African Pygmy Frogs as Pets

Well I never thought we would have pet frogs in our house. Or anything that wasn’t furry really. Yet here we are with four African pygmy frogs, twelve shrimp and some unexpected snails.

How we ended up having Frogs as Pets

Many years ago we had a tropical fish tank and it was a hassle cleaning it. To be honest, they are nice to look at but not cute and cuddly. But then we had children, and they like to rebel. My daughter had been obsessed with frogs for some time. Pictures, stickers, hats – anything with a frog on it. She even wanted to paint her bedroom green.

One day we were shopping in Birkenhead and my daughter happened to ask if she could have a frog as a pet. I said yes if she looked after it. She got excited and then I realised what I said. So I quickly said she would need to research it first and be committed to look after them.

When we got back to the house, I didn’t think any more about it. The children disappeared off to their rooms as usual. Later that day I was presented with a A4, two sided leaflet about African pygmy frogs. It made me laugh as she had put in some serious effort and I couldn’t go back on what I’d said. Researching properly took some time. My daughter created a WhatsApp group and sent links to useful information and the things she wanted us to purchase.

Setting up the tank

Testing the Tank

We had a spare tank for furry animals that stay with us on holiday. It hadn’t been used much so I thought it could be used for the frogs. First of all we had to check it was waterproof still. This was done by putting the tank outside on a soft mat and filing with water.

Then for the tank contents. There was a family trip to collect rock from the local shore. These were cleaned and sterilised in the oven. Sand was bought for the base of the tank. This was rinsed in a bucket to get rid of any dust and dirt.

The cleaned sand and rocks were put in the tank, and then the tank was filled with water. This was left for five days to allow the chlorine to gas off. I’ve been told (by Ben) that the amount of time required for this depends on the volume of water.

Then the heater and pump were added. Ben said he used two heaters, mainly for redundancy. This made it awkward to set up though as both heaters required the same thermostat setting or the lower temperature heater will never turn on.

Ben chose an LED aquarium lamp that was meant to be placed on top of an open tank (with no canopy). He modified it by turning the supports upside down and then screwed it to the top of the canopy. He drilled holes to pass the wires through the canopy to allow the lights to be plugged in. The lights have a built in timer and are set for ten hours light per day. With frogs it is good to have the cycle set so that you can watch them soon after their lights go off as they are quite active at dusk.

The plants could be added now that there was a light source. The plants were washed well before they were put in. Unfortunately a snail managed to sneak past this process so we have a thriving snail population now. The plants were left for a few weeks to ensure the tank and filter could build up their good bacteria naturally.

We then tested the water quality every week using an aquarium test kit. A record of the results were kept so could see how it was changing. Each time we were keen to see if the water was near to the optimum conditions. Once the levels were suitable, we then waited a week to check it was stable.

The setting up process took a couple of months as we wanted to make sure it was right and sustainable. Also, we did it naturally rather than by adding chemicals. It was really technical and not the most exciting. If you want to read more, this is a good website on how to cycle an aquarium.

Adding the Animals

African Pygmy Frog

After a lot of time and patience... the exciting part, adding the new pets. First of all we got four African Pygmy frogs from Carr Farm Garden Centre fish department.

They made sure we had a suitable set up and asked what other species we had in the tank to check they were compatible. They also gave advice on settling them in.

After a couple of weeks the frogs had settled in, and the water chemistry was still suitable, so we went back to get some shrimp. This was after a lot of discussion as I wanted red or blue shrimp but my daughter wanted the orange/peach coloured ones. As it was her tank and responsibility, she won the choice of colour. We got six of these. Again we had to spend an hour to settle these into the tank.

Both species got on well but we didn’t see much of them so a few months later we saw some clear Amano shrimp so got six of them too. This gave the tank more life and movement.


After the initial process of setting up the tank, the maintenance is manageable. This involves a partial water change needs to be done every few weeks. This involves getting water in a bucket and leaving the chlorine to gas off. The only issue is keeping the cats out of this water. Daisy-Bear does like to pat the water and Bean will have a little drink.

The plants need looking after too. I know? Surely they have enough water, what more do they need? Well, they need fertlising and pruning. Yep. This is why a tank is not for me. Ben has really taken on the challenge and the plants are mostly thriving.

The tank is active and the pets have lots of places to hide. Some of the plants haven’t done as well as hoped but others have done well.

Frogs and Shrimp in Family Life

My daughter has been very responsible feeding them them twice a day. I have been shocked how cute and interesting they are. We sit on the sofa watching them in the distance. Also, when we go in the living room, the first thing we do is to look in the tank before sitting down.

Did you know that frogs hum when they reach sexual maturity? No not something I knew until I heard a funny noise one evening. I couldn’t work out where it was coming from. It sounded like a weird buzzing noise. The same thing happened the next evening and I managed to work out it was coming from the tank and realised what was going on.

The cats were interested in the tank being set up but fortunately it was cat proof. They looked once or twice at the beginning but they have left then aquatic creatures alone.

It has been an amazing learning experience for all of us. Thanks to my husband who has taken on joint responsibility along with my daughter. Even though she looks after them, we are all involved with overseeing their care and would take on the responsibility if she moves out.

Please note that this is what we did and there are other options out there. If you are interested, make sure you do lots of research first. We did not know how time consuming and technical it would be when I said a flippant yes to having pet frogs.

Frogs as a pet? Well, I would recommend it. The only tough part is explaining to people how cute frogs and shrimp really are. Something I never thought I’d say!

African Pygmy Frog and Shrimp Tank