How to Setup African Dwarf Frog Tank?

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In today’s article we’ll talk about how you can set up a proper environment for your African Dwarf Frog. This article is a full guide that will cover every aspect you need to know, to set up a proper tank, where your frogs will live a long and happy life.

First of all, let’s see what their natural habitat is like, to find out what you need to do regarding the new tank.

African Dwarf Frog Natural Habitat

African Dwarf Frog Natural Habitat

African Dwarf Frog Natural Habitat

The African Dwarf Frog’s habitat consists of creeks, ponds and shallow rivers, during the dry season. When the season changes, this species is found in the flooded areas of forests, basically anywhere there’s enough water for it live.

It’s good to know that they live in slowly moving waters, that’s why shallow rivers and ponds are a good place for them. They don’t like too busy places, or waters that flow quickly. You should consider this when setting up the tank (later you’ll find out more about this).

Now, let’s see what you need to do, in order to set up an aquarium for your new frogs.

Setting Up African Dwarf Frog Aquarium

To help you set up your tank, I will cover multiple steps you need to take, in order to create a habitable environment for your frogs. Let’s start with the aquarium itself:

Choosing a Tank Size

First of all, you need to buy yourself a tank. The obvious question that comes up, is how big this tank should be? To find out, it’s helpful if you know how many frogs you plan to buy.

Usually, you need a tank that’s at least 5 gallons in capacity, if you have just one African Dwarf Frog. That is the bare minimum. If you’ll buy multiple frogs however, like 4 or 5 of them, it is recommended to get an aquarium of at least 15 gallons in volume. The best would be a 20-gallon tank.

So, for one frog 5 gallons is required, but for multiple ones, get a tank of 20 gallons. Buying such a tank from the start, comes with a perk: later, you might want to add new tank mates besides your frogs. If that’s the case, you’ll have plenty of space for them. They won’t bother each other, and your frogs will live peacefully.

If you have your tank, there is an important item you also need: an aquarium cover. Any frog tank needs a cover. Otherwise, the frogs will attempt to jump out of it, and you don’t want that to happen. That is because African Dwarf Frogs will die, if they spend too much time outside the water.

Creating Hiding Places

Hiding places are another aspect that must be created in the aquarium. These frogs really like to hide from time to time; this is usually how they live in the wild.

To create some great hiding places, you don’t need sophisticated items. The easiest method to get this done is to buy some pre-made aquarium caves, which you can place inside your tank. However, keep something in mind:

Only purchase caves that don’t have sharp edges on them. This is very important, because otherwise your frogs will cut or bruise themselves, and this will result in skin shedding. Also, other diseases might surface, if they hurt themselves.

If you place driftwood and larger plants in the tank, they can also serve as hiding place for your frogs. This is a cheaper, but still an efficient way to get it done.

Choosing Aquarium Light

If you have frogs in your tank, you’ll need a light besides it. This is crucial, because you have to create cycles of day and night for your frogs. And the easiest method for this to happen is to use an aquarium lighting system.

You can easily get a light on Amazon, or even from a local pet shop. You don’t need anything sophisticated. A simple LED light for fish tanks will do well.

Adding a Heater

Since your African Dwarf Frogs are tropical animals, you need a warm environment to keep them in. The problem is that the water won’t stay warm enough by itself, in a standard room. This is where a water heater comes into the picture.

There are lots of possible choices that could work well besides your tank. However, let me recommend an item, which is already working perfectly in the case of many buyers:

The Tetra HT Submersible Aquarium Heater is a product you can find on Amazon. It ships pretty much anywhere in the world, so you can surely get it for yourself. It comes in 2 versions, for different needs. The one of 50 Watts is more than enough for your requirements. What does it do?

Simply, it will heat the water in the tank up to a certain temperature and also keep it there. It uses a built-in electronic thermostat, that will keep the water at 78 degrees Fahrenheit, ideal for your African Frogs. This is the standard setting, meaning that you don’t have to do any adjustments when turning it on.

It is ideal for tanks between 2 and 55 gallons, with or without covers. It is small and fully submersible, making it easy to conceal from your marine life.

To let you know when the heater is on, it comes with indicator lights. These will glow red, while the water is heating up. The lights will turn green, when the required temperature has been reached.

Adding a Filter

Any aquarium needs a quality water filter, to ensure a clean and healthy environment for your frogs and fish alike. There are literally hundreds of items you can look through on the market. Because of that, here’s a personal recommendation that will work well in your case:

The AquaClear Tank Filter is a popular choice among fish keepers, both beginners and more experienced ones. This product comes in multiple different variants, but the one that will work best with your tank, is the 3rd version for 10 to 30-gallon fish tanks.

It has an adjustable flow rate, which is very important for African Dwarf Frogs, because they like slowly moving waters, as mentioned above. It comes equipped with AquaClear Foam, Activated Carbon, BioMax and Cycle Guard. These play a huge role in the chemical and biological filtration of the tank.

Also, it does mechanical filtration too, so all the floating debris will be removed from the water current, leaving a crystal clean tank. A 2-year warranty is added to any purchase, which makes this an even better package.

Choosing Aquarium Substrate

Any aquarium needs a substrate on the bottom, to make the environment suitable for its inhabitants. The question is what kind of substrate is best for African Dwarf Frogs?

The most important aspect of the chosen gravel, is for it to be soft, and without any sharp pieces and edges in it. Just like before in the case of the hiding caves, sharp gravel pieces can also harm your frogs easily, and result in other health issues. Choose a package of bottom gravel that is specifically made for sensitive fish and frogs.

You can use plain sand too. This is the simplest method to set up the bottom of the tank. However, if you prefer gravel, make sure its grains aren’t too small; otherwise your frogs will try to swallow them.

For a 20 gallon tank, you approximately need 15 to 20 pounds of gravel, or sand to cover it efficiently. You can buy this amount of gravel from a specialized pet shop form near you, or from Amazon as well.

Adding Aquarium Plants

What is an aquarium without some plants in it? Your frogs will feel much more at home if you add plants inside the aquarium. Actually, these plants come with many advantages. For instance, plants will help remove ammonia and nitrates from the aquarium. Also, they will slow down the nitrate buildup in the tank.

Besides this advantage, plants will provide a natural hiding place for your frogs and create a natural-looking place for your frogs to hang out. Luckily, there are many plants that are easy to care for and will look great in your tank. Here are some of the possibilities:

  • Dwarf Anubias: this plant is widely used in frog tanks. It grows easily, and in won’t reach a size that is too big for your tank. Also, African Dwarf Frogs love to hide among its leaves.
  • Amazon Sword Plant: this plant grows quickly and it’s highly regarded as a great water purifier.
  • Java Moss: this is another great water purifier, and great for frogs. However, you need quite a lot of light to keep it alive and healthy. But if you do it right, it will become a great “carpet” on the floor of your aquarium. Also, if you want a tough plant, that is almost impossible to kill, the Java Moss is a great choice.
  • Java Fern: another plant that is suitable for frog tanks. You should tie it to a piece of driftwood or lava rock and leave its roots exposed. In time, they will attach themselves to these and grow in the tank.

Choosing Tank Mates

The next thing you need to think about, is what tank mates you’ll add to your aquarium. Since African Dwarf Frogs are peaceful animals, you need peaceful tank mates as well. Usually, communal tropical fish are great additions to a frog tank.

Here are some ideas:

Besides these fish species, you can add to your tank different kinds of shrimp too. For instance, the Cherry and Ghost Shrimp are both great tank mates for your frogs. Snails can also live well together with these frogs.

However, if the shrimp and snails are very small, your frogs could mistake them for snacks. Because of this, add them with caution.

You should also know what species to avoid. Aggressive fish, such as Cichlids are a very bad idea. These will stress your frogs out and even prey on them.

Bettas are another breed that could work with African Dwarf Frogs, but only with caution. Don’t add more than 2 Bettas in your tank. And if you notice any aggressive behavior towards your frogs, separate them. Otherwise, some Bettas could kill your frogs. However, this depends on your specific specimens.

Maintain the Tank Regularly

At last, your tank is finished. If you did all the steps as described above, the result should be a nice little frog aquarium, that will look great in your home and be a proper home for your African Dwarf Frogs. However, there is another step that needs to be done after the tank was set up.

Any tank has to be maintained regularly. Yours makes no exception. What does a regular maintenance include?

First of all, even if you have a water filter, you’ll need to change the water from time to time. This is the first step to maintain your tank. Changing the water should be done every 2 or 3 weeks to keep the parameters at their peak.

Next, you need to clean the tank regularly as well. This is easiest when you change the water. A water filter is important, but residues will build up in the tank, even if your device is a top-notch product. That is why you must clean your tank manually too.

Maintenance also includes the part where you clean the caves and decorations of the aquarium too. Basically, you must clean everything that’s present inside your aquarium.


This article serves as a guide to setting up a tank for African Dwarf Frogs. Do everything as described in here. If you complete this guide exactly, your new tank will surely work as a perfect habitat for the new frogs.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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