bearded dragon handbook

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40 Gallon Breeder Tank for Bearded Dragons: Pros and Cons

Have you wondered if the 40-gallon breeder tanks you see at the pet store are big enough for your bearded dragon? 

What does your bearded dragon need?

Understanding what the appropriately sized enclosure is for your pet lizard is vital in providing a healthy life. 

40 gallon breeder tank for bearded dragon

40 Gallon Breeder Tank for Bearded Dragons

A 40-gallon breeder tank will fit a bearded dragon until they reach about 12″ inches (30 cm). At this point, you’ll need a much larger tank for the adult bearded dragon. We don’t recommend keeping two bearded dragons in this size of tank. 

It’s essential to keep in mind the pros and cons of choosing this as the appropriate size tank for your pet. 

Here we dive deep into why a 40-gallon tank will work, but also the drawbacks of its size. 

Your bearded dragon is going to grow fast, and you need to be prepared for this. 

Tank Size By Bearded Dragon Age

As you are looking for appropriate tank size, keep in mind how big your bearded dragon will be as they age. 

Age Length
0-4 months 3-12” inches (30 cm) 
5-8 months 11-20” inches (51 cm)
8-12+ months 16-22” inches (56 cm)

Pros of a 40 Gallon Breeder Tank

A baby bearded dragon can happily live in a 40-gallon breeder tank. 

The space gives them adequate room to move around. 

It’s also easier to find a 40-gallon breeder tank at your local pet store. 

You likely will come across 40-gallon breeder tanks, which include a starter kit. 

They typically include everything you need, which sometimes is a cheaper option than buying supplies individually. 

A smaller tank size allows your baby beardy to catch live insects easily. 

When their enclosure is too large, they tend to have difficulty with this, and you often have to feed them by hand. 

As long as your baby beardy has enough space, including vertical space, you will be able to use a 40-gallon breeder tank until they grow in size. 

Cons of a 40 Gallon Breeder Tank

A 40-gallon breeder tank is not going to be sufficient for an adult bearded dragon. 

While your beardie is small now, it can grow to almost 2′ feet (.61 m) in length. 

It typically can get to this size within a year!

Not only does a 40-gallon breeder tank not provide a lot of room for your beardie to walk, but it will also prevent it from being able to easily turn around. 

Smaller tanks can stunt your pet lizard’s growth, leading to a shorter life because of it. 

The smaller size can lead to stress and anxiety in bearded dragons. 

When your beardie does not have sufficient space to move around, they are not getting the exercise they need to lead a healthy life. 

A beardie in captivity has a lifespan between 10-12 years old, if well taken care of. 

A small tank will not have enough room for a cool side, causing the entire tank to be too hot. 

Your beardy will have no space to get away from the heat.  

Your reptile also enjoys hiding and will not find adequate space to do so in a small enclosure. 

Remember, you don’t necessarily have to get a tank labeled for bearded dragons. 

A regular fish tank will suffice. 

What’s The Best Tank Size For My Bearded Dragon?

The minimum tank size for an adult bearded dragon is 55 gallons. 

In reality, a tank larger than 100 gallons is best. 

Your adult beardy needs plenty of space to move around. 

If you spend a lot of money on a small tank now, there is no doubt you will end up spending more money later on when you realize your beardie has outgrown their space. 

If you must start with a smaller tank, avoid getting anything smaller than 40 gallons, like a 20-gallon tank. 

It is a waste of money. 

Even hatchlings will outgrow the small space fairly quickly. 

For a visual, here’s a look at the appropriate tank size based on the age and length of your beardie. 

LengthAgeAppropriate Tank Size
3-11” inches (28 cm)0-3 months20-40 gallons
9-16” inches (41 cm)4-5 months40-75 gallons
11-20” inches (51 cm)6-8 months50-75 gallons
16-24” inches (61 cm) 8-12+ months75-120 gallons

Where to Find the Proper Enclosure

Knowing where to find the proper enclosure can make all the difference when it comes to saving money. 

There are several places to check. 

Pet stores carry enclosures of all types. 

Whether you want a specific tank for bearded dragons or a standard glass aquarium, you should have tons of options.

Keep an eye out for a sale on glass aquariums. 

The only problem you may encounter at a pet store is finding an extra-large one.

Don’t forget to ask your local pet store if they price match. 

If you find a more reasonable tank elsewhere but would prefer to buy it in-store, see what their policies are. 

local yard sale is a great place to check if you are looking for a more reasonable price. 

Large glass aquariums can get very expensive, so if you are able to get an affordable price, go for it.

If you do get a second-hand tank, be sure to sanitize it thoroughly. 

There’s no telling what was in the tank before you purchased it. 

Building a custom type enclosure is also a great idea.

It gives you the freedom to pick the exact size you want. 

The internet is full of enclosure building ideas.

Get creative and use an old bookshelf or entertainment center. 

It may involve a time investment, but it will pay off in the long run. 

If you decide to create your own, ensure you are not using any cedar or pine materials. 

The sap from these is toxic to your pet reptile. 

Proper Bearded Dragon Tank Setup

Another reason you need a properly size house for your bearded dragon is because of all the setup involved on the inside. 

When you are purchasing a tank, keep you mind how much money you will spend on equipment. 

UVB Light

Bearded dragons do not get natural sunlight and therefore need to be provided with artificial lighting. 

Without it, they will not get the appropriate amount of vitamin D3, which is needed to aid in calcium absorption. 

Without the appropriate amount of calcium, they are at risk for metabolic bone disease (MBD). MBD can cause bones to become brittle and eventually break. 

You must provide your bearded dragon with lighting for approximately 12-14 hours in the spring and summer. 

During the winter and fall, only 8 hours is necessary. 

UV rays cannot pass through any covering, so do not put a screen over your bulbs.

Replace bulbs every 6 months to ensure your bearded dragon is always receiving the appropriate amount of light. 

Heat Lamp

Your reptile tank requires appropriate heating to maintain proper temperatures. 

Ensure you are getting the appropriate wattage bulb for the tank size you currently have. 

A smaller tank size equals a smaller wattage. 

The basking temperature is good from 100° – 110° degrees Fahrenheit (38° – 43° C) for babies and 105° degrees Fahrenheit (40° C) for adults.

The rest of the marks are the same for adults and babies. 

90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C) is the mark for the general temp of the enclosure. 

A cool spot or hiding spot is required and should be between 70° – 85° degrees Fahrenheit (21° – 29° C).

At night, turn off the heat, but ensure it stays in the 65° – 70° degrees Fahrenheit (18° – 21° C) range for temperature.

There are various types of bulbs available to aid with proper lighting setup. 

Mercury vapor bulbs offer both UV lighting and heat.

At nighttime, you must also provide a heat source, but not light. 

Ceramic heat emitters are an ideal choice for overnights. 

You may also consider using a heating pad under your tank. 

These are beneficial for smaller tanks since they do not take up any space inside the enclosure. 

Choosing the proper bulbs is confusing for many but, we have a post on what watt heat bulbs to use in 40 gallons tanks you’ll find helpful.

Water

Bearded dragons do hydrate through foods they eat, but supplying them with a water bowl also allows a place for them to soak.

Another way to keep them hydrated is to mist them with a squirt bottle. 

Since your beardie will enjoy bathing in the same water they drink, be sure you are changing out the water daily. 

If you do use a smaller tank, a water bowl may increase the humidity levels in your tank.

Can Two Bearded Dragons Be Housed Together?

Are you wondering if you should give your beardy a friend? 

Bearded dragons are solitary reptiles and don’t need the company of another reptile. 

You are the only friend it needs!

Housing two bearded dragons together is not the best idea. 

Two females will get along better than two males will.

However, females can have been known to fight and, therefore, must be separated. 

Never house two males together. 

While females may fight, males have the potential to kill one another.

Also, putting a male and female together may end up with tons of baby bearded dragons. 

Your female has the capability of producing one hundred eggs from one mating session. 

While it may seem like a nice idea to give your bearded dragon a roommate, it’s best to avoid the situation entirely. 

Final Thoughts

Despite being able to use a 40-gallon breeder tank temporarily, it should not be the forever home for your bearded dragon. 

It does not provide adequate space for your beardie to grow. 

While a baby bearded dragon can live happily in a smaller tank, a full-grown adult bearded dragon requires a much bigger space than what a 40-gallon tank can provide.