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What Is a 40-Gallon Breeder Tank and Why Is It Unusual?

What Is a 40-Gallon Breeder Tank and Why Is It Unusual?

Breeding isn’t reserved for professionals! Even novice aquarists can breed their fish and shrimp. All it takes is understanding a few things – such as what is a 40-gallon breeder tank.

While scrolling for your new tank, you might have noticed one tank standing out. Yes, I’m talking about a 40-gallon breeder tank. 

Sure, this aquarium might look like any other at first glance. However, it has a few features that differentiate it from any other tank – even aquariums of the same water capacity. 

So, what is a 40-gallon breeder tank, and why is it so special? Let’s find out!

What Is a 40-Gallon Breeder Tank?

A 40-gallon breeder tank is a breeder tank of a specific capacity. This one was probably rather obvious just from its name. It is a fairly short tank that you breed your fish in.

While it might sound simple at first, you likely won’t be able to breed many fish species successfully without this single tank. 

Don’t worry – I’ll get more in-depth in a second.

What Is a Breeder Tank?

You cannot fully understand what is a 40-gallon breeder tank without knowing what is a breeder tank on its own. 

A breeder tank is a tank used for breeding aquatic animals – mostly fish, but you can use it to breed shrimp, snails, and other small creatures.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you cannot keep fish in it if you’d like. This is simply a name for a style most aquarists keep with a single purpose, but there is nothing that prevents fish and other animals from living in it.

This is simply a tank with a low profile that helps you access all the fish in it. Such features are especially useful when dealing with small, newly hatched fish that require some special care.

The shape and capacity of a breeder tank might vary. It can be long and narrow or almost entirely squared. It all goes down to your preferences.

However, one of the most commonly used tanks is – you’ve guessed it – a 40-gallon one.

The Difference between a 40-Gallon Breeder Tank and a Regular 40-Gallon Tank

In general, the only difference between a breeder tank and a regular tank of any capacity lies in their height. 

Regular tanks tend to have a higher profile compared to breeder tanks which tend to be on the shorter side.

In other words, a 40-gallon breeder tank will have a larger surface area compared to a regular 40-gallon tank. 

Believe it or not, that is all there is. However, this small difference is all that it takes to make a difference between a successful fish breeding and an unsuccessful one. 

Believe it or not, according to experts from the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University’s George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, about 99% of fish die within just a few days from hatching.

The main reason behind this is starvation and lack of care from parent fish. In other words, tank owners should do all they can to do the fish’s job and make sure baby fish are properly cared for.

If you cannot reach all your fish, there are greater chances of something going wrong. It doesn’t take much for small, sensitive fish to die for various reasons. If you can reach it without any hassle, you might be able to prevent any existing problem from spreading.

This is why tanks with a lower profile tend to be a better choice for breeding than regular tanks.

What Size Is a 40-Gallon Breeder Tank?

As mentioned before, the exact dimensions of a 40-gallon might vary. However, most tanks you can find in stores will follow a specific standard. 

In general, this tank will have a length of 36 inches and a height of 18 inches, with the front-to-back distance being 16 inches

40 gallon breeder tank size

The weight of the tank will depend on the material used for making it. 

For example, a glass tank will weigh around 55 pounds. This is the cheapest option many novice breeders opt for. 

If you’re ready to spend a bit more money but end up with a lightweight option, go for an acrylic tank. An acrylic 40-gallon breeder tank will rarely weigh more than 25 pounds.

If your tank has slightly different dimensions, don’t worry. There is nothing wrong with it, and it isn’t better or worse based on its size alone. These are simply standard measurements that were proven to be the most practical option.

How to Use a 40-Gallon Breeder Tank?

There is no exact way to use a 40-gallon breeder tank. You simply follow the guidelines for breeding the specific fish species. 

Most of the time, the fish inside the tank will require slightly different parameters than normal. This depends on the fish and not on the aquarium itself

However, there is a certain setup that might be more successful than the others.


You should strive to create a breeder tank that looks similar to the main tank but with fewer decorations and items in it. This will help your fish feel at home. 

It goes without saying that a sponge filter is a must for this type of tank. Any other filter type might hurt the small fish.

Next, you’d want to have a proper heater and good lighting. This will help create ideal conditions for all your fish. In fact, good lighting often plays a crucial role in fish reproduction rate and the health of the offspring!

A heater can help you regulate water temperatures and make them high enough for your fish to breed. Just make sure to check the temperature regularly, as sudden changes might harm the inhabitants!

The same goes for checking the pH value of the water. Many breeds require different pH than normal in order to breed. Just remember that you should always be very slow when making any changes.

Add a few plants and a few hiding spots. This will help fish feel more secure. Just don’t go overboard, as it can make it harder to reach the fish afterward. 

Finally, don’t worry too much about the substrate. Most types of substrate will work just fine. Many aquarists even opt not to have substrate inside the breeder tank, as it can be challenging to clean.

What Can You Breed with a 40-Gallon Breeder?

The short answer would be – everything!

From guppies to crystal red shrimp, most tank inhabitants will breed like crazy in this tank – provided that the water parameters are proper.

The only concern is that you shouldn’t overcrowd the tank. If you keep too many fish in it, you might end up doing more harm than good. 

In general, I would keep several fish no longer than 10 inches in a 40-gallon tank. If the fish are smaller or if you plan on breeding shrimp, then you can keep many more animals in it. 

It is up to you to decide whether you’ll keep the eggs and baby fish in this tank or you’ll transition them back to the standard tank after birthing. 

I would advise you to remove adult fish from the main tank after their offspring hatches. Then, wait until baby fish are large enough not to fit into the mouth of adult fish before you reunite them inside the main tank.

Is a 40-Gallon Breeder Tank Good for Shrimp?

shrimps in aquarium

A 40-gallon breeder tank is an excellent choice for your shrimp, especially if you plan on breeding them!

While it is a bit larger than a standard tank you would use for common species, such as a ninja shrimp or a blue velvet shrimp, it’s really easy to ensure perfect water parameters in a bigger tank.

This is especially important during breeding, as your shrimp might be even more picky about water parameters than normally. 

Still, if you plan on only breeding shrimp, my advice is to stick to smaller tanks. They will do just as well, and you’ll save a few bucks. The larger the tank, the pricier it is!

Is a 40-Gallon Breeder Tank Good for Turtles?

Many people who have just found out what is a 40-gallon breeder tank might notice some similarities between this type of tank and a tank used for keeping a turtle. 

While I prefer keeping turtles in tanks with an even lower profile, most people find these tanks excellent for their turtles! They are lower than standard tanks, so you can still build nice setups for your pets.

Is a 40-Gallon Breeder Tank Good for a Hamster?

Believe it or not, 40-gallon breeder aquariums are an excellent choice if you’d like to keep a hamster! Yes, you’ve read that correctly. 

These tanks are just the right size for smaller rodents. They are large enough to fit a hamster wheel while leaving enough space for your beloved pet to roam. 

Also, they are pretty long-lasting and heavy, as they are made to hold large capacities of water. They won’t easily break and even without any water, they won’t be easy to move around by accident.

Sure, you can get cheaper options out there. Even a smaller aquarium might do fine depending on the size of your hamster! However, a tank of this shape and size will surely help your hamster thrive.

40-Gallon Breeder Tank for Sale

Breeder tanks are not considered rare. In fact, they should be just as common as most other standard tanks. Most pet supply stores should have them as a part of their standard offer. 

Of course, you can also buy them online from stores such as Amazon or Chewy. 

Many people love to have their breeder tanks custom-made to fit their own interiors. 

All are equally good options and it is up to you and your preferences which one will do the best for you. 

Just keep in mind that, most of the time, when you buy a breeder tank you will buy the aquarium only. All other equipment should be bought separately. Make sure to double-check this before you spend your money!

Final Word

I am certain that you didn’t know what is a 40-gallon breeder tank when you have just started your aquarist journey. 

While this isn’t something you’d need the moment you start planning out your new aquarium collection, it certainly is something that will help you along the way.

In the end, it is up to you to decide whether this tank is the right choice for you. It all comes down to your choices and possibilities.

Can you breed fish without a breeder tank? Of course, you can! But will you be more successful with a breeder tank than without it? It’s more than likely that you would!

Either way, with proper water parameters, I am certain you’ll do just fine breeding your own fish.

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