Pipa parva / Surinam dwarftoad - Care
Pipa parva is very similar to the well-known Surinamese toad, or Pipa pipa. This is a very interesting frog with a special appearance and exceptional reproduction. But due to the size and space required (certainly to bring it to reproduction), this species is not an option for everyone. For those who this species is not an option but are interested in this genus, the Pipa parva is a very nice alternative.
General appearance: The reason this species is a good alternative to its bigger cousin is its size. Adult Pipa parva females will only grow to 35 to 44mm, while males will reach a length of 28mm to a maximum of 37mm. In all other respects, they are very similar to their larger known cousin. The body is quite square and flattened, but less evident as with the other species within the genus. The body color is brown, the ventral side is lighter in color. The eyes are very small, vision is also very limited. The front legs are held sideways, on this and around the entire body there are very sensitive touch and pressure organs. The animals absorb movement and pressure differences. Everything that comes near their front legs is attacked and pushed to the mouth by means of the laterally placed legs. The tips of the front toes have an asymmetrical flower shape. The head is triangular in shape and has a relatively pointed snout. The sense of smell is very well developed.
Behavior: Pipa are relatively inactive frog. They are mainly hiding between vegetation and between sunken branches and trunks. If a prey comes along here, it will be attacked quickly. The main activity takes place in the evening and at night. In captivity, the animals will also regularly be visible during the day. Especially when feeding and when they swim to the surface to get oxygen. Mutual aggression does not take place as long as there are sufficient possibilities to avoid each other. This makes it possible to keep in groups. Several males also stimulate breeding, but it is certainly wise to maintain a ratio where there are more females as males.
Origin and habitat: This species occurs naturally in the upper North of Venezuela and the North/East of Colombia at sea level up to 300M above.
It is mainly found in shallow waters and streams with a slow current, in swamps and flooded grasslands. There is a clear difference in the water level and water paramiters during the dry or rainy season. The frog adapts fairly well and is now invasive in some parts of Northern South America. In some parts, the species is considered a pest, including tropical fish farms where fish are bred for the aquarium hobby. For this reason, some Pipa end up in the hobby, mainly via Peru.
Husbandry: The housing of this species almost corresponds to that of the Pipa pipa. But because of the size of these animals, a smaller aquarium, both to house and breed the animals, of 80x40x50 is sufficient for a small group of 2.3 Pipa parva. Water depth should be 30cm to 50cm depending on the season.
Pipa parva can possibly be combined with small fish. But we do have to make some sidenotes. They are not aggressive frogs, but keep in mind that the frogs bite at everything that moves around them. Especially if they smell food. It is therefore wise to only use fish that are active on the surface, since the frogs are mainly active close to the bottom. Also note that the fish do not behave aggressively towards the Pipa and preferably are too big to be eaten, although small fish also seem to be left alone by the P. parva. Dwarf cichlids (Appistogramma) are an option but can be territoria, especially if they defend a clutch. A better option are guppies (Poecilia wingei and / or P. reticulata) or small hatched fish (Carnegiella sp.). Hobbyist also had success combining them with small non aggressive tetra’s such as Paracheirodon. Corydoras sp. can possibly be used to stir the soil, please note that these are competition for the Pipa during feeding. Snails are not eaten, so they can be a nice addition to a biotope aquarium and feed on waste and algae, among other things. Remember, if you want to breed with the frogs, the chances of the fish eating the offspring are very high.
Diet: This frog feeds on all kinds of small invertebrates, mainly worms and shrimps. Keep in mind that the frogs are quite small and therefore cannot eat large prey such as mealworms and the like. In captivity this frog feeds very well with thawed food for tropical fish. Think of all kinds of mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, mysis and small shrimps. Pieces of worms are also eaten very well. Feed as much as the animals can eat three times a week or an average serving daily.
Reproduction: The method of reproduction and stimulation is also comparable to the Pipa pipa. Due to its size, this species can already reproduce in shallower water, (40-50cm deep). The cycle from eggs to frogs is different. Where the Pipa pipa eggs fully develop in the back into small frogs before they leave the mother's back. With the Pipa parva, the young leave the mother's back as a tadpole. Then swim freely, hidden between all vegetation, to develop into actual frogs. These tadpoles feed on filtering water as well as catching small invertebrates such as rotifers and cyclops. It is wise to raise the tadpoles in a separate aquarium. This way you can monitor them properly and you will then avoid them being eaten by tankmates like the adult frogs or possible fish.