The 10 Best Tank Mates to Pair with African Dwarf Frogs

Written by Sarah Psaradelis
Updated: October 31, 2023
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Key Points:

  • African dwarf frogs are small frogs that are native to freshwater habitats in Africa.
  • Fish smaller than two inches will be eaten by the frogs if live plants are not provided for hiding.
  • Each potential tank mate has special tank size, schooling, and plant requirements to be healthy and happy.

African dwarf frogs are small fully aquatic amphibians that make popular pets. They originate from Africa where they inhabit shallow freshwater ponds, rivers, streams, and swamps. These frogs rarely exceed 3 inches in size and can live for up to five years with proper care.

10 Best Tank Mates to Pair With African Dwarf Frogs
These fish can be paired with African dwarf frogs.

Tank mates are one of the most critical aspects of their housing to consider. African dwarf frogs are highly social creatures and should be kept with their own kind. While you can keep them in pairs, a group of three or more is recommended. However, the more African dwarf frogs you keep in a tank, the more tank space they need.

Additionally, groups of African dwarf frogs can cohabit in the same tank with other small, peaceful, and non-carnivorous fish or invertebrates.

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Quick Overview of African Dwarf Frogs

African dwarf frog close up

African dwarf frogs grow to around 2 to 3 inches long.

©Ashley Magyar/iStock via Getty Images

Before we begin, below is an important overview and factors to consider before choosing tank mates for your African dwarf frog.

Scientific name:Hymenochirus boettgeri
Origins:Equatorial Africa
Environment:Needs to be kept with its own species.
Adult size:2.5 – 3 inches
Color:Brown to olive green and black spots
Lifespan:3 – 5 years
Sociability:They need to be kept with their own species.
Minimum tank size:10 gallons, additional 3 gallons for each frog/tankmate.
  • Keep in mind that African dwarf frogs are naturally carnivores and may prey on small fish, snails, or shrimp. If you decide to keep them with other fish or invertebrates, there is no guarantee that your African dwarf frog will not eat them.
  • If African dwarf frogs can fit the fish or invertebrate in their mouth, they are likely to eat them.
  • African dwarf frogs require clean and well-maintained water for their survival. You want to avoid overstocking their tank with fish, especially ones that produce a lot of waste.
  • You should only house African dwarf frogs with other fish or invertebrates that have similar water conditions. African dwarf frogs need a heater, along with a filter, and a fully cycled tank.
  • The absolute best tank mate for an African dwarf frog is another African dwarf frog. They do not crave the companionship of other fish, but rather their own species.

Now, let’s discuss the best tank mates for African dwarf frogs.

1. Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

Round Tail Guppy

Round-tail guppies are one of the first guppy species to be bred from the wild guppy.

©Nantawat Chotsuwan/Shutterstock.com

Guppies can be found in various colors, patterns, and tail types that make them a popular addition to African dwarf frog tanks. They have been known to live in the same tank as these frogs while the African dwarf frog is still tiny. Most guppies are only around 1.5 to 2.5 inches in size, so they are not very large fish. They can easily fit into an adult African dwarf frog’s mouth and risk being eaten. However, with plenty of hiding places from dense vegetation, most guppies can avoid being eaten by African dwarf frogs.

Plus, guppies are relatively hardy fish that can handle slight changes in temperature as long as it is kept above 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Guppies can also eat a similar diet to African dwarf frogs since they are omnivores. They are very peaceful fish that will not harm your African dwarf frogs. You will need to keep more than one guppy in the tank since they are social shoaling fish.

2. Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius)

A green beautiful planted tropical freshwater aquarium with fishes. Dwarf gourami (Colisa lalia) fish in a home aquarium, lalius close-up

The dwarf gourami can be found in a range of different colors.

©Bukhta Yurii/Shutterstock.com

Dwarf gourami is a type of anabantoid fish that belongs to the same family as the popular betta fish. They only reach a size of 2.5 to 3.5 inches long, which is similar to the African dwarf frog. You can keep dwarf gourami in the same tank as African dwarf frogs if the tank is large enough. Both creatures need enough room to swim comfortably. You should aim for a minimum of 20 gallons for a group of three African dwarf frogs and a dwarf gourami.

Dwarf gourami can be found in a wide range of different colors, so they will help brighten up your African dwarf frog’s tank. You can find them in colors like orange, red, blue, and yellow. Most dwarf gourami are peaceful fish, and they will not interact with African dwarf frogs much. You also do not have to worry about your African dwarf frogs eating adult dwarf gouramis, since they are too large to fit into their mouths.

3. Cardinal Tetras (Paracheirodon axelrodi)

Cardinal tetra

Cardinal tetras are often mistaken for neon tetras.

©NattapolStudiO/Shutterstock.com

The cardinal tetra is often confused for neon tetras since they have a striking resemblance to each other. The main difference between the two fish is that cardinal tetras are slightly larger than neon tetras and have full-length red stripes across their body. Cardinal tetras reach an adult size of 2 inches, making them compatible with your African dwarf frogs.

These are small shoaling fish that need to be kept in groups of six or more to feel safe. They do not take up much space in a tank and offer a dash of color to liven up your African dwarf frog’s environment. Cardinal tetras are tropical fish, so you will need to keep them in a heated tank, which is necessary for African dwarf frogs too.

If you plan on keeping cardinal tetras with African dwarf frogs, be sure to add plenty of live plants. African dwarf frogs might try to catch these tetras, so they need a lot of dense vegetation to hide in. Live plants create a natural environment for African dwarf frogs and offer them a sense of security too. Some top plant choices include hornwort, water sprite, java fern, and java moss.

4. Mollies (Poecilia sphenops)

Molly (Poecilia sphenops) - black molly fish

You can find mollies with various fin shapes, like the stunning lyre-tail variation.

©Palomasius/Shutterstock.com

Mollies are very hardy, colorful, and adaptable live-bearing fish that can coexist peacefully with African dwarf frogs. Most mollies are too large to fit into an adult African dwarf frog’s mouth since they reach around 2 to 4 inches in length. They are very docile and social fish that will not pose a threat to African dwarf frogs.

Mollies can handle a wide range of temperatures but thrive best at the tropical temperatures that the African dwarf frog needs. You can find mollies in an assortment of impressive colors and patterns, making them a colorful addition to many African dwarf frogs. Keep in mind that mollies are highly social fish and should be kept in groups of four or more. Just like the dwarf gourami, mollies also need a spacious tank.

If you keep them in the same tank as African dwarf frogs, you will need to be mindful of the tank size. The bigger the tank is the better. However, 20 gallons is a good starting size for two African dwarf frogs and a handful of adult mollies.

5. Giant Danios (Devario aequipinnatus)

giant danio swimming among greenery

Danios are tropical fish that belongs to the minnow family.

©Karel Zahradka/Shutterstock.com

If you are looking for a larger, peaceful, and vibrantly colored African dwarf frog tank mate then the giant danio is worth considering. The giant danio is the largest type of danio fish, reaching a length of 4 inches. When giant danios are fully grown, their size makes it difficult for African dwarf frogs to eat them. Giant danios are very peaceful and social fish that keep to themselves in an aquarium.

They thrive in a heavily planted and spacious tank that is kept at tropical temperatures. Giant danios can be housed with African dwarf frogs but require a minimum tank size of 30 gallons due to their size and group numbers. Giant danios have a striking appearance, consisting of a vivid gold body with blue markings.

6. Swordtails (Xiphophorus helleri)

Red swordtail is swimming in aquatic plants tank. green swordtail (Xiphophorus hellerii) is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish species. it is a livebearer fish.

Male swordtails have a tail extension that resembles a sword.

©Arunee Rodloy/Shutterstock.com

Much like the molly fish we discussed above, the swordtail is a live-bearing fish that is sometimes mistaken for mollies. The main difference between the two is that male swordtails have a tail fin that extends out and resembles a sword. However, the female swordtails do not have this extension which makes them easier to identify.

Both male and female swordtails can be found in different colors that can liven up an African dwarf frog aquarium. You can find them in vibrant oranges, red, gold, blues, yellows, and even silver.

Furthermore, swordtails only grow to around 3.5 to 5 inches in length, including the males’ elongated tails. When fully grown, swordtails can be successfully kept with African dwarf frogs. They are usually too large to be eaten by African dwarf frogs but still require plenty of dense vegetation to hide in. In comparison to mollies, the swordtail is slightly more sensitive to water quality changes.

They are not as tolerant of sudden temperature fluctuations and do not deal with stress in their environment well. Swordtails need to be kept in groups of four or more and enjoy the company of their own kind.

7. Mystery Snails (Pomacea bridgesii)

Mystery snails are one of the most popular pet snails in aquariums.

©iStock.com/Madhourse

If you do not want to keep other fish with your African dwarf frogs but want an alternative tank mate, then the mystery snail is a good choice. Mystery snails reach an adult size of 2 to 2.5 inches and are generally too big to be eaten by African dwarf frogs.

The mystery snail is often preferred over other types of snails due to their size, ease of care, and color forms. They are peaceful snails that can be kept alone or with other mystery snails. They only live for around 2 years and grow relatively quickly.

Mystery snails are like the jewels of the snail world since they can be found in various colors. Purple, baby blue, pink, olive, gold, and chestnut are some popular color forms that mystery snails can be found in.

A bonus to keeping mystery snails with African dwarf frogs is that the tank does not have to be much larger than it already is to support the number of frogs you are keeping. Mystery snails only require around three to five gallons. You won’t need to worry about mystery snails harming your African dwarf frogs since they are very docile creatures. However, African dwarf frogs might try to eat the eggs that mystery snails lay above the waterline.

8. Cherry Barbs (Puntius titteya)

Cherry Barbus fish swims in an aquarium. (Puntius titteya, Barbus Titteya)

The cherry barb is a small, ruby red fish that is very peaceful.

©Bk87/Shutterstock.com

The colorful and popular cherry barb is adored by aquarists for their striking coloration and peaceful temperaments. Cherry barbs have a distinctive vibrant red color and a length of 2 inches as an adult. You can successfully keep cherry barbs and young African dwarf frogs together if the tank is heavily planted. Cherry barbs are on the timid side and can get stressed if they do not have a safe place to retreat to. They also need to be kept in groups of six or more, since they are shoaling fish.

Cherry barbs are highly active fish when their conditions are ideal, making them a colorful and active tank mate for African dwarf frogs.

9. Platies (Xiphophorus maculatus)

Southern platyfish, Xiphophorus maculatus

Platies are colorful live-bearing fish that do not lay eggs, but rather give live birth.

©R. Maximiliane/Shutterstock.com

Just like mollies and swordtails, platies are live-bearing fish from the Poeciliidae family. They only grow between 2 to 3 inches in length and can be found in a range of colors. Platys are peaceful and social fish that need to be kept in groups of four or more.

When housed with African dwarf frogs, platies make colorful additions to their aquarium while being calm-natured fish. They are not known to be aggressive to other fish or even amphibians like African dwarf frogs. This allows platies to coexist peacefully in the same tank as African dwarf frogs if the tank is over 20 gallons in size.

Platies can be found in impressive colors and patterns, like calico, gold, black, red, blue, orange, and red. If you want to really brighten up your African dwarf frogs’ tank, you can even keep different colored platies together. Platies are also compatible with other African dwarf frog tank mates like mollies, swordtails, and guppies.

10. White Mountain Cloud Minnows (Tanichthys albonubes)

Aquarium fish White Cloud Mountain minnow swimming against soft green plants background. Detailed fish pattern. macro nature concept. soft focus photo.

The white mountain cloud minnow is a small and active shoaling fish.

©Besjunior/Shutterstock.com

The white mountain cloud minnow is a relatively small and peaceful freshwater fish that can be a good tank mate for young African dwarf frogs. They might be small at only 1 to 2 inches in length, but their activity levels and vibrant coloration make them stand out in an aquarium. White mountain cloud minnows have a striking light blue, red, and golden coloration with a distinctive line across their bodies. Some variations have long and prominent fins which make them stand out in African dwarf frog tanks.

White mountain cloud minnows are hardy and adaptable fish that are tolerant of slight changes in water temperature. They do need to be kept in groups of six or more as a social species, but this doesn’t impact their tank size much. A group of six white mountain cloud minnows only requires a minimum tank size of 12 to 20 gallons, similar to African dwarf frogs.

You will need to keep the tank heavily planted. They may need a place to hide away from African dwarf frogs. Due to their small size, it is best to only pair white mountain cloud minnows with young African dwarf frogs.

Summary of the 10 Best Tank Mates to Pair with African Dwarf Frogs

RankTank MatePrecautions and Accommodations
1GuppiesCan be eaten by frogs, need plants for hiding
2Dwarf gouramiNeeds 20-gallon tank, too large to be eaten
3Cardinal tetrasCan be eaten by frogs, need plants for hiding, need schools of at least six
4MolliesToo big to eat, needs 20-gallon tank, needs schools of at least four
5Giant daniosAdults are too large to eat and requires a 30-gallon tank and live plants
6SwordtailsAdults are too large to eat, require dense vegetation, and schools of at least four
7Mystery snailsFrogs won’t eat these snails, only require a 3 – 5 gallon tank
8Cherry barbsCan be eaten by frogs, require dense vegetation and schools of six
9PlatiesProbably won’t be eaten by frogs, require a 20-gallon tank and schools of at least four
10White mountain cloud minnowsCan be eaten by frogs, requires a 12 – 20 gallon tank, and lots of vegetation

The photo featured at the top of this post is © chriscypher/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Sarah is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering aquatic pets, rodents, arachnids, and reptiles. Sarah has over 3 years of experience in writing and researching various animal topics. She is currently working towards furthering her studies in the animal field. A resident of South Africa, Sarah enjoys writing alongside her pets and almost always has her rats perched on her shoulders.

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