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What to Feed your African Dwarf Frogs

African dwarf frogs are omnivorous semi-scavengers, which basically means that they'll eat pretty much anything, dead or alive, that they can fit into their mouths.  They especially enjoy eating live food, but there are very few creatures small enough for American Dart Frogs to eat alive.

In captivity, African dwarf frogs should be also fed a variety of foods.  A commercial aquatic frog food from a reputable manufacturer should be part of their diet.  Commercial frog foods from reputable manufacturers are well-balanced and form the basis for a healthy, if rather boring diet.  They shouldn't be all that you feed your frogs, but they should be on the menu.

Personally, I feed my frogs good quality pellets on Mondays (but only on Mondays) when they're especially hungry because they haven't been fed over the weekend. I do alternate the brands for variety's sake, but all my frogs get pellets on Mondays to help assure that they get all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need.

The Monday meal may be better-balanced, but the Wednesday and Friday meals are more to my frogs' liking. They are chosen from the following delicious menu:

Feeding Requirements

The best way to feed African Dwarf Frogs is on a small terra cotta plate (you can tiny ones at any craft store for about 50 cents, they are meant to go under the small terra cotta pots) if you are using gravel in their tank. The food gets lost easily in the gravel and these frogs don't do much foraging for their food (if it isnt in front of their face, chances are they wont find it). I place their food in a small bowl of water, I then draw it up in a turkey baster and then squirt it out slowly onto the small plate in the tank. This way they are able to find the food much easier can fill themselves up.
African Dwarf frogs thrive on a varied diet of live, frozen, freeze dried and pelleted food. Specially formulated pelleted food contains all the vitamins and minerals they need to grow healthy and happy, this should be fed as their staple diet.

Types Of Food

  • Black Soldier Fly larvae
  • Live guppy fry : or any type of livebearer fry
  • Frozen or Freeze Dried Brineshrimp
  • Frozen or Freeze Dried Bloodworms or Glassworms
  • HBH Frog and Tadpole Bites
  • Reptomin
  • Gammarus
  • Frozen Beefheart
  • Frozen or Freeze dried krill or baby shrmp
  • Earthworms or Canadian Night Crawlers choped into small bite sized pieces

African Dwarf Frogs can eat just about all the foods that African Clawed Frogs will eat, except in small quantities and pieces

For beginners, I suggest that you buy one package each of frozen beef heart and frozen bloodworms for your frogs from a local pet shop. They're not very expensive, especially since our frogs require so little food. These foods come frozen in cubes that are sized so that one cube will feed three ADFs if they're on the feeding schedule that I use. If you need to cut the cubes, a knife that's been heated under hot tap water does the trick nicely.

When you feed your frogs frozen foods, thaw them out first. The frogs will be more likely to eat them and will be better able to digest them if they are at the same temperature as the water. The easiest way to thaw them is to just plunk them in a Dixie cup of water that's about the same temperature as the water in the tank.

All of the above foods are also available in freeze-dried versions. If you choose to use freeze-dried foods, you must rehydrate it first by putting it in water and letting it sit for a while until it's soft. If you don't rehydrate it, the food will be very difficult for your frogs to digest and will likely cause bloating.

At What Time to Feed Your Frogs

In nature and in captivity, African dwarf frogs are weakly nocturnal. They tend to be slightly more active at night, and that's when they usually do most of their foraging and feeding in the wild. If you wanted to simulate their wild environment as closely as possible, then feeding them at night (that is, as soon as the day light in their tank is turned off) would be part of that.

The problem is that it's more difficult to gauge the amount of food your frogs eat and to remove uneaten food when the tank is darkened. Also, frogs are just barely nocturnal, so it really doesn't make that big a difference when they eat. They adapt to day feeding just fine.

I suggest that new keepers feed their frogs during the day. Once you get familiar enough with their eating habits that you can measure out the amount of food they're going to eat without there being leftovers, then you can feed them at night if you like. Personally, I feed my frogs in the morning.


How to Get Your African Dwarf Frogs to Eat

In nature, ADFs are bottom feeders, so many people suggest feeding them by placing their food on the bottom of the tank using a turkey baster. Many keepers also suggest using a small terra cotta plate like the ones that go under flowerpots, and placing the food in the plate on the bottom of the tank so the frogs know where to find it. They don't see very well, so putting the food in the same place all the time helps them find it more easily. This is an excellent way to feed your frogs if your tank doesn't have much water movement.

Personally, however, I don't use either of those methods anymore. The reason is that all of my aquatic tanks do have filtration and aeration, which means that there's always a bit of movement in the water. The movement isn't very strong, but it's strong enough that the food doesn't stay where I put it. Here's what I do instead.

First of all, I no longer keep any other animals except ghost shrimps in my frog tanks. When frogs are kept in tanks with fish, the fish usually eat most of the food while it's still at the top of the tank. Very little of it makes it to the bottom, so the poor frogs go hungry. This doesn't happen with ghost shrimps because they're also bottom feeders.

Secondly, I let the frogs know that it's time for dinner by gently tapping on the glass three times with my fingernail right before I feed them. Believe it or not, they learn very quickly that the tapping means to get ready because food is on the way. That's important because, as mentioned earlier, ADFs don't have very good vision. If you just drop the food in the tank, they may not find it before it starts to spoil. But when they know it's coming, they get excited and start looking for it right away. It only takes about two to four feedings before they figure it out. Here's a video of a feeding using this method.

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