5 Best Fish Tank Ideas for a 40-Gallon Breeder Aquarium
Due to its dimensions of 36 inches long x 18 inches wide x 16 inches high (91x46x41 cm), the 40-gallon breeding aquarium is very popular. Other 40-gallon tanks have a more rectangular base, but the 40-gallon breeder tank has a deeper base without being too tall so that you can easily reach inside to clean the aquarium and catch fish that you have bred. The 18-inch width also lets bigger fish to turn around more easily, making this one of the first footprints that allows you to keep either a larger solo specimen or community of fish. Keep reading to learn about our top 5 fish stocking ideas for a 40-gallon breeder tank.
1. The Flowerhorn Tank
This hybrid New World cichlid is known for having jaw-dropping, colorful patterns and a large nuchal hump that grows on the heads of males. Flower horn fish are especially valued in certain Asian cultures because they are thought to bring good luck and prosperity. Flowerhorns are friendly and playful towards their owners. However, they can be aggressive towards smaller animals. We suggest keeping one in a 40-gallon aquarium with no other tankmates. Your pet will get larger and require more water changes as it eats a lot. After many years of enjoyment with the 40-gallon fish tank, we recommend upgrading to a 55 or 75 gallon aquarium for your growing pet.
2. The Community Aquarium
Bolivian rams, julii corys, and black skirt phantoms
If one showpiece fish per tank is not your idea of fun, let’s go the opposite direction and fill the 40-gallon tank with many different species. First, we want to get one to three pairs of Bolivian rams (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus). They are known for their beautiful, trailing fins and will serve as the 3-inch (7.6 cm) centerpiece fish for this community tank. To minimize territorial disputes, make sure to provide plenty of aquarium plants and decorations to block line of sight. Then add a school of julii corydoras that will help clean the fish tank by constantly scavenging for leftover food stuck in the substrate. Since you have a medium-sized aquarium to work with, choose a stockier, midlevel schooling fish. Because of their strikingly large dorsal fins, we love black phantom Tetras (Hyphessobrycon Megalopterus).
All of these fish are pretty hardy, live in similar water parameters, and are safe with aquatic plants. These fish eat omnivore food, including frozen bloodworms, pellets and Repashy gel foods. This is the foundation of your 40-gallon community tanks. Feel free to spice it up with some of your personal favorites – like a rare pleco, snails, rainbow shark, or some oddball fish.
3. The “Breeding for profit” Tank
Female albino long fin bristlenose pleco
With a 40-gallon breeder aquarium, there are of course many species that you can try spawning, such as long fin bristlenose plecos. This catfish runs between 4-5 inches (10-13 cm) long but has giant finnage that takes up more space than normal bristlenose plecos. To accommodate their larger wingspan, they require larger caves. You can breed them in a smaller aquarium, but once they start producing lots of fry, you will have to regularly move the offspring to other fish tanks.
For filtration, we like to use gentle sponge filters to keep the babies from being sucked up by accident. After conditioning the adults, we feed them their favorite foods such as Repashy gel, sinking wafers and bloodworms. Fry have smaller mouths than adults and love to eat driftwood, baby brine shrimp, crushed flakes and canned green beans.
Long fin bristlenose plecos come in many varieties – such as albino, green dragon, chocolate, and super red. Start a relationship with your local fish store and find out which types have the highest demand so that you can sell your juvenile plecos to them. For more information, see our article on breeding fish for profit.
4. The African Cichlid Tank
Male and female saulosi cichlids
Most African cichlids require larger fish tanks, but the saulosi cichlid (Chindango saulosi or Pseudotropheus saulosi) is a dwarf mbuna from Lake Malawi that only grows up to 3.5 inches (9 cm). Because of their sexual dimorphism, they look almost like two species. The dominant male is a bright blue with dark vertical stripes. While the females are solid sunshine yellow. Subdominant males can range from yellow to lightblue with slight barring.
For a 40-gallon tank, we recommend 1-2 males with 4-5 females. Like most Lake Malawi cichlids they need high pH, GH and HGH as well as a diet rich in vegetation. They also need lots of rocks and hiding spaces to minimize territorial disputes. Saulosi cichlids can be very easy to breed. You may see the females holding eggs in the mouths of their fry until they are able to swim free. You can either remove the fry into a separate grow-out tank or let them hide in the rockwork until they are big enough to fend for themselves. This dwarf mbuna is a great aquarium option that will rival the vibrant colors of saltwater tanks.
5. The Rare Fish Colony
Our last stocking choice was the troutgoodeid (Ilyodon Furcidens), which is a rarer livebearer species from Central America. It looks like a miniature trout measuring 3.5 inches (9 cm). Like most livebearers, they prefer higher pH and GH, but they are a bit unusual because they require temperatures cooler than 72degF (22degC). They aren’t picky eaters, but will happily eat any kind of food, including pellets, flakes, and hair algae, in your aquarium. You could mix them with other fish, but we like experiencing them as a single-species colony to see the unique behaviors that come out when they’re only surrounded by their own kind. Another good usage for a 40-gallon breeder aquarium would be conservation of endangered fish species. If you are interested helping to preserve at-risk fish, search online for the “CARES Preservation Program” to find out more.
Hopefully, these 40-gallon aquarium profiles have inspired you in the hobby. You can also find many stocking ideas for 10-gallon or 20-gallon tanks. While Aquarium Co-Op does not ship fish, you can see our list of preferred online vendors that sell aquarium animals. All the best and have a wonderful time in nature!