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Can African Dwarf Frogs Live With Bettas? (Vet Answer)

Dr. Luqman Javed, DVM (Vet)

By Dr. Luqman Javed, DVM (Vet)

betta splendens

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Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Though often housed individually, bettas can sometimes be incorporated into a community setup. However, certain conditions must be met to ensure success in this endeavor.

The main aspect of housing a betta in a community setup is ensuring the betta’s safety. Though often perceived as territorial (which they are), bettas are unfortunately not fast or strong enough to keep up with most other freshwater fish. Fortunately, there are a few compatible tank mates for a betta. The African dwarf frog is a good option for a tank mate for your betta.

In this article, we walk you through everything you need to know about housing these two species together.

The African Dwarf Frog & Betta Compatibility

The African dwarf frog is a popular aquarium pet. Despite the fact that they are called “frogs”, they should be housed in an aquarium at all times. They are not suited for vivariums and will dry out and perish if removed from the water.

Key information about their care can be summarized as follows:

Overall Difficulty Moderate, has some specific requirements
Maximum Size 2.5–3 inches (6.3–7.6 cm), females are larger
Water Current Preference Low
Area Inhabited Primarily bottom dwellers, but actively swim all over
Social Requirements Social; should be housed in groups of 2–3 or more
Temperament Peaceful
Diet Obligate carnivores; cannot be fed freeze-dried or dry pellet foods, which can cause intestinal blockage and death. They are meat eaters and they won’t eat flakes.
Temperature Requirement 75–82°F (23.8–27.8°C)
pH Requirement 6.5–7.5 pH
Space Required Active and prefer large swimming spaces but aquariums cannot be deeper than 15 inches;  standard ‘20 gallon long’ aquariums are sufficient for about five frogs.
Other Considerations
  • Must surface to breathe (does not have gills)
  • Can jump, so lids are necessary
  • Not recommended around children or immunocompromised individuals

An Important Note About African Dwarf Frogs

african dwarf frog
Image Credit: Guillermo Guerao Serra, Shutterstock

The African dwarf frog is a natural carrier of several species of Salmonella spp. For this reason, it is not advisable to keep them as pets when children or immunocompromised individuals are in your house. Precautions about personal hygiene should be taken when cleaning their aquarium. It is best not to touch these frogs unless necessary. To minimize the risk of contamination, their aquarium should not be placed near your kitchen or bathroom. Outbreaks have been reported by the CDC.

Despite being completely aquatic, the African dwarf frog is a very weak swimmer and prefers low currents. This makes them ideal companions for bettas, which also hate strong currents. They may, at times, float at one spot in their aquarium with their limbs outstretched (usually near the water’s surface). This behavior is known as “burbling” and shouldn’t be confused with a pet frog being dead.

In addition, despite being aquatic, as mentioned above, they must surface to breathe (because they lack gills). This, coupled with their weak swimming ability, is why they should be housed in shallow tanks.

Being carnivorous, their diet comprises brine shrimp, bloodworms, krill, small worms, and any fish they can fit into their mouths. They shouldn’t be fed frozen or freeze-dried foods and will reject flakes. They lack teeth and swallow their food whole. They are not aggressive or quick feeders, and when housed with fish that eat quickly, it can be difficult to ensure that they are well-fed. Fortunately, bettas are also slow eaters.

To top off the compatibility check, their temperature and pH requirements are compatible with a betta’s requirements.

African Dwarf Frog vs African Clawed Frog

Of considerable importance is the fact that African dwarf frogs are often confused for African-clawed frogs.

The difference between the two is the following:
  • Feet. Dwarf frogs have four webbed feet. African clawed frogs have webbed hind feet while their front feet have autonomous (non-webbed) digits.
  • Eye Position. African dwarf frogs have eyes positioned on the sides of their heads, while African clawed frogs have eyes on the tops of their heads.
  • Snout. African clawed frogs have curved, flat snouts. The snout of an African dwarf frog is pointed.

African clawed frogs are natural fungi (chytrid) carriers. They carry these without signs of illness. Chytrid is highly contagious and is deadly to African dwarf frogs. They are recommended to be kept in a species-only tank. They also aren’t compatible with bettas.

close up of a large adult African clawed frog swimming
Image Credit: Ezume Images, Shutterstock

Tips for Housing & Tank Size Requirements

Though African dwarf frogs and bettas are indeed compatible, there are a few more tips you can use when housing them together to add even more layers of safety to your aquarium:

  • It’s best to add your betta into an aquarium that already has African dwarf frogs in it. Your betta may assume the frogs are just a natural part of a new territory.
  • Closely monitor your fish and frogs for the first few days of cohabitation to ensure that they are getting along well.
  • A heavily planted aquarium provides each species with plenty of cover, offers natural filtration, and is a welcome addition to any aquarium.
  • Because African dwarf frogs are bottom dwellers, they don’t appreciate sharp substrate or sharp gravel.
  • Try feeding your fish and frogs at different sides of the aquarium. Begin by feeding your betta on one side, and while your betta is occupied, drop your African frog’s food to the other side of the aquarium.
  • Live foods can be left in an aquarium for both species to consume at their leisure throughout the day, provided you do not overfeed either species. Please be mindful of your filter’s intake, as it may suck in live prey. A gentle sponge filter is best for housing bettas and African dwarf frogs.
  • It’s often advised to culture live food on your own when housing these pets. Live foods are especially important for African dwarf frogs.

You’ll also need to make sure the aquarium you choose is appropriately sized for your fish.

For one male betta and five African dwarf frogs A minimum of 20 gallons is recommended. Upsize by approximately 1–2 gallons per additional frog.
For sorority of five female bettas and five African dwarf frogs A minimum of 30 gallons is recommended. Consider upsizing by at least 2 gallons per additional female betta or frog.

Ensure your aquarium’s filter can accommodate at least twice the volume of water in the aquarium. For example, a 20-gallon aquarium requires a filter rated to at least 40 gallons. All aquariums should be cycled, heated, and filtered before adding in your fish or frogs.


Though an unlikely combination, the African dwarf frog is a compatible tank mate for a betta. These aquatic critters are an excellent option for the ambitious owner. However, they are known to be carriers of Salmonella and have some unique tank dimensions and food requirements, so they should be carefully considered before adoption.

Nonetheless, if you’re up for it, these two species can usually be housed together successfully!

Featured Image Credit: Buddy BIGPhotographer, Shutterstock

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