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Xenopus laevis, etc.



    A fully aquatic frog with a voracious appetite, this amphibian is a hardy and fascinating pet suitable for a frog-only tank.

Quick stats:

Listed tank sizes are the minimum
Size: Up to 6” body length (without legs) in large females, smaller in males
Tank: 20” minimum for a single frog, long tanks much better than tall.
Strata: Bottom.
PH: Not critical, acidic preferred
Hardness: Soft to medium. dH range: 5-12
Temperature: 68°F-78°F (20°- 26°C) Low to middle 70’s ideal


Class: Lissamphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Pipidae
Genera: Xenopus
Species: laevis, borealis (most common)

Common name:


African clawed frogDistribution:

    Sub-Saharan African (cooler regions). Introduced/feral in North America and Europe.

Coloration:African clawed frogs are naturally a mottled green-grey with a lighter, cream-colored underside. The albino version is a pinkish white, and is also readily available from retailers.

Life span:

    15+ years in captivity.


    Weekly water changes with gravel vacuum should be performed without fail. Décor should be upturned and vacuumed under often, as uneaten food may collect under these objects.


    1. The African clawed frog will accept an astonishing variety of foods. They are voracious eaters that will eat almost anything that either smells appetizing, or moves like prey. For this reason, African clawed frogs should NEVER be kept with fish, African dwarf frogs, or other clawed frogs that will fit into their mouths! Even keepers attempting to house them with large goldfish report seeing the frogs latched onto the fish’s tail.


Appropriate foods include:

      • Bloodworms (frozen and freeze-dried)
      • Tubifex worms
      • Mosquito larvae
      • Earthworms
      • Shrimp pellets (for bottom feeding fish)
      • Cooked pieces of shrimp (unseasoned/unsalted)
      • Beefheart Brine shrimp
      • Tetra Reptomin Floating Food Sticks (for turtles)
      • Live ghost shrimp
      • Live guppies/livebearer fry
    Feed 2-3 days a week in adult frogs, more frequently in froglets or growing animals. You will see your frog “scoop” food towards its mouth with its front feet, because these frogs actually lack tongues with which to grab food. Important: Never feed rosy red minnows or feeder goldfish. The majority of African clawed frogs are unable to process an enzyme they contain, and can become sick.

Skin Shedding:

    African clawed frog shed their skin every few weeks. They will eat the skin. Excessive skin shedding can indicate pollutants or irritants in the water.


    Bare, sand, or very large gravel/small stones. Any gravel/stone used must be too large for them to scoop and/or swallow. Sand is fine enough to pass easily if swallowed.

Tank Décor:

    1. Multiple hiding places (driftwood, caves, etc.) with subdued lighting. Plant should be artificial or very hardy, as these frogs tend to be “big kickers” that rocket around their tanks and tear up live plants. Anubias plants do well with clawed frogs.
    1. These frogs are escape artists! The aquarium must be completely covered, or they will find their way onto the floor, where they desiccate quickly.

Emergency Care for Desiccated Frogs

    If a frog escapes and is found dried up, do not assume it is dead. They have amazing powers of revival. Place the frog in a shallow bowl of tank water with its nostrils above the water to allow it to breathe. Let the frog rest in the water and watch carefully for movement of the nostrils. It can take several hours for the frog the rehydrate. Once the frogs is able to swim a bit, keep it in a bucket with a few inches of water (or lower the water level of the tank) so it can reach the surface easily for air while it regains strength. Be patient, and do not attempt to feed the frog until it is fully recovered.


    Quiet, low-flow filtration is best. Clawed frogs do not appreciate strong current or noisy filtration.


    Stagnant pools and backwaters with a substrate of deep mud.

Breeding:These frogs breed readily under good conditions. The male sings to female, and clasps her around the stomach, fertilizing the eggs as she lays them. Eggs and adult frogs should be separated immediately, as parents will eat the eggs/tadpoles. Tadpoles are filter feeders and should be fed finely powdered foods.

Other Notes:Keepers should provide 10 gallons of water per frog. However, in tanks that are long rather than tall, this rule can be bent slightly if the caretaker is attentive to water conditions. For example, while only two clawed frogs should ever be kept in a 20 gallon “tall” tank (dimensions approx. 24”l x 12”w x 16”h), three can be kept in a 20 gallon “long” tank (dimensions approx. 30”l x 12”w x 12”h). Long tanks are also more appropriate because the frogs need to reach the surface frequently to breathe. The popular Grow-a-Frog® kit contains an African clawed frog tadpole.


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