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Do African Dwarf Frogs Play Dead?- Let’s Know Our Amphibian Pets!

Do African Dwarf Frogs Play Dead

Playing dead is a common behavior among some species of frogs when facing predators. However, not all of them act this way. As a frog lover and parent, I have different types of frogs, including African dwarf frogs. Thus, I will share my experiences here.

So, do African dwarf frogs play dead? Usually, they do not. However, it likes to rest while floating.  Also, if you see your pet floating for a longer period, it might be suffering from some disease like Dropsy, overfeeding, etc. 

Here, I will help you to understand why your frog is acting this way and share the reasons for this behavior. I will also give an overview of how to deal with it. So, let’s keep reading! 

Do African Dwarf Frogs Play Dead? Reasons And Solutions

African dwarf frogs are underwater frogs. So, they rarely come to the surface. That is also for just a few moments for a fresh breath as they do not have gills. After taking enough oxygen for 10-15 minutes, they will return to the bottom of their habitat.

They usually don’t play dead. There are many more reasons why it seems your favorite pet is showing such behavior. Below, I have shared them along with solutions. So, let’s take a look.

Do African Dwarf Frogs Play Dead


Usually, when resting in a tank,  they often float near the top, coming up for air periodically. They stay motionless, with all of their limbs fully extended. This resting behavior is called “burbling.” 


If you are a new pet owner, do not worry about seeing this, especially in the daytime. Because they are nocturnal in nature.

However, if your frog keeps floating too often, it may have some other issues. So, you should take it to the vet for further examination.


If you are a new owner and keep feeding your frogs, they will suffer from digestive issues. This can make them bloated. Thus, they will appear on the surface more and for a longer period.

African Dwarf Frogs Overfeeding


Never overfeed your frog. If you accidentally overfeed the pet, separate it from others, skip one meal, and monitor its condition. If it gets better, put it back with others and maintain a proper meal size. 

For a suitable meal portion, feed them only three or four times a week. Never overdo it, or your frog might die.

However, if doing all of these does not make your little pet better, take it to the vet.


Usually, if you have adult female and male frogs in a tank, you may see the female float during the mating season. It is because a female frog will get bloated during pregnancy.

African Dwarf Frogs Pregnancy


Your pet will become normal once she lays the eggs. However, you should take proper care of her during the pregnancy. 

If her bloating becomes severe, take her out for a new tank. Also, you should use a little warm water to comfort her. Also, tadpoles need 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit temperature for better metabolism and survival.


Another less common but dangerous reason that can make your frog float is dropsy. This is a condition of accumulation of fluid in the body cavity or tissues. It usually happens if the frog has some other underlying disease, such as organ failure.

African Dwarf Frogs Dropsy


If your pet is suffering from dropsy, its belly will be swollen or bloated. Unfortunately, you cannot treat it by yourself. If this happens due to some infection, the vet can help to cure it with some medicine. 

However, if it is diagnosed as a sign of dying, your vet may help to relieve the symptoms but cannot save it. Also, never try to do something like adding salt or feeding antibiotics without a prescription to your fog.

Cold Or Contaminated Water

African dwarf frogs are topical amphibians. So, the optimal water temperature for their comfort is 75–82 °F (24-27 °C).

If you cannot maintain this temperature, they will feel uncomfortable. Hence, they will try to escape. However, if your tank has a lid, they cannot escape. So, they will gather on the surface and keep floating. 

When I was a new owner, I could not maintain the water temperature properly. Thus, my African dwarf frogs kept floating on the surface.

Also, your little buddy is very sensitive to water quality. Contaminated water, which includes high levels of ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, or other pollutants, can be harmful to these frogs. 

This type of water can make them stressed. Also, they can become attacked by bacteria, leading to diseases and infections.

African Dwarf Frogs Contaminated Water


Using a thermometer, take the reading of the temperature of the water regularly. If the water temperature is less than 75°F (24°C), use a heater to maintain the temperature.

Also, make sure to change the water properly. You need to change 15-20% of the water every week or every two weeks. Remember, never change the entire water at a time. It will make them more stressed.

You also need to check the PH of the tank water. The optimal pH range for their aquarium is typically between 6.5 and 7.5. This pH range is within the mildly acidic to neutral range. It is very suitable for the well-being of African dwarf frogs.

To test the PH level of water, you can use any aquarium water testing kit. Just use the instructions in your kit and keep the reading. 

If it is not within the recommended range, consult with a knowledgeable aquarium professional or veterinarian for guidance on how to safely adjust pH levels.

Tank Size And Decoration

These frogs are aquatic and very active. Thus, they need a bigger space to swim and move comfortably. 

Also, as they stay in the water most of the time, the water quality needs to be better. A larger tank has more water and thus can help dilute waste and maintain better water quality. 

As active amphibians, they need hiding places to hide and play. If you do not maintain these things, the frogs will come to the surface in the hope of escaping the unsuitable environment.

African Dwarf Frogs Tank Size And Decoration


The recommended tank size for your African dwarf frog depends on the number of frogs you have. 

If you only have one or two frogs, you need a 5-gallon tank. However, if you have more than two, the tank should be at least twenty gallons in size. 

Also, place sufficient live or silk trees around the tank’s bottom. It will help them to play and hide. However, never place any shard object in their tank as this can potentially injure the frogs.

So, change the tank if it is small for your frogs. Also, make sure to place proper decorations and hiding places. This will make them comfortable, and they won’t keep floating on the surface frequently.

Related Questions

Let’s take a look at some relevant inquiries as to whether African dwarf frogs play dead.

Why Do My African Dwarf Frogs Usually Stay Motionless During the Day?

It is a normal behavior of these frogs. They are nocturnal and sleep mostly throughout the day. So, do not stress out seeing them stay in a place during the day.

How Long Do African Dwarf Frogs Live?

Your African dwarf frog usually lives up to 5 years in nature. However, with proper care and environment, they can even survive up to 15 years in an aquarium.

Can Tankmates Influence The Playing Dead Behavior Of My African Dwarf Frogs?

Yes, these frogs are usually docile. So, never put aggressive, like cichlids, bettas, or barbs, and strongly territorial fish with them.

Final Thoughts

Your African dwarf frogs are very playful animals. However, I have shared all my knowledge on whether African dwarf frogs play dead here with you. You can easily detect whether it is just sleeping or need a check-up by following my guidelines.

Also, you should maintain a healthy and recommended living environment for your cute buddies. You also need to consult with a vet in case of any unusual behavior or change in your frogs’ health.

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