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Do African Dwarf Frogs Need A Heater? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQs

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By Lindsey Stanton

African Dwarf Frog Hopping Around

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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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African dwarf frogs are fascinating creatures to have at home, but they also need to be well cared for. They are fragile animals and they demand specific conditions, with the temperature being at the forefront. So, do African dwarf frogs need heaters?

The simple answer here is yes, African dwarf frogs do need heaters. Once again, unless you live somewhere warm, you will need a heater for these little guys. Remember, they come from Africa, a continent that is generally very hot.

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What Temperature Do African Dwarf Frogs Need?


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 there are children or immunocompromised individuals in your house. Personal hygiene precautions should be taken when cleaning their aquarium.

It is best not to touch these frogs unless absolutely 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.

African dwarf frogs require the temperature to be at least 73.4 – 80.6°F or about 23 – 27°C. They prefer to live in temperatures towards the higher end of this range.

african dwarf frog swimming
Image Credit: Charlie Tyack, Shutterstock

Can African Dwarf Frogs Live Without A Heater?

Once again, an African Dwarf frog is best kept in fairly warm conditions, and only if you live in a tropical climate will you be able to maintain that warm temperature in the tank. Ok, so if the temperature drops a couple of degrees below the minimum, the frogs probably won’t die straight away, but they might become stressed if the situation persists.

If the frogs get too cold, they will more or less shut down. They will stop eating more or less, their metabolisms will slow down, and then their internal organs will start to go too. If an African dwarf frog is too cold for too long, they will perish. It might take a while, but at the end of it all, they won’t survive.

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Should I Get An In-line or Submersible Heater?

Something that you will need to decide is whether to get an inline heater or a submersible heater. There is a pretty big difference between the two.

In-line Heater

inline aquarium heating
Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock

Inline heaters function by being connected directly to your aquarium filter. The heater is connected to the outflow tube of the filter. The water passes right from the filter into the heater, and then to the tank. Some people really like inline aquarium heaters because they are hidden from view, and therefore result in a nice-looking aquarium. However, they can also be much harder to maintain than normal aquarium heaters.

On the other hand, once again, these heaters are not in the aquarium, so there’s no chance of an animal bumping into them. What is important to note is that these are external heaters that are attached to external canister filters. They are ideal for large setups that use external filtration. However, for something like an African dwarf frog tank, it is usually not used, unless you are looking to heat up a whole lot of water.

Submersible Heater

Image Credit: Flups, Shutterstock

The far better option for an African dwarf frog tank is the submersible heater. These are small and independent heating units, usually in the shape of a tube. They are submerged in the water and use a heating element to heat water. The only thing these are connected to is a power source. These tend to be best for smaller and more basic setups. Yes, they do take up some space in the tank, but they are generally so small that this is negligible.

Submersible heaters tend to be far more cost-effective, and they require less maintenance than inline heating units. Simply put, for an African dwarf frog tank, it’s a submersible heater that you want.

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What Size Heater Do I Need?

Almost all reliable water heaters have a gallon or liter rating which indicates how large of a water volume the heater can reliably handle. It is best to place submersible heaters close to the filter intake, as this is where the water flow is the greatest, and therefore, the heater can warm up the most water. This is important because, as you might have guessed, water heaters don’t move and therefore, should be placed in a place where water flow is high.

A heater rated at larger volumes than your aquarium is fine, as long as the entire heating element can remain submerged. A heater rated lower than your aquarium’s volume isn’t advised. In such a situation, you should either get a second heater and place it on the other side of the aquarium, or upgrade your heater to the next highest rating.

african dwarf frog swimming
Image Credit: Dan Olsen, Shutterstock

Should I Get A Thermometer For My African Dwarf Frog Tank?

Yes, you should buy a thermometer for your African dwarf frog tank. Most aquarium heaters do not actually come with a thermostat, at least not one that tells you how warm the water is. Once again, African dwarf frogs require their environment to be quite warm, and sure a heater will do just that, but you also need to be able to monitor the temperature. A good aquarium thermometer, preferably a digital one, will allow you to monitor the temperature with ease. Remember, it’s all about keeping your frogs happy and healthy.

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The bottom line is that you want to get a nice little aquarium heater for your African dwarf frogs. The frogs can get very ill if they are too cold. They need the air temperature and the water to be quite warm, and unless you live somewhere exceedingly warm, maintaining the ideal temperature for African dwarf frogs is just not doable. It doesn’t have to be a fancy heater, but it does need to get the job done.

Featured Image Credit: Charlie Tyack, Shutterstock

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