Types of Aquatic Frogs: African, Dwarf & Albino

Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has a master's degree in science education and has taught at the high school and community college level for 13 years.

Aquatic frogs are fascinating animals that have become very popular in the pet industry. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and have some unique characteristics. In this lesson, we examine three types of aquatic frogs.

Introduction to Aquatic Frogs

When we think of frogs, we often imagine them hopping along by the edge of a creek or lake, ready to make a splash into the water. However, aquatic frogs are very different form the more terrestrial frogs we are used to seeing on land. These frogs spend almost all of their time under water, only surfacing at times to breathe air from the surface. Several species of aquatic frogs are very common as aquarium pets. These include African, dwarf, and albino frogs.

African Frogs

The African frog, or African clawed frog, is a popular species in the aquarium industry. The scientific name for this frog is Xenopus laevis.These frogs are native to sub-saharan Africa where they are found particularly in the countries of Nigeria and Sudan. The frogs get their name from the three small claws on their hind feet that they use to grip and tear food items. They are typically a greenish-grey color, and as adults they can grow up to four inches in length.

African frogs lack tongues and teeth. They also have a lateral line system like many fish that allows them to detect vibrations in water. These frogs live completely under water for their entire life and only briefly surface to take in gulps of air. While many species of amphibians are known to have relatively short life spans, these frogs can live 15 or more years in the wild and have been documented to live 30 years in captivity! In the home aquarium, they should be kept with peaceful fish of the same size. They are excellent scavengers and will feed on any leftover food that makes its way to the bottom of the tank.

Like all aquatic frogs, African frogs live completely under water
An image of an African frog.

Dwarf Frogs

Dwarf aquatic frogs are native to equatorial regions of Africa. They have the scientific name Hymenochirus boettgeri and typically range in size from a half inch up to one inch. In the wild, they are found in shaded pools of still or slow-moving water often in lowland rain forest areas.

These frogs are quite popular in the pet industry where they are known to live peacefully with many types of small fish. However, they should not be housed with larger species of fish that may see them as prey. They are not very demanding pets as they will eat most types of flake fish food and tubiflex worm pellets. Dwarf frogs enjoy planted aquariums and those with rock features or driftwood to hide in during the day as they are primarily active at night. They do need to surface occasionally for air and should be kept in a covered aquarium to prevent escape.

Dwarf frogs are popular in the pet industry
An image of a dwarf frog.

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