My Frogs Are In The Family Way!

My frogs are going to be parents!

The day before yesterday I noticed that Torpedo looked like she had some translucent eggs coming out of, for lack of a better word, her bum1! From what I’d read about frog mating, the male latches onto the female and she does somersaults, releasing eggs, which the male then fertilizes. I thought that perhaps we didn’t have any males because the eggs were coming out of her without any mating activity, but I still made sure to keep an eye on the tank and, lo and behold, last night I found 2 fertilized frog eggs2 floating on the surface!

I’d read that, left to their own devices, frogs will eat their own eggs or, if the eggs go unnoticed, they will definitely eat the tadpoles because they are attracted by the movement. So we scooped up the two eggs and put them into a bowl of water that we keep next to the tank, at the ready for topping up the tank3.

This is what an African dwarf frog egg looks like in high def:


The brown circle is the egg. The two little circles beside it are bubbles and I think that’s just a hair underneath it. Because frogs eggs don’t actually look like a frowny face with a giant nose.

Apparently the survival rate of the tadpoles is quite low – even if you have perfect water conditions – so I was disappointed that we only had 2 eggs. So imagine my surprise when I came home from work today and there were 40 more eggs!

They are very tiny, so it’s hard to get a good photo of them, but here’s a few floating on the surface of the bowl of water that we are affectionately calling “The Nursery”:


And here’s a top view of The Nursery:


Can you believe something that tiny develops into a whole frog?! Isn’t Biology awesome?!

I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much, as I know that it’s very hard to get the eggs to hatch and then to get the tadpoles to survive to become froglets and then to get the froglets to survive to adult size so that they can go back in the tank with our other froggies. But ohmygod I want baby froglets!

Here’s one of the frogs looking at the bowl of water The Nursery from inside his tank:


I think he’s the dad, but he’s demanding a DNA test before he’s willing to pay any froglet support.

  1. OK, technically the word is her “cloaca”, but I figured you wouldn’t know what that was. Well, except for Erika & Linda, who would totally know what that is because they are zoologists. So I suppose I should say “for lack of a better word that anyone other than Erika or Linda would know). []
  2. You can tell it’s fertilized because it’s brown instead of translucent. []
  3. Water seems to evaporate quite quickly from the tank, so we have to top it up every few days. We prep the water by putting this dechlorination stuff into it, so we always keep a bowl of it handy. []

Comments |5|

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  • Congratulations! It is super cool watching tadpoles turn from overgrown sperm into things with legs.

    Every year when we were kids, my sister and I would collect frogspawn and water from a local stream and attempt to raise them to adult froghood. We got a bucket full of spawn every year, from which we successfully hatched maybe a couple of dozen tadpoles, and got one (yes, just one) frog EVER. We named it Sarah, and it lived in our garage and garden, eating worms and occasionally terrifying my Dad’s friend, who was phobic. Sarah left us after a few weeks and was never seen again. I always felt horribly guilty about the number of eggs and tadpoles that died under our “care” (note: water straight from the tap is Not Good for tadpoles), but hey, apparently it really just is that difficult… the ones we had in the classroom tank at school didn’t do much better than our own, either! 😉


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  • 100 Internet points for Cath!

    We prepped the tap water with some dechlorination stuff that we use to prep the water for the big frog’s tank. No idea what else we should be doing (e.g., pH-wise, temperature-wise, etc.). Google has failed me on the definitive source on “how to raise African dwarf from tadpoles” front. I think I may have to resort to buying a book!


  • Careful with the decholor stuff, it affects the water chemistry which can be bad for the eggs. A better option is to get a big bucket and then just let the water sit out for a week or so (half life of chloramine is pretty long). Even better, you could also get a nursery* basket for your tank and then leave the eggs in the main tank…since your water chemistry is obviously good (evidenced by mating behavior) this is the best option if your tank has space for it. Also, the O2 in the bowl won’t be consistent/high without any aeration which if I recall your main tank has.

    Or you can just aerate the bowl and put a lid on it to slow down the evaporation (the evaporation will also affect the water chemistry as the decholr byproducts will be concentrated etc. )

    Other notes on dechlorination: not all dechlor products work on chloramine and those that do usually produce a bit of ammonia as a result (which is toxic to fish – the tiny amount is not lethal to fish but eggs are more sensitive)

    *A nursery basket (sometimes called a breeding or separation basket) is essentially just a mesh cube/box with an open top that you stick to the side of your regular tank.


  • Thanks for that advice! These eggs have not hatched, so I’m pretty sure that we did something wrong (lack of aeration probably had something to do with it). I think I’ll look at getting a nursery basket for the next time!


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