African dwarf frogs can be difficult to breed due to the specific tank conditions they need to trigger spawning.
However, if you perform the necessary requirements and preparations, you could be lucky enough to end up with African dwarf frog eggs and tadpoles.
So, if you’ve prepared your tank for breeding these aquatic animals, you might be wondering how to tell whether one of your frogs is pregnant, and if so, the appropriate care for the eggs and tadpoles.
Well, you’re in the right place! I’ve compiled all the knowledge and tips I’ve learned over the years as an aquarist in one concise guide to provide you with everything you need to know about pregnant African dwarf frogs.
How To Tell If My African Dwarf Frog Pregnant?
African dwarf frogs are egg layers, so they can’t “get pregnant”.
Instead, they carry and lay eggs, which then hatch into tadpoles.
There are a few signs to look out for if you think your frog is full of eggs.
Signs To Look For
The first sign to look for if you suspect your African dwarf frog is carrying eggs or “pregnant” is to identify if they are indeed female.
One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between male and female African dwarf frogs is by taking a look at their tail bud.
On females, the tail bud will be quite big and thick. Males, on the other hand, will have practically no tail bud. Male frogs also have post-axillary subdermal glands, which are located on the back of their front legs.
Additionally, female African dwarf frogs tend to be larger in general than males.
Another sign that your African dwarf frog could be “pregnant” is a swollen, large stomach. This species of frog can lay up to 750 eggs in a single spawn, so it’s not uncommon for her to look fat or heavier while she is carrying eggs.
However, a swollen abdomen in African dwarf frogs can also be due to severe bloating, which is often caused by a condition called dropsy. Sadly, there’s not been sufficient research on why dropsy occurs in frogs and fish.
There is no cure for dropsy, but symptoms can be managed via various treatments, including adding aquarium salt to the tank water and draining excess fluid from the frog’s stomach. The latter should only be performed by an experienced veterinarian who specializes in exotic animals.
As mentioned above, if your African dwarf frog’s abdomen is getting bigger and looks fat, they could be holding eggs. However, if their belly is round, smooth, and looks like an inflated balloon, they are most likely bloated.
A female African dwarf frog will eat less food while she is full of eggs, but she will still eat from time to time. A frog suffering from bloat or dropsy, however, will be reluctant to eat or lose their appetite completely.
Are There Eggs?
If your African dwarf frog appears bigger than normal but doesn’t lay eggs, chances are they were not “pregnant”. Female frogs only start producing eggs when in the presence of a male.
If you don’t have any males in your African dwarf frog tank, the female will not produce or lay eggs.
After mating, females will release their eggs. The male will then expel sperm into the water to fertilize them.
African dwarf frogs don’t usually display different behavior when they are “pregnant”, aside from eating slightly less.
Conversely, frogs with dropsy or severe bloat can appear irritable, less mobile, and lose their appetite completely.
Skin & Coloration
African dwarf frogs don’t normally lose their color or shed their skin while “pregnant”.
If you notice your frog shedding their skin or displaying a dull coloration, they could be bloated or sick.
Breeding African dwarf frogs is challenging as they require specific water conditions, which can be difficult to replicate in home aquariums. In the wild, African dwarf frogs are triggered to spawn by seasonal and weather changes.
Encouraging African dwarf frogs to breed in captivity can prove hard for this reason.
There are a lot of preparations you need to make, including lowering the water level over several weeks and adjusting the temperature.
Changing Water & Temperature Conditions
Triggering African dwarf frogs to mate and spawn requires the right conditions, with the first step being to lower the water level in your tank by roughly 2.75 inches over 4 weeks.
Once the water level has been decreased, you’ll need to raise the level to its original height with warm water. The water should have a temperature of around 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
You’ll need to maintain this temperature for about 2 weeks. During this time, feed your African dwarf frogs a variety of nutritious foods like high-quality sinking fish pellets, brine shrimp, blood worms, and krill. This will help encourage your frogs to begin mating.
If these conditions are not met, your African dwarf frogs will not breed and there is zero possibility of the female being “pregnant”.
While African dwarf frogs need certain water conditions to trigger spawning, it’s equally as important to keep their enclosure clean and pristine. It should also be a large enough size to prevent overcrowding and stress. Fortunately, these frogs are quite small, so can be housed in nano tanks.
Frogs are less likely to mate if their aquarium is dirty or too small. A suitable enclosure for African dwarf frogs is around 10 gallons, which provides enough space for 4 to 5 frogs. You could consider a 15-gallon fish tank as well if you plan on adding more.
Alternatively, you can keep a pair in a 5-gallon tank. It’s best not to keep a single frog as they are social animals and thrive when kept in groups.
Aim to clean your tank around once a week, which includes changing the water (about 20%) and vacuuming the substrate with a gravel vacuum.
Alongside an adequately sized and clean tank, African dwarf frogs enjoy live plants and rocks to help simulate a natural environment.
It also provides them with hiding areas for when they feel threatened or scared.
Any freshwater live plants will do the trick, but some good options (especially if you’re new to keeping aquatic plants) include java moss, java fern, moss balls, and dwarf anubias.
Is My African Dwarf Frog Bloated?
There are two explanations for bloating in frogs: illness/disease (usually dropsy) and “pregnancy”.
As we established earlier, if your African dwarf frog has a stomach that looks like an inflated balloon, that’s a pretty clear sign that they are bloated.
Additionally, if the right breeding conditions are not met and your frog displays lethargy, loss of appetite, and irritability, they are most likely suffering from bloat rather than “pregnancy”.
How Long Are African Dwarf Frogs Pregnant?
Once the right tank conditions are met and a female African dwarf frog starts producing eggs, it will take around 2 to 3 weeks until she is ready to spawn and release her eggs.
Females can lay a clutch of up to 750 eggs at least every 3 to 4 months.
After mating with a male, the female will lay her eggs immediately, allowing them to be fertilized.
Fertilized eggs take around 48 hours to hatch into tadpoles.
African dwarf frogs become sexually active at around 8 to 9 months old, so they are capable of mating after this age.
Do African Dwarf Frogs Eat Their Offspring?
Sadly, African dwarf frog parents will eat their young (both the eggs and live offspring) if given the opportunity. To ensure the eggs survive, the most important thing is to remove them as soon as possible to a separate tank.
How Do You Know If an African Dwarf Frog Is Pregnant?
If your African dwarf frog has reached sexual maturity and has a large stomach, they could be “pregnant” and carrying eggs.
Observe your frog closely to make sure they don’t show signs of bloat, dropsy, or other illnesses.
How Many Babies Do African Dwarf Frogs Have?
African dwarf frogs can easily lay up to 750 eggs (sometimes more) in a single spawn. However, it’s unlikely that all the eggs will survive, even after they’ve hatched into tadpoles. More often than not, up to 80% of the eggs and tadpoles will not make it to adulthood.
Can African Dwarf Frogs Change Gender?
Most amphibians, including African dwarf frogs, can change gender if they are in a same-sex envirnoment.
The most dominant female/submissive male in the group will start displaying male/female behavior, then their body will transition to the opposite sex.
What To Do If My African Dwarf Frog Lays Eggs?
If you’re lucky enough to successfully breed your African dwarf frogs and a female lays eggs, scoop the eggs up in a jar and transfer them to a new tank (a 10-gallon tank is a good size) so the parents and your other frogs don’t eat them.
How Do African Dwarf Frogs Mate?
After you’ve prepared your African dwarf frog tank (raise the water level, adjust the warmth, etc) and the female starts producing eggs, she will be ready to begin mating in a few weeks.
During the spawning process, the male frog will grab the female above her hind legs as she swims, which is known as Amplexus.
She will lay eggs at the top of the tank, triggering the male to release sperm to fertilize them.
Fertilized eggs will hatch into tadpoles within a few days (sometimes up to a week).
Did you know that African dwarf frogs start singing to attract mates or to signal their excitement? Males are more likely to do this, emitting strong humming sounds. Females occasionally sing back!
How Do You Take Care Of African Dwarf Frog Tadpoles?
Caring for African dwarf frog babies can be a little tricky as they require a stable temperature, pristine water, zero water movement, and the right diet.
These steps below will help you become the best adoptive parent of these little guys!
See how adorable they look like in the video below…
Once your frog has laid eggs, move the eggs to a separate aquarium so they can hatch into tadpoles without the risk of being eaten by your frogs or fish. Opt for a 10-gallon tank if you can. Check here for my recommendations.
Tadpoles need their water heated to between 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit with a heater. In fact, African dwarf frog eggs won’t hatch at all if the warmth of the aquarium water is below 71 degrees Fahrenheit.
Baby African dwarf frogs need extremely clean water as they are very sensitive to water parameters, more so than adult African dwarf frogs.
However, tadpoles can be easily sucked into the filter intake due to their small size, so either use a sponge filter or perform daily 10% water changes.
African dwarf frog young, including the adults, should not be subjected to strong or fast water currents. They are not great swimmers and will struggle to move in aquariums with excessive water movement.
After your tadpoles have hatched, their mouths will be far too small to eat soil food. Instead, they will consume their egg sacs for the first few days.
Once the tadpoles are free-swimming, you can then begin to feed them liquid fry food for a day or so. Afterwards, switch to live cultured foods like baby brine shrimp for around 10 days.
Your tadpoles should have developed hind legs by this point, so start offering them fish flake food, daphnia, or cyclops. When your tadpoles have grown front legs (normally 15 to 20 days later), transition to larger foods like artemia and mosquito larvae.
Reintroduction To The Parent Tank
Around 2 months after hatching, your tadpoles will now be adults and can be introduced to your main aquarium with your other adult frogs. Feed them foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, blackworms, and sinking pellets designed for carnivorous fish.
So, to sum up, pregnant African dwarf frogs will begin getting larger around their stomach and may consume less food than normal when they are holding eggs. However, these frogs will only start breeding once they are sexually mature and provided with the appropriate aquarium conditions.
Feel Free To Share!
I hope you enjoyed reading this guide on pregnant African dwarf frogs and now know how to identify when African dwarf frogs are carrying eggs.
Know any other aquatic frog owners or fish enthusiasts? Share this post so they can learn the ins and outs of breeding these aquatic frogs!
If you need any more advice on aquariums and fishkeeping, check out my latest articles here.
Featured Image – Grayson, R. (2015, November 08). African dwarf frogs are adorably awkward looking swimmers 🙂 [African dwarf frog]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/22458326297