So, your African dwarf frogs laid eggs.
In this article, I’ll give you a detailed description of how to care for African dwarf frog eggs, from egg to froglet.
What Happens After Spawning
African dwarf frogs (Hymenochirus) are not the kind of animal that will lovingly raise their babies.
Nope, not even close.
In fact, African dwarf frog parents will quickly gobble up their young.
They’re more like the Manson family than the Brady Bunch.
So, the most important thing to do is to separate the eggs and parents.
You’ll need to collect the eggs and move them to a suitable enclosure to raise them.
Most of the eggs will be floating on the surface of the tank and can be gently scooped up with a jar.
The eggs will be insanely sticky and some will probably adhere to the sides of the jar as you collect them.
If this happens, just put the jar into the new tank where you plan to raise your tadpoles. A few days after the tadpoles hatch, you can simply remove the jar.
Pro Tip: Don’t worry about collecting eggs that have sunk to the bottom of the tank. These eggs likely will not hatch. Your best bet is to grab the ones floating on the water’s surface.
Setting Up a Tank for African Dwarf Frog Eggs
It’s best to raise your baby African dwarf frogs in a 10 gallon (39 liter) or larger. The bigger the water volume, the easier it is to maintain ideal water conditions.
Your frog eggs will need to be kept nice and warm. The water temperature should stay at a steady 80°F (27°C).
This means that you’ll need to add an aquarium heater so you can keep the water at the right temp.
Pro Tip: The tadpoles can survive cooler temperatures, but keeping the water warmer will help them develop more quickly.
African dwarf frog eggs do best in slightly hard water with a pH between 7.5-8.0.
It’s also very important that you keep the water very clean. Expect to change out water frequently to keep deadly ammonia from building up in the water column.
There is some debate about filtration when it comes to African dwarf frogs.
Some argue that power filters and airstones create too much “vibration” in the water that can stress and kill the frogs.
Others will tell you that they’ve raised African dwarf frogs for years in tanks with power filters with zero issues.
I would definitely recommend that you do filter the water in any African dwarf frog tank. Filters don’t simply move water around. Beneficial bacteria that live inside of the filter media help to process harmful ammonia from frog feces and urine.
Pro Tip: For more information about how filters can help reduce biological wastes in the water column, please see our article about the Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle.
But instead of using a conventional power filter that can suck in frogs and tadpoles, I’d recommend using a sponge filter.
An air-driven sponge filter will provide great mechanical and biological filtration, but there’s no danger of frogs being sucked in.
If you decide not to add a filter, you will need to do 10% water changes at least twice a day everyday to get rid of built up wastes.
Substrate and Decor
At this stage, when your frogs are just eggs or tadpoles, it’s best to just skip both substrate and decor in the tank.
A bare bottom tank is much easier to clean. And tadpoles can get stuck inside of decor.
Live plants are good once your eggs have hatched and you’re raising the tadpoles, but it’s best to just keep things really simple while you’re waiting for the eggs to hatch and the tadpoles to become free-swimming.
Hatching African Dwarf Eggs
Once you’ve got the environment all set up, your eggs should be all set to hatch.
Pro Tip: Be prepared for losses. African dwarf frog eggs have a very high mortality rate. You could have 100 eggs but only end up with 10 frogs when they reach maturity.
2-7 days after the eggs are laid, they will hatch and tiny tadpoles will emerge.
For the first 5 days or so, they will remain stationary. The tadpoles have an “adhesive gland” that will keep them glued to surfaces in the tank.
The tadpoles will not eat during this time.
Once the tadpoles become free-swimming, the challenge is finding food that’s small enough for them to eat.
After 2-3 weeks, you can start to offer the tadpoles baby brine shrimp.
Once the tadpoles have developed hind legs, you should be able to feed them just as you would an adult African dwarf frog: brine shrimp, bloodworms, finely chopped California blackworms, daphnia, etc.
African Dwarf Tadpole Development
The speed at which your tadpoles develop will depend on a few factors:
- Water temperature
- Water quality
- Food availability
- Individual genetics
Tadpoles kept at warmer temperatures will develop more quickly than those kept in cooler conditions.
It is crucial that you keep the tank water as clean as possible. You should do a 10% water change every other day if you are using a filter.
If you do not use a filter, you should change out 10% of the water twice daily.
As with any large brood of baby animals, there will be those that grow big and strong but there will also be some stunted, runty ones that just don’t seem to do as well.
This all has to do with the genetics of the individual tadpole, similar to how there is almost always a runt in a litter of puppies.
Final Thought On African Dwarf Eggs
Breeding and raising African dwarf frogs is a really rewarding project.
You don’t have to break the bank to raise up a group of tadpoles. All you need is a 10 gallon tank, a heater and a simple sponge filter.
And probably the single most important factor is patience. The tadpoles will need special care and attention everyday in order to get them to adult size.
You should prepare yourself for some losses. I know it’s a total bummer, but it’s just a fact of life.
The more robust tadpoles will often eat the runts. Even experienced frog breeders expect that only about 10% of the eggs they get to hatch will grow to be adult frogs.
So don’t beat yourself up if you lose some tadpoles, it happens to everyone.
In the end, all your careful feeding and tank cleaning should result in some adorable new frogs that you and the whole family can enjoy… on crackers with mustard.
Just kidding!! Please, don’t eat any of the adorable little amphibians.
I wish you and your frogs the very best.