African Dwarf Frog Laying On Its Back, Should You Be Concerned?

Last Updated on August 31, 2022 by cmoarz

It might be a scary sight to see your AFD laying on its back. Most of the time, when something is floating around on its back it’s a sign of illness or death, So, why is my African dwarf frog laying on its back and should you be concerned? Yes you should.

Key takeaways

  • African dwarf frogs have to come up to breathe, gently floating at the surface. This is normal.
  • But laying on its back is not normal and is a sign something could be wrong.
  • There are many issues that can affect an African dwarf frog’s health, such as infections and dropsy.
  • Check for wounds and water quality

Do ADF’s float on their back?

Even though African dwarf frogs are fully aquatic species of frog, they still have a set of lungs. This means they have to come up to the surface to breathe every so often.

You’ll often see them gently floating at the surface and then going back down again. This is perfectly normal behavior and nothing to be concerned about.

Sometimes they will float around on the surface for hours at a time. If there is no obvious sign of bloating or distress Then it should be fine and they are just resting and being lazy.

However, if you see your African dwarf frog laying on its back and not moving, this is not normal behavior and you should be concerned. There are a few potential issues that could be causing this.

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One of the most common reasons for an ADF to float on its back is an infection. This could be something like a bacterial infection or a fungal infection. Some common symptoms of an infection include:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Fluid retention (bloating)
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take your frog to the vet as soon as possible. They will be able to prescribe the appropriate treatment.

If you don’t have a nearby reptile vet, You will need to do a more in-depth diagnosis and treat the infection yourself. This can be tricky and is not recommended unless you are experienced in reptile care.

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Dropsy is a condition that causes fluid retention and can make your frog bloated. It’s usually caused by an infection, but it can also be caused by kidney problems or liver problems.

Dropsy is serious and often fatal, so it’s important to get your frog to the vet as soon as possible if you think they have it. Don’t try and cure dropsy at home unless you are a professional.

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Check for wounds

If your frog is laying on its back and you can’t see any obvious signs of infection or distress, it’s possible that they have a wound on its underside that is causing them discomfort.

ADF’s skin is paper thin and very easy to cut and damage.

Any other illness or injury that could weaken your frog may also cause them to float on their back as they become too weak to swim properly.

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Check your water quality

If you can’t see any obvious reason why your frog is floating on its back, it’s possible that the water quality in its tank is poor.

This could be caused by a build-up of ammonia or nitrites/nitrates. This will burn the frogs’ skin and make it difficult to swim.

It’s important to test your water regularly and make sure the levels are within the safe range. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask a professional.


Owner of and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!