for in regards to their needs.

Space: a good rule of thumb is approximately 10 gallons of water per frog. This will allow for ample swim space for each frog in your aquarium. Space your décor items adequately so that the frog or frogs can move around their environment with ease. Also, make sure that your frog can reach the top to get air in some way. In other words, do not over-crowd your poor frog with too much decoration, because it has lungs and must come up for air.

Bottom Décor: Gravel is not a good idea for these frogs. A little known fact about them (especially Albino Clawed Frogs) is that they more often than not have poor eyesight, and will not be able to tell the difference if they are eating something off the bottom of their cage. From personal experience, Zelda (my larger Albino) swallowed a piece of gravel before I purchased her and had passed it while I was keeping her in a separate container. This must have been painful for her to pass. More often than not, this can kill a frog because a sharp gravel piece can cause any number of internal problems.

Good alternatives would be river rock or anything large enough that they cannot get their mouths around, or sand, which is small enough to pass in small amounts. If you use sand, make sure that if you are using sinking pellets that you have a ceramic food dish in the bottom as a feeding area, and this will cut down on too much ingested sand.

Other Décor: Keep in mind when shopping for your frog that they have very soft bodies that can be cut on to sharp of an object. Get them a spacious hiding place where they can retreat to if they are frightened or just for a level of comfort during the day, since they are more active at night. To provide more hiding places, use silk plants or live plants that they can hide amongst and brush against without causing harm to themselves.

Filters: A must-have for these frogs, especially if you have more than one, is a powerful filter. Let’s face it; these frogs do not smell like a basket of roses and between the food mess and the frog mess things can get nasty in a filter-less tank. Along with water changes for these animals which will be discussed later, get a filter that is at least a little more powerful than your tank’s recommendation. This will keep the smell down and the water clear. I would also recommend changing the carbon cartridge (if the filter has one) monthly but also taking the filter out and cleaning it individually so that it works properly.

Gravel Cleaners: These come in handy for larger tanks, when it is too difficult to move the actual aquarium somewhere it can be washed out. They come in manual and electric varieties and basically suck the water out of the tank while you move along the bottom of the tank to vacuum up debris. Along with one of these, get a couple of buckets to empty dirty water into as you clean, or you can empty it into a sink if one is close enough.

Water Conditioner: This is a must to ensure that the water is void of any harmful chemicals that could jeopardize your frog’s well-being. API Stress Coat is what I use in my aquarium because it also has Aloe Vera, which helps healing if a frog (or fish) is accidentally cut or injured in a minor way. To read more about API Stress Coat, check out their website. You can find this and other water conditioning options at your local pet store or Wal-Mart.


Setting up your tank- Be sure to rinse everything you purchase for your frog in warm water before you put it into the aquarium. This includes the sand that you buy, so that loose particles will be separated from the sand that will cover the bottom. Cover the bottom of the aquarium with sand and/or river rock, and place the décor around the cage allowing enough space for the frog to swim. Place your filter where it will be most likely to circulate the water though-out the entire tank. If you have a larger tank and you find that you need more help keeping up with the water condition, it is not unheard of to use two filters as long as they are placed adequately for water flow.

Fill your tank leaving 1 ½ to 2 inches of space at the top so that the frogs can come up for air.  Turn on the filter after you have followed its instructions for set up. Add the directed amount of water conditioner to your water and allow the filter to circulate the water for a few minutes. You may add your frogs after this. Be sure that your aquarium also comes equipped with a lid, as these frogs can and will attempt escape.

Cleaning your tank- remove frogs gently and place them in a separate container with a lid. Take the gravel pump and follow its directions to get it started. Turn off, remove, and clean your filter, as it will have probably collected a lot of waste. Remove as much debris from the gravel as possible and then re-fill the tank, and do not forget to add more water conditioner to eliminate the newly-added chlorine. Put the filter back in and let it run to circulate the water for a few minutes, and then re-introduce your frogs to the tank (Sometimes they may be shaken up by the move and the change, so after they are back, it may be a good idea to get them a treat to reassure them).

Your local pet store can do water tests for free as needed. To do this, bring them a small sample of the tank’s water and ask to check the ammonia levels and the pH. If anything is out of order, your local pet store can also recommend things to add to the tank for regulation.


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