Fish

40-Gallon Breeder Tank: Our Top Four Choices

If you’ve been keeping fish for a while, you might fancy raising your own livestock and getting into the fish breeding hobby. In that case, you’ll need a special spawning tank. A 40-gallon breeder tank is a popular choice for those who are into breeding fish.

In this article, we take a look at five of the best 40-gallon breeder tanks on the market today, and we provide you with plenty of valuable information that you’ll need to know if you plan to raise your own fish.

First of all, let’s find out a little more about the purpose and profile of a breeder tank.

What is a breeder tank?

A breeder tank is different than a regular aquarium in that it doesn’t have the fancy bells and whistles that many display setups have. Essentially, a breeder tank is functional rather than decorative. In general, breeder tanks are long and narrow and fairly shallow to allow the breeder plenty of access to the fish.

We’ll talk more about how to set up a breeder tank later in this article. That’s important, as the setup of a spawning tank is different from that of a regular display tank and can make or break the success of your fish breeding experiments.

Breeder tank size

Although you can get away with using a smaller size tank for fish breeding, a 40-gallon aquarium is an optimum size for a spawning tank. Many fish species are highly territorial when in spawning mode, and so, the more space you can provide them with, the better it will be for the safety of both the parents and their offspring.

So, the dimensions of a 40-gallon breeder tank are generally around 36 inches long,18 inches high, and 16 inches deep. The weight of a glass tank of that size when empty is around 55 pounds. Acrylic tanks are also suitable for use as breeder tanks but weigh around half that of a glass aquarium at around 20 to 25 pounds. The main drawback of acrylic tanks is that they tend to be more expensive than glass ones.

In general, breeder tanks are not as tall as regular ones. The idea being that access to the fish is easier for the keeper.

Best 40-gallon breeder tanks

In this part of our guide, we provide you with reviews of four of the best 40-gallon breeder tanks that are currently on the market.

1. Aqueon 40-Gallon Breeder Tank

Aqueon makes good quality fish tanks in many styles and different sizes, and their 40-gallon breeder tank is no exception.

This tank is made from high-quality, durable glass and has smoothly-finished silicone edges that are designed to prevent leaks. This breeder tank comes with oak or black trim, although if you intend to keep your spawning tank in a backroom and it won’t be a focal point in your home, the finish is probably unimportant. The tank has a brace across the center to

The aquarium measures 36 x 18 x 16 inches.

What we like:

  • Height allows easy access to the tank
  • Tank depth allows for water level adjustment to suit fishes’ spawning requirements
  • Tank-only package enables you to customize the setup
  • Choice of trim

Room for improvement:

  • Quite costly for a standalone tank
  • Finding a hood that fits is difficult

2. SeaClear 40-Gallon Breeder Tank

Sale SeaClear 40 gal Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set, 36 by 15 by 16″, Clear

  • Combo includes aquarium, reflector and electrical 24″ light fixture
  • Acrylic aquariums are clearer than glass, 17 times stronger, and only half the weight!
  • More impact resistant and less prone to chipping or cracking than glass, making it safer around children and pets

If you want to save money on a breeder tank, you might want to consider buying the SeaClear 40-Gallon Breeder Tank, which comes complete with a reflector and an electrical lighting fixture. You also get a lifetime warranty with the aquarium, which is great for peace of mind.

The SeaClear is an acrylic tank. That makes this tank stronger and clearer than most regular glass aquariums, although it is slightly more expensive. However, if you need to constantly check and monitor your breeder tank, a robust tank is extremely important. The aquarium has seamless corners, which makes it easier to view tiny fry that might otherwise be invisible. Also, you can choose from three different background colors for improved observation of your livestock, depending on the color of the fry and eggs.

You can use this aquarium for freshwater and saltwater fish breeding.

This breeder aquarium measures 36 x 15 x 16 inches.

What we like:

  • Acrylic is stronger, lighter and more impact-resistant than glass.
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Tank comes with three different choices of background

Room for improvement:

  • Cleaning the tank is tricky because of the design
  • Acrylic can scratch more easily than glass

3. Perfecto Manufacturing APF10040 40-Gallon PF Breeder Aquarium

The Perfecto Manufacturing 40-Gallon tank is designed for use as a breeder aquarium.

This aquarium features distortion-free, high-quality glass that gives you a crystal clear view of your fishes, eggs, and fry. The tank has a central brace and is designed to last with a silicone-sealed, black-trimmed frame that’s built to prevent capillary action and resist leaks. You can use the tank for both freshwater and saltwater livestock and with canister or HOB filter systems.

This breeder aquarium measures 36 x 15 x 16 inches.

What we like:

  • Basic, well-made glass tank
  • Smart black frame and central brace for stability

Room for improvement:

  • Expensive for a no-frills breeder tank

4. SeaClear System II Acrylic Aquarium

SeaClear 40 gal System II Acrylic Aquarium, 36 by 15 by 16″, Black

  • SeaClear System ll Acrylic Aquarium offers a true wet/dry biological filtration system built into the back of the aquarium
  • Filter includes chambers that accommodate biological, mechanical and chemical filter media as well as space for a heater and the optional System II Protein Skimmer (sold separately)
  • Full Hood with 24″ fluorescent fixture (light bulb not included); Efficient and economical to run

If you want a little more bang for your buck, SeaClear gives you this recently upgraded version of their acrylic aquarium that’s ideal for use as a breeder tank.

As well as the super-clear, excellent quality aquarium, you get a wet-dry filtration system that’s integrated into the tank design and is neatly housed in the back of the tank. This three-stage filter system houses mechanical, biological, and chemical filter media, and there’s also plenty of space for a protein skimmer and a heater.

The aquarium has a full hood that includes a 24-inch fluorescent light fixture, although you will need to buy a bulb to go with it. The filtration system is very quiet and provides efficient circulation without a very strong flow that would disturb fry. There’s also a skimmer gate that removes the risk of small fishes and fries being sucked into the filter.

The tank is the standard breeding setup rectangular shape and measures 36 x 15 x 16 inches.

What we like:

  • Strong acrylic construction
  • Choice of solid color back panel
  • Fry-friendly filter system included

Room for improvement:

  • Doesn’t include a heater or light bulb 

40-gallon breeder tank equipment

Fry and juvenile fish can be much affected by sudden changes in their environment, so choosing the right equipment to go with your breeder tank is extremely important. Here’s a selection of what you’ll need, together with links to some helpful and informative articles where you can find out more.

Filter system

Every fish tank needs an efficient filtration system to keep the water clean and free from harmful chemicals, including ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Also, a good mechanical filtration system is crucial as it helps to keep the water well-oxygenated, which is important for the healthy growth and development of fry.

On the subject of flow, a filter with an adjustable flow rate is essential for a breeder tank, as water circulation can be highly influential when it comes to the spawning preferences of certain species.

When choosing your filter, it’s usually sensible to opt for an external canister or HOB filter system so that there’s no risk of the fry getting sucked into the mechanism. However, if you prefer, you can use a simple sponge filter that provides the same protection for fry while being easier to access and maintain.

Heater

The water temperature is also extremely important in a breeder tank. Most fish species require slightly warmer water than their usual preference to trigger spawning. That’s because the water in the natural environment is slightly warmer in the spring and early summer when most fish start to breed, and you’ll need to replicate that in the home breeder tank.

So, when choosing a heater for your breeder tank, always select a model that’s adjustable, rather than preset.

Lighting unit

Again, different fish species have different requirements when it comes to the lighting during spawning. It can be helpful to choose a lighting unit that can be set to provide daylight and moonlight to suit the fish species’ preference. For example, many species spawn early in the morning, so if you buy a lighting unit with a timer and effects setting, you can program the lights to fade-up like a sunrise, triggering the fish to start spawning.

Remember that you can diffuse light by using floating plants that can also provide important hiding places for vulnerable fry.

Tank divider

Some fish species can become aggressive toward each other immediately before and or after spawning. To protect your fish, you might need to install a tank divider. A divider allows the fish to see each other and prepare for spawning without having any contact until the time is right, and both parties are ready.

You can also set the divider so that there’s a space underneath it adjacent to a flat rock or spawning mop. The female fish lays her eggs on the prepared surface on her side of the divider, while the male fish fertilizes the eggs underneath the divider from his side of the barrier. You can then return the fish to your main display tank without injury.

Setting up a breeder aquarium

Setting up a breeder tank is a little different from setting up a regular fish tank, depending on the species of fish you want to breed and its spawning habits.

Bubble nesters

Some fish, including bettas and gouramis, are bubble nesters. The male fish create large accumulations of bubbles, usually in a corner of the tank, underneath an overhang, or around floating plants. The female fish lays her eggs underneath the bubble nest, and both parents transfer the eggs to the nest.

So, if you’re breeding bettas, you’ll need to provide floating plants and caves that the male can choose as a nesting site.

Livebearers

Livebearers, such as Guppies, Swordtails, Platys, and Mollies are ridiculously easy to breed and generally just get on with the job without any intervention from you. Unfortunately, many of the fries will be eaten by the parents and other tank occupants, so you should provide plenty of lush planting where the fry can hide until they grow large enough to be safe from predation.

Egg layers

Egg layers are more challenging to breed. Some species need a sandy substrate in which to bury their eggs, while others need flat rocks, spawning mops, or bunches of live plants that the eggs can stick to.

You should allow lots of swimming space, as well as plenty of live plants, and space for around 200 eggs to be laid.

Tank lid

It’s essential that you have a lid or hood for your tank, as many fish become pretty frantic when breeding, and it’s not unheard of for fishes to leap right out of the aquarium. Also, for that reason, be sure that you don’t overfill your tank.

Decorations

Although you won’t need to worry too much about the aesthetic appeal of your breeding tank, providing decorations such as terracotta pots and rockwork can provide useful hiding places for fish and fry.

It’s best to avoid putting an airstone in your breeder tank. Although an airstone undoubtedly helps to oxygenate the water, the bubbles can create a lot of turbulence that can be disruptive for eggs and fry and may even prevent the fish from spawning.

Plants

Plants are very important for the breeder tank. Many fish species use plants as spawning sites, plants provide a platform for the growth of microbes that may later be a food source for fry, and plants make useful sheltering places for shy fish and vulnerable fry.

Substrate

Unless the fish you want to breed are egg buriers, you don’t necessarily need to put a substrate in the breeder tank. The lack of substrate makes cleaning the tank much easier and makes monitoring eggs and fry much more straightforward too.

Also, if there’s a danger that the parents may eat the eggs, placing a layer of fine grating or mesh directly above the tank floor allows the eggs to fall through to the bottom, where they are safely out of reach of the parents.

Water parameters

The pH, water hardness, and temperature are all vital for the health of eggs and fry. Sudden changes in the breeder tank’s water parameters can kill fry or prevent spawning altogether. As a general rule, the pH and water hardness requirements of the adult fish are the same as that of the fry, so double-check that before setting up the breeder tank.

When it comes to water temperature, many fish species need slightly warmer water than usual to trigger spawning. However, once the eggs are laid, it’s important to reduce the temperature back to the species’ regular range. If the water temperature is too high for too long, the eggs will either die or develop too fast, and the fry may be deformed or poorly developed.

Water changes

The nitrogen compounds that are produced by fish waste can be extremely harmful to fry, so it’s well worth changing around 25% of the water in your breeder tank on a daily basis. Also, concentrating on feeding small quantities of live food, rather than fish flakes, can reduce waste, and regular vacuuming of the tank floor helps to keep the water clean and free from pollutants.

Final thoughts

A 40-gallon breeder tank is the perfect size aquarium for both experienced fish breeders and those who are taking their first steps on the journey toward raising their own livestock. All of the breeder tanks we’ve reviewed in this guide are ideal for raising most species of coldwater and tropical fish, provided that you set up your aquarium to suit the individual requirements of your chosen fish.

Breeding fish can save you money in the long-term, as well as allowing you to have a lot of fun experimenting with creating different color morphs. In the recent past, some unusual colored betta fish have been sold via specialist online auction platforms for thousands of dollars. Who knows; you could even make your fortune from fish breeding!

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