Most of the comments/questions I receive concerning Dwarf African Clawed Frog (Hymenochirus boettgeri or H. Curtipes) care go something like this: “My Frog Won’t Eat”! or “My Fishes Steal the Frog’s Food”! This has been the case for, quite literally, decades. Despite the fact that these charming little frogs are very popular in the pet trade, there remains a great deal of mystery surrounding their care – and this very often it leads to their early demise.
Dwarf Clawed Frogs are often confused with young African Clawed Frogs (Xenopus laevis), but their dietary needs differ radically from those of their larger cousin (the two species are easy to tell apart, please see article below).
Unlike the ravenous African Clawed Frog, Dwarf Clawed Frogs are confirmed live food specialists. While certain individuals may be induced to accept Reptomin, freeze dried bloodworms and similar foods, they rarely thrive for long on such diets.
A Proper Diet
If they are to live a long life and breed, these active fellows require a varied diet of small live invertebrates. The basis of the diet (up to 75% or so) can be comprised of live Blackworms. The balance should be made up of live Brine Shrimp (rinse before using), Whiteworms, Daphnia, Mosquito Larvae, Bloodworms, Glass Worms and similar aquatic organisms. Many of these are sold by pet stores as food for aquarium fishes.
Pinhead and 10 day old crickets may also be accepted, but should not form a large part of the diet.
Fish and Frogs
Nutritional problems also arise when Dwarf Clawed Frogs are housed with fishes. The frogs are slow, deliberate feeders that stalk their prey like minute aquatic cats. They simply cannot compete with fishes, which generally consume all the food before the frogs even know that it is feeding time. I’ve had some success housing them with non-aggressive fishes that forage only after dark, such as Kuhli Loaches, but the tank required constant monitoring.
Bold and active by day, these interesting little frogs are forever on the prowl for food. Properly fed and housed in a well-planted aquarium, a group will provide much of interest to observe – and, perhaps, even eggs (more on breeding next time).
For more on Dwarf Frog care, please see: