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African clawed frog

Xenopus laevis, etc.



    A fully aquatic frog with a voracious appetite, this amphibian is a hardy and fascinating pet suitable for a frog-only tank.
Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: Up to 6” body length (without legs) in large females, smaller in males
    Tank: 20” minimum for a single frog, long tanks much better than tall.
    Strata: Bottom.
    PH: Not critical, acidic preferred
    Hardness: Soft to medium. dH range: 5-12
    Temperature: 68°F-78°F (20°- 26°C) Low to middle 70’s ideal


    Class: Lissamphibia
    Order: Anura
    Family: Pipidae
    Genera: Xenopus
    Species: laevis, borealis (most common)

Common name:

    African clawed frog
Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    Sub-Saharan African (cooler regions). Introduced/feral in North America and Europe.

    African clawed frogs are naturally a mottled green-grey with a lighter, cream-colored underside. The albino version is a pinkish white, and is also readily available from retailers.

African clawed frog
Pete, the authors frog

Life span:
    15+ years in captivity.

    Weekly water changes with gravel vacuum should be performed without fail. Décor should be upturned and vacuumed under often, as uneaten food may collect under these objects.

    The African clawed frog will accept an astonishing variety of foods. They are voracious eaters that will eat almost anything that either smells appetizing, or moves like prey. For this reason, African clawed frogs should NEVER be kept with fish, African dwarf frogs, or other clawed frogs that will fit into their mouths! Even keepers attempting to house them with large goldfish report seeing the frogs latched onto the fish’s tail.

      Appropriate foods include:
    • Bloodworms (frozen and freeze-dried)
    • Tubifex worms
    • Mosquito larvae
    • Earthworms
    • Shrimp pellets (for bottom feeding fish)
    • Cooked pieces of shrimp (unseasoned/unsalted)
    • Beefheart Brine shrimp
    • Tetra Reptomin Floating Food Sticks (for turtles)
    • Live ghost shrimp
    • Live guppies/livebearer fry

    Feed 2-3 days a week in adult frogs, more frequently in froglets or growing animals. You will see your frog “scoop” food towards its mouth with its front feet, because these frogs actually lack tongues with which to grab food. Important: Never feed rosy red minnows or feeder goldfish. The majority of African clawed frogs are unable to process an enzyme they contain, and can become sick.

Skin Shedding:
    African clawed frog shed their skin every few weeks. They will eat the skin. Excessive skin shedding can indicate pollutants or irritants in the water.

    Bare, sand, or very large gravel/small stones. Any gravel/stone used must be too large for them to scoop and/or swallow. Sand is fine enough to pass easily if swallowed.

Tank Décor:
    Multiple hiding places (driftwood, caves, etc.) with subdued lighting. Plant should be artificial or very hardy, as these frogs tend to be “big kickers” that rocket around their tanks and tear up live plants. Anubias plants do well with clawed frogs.
    These frogs are escape artists! The aquarium must be completely covered, or they will find their way onto the floor, where they desiccate quickly.
    Emergency Care for Desiccated Frogs
    If a frog escapes and is found dried up, do not assume it is dead. They have amazing powers of revival. Place the frog in a shallow bowl of tank water with its nostrils above the water to allow it to breathe. Let the frog rest in the water and watch carefully for movement of the nostrils. It can take several hours for the frog the rehydrate. Once the frogs is able to swim a bit, keep it in a bucket with a few inches of water (or lower the water level of the tank) so it can reach the surface easily for air while it regains strength. Be patient, and do not attempt to feed the frog until it is fully recovered.

    Quiet, low-flow filtration is best. Clawed frogs do not appreciate strong current or noisy filtration.

    Stagnant pools and backwaters with a substrate of deep mud.


    These frogs breed readily under good conditions. The male sings to female, and clasps her around the stomach, fertilizing the eggs as she lays them. Eggs and adult frogs should be separated immediately, as parents will eat the eggs/tadpoles. Tadpoles are filter feeders and should be fed finely powdered foods.

Other Notes:

    Keepers should provide 10 gallons of water per frog. However, in tanks that are long rather than tall, this rule can be bent slightly if the caretaker is attentive to water conditions. For example, while only two clawed frogs should ever be kept in a 20 gallon “tall” tank (dimensions approx. 24”l x 12”w x 16”h), three can be kept in a 20 gallon “long” tank (dimensions approx. 30”l x 12”w x 12”h). Long tanks are also more appropriate because the frogs need to reach the surface frequently to breathe. The popular Grow-a-Frog® kit contains an African clawed frog tadpole.


Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Al E.
I have a 27 year old grow a frog We "adopted" Freddie when my son was 5 years old and he is now 32! Freddie is still going strong. Freddie is alert and active and always ready for his food. He enjoys getting the water changed in his tank!
From: Mark
I have a girl frog named Jumper who is about 6 years old now. She is about 7in (she's huge!) ever since I got her she's been with large goldfish and ate a couple minnows. She chases the large goldfish around but they don't mind it, it seems as though they try to tease her because they know she can't catch them. She's got out a few times and the only reason I found her because my cat was going crazy, I didn't even know she got out of the tank! So it freaked me out a little when I saw a frog hopping through my room. I love my frog (even though she's evil sometimes) they do not have teeth so I'm happy about that because she tries to eat my fingers. But I like watching he swim around the tank, very entertaining, and I hope she lives a long life.
From: Mark
I have four in my semi aggressive community. These things are PIGS. I've always fed mine minnows and golds with no problems, along with flake, sinking shrimp pellets, sinking cichlid pellets. These four are new. I had 3 in my aggressive community for 2 years with no problems whatsoever, until my Clown knife decided to kill them. Not eat, just kill. He also killed an 8" sydontis euptera, a 12" common pleco, 4" albino bristle nose pleco, and other various tankmates. I will advise if you put them in a community tank do NOT put anything that fits into their mouth with them, and they have a big mouth. Other than that they are super easy to keep, I will always have a couple in my tank.
From: Jen
I have a female ACF, she's about 4 inches not including her legs. We got her from a pet store that sold her as African Dwarf Frog and quickly outgrew the other frogs and ate them. She's escaped from her tank for several hours once, and has gotten onto the floor several other times, always quickly put back in her tank. I feed her 2-3 earthworms every other day and replace her water on a weekly basis. I don't have a filtration system for her since I have read that the movement of the water irritates her. She's been singing for the last couple of weeks, which has been really interesting to hear. She's been a really fun pet to have, and I have learned a lot about the species since I got her.
From: Sara
My frog is 24 years old. I got him as a tadpole thru grow-a-frog. He eats reptomin and lives in a 10 gallon tank. Recently I've introduced a filter for a few hours a day into his tank.
From: Chrissy B.
I got my frog when I was 8 years old, I'm 27 now and she's still going strong. She lives on her own with minimal filtration and eats turtle sticks. A very easy pet to keep, but also very endearing!.
From: Servo
My frog will be 24 years old in April 2009. I got him as a tadpole in the mail from a company called "Grow a Frog", I was 5 years old at the time.
From: Aimee
My frog Kermit is almost a year old now. I've had him since he was conceived in a college biology class. We needed fertilized eggs, so we mated some frogs. I took one of the eggs home with me and raised it. Its been an interesting run. It was difficult caring for a tadpole because they are so sensitive about over feeding and cleaning of their water. Then it got even more difficult when he transitioned from tadpole to frog. It's such a vulnerable stage for them and they don't need to be fed (it was a little hard to judge this stage and when to begin feeding again). I wasn't sure he was going to make it, but he did! Now he's almost a year old, has had several different sized tanks, and is getting bigger all the time! He is now in a tank with a Whisper filter, gravel, fake plants, and he has a UV lamp that he loves. I've made sure that he's had adequate lighting since he was a tadpole. His lamp is even on a timer so that I don't have to worry about turning it on or off. As far as food goes, after the tadpole food he moved on to goldfish flakes, then to aquatic turtle/newt/frog food which has baby shrimp, mini-krill, and nutrition sticks. He's much easier to care for now that he's older, but anyone who's raised an animal from an egg knows what a joy they are to raise!
From: Maria
I have an African clawed water frog named May who is 18-19 years old. I read the information on this web site about this type of frog and was glad to find it. There isn't much information on these critters on the Internet, at least not that I've found. I have never done anything special with May. I didn't know anything about this species when she was given to me. She was about 3 when friends didn't want her anymore. She is now being kept in a 20 gallon tank with just some glass marbles on the bottom. I have never used a filter. She eats Reptomin floating food sticks. Over the years, on occasion we would put fresh plants into the tank, but she would swim so hard and fast, they never stayed in place and would be ripped apart by her. Once we put a couple of goldfish in the tank with her because we had no idea she would eat them. The next morning only one goldfish was there, so we removed it. She did not get sick from eating it, thank goodness. I just read on this site that goldfish can make the frogs sick. She had bloat a couple of years ago and I did find someone online who gave me some advice on how to treat her. She still looks weird from the bloat. Her body never went back to normal, but she is still alive. Perhaps it is just her aging, also, that makes her look odd. She is quite large, about 6.5 inches long from her head to her back feet. One time she jumped out of her tank and hopped across two rooms. Luckily, I found her within a few hours, put her in water, and she was OK. I would like to hear about other peoples' experiences with African clawed water frogs. I am curious if anyone else has one as old or older than May.
From: Alison
I own two of these frogs and they are very voracious eaters. My oldest, Pepper, is a reticulated frogger (brown) and is 1 1/2 inches long. My youngest, Salt, is albino and under an inch. These frogs are very social and mine were going crazy, literally, when they were in their own cages. When the got together, there was some nipping, but the two are now best friends and almost inseparable. They are best in groups of two or more because they are more active and lovable in groups. They share a 10 gallon that I will upgrade for a much bigger tank when I have the money to upgrade. However, they are quite happy together and I don't plan to separate the two cuties any time soon. Oh, and they're both girls so I don't get the opportunity to hear them sing.
From: Sarah
I own three of these little pigs. My eldest is a male, Jetta, who is about 5 years old. He is 4 inches long without his legs. My next to oldest is Nicks. Nicks is 1 and a half years old. She is nearly 3 inches and is growing fast. She's going to be a big girl. She and Jetta live in a 20 gallon long tank with 2 large apple snails. I use a Whisper filter, which does not seem to bother them. I vacuum the bottom twice a week or more because they tend to be messy. I do not have a bottom substrate, nor do I plan to. If I ever have one it will probably be sand. I do have caves for them, though. I've had my youngest for around 8 months or so. He is about an inch and a half long. I'm afraid he is the result of inbreeding as he has no eyes. I found him in a department store in a tiny dirty cup with barely any water. It took some patience but I got him to start eating. He's really growing fast now. His front paws recently turned black and I have heard him singing. He keeps me awake at night he's so loud. He is in his own 15 gallon long tank with a bare bottom. He's got plenty of hiding places, but he is never in them. He loves attention. I leave it about half full and I have a small underwater filter. All of my frogs are fed a variety of krill, brine shrimp, shrimp pellets, food sticks and what ever else they can get their grubby little paws on. I named my eyeless one Stevie Ray after Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles (typical, I know. But they are two if my favorite artists). Stevie is hand fed, but he is getting better at finding food. He's actually my most dramatic eater. He's so funny. I love feeding him. I haven't tried keeping another frog with him yet, but when he gets bigger I'll see how he does with Jetta and Nicks.





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