In some ways, caring for aquatic frogs is much more challenging than maintaining terrestrial or arboreal species. While substrates, temperatures and diet are important considerations for all pet frogs, water quality is an additional -- and challenging -- component of the care of aquatic species. You can keep your frogs' water clean by using a filter; however, with sufficient diligence, it's possible to keep the water clean through periodic water changes.
The Need for Clean
Aquatic frogs breathe air just like their terrestrial cousins do, but their skin is very permeable to water so they must have clean water to avoid illnesses. Different frog species prefer slightly different water chemistry -- research the needs of your species to ensure your pet stays healthy. All species require the water to be free of chlorine, heavy metals, excessive ammonia and other pollutants. The tap water in some areas is safe for use after dechlorination, but the tap water from other areas is too polluted for use -- have your local aquarium store test your water to be sure it's safe. The best solution is to use bottled water, spring water or collected rainwater.
Immediately after placing your pets in their new home, they will start polluting it with their waste and shed skins. While it's important to start with clean water, you must work to maintain a high water quality. You have two basic options for doing so: use a filter to remove pollutants from the water or remove and replace some of the tank’s water with pre-treated water on a regular basis -- a technique called a partial water change.
Partial Water Changes
One way to clean the water in your pets’ cage is by executing partial water changes regularly. First, prepare your replacement water -- treat enough water to fill the tank halfway, and set it aside. Next, remove your pets and place them in a temporary cage or bucket; use water from the tank or damp paper towels to keep them from drying out. Use a bucket to remove about one-third to half of the water in the aquarium, and discard it. Finally, refill the tank with the pre-treated water and return your pets to their home. Repeat this process at least once or twice per week.
Though they are sometimes expensive, filters work better than periodic water changes to keep the water clean. Aquarium filters provide several different types of filtration, including mechanical, biological and chemical. Mechanical filtration removes the particulate matter from the water, while chemical filtration uses carbon to absorb toxic chemicals. Biological filtration uses living bacteria to convert ammonia and other waste products into harmless compounds.
Filters for Frogs
Unless keeping species that inhabit rapidly flowing streams, use low-powered filters with aquatic frogs; the turbulence can be too much for them to handle, causing them to be thrown around the tank. Additionally, it's important to keep your frog from being sucked into the intake -- use a sponge or mesh barrier on the intake to prevent this from happening.
- Exotic Animal Medicine for the Veterinary Technician; Bonnie Ballard and Ryan Cheek
- Doctors Foster and Smith: Species Profile: African Clawed Frogs
- Pipidae.net: African Dwarf Clawed Frog Tank
- In Depth Information on Common Aquatic Clawed Frogs: African Dwarf Frog Housing and Feeding
- Duke University: Partial Water Changes
- Pollywogs World of Frogs: Water Conditioning