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How to Care For an Albino Frog

Albino frogs are interesting little creatures that are no different from their colored siblings except in appearance. They need the same conditions and diet and behave in the same way. African clawed frogs are the most commonly sold albino frog and are completely aquatic. Below are some tips for setting up your tank, feeding your frogs and keeping them happy and healthy for many years.
Difficulty: Moderate
Things You'll Need:

* Ten-gallon tank
* Small gravel
* Rock for hiding
* Filter system
* Frog food
Step 1

Buy an appropriate tank. Albino frogs should be housed in a tank that can hold 10 gallons. Be sure that you have left plenty of space at the top of the tank to make it easy for the frogs to surface and breathe. Generally, the water level should be about one foot deep. This will ensure that they have enough room to swim around and explore. If you plan on having more than a few frogs, you should adjust your tank size accordingly. Like all animals, frogs do not like to be crowded and will be unhappy and aggressive if they do not have enough space. I have seen albino frogs in pet stores that had missing limbs due to the aggression of overcrowded frogs. The tank must have a secure cover. The frogs, who are curious and like to jump around, will get out if given the opportunity. They cannot survive for very long outside water so you will most definitely want to keep the frogs in the tank. Water temperature should be around 75 degrees. The frogs prefer warm, calm water. You also need a filtration system to keep the tank from getting too messy. A castle, rock or other place for the frog to hide is also a good idea as they tend to have bouts of shyness. Finally, be sure to cover the bottom of the tank with gravel. Not only does the gravel give the frogs a more natural environment, they like to play with it. Get the smallest sized gravel that you can find. Since the frogs may swallow it, smaller pieces are more easily passed throught their systems.

Step 2

Feed them a proper diet. African clawed frogs will eat anything and everything and spend much of their time looking for food. They will examine everything in the tank repeatedly to see if it is edible. Fish flakes are not sufficient for them but they will eat pellets designed especially for frogs and turtles. You may also want to give your frog fish such as guppies or brine shrimp. Some owners prefer insects or worms. Talk to your local pet store owner about the diet of the frog you are purchasing, as it is wise at first to maintain what the individual frog is known to like. Cost may be a factor here, so you may want to stick with pellets for everyday use and save feeder fish and the like for special treats. As with fish, you must take care not to overfeed. These frogs will not stop when they are full. Give them no more than what they can eat in 15 minutes

Step 3

Accommodate their growth. Frogs that start out as small as a dime can grow up to five inches long before they reach maturity. For this reason, it is important to plan to accommodate the frogs as they grow bigger. Besides making sure the growing frog has enough room and food, you will want to think about the other fish in the tank. It is usually preferable to keep the frogs in a tank of their own but if you want to include fish in their tank, be sure that they are large enough that the full grown frog cannot fit one in his mouth. Pet store owners may tell you that these frogs do not pay any attention to fish, but this has not been my experience. Even the smaller, younger frogs may maul fish swimming around the tank. Finally, some owners have reported that their frogs have survived for decades. As such, keeping a pet clawed frog is not the same as keeping tropical fish. Be aware that your little friend may need you for many years to come and be sure you can make this kind of commitment before purchasing the frog.

African Clawed Frogs

Scientific name: Xenopus laevis (There are 14 species in the Xenopus genus; laevis is the most common subtype found in pet stores.)
Home region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Adult size: Males typically grow to 3.5- 4", females 4- 5"
Recommended food: Bloodworms, krill, brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, blackworms, Tetra's ReptoMin (broken into pieces), earthworms (make sure they haven't been exposed to pesticides) and fish (be careful with feeder fish- the tank conditions at the store may mean sick fish, which should not be fed to your frogs.) The key to a healthy frog is variety.
Recommended space: 10 gallons each, at least 12" deep. These frogs get big and need space to swim.
Temperature: 68-75* F. Xenopus laevis is a cold-water species. They can survive lower or higher temps, but their optimum comfort level is in this range. No heater is necessary. If you do need a heater to keep your tank in this range, make sure to purchase a heater guard as well. ACFs are extremely physical, and their strong kicking could cause a heater to crack.
pH: 6.5-8.5
Maximum age: 15-30 years. 15 years on average.
Determining gender: This species matures at approximately 10-12 months of age. Females are generally larger and have a noticeable "tube-like" ovipositor between their legs. Males will develop black "nuptial pads" on the undersides of their hands and forearms. Males also sing. Females do not sing, but do return male calls with a clicking sound (unusual among amphibians).
Tankmates: It is recommended that you set up a dedicated species tank for ACFs. These frogs are known for eating smaller tankmates, such as fish or African Dwarf Frogs. ACFs can also be injured by larger species of aggressive fish. It may be possible to keep large apple snails that do not fit in the ACF’s mouth, but watch for ACFs nipping at tentacles.
Notes: This species is most active at night, and should be given hiding spots in their tanks. Also, it's usually recommended that multiple ACFs be housed together if possible, as they are social creatures. They may uproot live plants, so only very hardy plants such as anubias and anacharis are recommended. They do appreciate plants which extend to the surface and float, so they can hold on as they breathe from the surface. Artificial plants are often used with success. Gravel should be small enough to pass through their digestive system if swallowed, or large enough that it cannot be ingested. Some hobbyists choose to keep a bare-bottomed tank for easier maintenance.

These frogs do shed their skin, and will usually eat what they shed. The skin is highly nutritious for them.

Avoid metal of any type coming into contact with your frogs or their feeding/maintenance equipment. Metal ions are toxic to these frogs.

ACFs are illegal to own without a permit in 13 states, due to past release of these frogs into the wild by laboratories, which resulted in the decimation of native species in some places. Permits may not be obtainable by hobbyists. States are: California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico and Hawaii.

Alternative names

African Clawed Frog, ACF, Congo Frog, Aquatic Clawed Frog, Clawed African Frog, CAF, Common Plantanna, Golden Congo Frog, Jelly Bean Frog,Grow a Frog


Mature male has black markings on the inside of his hands and arms. Male sings. Female is larger but mostly mute. Cloaca is prominent on female.

Tank compatibility

Spends the majority of its time on the bottom, but will come to the surface to eat. Should only be kept with large fish, as anything that can fit inside its cavernous mouth will end up there.


Unlike the small Dwarf African Frog, the Clawed frog is a voracious predator, and will consume prey as large as small goldfish and crayfish. Frozen Lancefish, raw freshwater fish flesh (Tilapia for example) and earthworms are best foods. Do not feed frozen bloodworms too often, as this food is not rich in protein and may even be bad for it. Like many aquarium inhabitants, it can be trained to take common foods such as pellets, however more uncommon foods (wafers, earthworms, grubs, small 'feeder' fish and invertebrates, et al.) will prove to be better for your frog.

Feed Regime

Feed only every other day. Otherwise it will just eat and eat. This frog is mainly a night predator and is often inactive during the day. It uses its sense of vibration to find its food. However, it can be trained to take food during the day.

Environment Specifics

It will uproot any plants in the aquarium, so potted plants are best. Likes the company of others of its own kind. Large filter required.


This frog, although normally inactive, can be extremely aggressive. Besides devouring fish, it has been known to injure larger fish with its claws. The male likes to sing when it is healthy. It sheds its skin once a month and eats it. It may escape from open top tanks or tanks with weak lids.


A small African clawed frog can be differentiated from a dwarf African frog by its front limbs. Whereas the dwarf frog has webbed fingers, the clawed frog has fingers without webbing. Be wary when buying this frog in a shop. Often they're sold as baby Dwarf African Frogs! Often sold in the albino form, the African Dwarf Frog does NOT occur in albino form.

Special note

It appears that this frog is often a carrier for the infectious Chytrid fungus and therefore the aquarium water can carry the fungus. Due to the high level of concern with this fungus destroying amphibians throughout the world, it is probably a responsible thing to add bleach to your waste water before discarding it to prevent this deadly fungus getting into your local water system.
Alternatively treat your Clawed frog with Benzalkonium chloride to ensure any possible presence of this fungus is killed.

This frog is outlawed in some states (including Kentucky) of the USA due to the adult size they reach and being released into lakes and streams where they eat native wildlife. It is also established in small pockets in the the South of England.

  • Never release into the wild!

African Clawed Frog

Order: Anura
Family: Pipidae
Genus/species: Xenopus laevis

This is a unique family of frogs that lack a tongue and a visible ear. The males also lack vocal cords. Instead of moveable eyelids, a horny, transparent covering protects their eyes. The body is flattened and the head is wedge-shaped and smaller than the body.

The African clawed frog's front limbs are small with unwebbed fingers that are used to push food into the mouth. Its hind legs are large and webbed and the three inside toes on either foot have claws, this is where they get their common name. However, while they may look like claws, they are not true claws but cornified tips.

This frog has smooth slippery skin, which is multicolored on its back with blotches of olive gray or brown. The underside is creamy white with a yellow tinge.

African clawed frogs have the ability to change their appearance to match their background. They can become dark, light, or mottled. They also have a lateral line system that is very sensitive to movement of water.

Males weigh two ounces (60 grams), and are about two to 2.5 inches (5 to 6 cm) long. Males also lack a vocal sac, which most male frogs have. Females are much larger. They weigh seven ounces (200 grams) and are about four to 4.5 inches (10 to 12 cm) long. Females also have cloacal extensions at the end of their abdomen.

Distribution and Habitat
These frogs are found along the African Rift Valley south of the Sahara in east and southern Africa. They are also found in South Africa and Namibia and Angola in western Africa. As an invasive pest species they are now found in freshwater areas all over the world.

They prefer warm stagnant pools, and quiet streams; they are rarely found in running streams. They can tolerate wide variations in water pH, but metal ions are toxic. They thrive in temperatures from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They leave the water only when forced to migrate.

Diet in the Wild
African clawed frogs are carnivorous and eat anything they can find. They are scavengers and eat living, dead, or dying arthropods and other pieces of organic waste including aquatic insect larvae, water insects, crustaceans, small fish, tadpoles, worms, and freshwater snails.

They have a voracious appetite and will attack anything that passes in front of it. They use extremely sensitive fingers, an acute sense of smell, and lateral line system to locate food and then use a hyobranchial pump to suck food into their mouths. The tadpoles are exclusively filter feeders.

Zoo Diet
They are fed earthworms two to three times a week.

These frogs are sexually mature in ten to 12 months. Mating can take place during any time of year, but is most common from early spring to late summer, depending on location, and may take place up to four times a year.

Males vocalize, even though they lack vocal cords, to attract females. Instead they use rapid muscle contractions in their throat to produce a type of clicking noise. The female will then either respond with an acceptance call or a rejection call.

Mating usually takes place at night where they engage in pelvic amplexus, in which the males clasp females about the pelvic region.

Eggs are about .04 inches (.1 cm) in diameter. Sticky jelly around the eggs causes them to adhere to objects underwater like sticks, stones, and other substrate. Females lay 500 to 2,000 eggs at one time and 2,000 to 8,000 eggs per year.

Eggs hatch within one week and tadpoles are about .16 inches (.4 cm) long. The total change from egg to small frog takes about six to eight weeks. Adults exhibit no parental care.

Life Span
This is a rather inactive and hardy creature that may live up to 15 years.

This species of African clawed frog is neither threatened nor endangered. Presumably as a result of pet release, they have been introduced into Orange and San Diego counties in California, Arlington, Virginia, and Delaware, where they are now pests, devouring native wildlife such as fish, frogs, tadpoles.

These frogs have been used extensively as a laboratory research animal, mostly in the field of vertebrate embryology because females are prolific egg layers and the embryos are transparent.

Fun Facts
During the 1940s, female African clawed frogs were injected with urine of a female human. If the human was pregnant, then the injected frog would start producing eggs.

This was the first vertebrate cloned in the laboratory. They also produce a type of antibiotic, Magainins, in their skin that heals wounded skin rapidly. Magainins are antifungal, antiparasitic, and antiviral. This is probably very useful in the stagnant, microbe-filled waters in which this species lives.

At times when the pond dries up, this frog burrows in the mud and may lie dormant for up to a year. During the rainy season it can crawl long distances to another pond, but it can not hop.

It spends most of its time underwater, coming to the surface to breathe. Respiration is predominately through its well-developed lungs; there is little cutaneous respiration.