What Fish Coexists With the African Dwarf Frog?

The African dwarf frog comes from western African rainforests.
The African dwarf frog comes from western African rainforests. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

The African dwarf frog (Hymenochirus spp) will comfortably share an aquarium with many species of tropical aquarium fish. In fact, you have to worry more about fish picking on the frog than vice versa. This peaceful amphibian makes a nice non-fish inhabitant for community-style aquariums.

Community Aquarium

A community aquarium is a style of aquarium where all of the fish inside have a peaceful, easygoing demeanor. The African dwarf frog makes an ideal inhabitant for the community aquarium. This frog doesn't have an aggressive bone in his squishy little bodies. The African dwarf grows less than 2 inches in length, too small to eat any fish other than small fry. Also, the African dwarf frog is totally aquatic, comfortable living his entire life without coming onto land. You can keep the African dwarf frog singly or in groups.

Tank Mates to Avoid

When selecting tank mates, you need to avoid fish who can hurt an African dwarf frog. For example, any fish large enough to eat the frog cannot share an aquarium with one. Additionally, the African dwarf frog has a hard time keeping up with fast-moving energetic fish. If you have such fish in the same aquarium as an African dwarf frog, the frog will have a hard time getting his share of the food. You can overcome this by feeding the frogs sinking pellet foods, which will hit the bottom of the tank before the fish get a chance to eat them.

Legal Concerns

Some municipalities in North America have banned the African dwarf frog as a pet, based on a couple of concerns. In some areas, various aquatic frogs have escaped and become invasive, meaning they have established themselves in the wild to the detriment of native species. Additionally, the African dwarf frog specifically has been targeted over concerns related to salmonella. A contingent of interested parties advises that the concerns are overdramatized. Basic precautions like hand-washing after aquarium maintenance and not releasing unwanted frogs into the environment reduce either risk. You'll want to check with your local municipal authorities, or with an extension agent or DNR representative before investing in such a captive pet for your home.

Get the Right Frog

One of the few problems with combining the African dwarf frog with fish can come from a common mistake. The African dwarf frog and the clawed frog look almost identical when the clawed is young. However, unlike the African dwarf frog, the clawed frog grows to at least 6 inches. The clawed frog is also much more predatory than the dwarf and will treat a community aquarium like a buffet. The most reliable way to tell the difference between these species is by looking at their front claws. In the African dwarf frog, the front claws are webbed. In the clawed frog, the front claws do not have webbing, giving them their clawed appearance and their common name.

You can tell from the front claws that this is a clawed frog, not a dwarf.
You can tell from the front claws that this is a clawed frog, not a dwarf. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

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