A 40 gallon tank – often called a “breeder” by folks in the hobby – is a step up from entry-level options, giving passionate aquarium owners a lot more room (and a lot more flexibility) to really make these underwater worlds their own.
But while setting up a 40 gallon breeder is pretty similar to setting up any other aquarium, there are a handful of things you need to really pay attention to. Especially when it comes to finding the best lighting or 40 gallon breeder tanks.
You see, you’re not just going to be dealing with a lot more water volume (and more plants and fish). The dimensions of 40 gallon breeders (typically 36” x 18” x 16”) mean there’s a lot more “real estate” that your lighting system needs to touch, too.
Finding the best lighting for 40 gallon breeder setups doesn’t have to be a challenge, though.
Especially when you take it vantage of the tips and tricks we highlight below.
Let’s jump right in!
What Kind of Light Do I Need for a 40 Gallon Tank?
Straight out of the gate it’s a good idea to make sure that whatever kind of light you go with moving forward, it is of the LED variety, especially when you’re looking to rig up lighting for your 40 gallon breeder.
There are a couple of big advantages that LED lights bring to the table for aquarium purposes, including (but definitely not limited to):
- Lower energy consumption – You can run your LED aquarium lights just as long as you would run “traditional” lights at a fraction of the cost
- Significantly lower heat output – LEDs aren’t going to put out anywhere near as much heat as florescent light bulbs will. That keeps tank temperatures steady and avoids overheating problems that can cause all kinds of nightmare issues
- Dramatically extended life – LED lights in your 40 gallon breeder tank will last up to six years (or even longer), compared to the 6 to 18 months you might get out of traditional fluorescent lighting. That’s a game changer
- Almost infinitely adjustable light intensity – One of the coolest things about using LED lighting for your 40 gallon breeder tank is that you’ll be able to have almost total control over light intensity. You can dim, brighten, and program your LED lights to behave the way you want to in a way that’s tough to do with florescent lights
- Plenty of color options – LED lights can be programmed to show a variety of different colors, giving you an opportunity to change the way your underwater world looks from one moment to the next. You can even add a “lunar light” that helps your fluorescent fish glow brilliantly in a way that would have been challenging with fluorescence alone
- Incredible and consistent coverage – The way that LED lights are designed (almost always in a strip formation) gives you plenty of opportunity to get more consistent and reliable coverage
Three of our favorite LED aquarium lights for 40 gallon breeder tanks are the NICREW Classic LED Aquarium Light, the IREENUO Aquarium LED Light, and the Hygger LED Aquarium Light.
You can’t go wrong with any of them!
How Do I Choose an Aquarium Light?
There are a couple of things you want to consider when purchasing a new aquarium light for your set up.
First, you need to be sure that you can get the right color spectrum out of your aquarium lighting set up.
You want to shy away from lights that are “too blue” in most cases – unless you are raising saltwater corals in your 40 gallon breeder – but everything else is kind of fair game.
Secondly, you need to consider light intensity.
Low intensity lights are better for aquarium plants and most fish, whereas medium and high-powered lights are more specialized and intended for specific aquarium applications. You really need to think about the aquatic life inside your 40 gallon breeder before you choose your light intensity.
The best option, of course, is to get your hands on LED lights that can be dimmed or brightened. That lets you dial in light intensity all on your own.
Finally, you need to consider how much “spread” your aquarium lights have.
The overwhelming majority of LED aquarium lights today are designed to offer at least 12 inches of light spread directly beneath them. That means that all the plants underneath these lights will get plenty of coverage, but it also means that you have to be sure that the light configuration doesn’t leave any dark spots in your tank, too.
Keep those three things in mind, and you’ll have no trouble choosing the right aquarium lights going forward.
How Many Lumens Does a 40 Gallon Planted Tank Need?
The amount of lumens that your new LED aquarium lights give off should be mated to the kinds of plants you have in your 40 gallon planted tank.
If you are raising “easy” plants that don’t require a tremendous amount of light energy, anything would tend to 20 lumens per liter of water will do the trick.
If you are raising “medium” aquarium plants that need a bit of extra light, shoot for between 20 and 40 lumens per liter of water.
Aquariums that are filled with “advanced” aquatic plants are going to require a lot more light and a lot more lumens – and that means you need to go for more than 40 lumens per liter (and sometimes even more than 60 lumens per liter) of water.
Which Color Light is Best for an Aquarium?
The absolute best color light for your aquarium is generally going to be a mixture of red, blue, and green LEDs that really light up your underwater world.
“Tropical” aquarium LED light setups mix and match red, blue, and green hues together in unique patterns to really help your fish – and your plant life – come alive. The visuals you’ll see under these kinds of colored hues are completely different from what you would have seen with traditional white or yellow light.
Once again, get your hands on LEDs with custom color controllers, and you’ll be able to flip through different color profiles to make your aquarium look exactly the way you want without harming your underwater life.