Caring For Your African Clawed Frog Pet

Last Updated on March 4, 2022 by cmoarz

African Clawed Frogs (xenopus laevis) make for a great pet, but they take care and attention to keep them healthy. Here are some tips on how to do that.  This is not an exhaustive list, but it should get you started with your own adventure in African Clawed frog pet ownership!  If you have any questions about these guidelines or the African Clawed Frog itself, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help!

Choosing Your African Clawed Frog (Or albino clawed frogs)

The first step to having a pet African clawed frog is to actually obtain one. When shopping around, you should only buy from reputable breeders that have a full health history as well as a full genetic line history for the frog.

This is important so you get the best, healthiest frog and neither you nor the frog ends up regretting your choice. The last thing you want is to end up with a frog with none superior genetics caused by inbreeding or any other genetic predispositions.

A healthy frog will be a very active swimmer, There will be no glaze over his eyes and his skin should be nice and smooth. Check for abscesses and other wounds and scaring. It’s good to also ask to watch a feeding to view its interest in the food. A frog that doesn’t jump(no pun intended) at the opportunity to eat could be an indicator of ill health.

Remember, buying In-person is always best to avoid any scams or mishaps when picking out a pet. The breeder should have proof of genetic lineage, or at the very least, some sort of record indicating as such. You should expect to pay anywhere between $20USD and $100USD depending on the quality of the frog. Cheaper frogs average around $25USD.

Are African clawed frogs illegal in your state?

Remember to check your local laws first to be sure you are permitted to own one of these frogs, as they are considered an aquatic invasive species in many areas of the world and in some states.

Arizona, Kentucky, New Jersey, California, Louisiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington to name a few.

Are African clawed frogs good pets?

African clawed frogs as pets can be a fun and alluring creature to watch for hours on end. However, because of their sensitive skin which can dry out very quickly, it’s not advisable to pick up or handle these frogs.

So they won’t be a super cuddly companion, they are still a lot of fun to watch and take care of.

These frogs are also extremely nocturnal, so they will be an interesting nighttime companion for you and your family to watch swim around in their aquatic home.

Similar Species to the African Clawed Frog

If you aren’t sure this frog is right for you, consider the following other similar frogs before you make your decision.

  • Oriental fire-bellied toad
  • White’s tree frog
  • American green tree frog
  • African Dwarf Frog

African Clawed Frog Behavior and Temperament Traits

Are African clawed frogs aggressive?

African clawed frogs are considered on the extreme end of the aggression scale for frogs. They are highly predatory and will eat anything they can fit into their mouths. They will bite you, although not on purpose. They have no teeth so it shouldn’t hurt anyway.

This mostly happens after you’ve trainer him to eat from your hand and is almost entirely an accident on the frog’s part.

However, its aggressiveness does pose an issue when trying to select tankmates for these frogs. If they’re kept with other aquatic animals, the clawed frog may view them as a food source and could cause serious damage or even kill the prey animal in question.

Because of this, it’s best to keep your pet African clawed frog alone in a well-planted tank.

I get into more about the compatible tank mates below in the article.

Handling Your African Clawed Frog

You should definitely not attempt to handle your frog. They are very delicate and can get dried out and damaged very easily. If you need to clean the tank, use a net or cup if possible. Or try and clean around him.

But petting and playing with your frog isn’t out of the question completely, especially if they are used to it in their early life stages. Remember to be careful however as these frogs’ bodies are much softer than other frogs like the white’s tree frog and can easily bruise or tear.

A fun activity and a way to play with your frog is to train it to eat food out of your hands. Watch out for finger nibbles! I personally love my little finger nibbles :3

Housing the African Clawed Frog

African clawed frog tank setup

This tank setup is for both ACF’s an Albino African clawed frogs.

Because of ingestion as a potential life-threatening Hazzard, the best substrate to use for these frogs is going to be very fine sand. These frogs require no land, But their water should not be more than 12 inches deep or there may be a risk of drowning.

ACF’s and Ablindo African clawed frogs both enjoy a wide variety of plant life. Live plants are always the best but fake ones will also suffice. I personally prefer live plants because they bring a certain vibrance to the aquarium, and they give you a lot more options than just artificial plant life.

Plus your frogs will appreciate it.

They also like a temperature range of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit, and moderate lighting with floating plants.

You should not use anything under 10 gallons, as these frogs need a lot of space to stretch their legs, so 10 gallons is a minimum for African albino clawed frogs and normal clawed frogs.

It’s important to use a water conditioner to remove chlorine before adding the water into the aquarium and subsequently the frog into the water.

The tank should also be fully cycled before the placement of the frog.

If you opt to use a filter (you should) consider using a very quiet and gentle one to avoid stressing the frog out as he can ‘fell’ and ‘sense’ the vibrations 24/7.

Consider using an out-of-tank filtration system with an intake and output hose respectively.

Avoid all metal! Very sensitive to metal.

How big do African clawed frogs get

Females of the species are larger than the males, coming in at around 200 grams (7 ounces) and males being a much smaller 60 grams (2 ounces). The male’s length is half of the females, at 2.5 inches (6cm) and 4.5 inches (12cm) for the female. Don’t let their size deceive you, these require a minimum of 10 gallons.

African clawed frog tank mates

Tankmates for this frog are a tricky thing. Due to its very aggressive behavior, Anything smaller than itself will be considered food.

Because of this, your best bet would be to choose larger fish that are either passive or slightly aggressive. Keeping in mind that they will need a lot more space.

Consider being on the edge of caution when choosing “bigger”. If the tankmate is still big enough for the frog to *try* to eat it, it may try and may choke to death, killing both the frog and the other tank mate.

So be sure to oversize.

Also compensate for that oversize with a much larger tank, which might pose issues given the maximum depth of water the frog should be allowed to be in.

Do African clawed frogs get lonely

You might be wondering can African clawed frogs live alone, And the truth is yes. They don’t really get “lonely” perse, however, consider adding a breeding partner to the tank.

African clawed Frog Diet

These are opportunistic feeders that have also been known to cannibalize other ACF’s in times of low food. ACF’s are carnivorous and will eat anything that moves. They are considered scavengers and will eat anything alive or dead.

As far as frogs go, Their appetite is nothing like you’ve ever seen before. They just eat and eat and eat.

It’s a very common and large frog so I recommend overfeeding it to encourage growth, as well as live mealworms for variety in diet and for enrichment.

They will also eat a variety of commercial foods, as well as live bait foods such as small fish, snails, tadpoles, worms, insects like crickets, waxworms, earthworms, guppies, just about anything they can safely fit in their mouth really.

As tadpoles, they are strictly filter feeders.

Common Health and Behavior Problems 

African clawed frog bloat

Bloat, Also known as dropsy, edema, ascites, or hydropsy. It may appear as rapidly as overnight and will cause your frog to ‘bloat’ up like a balloon. It’s very painful for the frog.

The causes are debated. Mostly because we’re not 100% sure on why it happens.

The bloat isn’t air, it’s actually fluid buildup.

If your frog is bloated, you will need to see a vet to have it drained of the excessive fluid buildup. This will remove the pressure from the abdomen which will instantaneously make your frog feel much better.

chytrid fungus

chytrid fungus is another cause of concern for African clawed frogs. It is very serious and can be fatal if not treated immediately. It usually presents itself as a white, crusty-like substance on the frog’s toes, nose, or belly. Most commonly it will appear on the toes of your frog where there will be 1-3 small white lesions that are quite easy to identify when compared to healthy frogs.

The fungus will usually appear on the legs of your frog and present itself as a gray or white patch with a ‘cottony’ texture. This is an indication that the fungus is living on your ACF’s keratin, which is quite similar to human fingernails. The infection spreads from this point to the rest of the frog in a short period of time.

If you notice this, it is recommended to take your ACF directly to a vet as an emergency. It may appear that he feels fine, but if left untreated, and it spreads to other frogs in your tank, it could be devastating.

The chytrid fungus is contagious and can be passed from frog to frog.

You may have already taken your ACF for treatment of other illnesses by the time you notice these symptoms, but make sure he is tested for chytrid fungus as well.

It most often will occur in freshwater/tropical tanks in which there are multiple frogs present.

Printable Sharable Infographic for African Clawed Frogs

Coming soon


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!