African Dwarf Frog Swollen (possibly Dropsy) Help

Discussion in 'Amphibians' started by Heatherlrex, May 24, 2018.

  1. Heatherlrex

    HeatherlrexNew MemberMember


    I am new here so please forgive my ignorance. My husband has an African dwarf frog that he received 5 years ago for his birthday. To be completely honest, we really didn't fuss over him much over the last 5 years as we are not really fish people and the gift was a completely unexpected surprise. He was in one of those self-sustaining 5x5 plastic tanks when we got him and we just kinda let that roll. About a year ago I felt bad and ordered him one that was slightly larger and did a tank change with no issues. About a week ago, I figured he was sticking around so I went to petsmart and got a 2.5 gallon tank that had a filter (his tank would get pretty dirty before we would get around to doing a water change), some plants, and a heater as he had just been in colder/room temp water for the last 5 years. Again, we really didn't know what we were doing and only went with what we were told when he was given the frog for his birthday. When I swapped him into the new tank he hung out by the filter a lot and I just chalked it up to him liking the vibration. About a day into it, the water started getting a little cloudy which I thought was weird because I used bottled spring water in the tank and he now had a filter. About 3 days into it he started to swell which then caused much concern. I went back to the pet store because I remember them telling me when I was purchasing the tank that they do free water testing. I was informed that everything was good but the ammonia was really high and was given some bacteria drops to put into the tank. Two days after that (yesterday) he still really swollen and now I am really concerned. So I took more water back to the store and they said the same thing about the ammonia, was told the same info which upset me because I already did everything they told me. I asked how quickly this should change and his response was "pretty quickly" but then I asked him to please define pretty quickly and he said "a couple of weeks". I don't think my guy has a couple weeks. Something told me to keep his old tank so yesterday I put him back in his old tank (tested the water and all is normal) but he still really swollen. He's active so I don't think its dropsy but I have seen a few threads where people have talked about aspirating the fluid out of their frog or beta before and didn't know if that should be something that I look into to help this little guy out. I get that my ignorance is the reason that he's in this situation but from what I have read, having him this swollen is painful and hard on his organs. When we got him, he was just an annoying birthday gift that we didn't ask for but now he's become a part of our family so we want to help him as much as we can. So I guess my question is, do you think the swelling will go down now that he's in an appropriate environment, is there anything that I can do about ammonia poisoning or should I look into possibly aspirating the fluid to have him go back to his happy normal life? (the photo I have attached was his last day in the new tank before I moved him. Looks like the swelling has gone down a TINY bit but he's still really big)

    This was him 3 days after the new tank.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2018
  2. Western

    WesternValued MemberMember

    Well 5 years it has reached the average life span which is good.they can live alot longer but he/shes done well...unfortunately frog dropsy is hard to treat at home the only other reason i can think of that would cause bloating is ingesting foreign objects such as gravel so on.but really with amphibians it is an exotic/aquatic vet being his only hope as they can scan for foreign objects or in the case of dropsy they can take some of the fluid out reliving the frogs pain.:(.
  3. Western

    WesternValued MemberMember

    The ammonia and not going through the nitrogen cycle can definatley be the cause of the issue it may also be a bacterial infection due to the really frustrates me when i hear of pet store workers giving mis infomation i fell in to a simular trap with my first tank bottom line never listen to them and do your own research selling you bacterial drops may help if it is an infection youve done the right thing by putting him/her back in the old tank if you still had the water in,as the cycling process would have probably killed the poor critter.
    Last edited: May 24, 2018
  4. Western

    WesternValued MemberMember

    This has some good infomation on bloating and ther are some good you tube videos on trying to treat at home but like i said i think an exotic vet would be his/her only hope.
  5. maggie thecat

    maggie thecatWell Known MemberMember

    It was really not good to read "every thing was great with the water quality, except the ammonia was really high."

    Frogs are sensitive to poor water quality . Especially ammonia. Please read up on the nitrogen cycle to understand why the fish store sold you bacteria drops.

    Very clean water is necessary. Daily partial water changes, using a water conditioner like Prime to bind the ammonia and make it less lethal to the frog is necessary .

    Dropsy is a symptom of other problems. If the poor water quality has kicked off an infection, you may have some luck treating with a frog safe antibiotic, like tetracycline.
  6. midna

    midnaWell Known MemberMember

    i am so sorry about your froggy. :( i had mine for 5+ years too, raised him in very similar conditions, and only tried upgrading the last 6 months of his life. he was unfortunately introduced to a bacterial infection from a new frog i had gotten and bloated up; the bloating is identical to yours.

    your frog was used to the poor conditions you kept him in; quickly putting him in a brand new tank without cycling it first was probably a shock. this is what i did to my frog and he was fine, but yours just might not have been able to handle the sudden ammonia spikes. or there was something in the tank that caused a sudden change in water quality. the bloating was probably a side effect from ammonia and stress.

    try doing large (50%-100%) water changes every day while he's in the smaller tank. partial water changes might suffice, because he probably won't create a lot of waste. in the meanwhile, start cycling the big tank. there are a lot of resources on this site detailing the nitrogen cycle. get some medication to treat him, like tetracycline. api general cure or fin and body cure might work too.

    to be brutally honest, even by doing all this stuff, i think your little guy might be too far gone to save. :( but you can definitely try. it's super hard and stressful, i know. and he could bounce back! but it isn't likely. as someone said, 5 years is the average lifespan for adfs (i feel like it's much lower with the frogs you buy nowadays). when my frog was at this point, i was about to treat him, but he had already passed on.

    i wouldn't try to aspirate him unless you know what you're doing. i was so ready to do it to one of my other bloated frogs but she got too bad and i euthanized her.

    now i'm planning on doing better and restarting with new frogs! this time getting everything properly set up first: big tank, cycled, etc. the good thing is that you could do this too if you want, or just relax since if it seems like too big of a responsibility.

    best of luck!

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