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Feeding Dwarf African Clawed Frogs

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.

The Problem

Dwarf Clawed FrogDwarf 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).

Further Reading

For more on Dwarf Frog care, please see:

Distinguishing the African from the Dwarf African Clawed Frog

Live Foods: Worms and Worm Look-alikes



  1. avatar

    Thanks for this! i have been looking for good information on ACF

    • avatar

      Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog and the kind words.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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