Best 40 Gallon Breeder Tank Picks & Stocking Ideas

Anyone who's been into fish keeping for a while may have considered breeding fish at some point. Like any hobby you start out in, you always want to learn more. A 40 gallon breeder is the ideal tank for breeding fish in.

I’ve successfully done the odd bit of fish breeding over the years and I still have my 40-gallon breeder, although it’s now a display tank.

In this post, I’ll be reviewing the 3 best 40 gallon breeder tank options along with details on setting up a 40 gallon breeder, the types of fish you can breed, and which fish you can keep in it if you want to use it as a display tank.

40 Gallon Breeder Tank – Top Picks

After hours of research and weighing up the pros and cons of all the best tanks available, here are my top picks:

What Is A 40 Gallon Breeder Tank?

A 40-gallon breeder tank is a slightly different size than a normal aquarium, it’s generally longer and not as tall. As the name suggests it is designed for breeding fish. 

A breeder tank generally isn’t put on display and doesn’t get jazzed up like a display tank so they only need the bare essentials put in them.

Of course, nothing is stopping you from using a 40-gallon breeder as a display tank if you like, and this post covers both scenarios.

Glass vs Acrylic

40-gallon breeders are available in either glass or acrylic, to decide which is the best option for you I’ll go through some pros and cons of each.

Aesthetics – I prefer the look of a glass aquarium, acrylic aquariums can tend to look a bit cheap unless you buy a decent quality one.

Clarity / Distortion – If you like taking photos of your fish, acrylic is the best option as it doesn’t distort the photos like glass can. Many glass tanks have a green tint to them due to the iron content in the glass.

Durability – An acrylic tank will scratch much easier than glass, if you’re one of those people who will be driven nuts by a scratch on your tank (me!!), glass is the best option.

Insulation – Acrylic tanks hold heat much better than glass, so you will use less power to heat the tank water.

Price – Where glass tanks have a clear advantage over acrylic is the price point. Acrylic aquariums tend to be more expensive in comparison unless you’re looking at buying one of the newer low-iron rimless glass tanks.

Weight – A glass 40-gallon breeder will weigh around 55lbs when empty, whereas an acrylic tank will weigh in at about 20-25 lbs, making acrylic over 50% lighter, so it will be much easier to move around.

What Are The Dimensions Of A 40 Gallon Breeder Tank?

The typical dimensions of a 40 gallon breeder tank are:

  • Length: 36″
  • Width: 18″
  • Height: 16″

There are of course some slight differences from manufacturer to manufacturer.

40 Gallon Tank vs 40 Gallon Breeder Tank

40-gallon fish tanks come in 3 configurations:

Best 40 Gallon Breeder Tank Size Comparison
40 Gallon Aquarium Size Comparison

The idea of the extra width of a 40-gallon breeder is to give you better access to your fish and their fry.

Best 40 Gallon Breeder Tank Reviews

There aren’t many choices of a 40-gallon breeder online, but here are my top picks reviewed.

1. Aqueon Standard Glass Aquarium Tank 40 Gallon Breeder

Best 40 Gallon Breeder Tank
Aqueon Standard 40 Gallon Breeder
  • Gallons: 40
  • Dimensions: Length 36.19″ x Width 18.25″ x Height 16.94″
  • Weight (Empty): 58 lbs
  • Material: Glass

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Well made
  • Braced for extra strength
  • Suitable for freshwater or saltwater
  • Glass lid and stand available
  • 5 year warranty

Cons:

  • Potential silicone issues

The Aqueon 40 gallon breeder offers great value for money and comes with a 5 year warranty so you know Aqueon stand behind the quality of their product.

It’s made from high-quality glass with silicone edges to prevent leaking and the black bracing around the tank edges offers the tank extra strength.

The Aqueon 40 gallon breeder dimensions are: L 36.19″ x W 18.25″ x H 16.94″. This tank is also available in 60 gallons if you want something bigger.

Supplied as tank only so you’ll need to source lights, filter, heater, etc separately.

There are some reports of issues with the tanks’ silicone, so be sure to do a thorough inspection before adding water.

If you would like a 40 gallon breeder lid to prevent your fish from escaping from the aquarium and reduce water evaporation, the Aqueon Versa Top 36″ X 18″ Hinged Glass Aquarium Top is designed to fit this tank.

A suitable sturdy stand for this aquarium that has great reviews, is the Imagitarium Brooklyn metal tank stand. Available to buy at Petco or Amazon.




2. SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set

SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo
  • Gallons: 40
  • Dimensions: Length 36″ x Width 15″ x Height 16″
  • Weight (Empty): 20 lbs
  • Material: Acrylic

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Clearer than glass aquariums
  • Light fixture and reflector included
  • Stable water temperatures
  • Seamless corners
  • Suitable for freshwater or saltwater

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Light bulb not included
  • Poorly designed lid
  • Difficult to clean

The SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo is the best acrylic 40 gallon I have found, but it has a couple of minor faults.

It is much lighter than a glass tank at only 20 lbs and it’s hard to put in words just how much clearer it is to see through.

Being acrylic it offers much better water temperature stability, and because it’s a single molded piece there are no ugly joins in the tank corners.

Now for the not so good…

You get a light fixture with this combo kit, but you don’t get the bulb included. You’d think for the price of this tank they could manage to include a bulb!

The lid design could be better. It’s there to add extra support to the tank rim, but the access holes make it awkward to clean the inside of the tank.

When you remove the lid for cleaning, the tank rim bows outwards and it’s quite tricky to get it back on again, not a huge issue, but something you need to be aware of.

You could buy a hinged mesh screen cover to replace the lid with, but you shouldn’t have to be addressing faults like this, all in all, it’s a good tank if you are set on choosing acrylic over a glass tank and you can live with a couple of niggles.




3. LANDEN Rimless 44 Gallon Low Iron Aquarium Tank

LANDEN Rimless 44 Gallon Low Iron Aquarium
  • Gallons: 44
  • Dimensions: Length 35.4″ x Width 17.7″ x Height 17.7″
  • Weight (Empty): 85.8 lbs
  • Material: Glass

Pros:

  • Rimless
  • Extremely well made
  • Well packaged for shipping
  • Made 3/8″ thick heavy-duty crystal clear glass
  • Foam leveling mat included

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Expensive

The Landen Rimless 44 gallon low iron aquarium certainly isn’t the cheapest of fish tanks, but you get what you pay for. While it’s not a true 40 gallon tank, it’s the nearest you’ll get to a rimless 40 gallon breeder tank.

The build quality is second to none with nice neat siliconing in the corners. The 3/8″ thick low iron glass allows more natural light to pass through and reduces the greenish tint found in other glass aquariums giving you a much clearer view of your fish.

The included foam leveling mat may not line up fully with the tank when it arrives, but when you fill the tank with water the weight makes the mat stretch outwards to the tank edges.

Again this is a tank-only setup, the only extra you get is the leveling mat. You’ll have to buy your filter, heater, lights, and lid separately.

The addition of a hinged mesh screen cover stops your fish from escaping from the tank.

Lights wise the NICREW Classic LED Gen 2 Aquarium Light would fit nicely.

The Landen logo on the bottom right corner of the tank is only a sticker that can be easily removed if you like.

Check out some of the reviews on Amazon and see for yourself just how well packaged for shipping this tank is. I have a couple of Landen tanks and they are of excellent build quality and look great.




 Equipment For A 40 Gallon Breeder Tank

You must have the right equipment in your 40-gallon breeder tank as fry and young fish are very sensitive to environmental changes, even more so than adult fish.

If you’re considering getting into fish breeding I advise not skimping on equipment if you want to give your fry the very best chance of survival.

Some essential equipment you will need in addition to a tank is:

  • Filter
  • Heater
  • Lights
  • Lid
  • Tank divider or breeding box

Best Filter For 40 Gallon Breeder Tank

Fish tank filtration is vital to any aquarium. It not only removes harmful toxins from the water and maintains a balanced nitrogen cycle, but it also creates water flow through the aquarium which keeps the water oxygenated.

Canister filters and HOB filters work best for a 40-gallon breeder tank in my experience. You could also add a sponge filter as they’re very good for colonizing beneficial bacteria to help remove harmful toxins from the water.

Make sure you get a filter with an adjustable flow rate so you don’t create too much current through the tank or the fry could get swept up in it.

Please note: I highly recommend you fit the filter intake with a pre-filter sponge as an extra precaution to stop your fry from being sucked in.

The best canister filter for 40 gallon breeder tank is the Fluval 207 fitted with the Fluval Edge Pre-Filter Sponge.

The best HOB filter for a 40 gallon breeder is the Fluval C3 Power Filter, also fitted with the Fluval Edge Pre-Filter Sponge.

Best Heater For 40 Gallon Breeder Tank

Fluval E200

Different species of fish require different water temperatures for breeding. A high-quality adjustable water heater is one of the must-have items when breeding fish.

When it comes to heaters I swear by Fluval. I’ve used them for years and have always found them to be ultra-reliable and accurate.

I recommend the Fluval E200 Advanced Electronic Heater for a 40 gallon breeder tank.

Best Lights For 40 Gallon Breeder Tank

NICREW Classic LED Aquarium Lights

Again, different species of fish have different lighting requirements.

The NICREW Classic LED Gen 2 Aquarium Light has fully adjustable mounting brackets that will fit both rimmed and rimless aquariums. Its light level is adjustable from 5%-100%, it has day and moonlight modes, and 3 timer durations.

Whatever fish you keep you’ll be able to provide the correct lighting requirements with this aquarium light.

Lid For 40 Gallon Breeder Tank

Many fish will leap out of the water if they become stressed.

Fitting a lid or a screen top to your tank will keep your fish contained within the tank and safe, it will also help to reduce water evaporation.

Where possible I have included a suitable lid within the tank review sections above.

Tank Divider

Some species of fish can become aggressive towards each other when they breed.

A tank divider allows both the male and female to know each other are there so they can prepare to breed while keeping them separated so you have peace of mind that they’re not going to fight and injure each other.

You can leave a small gap across the bottom of the tank divider which will allow the female to spawn her eggs and the male to fertilize them without them having to come into contact with each other.

An ideal product to use with this breeding method is the Penn-Plax Fish Breeding Grass. Once they’ve spawned you can return the parents to their regular tanks and wait for the eggs to hatch.

Breeding Box

Capetsma Fish Breeding Box

This is optional and is best suited to fish that are egg layers, or livebearers such as guppies, mollies, swordtails, and plays.

Many fish eat their eggs and young so you need to provide them somewhere safe for them to hatch and grow.

The capetsma Fish Breeding Box is great for this.

For egg-laying fish, you can keep the male and female separated in the top half until they’re ready to breed. The fertilized eggs will fall through to the bottom half of the box where they can stay until they hatch, keeping them safe from being eaten.

Once the eggs hatch the fry can swim through slots in the side of the box and access the main tank.

For livebearers, place the female inside the upper level of the breeding container when she is about to give birth to her young.

The fry can then swim through the slots in the sides to access the main tank which keeps them safe from Mom making a snack out of them!

What Fish Can I Breed In A 40 Gallon Tank?

There are many types of fish you can breed in a 40-gallon aquarium.

Some of the easiest freshwater fish to breed include:

Betta Fish (Top Left), Snakeskin Guppy (Top Right), Glowlight Danio (Middle Left), Three Stripe Corydoras (Middle Right), Platy (Bottom Left), Mbuna Cichlid (Bottom Right)
  • Bettas
  • Cichlids
  • Corydoras catfish
  • Danios
  • Guppies
  • Mollies
  • Platys

Some of the best saltwater fish to breed include:

Banggai Cardinal (Top Left), Pajama Cardinal (Top Right), Orchid Dottyback (Bottom Left), Clownfish (Bottom Right)
  • Cardinalfish
  • Clownfish
  • Dottybacks
  • Neon gobies

You can also breed shrimp if you want to try something a little different, cherry shrimp are the easiest to breed for beginners.

40 Gallon Breeder Tank Setup

Setting up a breeder tank is different from setting up a standard fish tank, depending on the type of fish you’re wanting to breed and their method of spawning.

Bubble Nesters

Some fish, such as bettas and gouramis are bubble nesters. The male sucks in air at the water’s surface and then blows it out slowly to create air bubbles beneath a floating plant or large leaf.

Once they spawn, one or even both of the parents will place the eggs inside a bubble until they hatch. With bettas, it tends to be the male who does this.

If you’re interested in breeding bettas, check out my betta fish care guide, where I have gone into much more detail on breeding them.

Livebearers

Livebearers such as guppies are so easy to breed that you may as well say it’s difficult to stop them from breeding!

Livebearers may eat their fry so many of them never get to grow up and become adults.

You could use the breeding box I mentioned previously, or provide them with lots of plants and caves so the fry has places to hide in until they’re too big to be eaten.

I have an in-depth section on breeding guppies in my guppy fish care guide.

Egg Layers

Egg layers have many varying requirements. Some need plants, some need rocks, and others need a sand or gravel substrate.

Be sure to check what requirements the particular species of fish you are breeding prefer and provide that for them, to have the best chance of success.

Decorations

Not an essential part of a breeder tank, but decorations with holes in them provide hiding places where the fry can hang out and feel safe until they’re too big to be eaten by other fish in the tank.

Plants

Plants are important in a breeding tank. They provide places for fertilized eggs to nestle, places for fry to hide, boost the tank’s filtration by removing harmful toxins, and help with keeping the water oxygenated through photosynthesis.

Substrate

Unless you have egg-laying fish that bury their eggs, you don’t need a substrate on the tank bottom. Not having a substrate is one thing less that you have to keep clean and tidy.

If you have fish that will eat their own eggs you could place a fine mesh over the bottom of the tank. The fertilized eggs can fall through the mesh and be kept out of harm’s way.

Water Parameters

The water pH level is the same for both adults and fry, so be sure to check out the requirements for the species of fish you are breeding.

Most fish prefer slightly higher temperatures than normal for breeding. Again, be sure to check out what your particular species require.

Keeping the water temperature and pH level consistent is essential.

Fish can become stressed by sudden fluctuations which can lead to ich, swim bladder disease, and many other stress-related illnesses.

Water Changes

Water changes are even more important with fry than adult fish due to them being far less resilient to ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates.

I recommend performing a 25% water change and vacuuming the tank bottom daily.

Food

When it comes to feeding fry, live food such as Ultra Fresh – New Born Fish Micron Shrimp Patties in small quantities several times per day is much better than feeding a large amount once per day.

Not only will the fry have less chance of overeating, but it helps with keeping the water clean as it reduces the amount of leftover food that you then have to remove from the water.

What Fish Can I Put In A 40 Gallon Breeder Tank?

Single Fish Stocking Ideas – Red Cap Oranda Goldfish (Top Left), Blue Jack Dempsey (Top Right), Super Red Dragon Flowerhorn (Bottom)

You don’t have to use a 40-gallon breeder for breeding, they make great display tanks too. When it comes to 40 gallon breeder stocking ideas there are a lot of options.

Best Fish For A 40 Gallon Breeder Tank

For a single fish aquarium you could consider:

  • 1 Flowerhorn cichlid (tank size may need upgrading later)
  • 1 Jack Dempsey (again, you may need to upgrade the tank size in the future)
  • 1 Oranda goldfish

For a 40 gallon single species only tank you could choose:

  • 2 Electric blue acaras
  • 2 Firemouth cichlids
  • 10-12 Mbuna African cichlids
  • 10-12 Tiger barbs

Some stocking ideas for a 40 gallon community tank are:

Option 1:

  • 1 Pearl gourami
  • 3-4 Florida flagfish (1 male per 2-3 females)
  • 8 Silver or marbled hatchetfish
  • 6 Panda corydoras
  • 2 Bristlenose plecos

Option 2:

  • 2-4 German blue rams
  • 4-6 Peacock gudgeons
  • 6-12 Tetras (6 if larger species, 12 if smaller species)
  • 6 Julii corydoras
  • 2 Bristlenose plecos

Option 3:

  • 1 Angelfish
  • 4-6 Swordtails (1 male per 2-3 females)
  • 8 Harlequin rasbora
  • 4-6 Yoyo Loach
  • 2 Bristlenose plecos

There are so many combinations to choose from, the list is endless, just make sure the fish you choose are suitable for a community tank setup.

Check out my best freshwater fish article for more ideas and inspiration.

Final Thoughts On The Best 40 Gallon Breeder Tank…

As you can see, there isn’t much choice when it comes to picking the best 40-gallon breeder tank, but that’s not a bad thing…I find if I’ve got too many choices it takes me forever to choose!

I own a couple of Landen rimless tanks, the build quality is excellent and they look amazing, so I can vouch for them.

If you’re still undecided, here’s a quick recap of my top picks:

Check out the equipment section for more in-depth reviews and guides like this, and the aquarium health section for guides on keeping your aquarium in tip-top shape.