The Reptile Tank Buyer's Guide - The Critter Depot

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Table of Contents

Which is The Best Reptile Tank for My Pet?

Tanks and atrium come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Some are tall, with a small foot print.  Others are short, but with a wide foot print.  And some are wire cages, designed for housing mammals like hedgehogs.  With this wide selection, it's challenging to know which tank or terrarium to offer our pet.  

We're put together this comprehensive summary on which type of tanks to get for your pet or feeder insect.  Whether your pet is a juvenile, or an adult, they normally need a different size tank.  And whether you're breeding crickets, or dubia roaches, you'll need s specific set up that meets their needs.  So pay attention, and see which tanks will work best for your beloved animal.  

Table of Contents

Best Reptile Tanks for Bearded Dragons

bearded dragon terrarium

Bearded dragons can live up to 10 years if properly cared for.  That’s a long span. A baby bearded dragon will grow from 4” in length, to as long as 24” when full grown.  That’s a big growth spurt. So between this long life, and this wide gap in size, it’s very possible that you could go through a few different cages during their life.  

Bearded dragons are active and curious.  So depending on their size, their horizontal reptile tank will need to offer plenty of ground level to run and explore.  These bearded dragon tanks will need to accommodate their natural needs. So be sure to offer enough room for a hide, a basking spot, and maybe a branch or other toys for them to pay with.  

When selecting your reptile tank, never use a wire cage for a bearded dragon.  The wire cages will not retain heat. Bearded dragon’s basking spot needs to be a minimum of 100 degrees F.  And a wire cage will not be able to hold those temperatures. Additionally, a bearded dragon’s leg can get caught in the wire, which may lead to injury.  So just avoid wire cages altogether.

As babies, a bearded dragons does well in a 20 gallon tank.  These tanks can come in a variety of lengths and widths. But when choosing, be sure to avoid any tall cages.  The tall cages are geared towards reptiles that like to climb, such as crested geckos and corn snakes.

When your bearded dragon reaches maturity, you’ll want to graduate them to a 40 gallon tanks.  These will double the ground room for them. But they can still continue to grow. And at some point, you’ll want to increase their tank size to a 55 gallon, or even a 125 gallon reptile tank.

Best Reptile Tanks for Leopard Geckos

how to build a leopard gecko habitat

Leopard geckos aren’t like other geckos.  They’re terrestrial, meaning they prefer to crawl on the ground.  Many of their relatives like the Tokay gecko, are arboreal, meaning the like to climb on limbs or even the wall of the tank.  But since leopard geckos are terrestrial, they’ll prefer a horizontal reptile tank.

A leopard gecko won’t ever grow larger than 12” in length during their 10-20 year life span.  So as a caregiver, you’ll only need to get 1 reptile tank. So a 10-15 gallon horizontal reptile tank will be the perfect size for 1 or 2 leopard geckos.  This tank will be adequate throughout a leopard gecko’s entire lifespan. If you have experience with bearded dragons, then you’ll instantly see that a leopard gecko’s size makes them a little easier to care for.

There are numerous tanks available the will satisfy the needs of a leopard gecko.  But one you’ll never want use a wire cage. Wire cages will not hold the heat leopard geckos need.  Depending on what a leopard gecko is doing, they will need temperatures as high as 91 degrees, or as low as 70 degrees.  And a wire cage will never sustain these temperature requirements.

Additionally, wire cages can injure a leopard gecko.  If their legs get caught in the grid, then they could panic, and pull a limb from its body.  This is bad for obvious reasons.

Best Reptile Tanks for Crested Geckos

vertical tanks for crested geckos

Crested geckos differ from leopard geckos in they are arboreal creatures.  This mean that they live in trees, and depend on environments that offer tree branches, and reptile tank accessories that allow them to climb.  Because they enjoy climbing so much, it’s necessary that a crested gecko owner provide a vertical reptile tank.  A vertical will allow the owner to create a more natural habitat with limbs, branches, and other long accessories to suspend higher in the air.  And this artificial habitat will generate a happier crested gecko.

Young crested geckos that are 4 months or younger will prefer a vertical reptile tank that is 10 gallons.  These may appear small upon first glance. However, after you build up the habitat with adequate amounts of limbs and branches, you’ll quickly see how fast they maneuver through through the limbs.  

Once they grow older, the crested gecko owner will want to transition their beloved pets into a 20 gallon vertical reptile tank.  This will yield twice the space, which will encourage a happier crested gecko. And if looking to hold more than 1 crested gecko, then a 29 gallon vertical reptile tank will be ideal.  But please remember not to cohabitat 2 male crested geckos. The males will be territorial and can get into aggressive fights.

If you're in the beginning stages of researching crested geckos, check out our guide on how to find a good crested gecko breeder.

Best Reptile Tanks for Pixie Frogs

pixie frogs like them short and dirty

Contrary to what the heading says, frogs are actually amphibians.  They are born in water, and develop on land, which is a general rule to follow when deciding if an animal is a reptile or amphibian.  

But not only are Pixie frogs amphibians, but they’re also bloated dickheads.  This is a scientific fact. So when planning for their husbandry, it’s critical to know that only 1 pixie frog should be housed in a habitat.  Otherwise, their aggressive nature can lead to enchanting moments of cannibalism.

The size of your reptile tank will depend on the gender of your pixie frog.  Male pixie frogs can grow to be about 10 inches in length, and weigh as much as 2 pounds.  Therefore, you’ll want to provide them with a 20 gallon, horizontal tank. Females, on the other hand, are only about half that size, and can be comfortable housed in a 10 gallon horizontal habitat.  

Juvenile pixie frogs only require a 5 gallon horizontal habitat.  However, anyone with a pixie from might as well splurge on the larger reptile tank.  Because if properly taken care of, pixie frogs are capable of living up to 40 years.

It’s important that pixie frogs be housed in aqurium tanks.  A pixie frog habitat will need to be thoroughly humid. And some crafty caretakers will go as far as providing some babbling brooks in their habitats.  This is a nice feature that your pixie frog will enjoy. However, the setup is challenging, and bit more difficult to clean up. If you decide to forgo the babbling brook, then the bare minimum would be to offer one of these reptile foggers for their needs.  

And unlike bearded dragons, and leopard geckos, loose material is actually a prefered bedding material.  Many professional pixie frog keepers prefer high humus content soil. This allows the pixie frogs to burrow into the substrate, providing them with adequate coverage and humidity.  

Best Reptile Tanks for Corn Snakes

best tank for a corn snake

Corn snakes are one of the most popular pet snakes in America.  They are docile, curious, and enjoy to explore. However, don’t offer them too much room in their reptile tank, or they can feel insecure and show signs of stress and discomfort.

When housing a juvenile corn snake, a 10 gallon horizontal reptile snake will be an excellent start.  They will grow comfortably in a tank this size. But when they reach the are of 3 years old, they’ll nearly double in size.  At this moment is when it would be ideal to offer them a 20-30 gallon horizontal tank.

When setting up their substrate, corn snake keepers will want to use aspen shavings or cypress shavings.  These types are very bland and won’t harm your corn snake. Do not use pine, cedar, or any other aromatic shavings.  These may cause lung and eye irritations for your corn snake.

Best Reptile Tanks for Hognose Snakes

hognose snake terrarium

Despite their comical appearance and behavior, hognose snakes require a similar reptile tank as corn snakes.  For young snakes, you’ll need to offer a 10 gallon horizontal reptile tank. A juvenile hognose snake will be anywhere between 10 inches, to as long as 2 feet in length.  

Once a hognose snake reaches 3 feet in length, they’ll have reached maturity.  This would probably happen at about 2 and half years. And once they reach this length and age, the care keeper will also need to upgrade their horizontal reptile tank to about 20-30 gallons in size.  

Just like corn snakes, hognose snakes are shy, and can be stressed out if they have too much room to wander.  So although you could save some money by buying the 20-30 gallon sized tank right away, it won’t be in the best interest for your juvenile hognose snake.

Hognose snakes like to bury their bodies.  So the reptile tank should be lined with paper towels, and 3-4 inches of either aspen or cypress shavings.  This will provide your hognose snake the depth they desire for adequate coverage. But pine, cedar, and other aromatic shavings should never be used.  They can irritate their eyes and lungs, which could lead to greater health problems in the future.

Best Cages for Hedgehogs

hedgehogs need a wire cage

Hedgehogs are the only mammal on our list of pets.  However, they do live on a strong diet of crickets, which puts them in comparable company as our reptile friends.

In the wild, hedgehogs can travel 4-7 miles every night.  This means they are a very active, and curious species. So when designing their habitat, every hedgehog keeper will want to select a wire cage that is a minimum of 2’ W x 3’ L.  This should be considered a bare minimum, no matter the age or size of your hedgehog.

Hedgehogs love to burrow into their bedding.  And there’s a variety of ideal substrates that will accommodate this loving desire.  Recycled pulp, wooden pellets, and aspen shavings are all sufficient material to use as their bedding.  The only drawback with the shavings is that it’ll get stuck in their quills.

Best Reptile Tanks for Ball Python

ball pythons enjoy shallow reptile tanks

Finding the right reptile tank for a ball python starts with when they’re a juvenile.  A 10 gallon, horizontal tank will provide the preferred amount of space and movement. And at about 2.5 years, your male ball python will reach about 2-3 feet in length.  While your female ball pythons will reach about 3-5 feet in length. And when your ball python reaches this size, you’ll need to upgrade your horizontal ball python tank to about 20-30 gallons.  

Although it makes economic sense to purchase only the larger tank from the start, this isn’t in the best interest of the ball python.  A ball python can become shy or insecure if offered too much space. This can actually lead to stress and depression, which may create eating problems for the caretakers.  So forgo the economic sense, and purchase the proper sized ball python tank from the start.

Most domesticated snakes will have the same bedding requirements.  Ball pythons will enjoy about 3-4 inches of bedding material. This will provide adequate depth for the ball python to burrow into.  The preferred substrate is aspen or cypress shavings. And it’s important that ball python caregivers avoid pine, cedar, or any other aromatic shavings.  Use these in the ball python’s reptile tank can irritate their eyes and lungs, which can lead to health problems in the future.

Best Reptile Tank for Blue Tongue Skinks

blue tongue skinks require shallow reptile tanks

For starters, blue tongue skinks are primarily solitary creatures.  They are very likely to fight with each if housed together. So it’s important to try and keep only one in one cage.  

Blue tongue skinks are terrestrial creatures.  This means they prefer horizontal reptile tanks for their habitat.  A juvenile blue tongue skink should be offered a 20 gallon terrarium.  This terrarium will adequately provide the hot, cold, and humid atmosphere they prefer.  

When a blue tongue skink grows into an adult, they’ll measure anywhere between 18-24 inches in length.  And by the time they reach this size, it’s important to upgrade their tank size to 40-60 gallon size terrariums.  This may sound like a lot of room. But remember, blue tongue skinks like to travel, and the more space they are offered, the more room the longer they can be expected to live.  And if kept properly, they can live up to 20 years.

Best Terrarium for Veiled Chameleon

veiled chameleon terrarium

Many chameleons are terrestrial, which makes the Veiled Chameleon unique, because they are actually arboreal meaning they prefer to climb.  This means they'll require a vertical reptile tank, which will offer them the arboreal movements that their species prefers. 

A young veiled chameleon that is 10 months and younger will do best in a 10 gallon vertical tanks. Anything larger than this may cause the young chameleon to feel stressed and insecure.  These discouraged emotions can lead to health problems, or difficulty in development.

After 10 months, a veiled chameleon will reach sexual maturity, and will be ready to graduate into a larger set up.  A 30 gallon vertical terrarium will offer enough room to satisfy a curious arboreal chameleon.  And this will leave you, the care keeper, with adequate space for designing a fun set up with plenty of limbs and vines. 

Since Veiled Chameleons prefer the vertical reptile tanks, they're furniture requirements will be a little different compared to others.  Vines, limbs, bamboo, and other climbing apparatuses should be adequately supplied to ensure an excellent habitat for your veiled chameleon

Rosy Boa Reptile Tanks

rosy boa care guide

Rosy Boas are naturally curious, and love to roam.  But they can also be a little emotional.  If the care keeper provides them with too much space, they can become insecure, which discourages them from eating well.  So a juvenile Rosy Boa should be kept in a 10 gallon horizontal reptile tank.  This will provide them with adequate space, without threatening their well-being.  

The care keeper will need to line the cage with 3-4 inches of aspen or cypress shavings.  This will offer enough "play room" for this naturally curious snake.

Once Rosy Boas surpass 2.5 years in age, they'll need a bigger tank.  20 gallon tanks are fine, but 30 gallon tanks are preferred.  A 30 gallon horizontal tank will not be too large, and will offer a happy habitat for your beloved Rosy Boa.  

The Perfect Tank for Your Pacman Frog

pacman frog tank size

The Pacman frog has a bad reputation. Firstly, they don't get along well with others. So it's critical that they are always housed by themselves. If they are housed with other Pacman frogs, you'll soon find out which one is the dominant inhabitant due to their cannibalistic tendancies. But not only is everything on the menu for these large frogs, but they're also aggressive towards the caregivers. So be mindful when trying to handle your frog, and know that there's a chance he could strike you and try (unsuccessfully) to turn you into a snack.

That being said, Pacman frogs only need a 10 gallon tank throughout the duration of their life cycle. Some keepers insist that using an opaque, plastic storage tub is the perfect set up for the Pacman. This may be true. But one downside is that the caregivers can't monitor their Pacman from the sides. So although the Pacman may prefer the opaque tub, a windowed habitat will work best for the caretaker.

There are other important steps to consider when putting together your Pacman Frog habitat.  And those tips and pointers can be found here, to help ensure your frog's health and happiness.  

Tiger Salamanders and Their Changing Tanks

tiger salamander tank guide

A Tiger salamander will benefit from a 10 gallon, aquatic tank throughout the duration of its lifetime. However, the set up will change through the its life time. A tiger salamander goes through a metamorphasis. And each stage requires different settings. The larval stage is entirely aquatic. During this stage, the tank should be filled with about 6" of water. And it's critical that the water measure between 65 and 70 degrees in temperature.

The tiger salamander will lose its gills, and start to grow apendages like legs. At this point, the habitat will need to metamorph as well. The caregiver will need to reduce the amount of water, and slowly replace it with land formation. Potting soil, peat moss, and bark are excellent material. It's soft and spongy, so that it will retain moisture. And it's loose enough for the tiger salamander to burry itself.

These is very basic habitat set up information, and more detailed information can be discovered in our care guide for Tiger salamanders.

Red-Eared Sliders and Their Tank Guide

red eared slider tank guide

It's difficult to provide proper husbandry for red-eared sliders.  And that's due to their need for swimming space.  The rule of thumb is that for every inch of shell, you need 10 gallons of volume.  So, if you're red-eared slider has a shell stretching 5 inches in diameter, then you'll need a 50 gallon tank.  They can grow pretty large, with some females growing larger than 12 inches.  

But you'll need more than a big aquatic tank.  Your red eared slider will require a water filtration system.  They shit a ton.  So consider every possible filtration system to make it easier on you when it comes time to clean their tank.

And since they're cold blooded, you'll need to help them achieve critical body temps by heating the water.  There are a variety water heaters available.  But just get one that can get the water to about 80 degrees F.  

Although they love water, they don't want to spend their entire day in the water.  So it's important to give them a turtle dock, and a basking light.  These will provide them with the variety they need to fulfill their happy lives.  

Best Tanks for Mexican Red Knee Tarantula

tank size for tarantulas

Mexican Red Knee tarantulas are one of the better tarantulas for beginner tarantula owners.  And since they're considered terrestrial tarantulas, a horizontal 5 or 10 gallon tank will fit nicely.  It's recommended that owners use tank with swing doors.  This is because Red Knee tarantulas will hang from the top of the enclosure.  And if you try to access from the top, you could disrupt them, causing them to fall.  And falls can cause serious harm to their fragile exoskeleton.

Their preferred temperature is about 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  If your house doesn't naturally sustain these temps, then you'll want to consider a heating pad for their tank.  Keep in mind that they are sensitive to excessive heat.  And temperatures exceeding 90 degrees can actually kill them.  

You can read more information on how to care for Red Mexican Knee tarantulas in our care guide

Tank Set Up for Monitor Lizards

monitor lizard reptile tank

The rule of thumb is "more space - the better."  Monitor lizards can grow into some of the larger captive reptiles.  And potential owners should be ready to spend significant money on their habitats and cages.

A young monitor lizard can be housed in a 30 gallon reptile tank.  This will provide enough horizontal space for this curious reptile to maneuver, and explore.  But once they grow larger than 18", you'll need to upgrade their habitat into a 55 gallon reptile tank.  But it doesn't stop here; because when they grow into older juveniles or adults, they'll need a custom enclosure.  

Horizontal tanks are the recommendation.  But that doesn't mean they don't need air space.  Monitor lizards like to climb.  So it's important to offer enough sticks and climbing apparatuses in their reptile tank.  And if you're looking for more details and recommendations on habitat set ups, read through our Monitor Lizard care guide to learn about sanitation, feeding, and other critical features your reptile tank requires.  

Best Reptile Tanks for Tokay Geckos

tokay gecko care guide

Tokay geckos are not the best reptiles for beginners.  They don't like being held too often.  And they can attack with a hard bite if provoked.  However, if you're an experienced reptile owner, then it will be beneficial knowing how to set up a tokay gecko reptile tank.

The best size to consider is something about 2' W x 2' L ' 3' H.  A tank this size will provide the owner with enough vertical space to add furniture for the tokay gecko to climb.  

After the habitat has been established, bet sure to offer them an excellent substrate.  Since tokay geckos are not friendly, the keeper should limit how often they put their hand into the cage.  This means that a bioactive substrate should be the prefered bedding material.  Some keepers claim that newspaper is a good bedding material.  But that needs to be changed often, which means the keeper will need to enter the cage more than the tokay gecko prefers.  

Their humidity requirements are not specific.  But it's important that you offer them the proper lighting, because they are a nocturnal species.  And as is the case with every reptile, it's critical that the keeper provides the proper temperatures in their tokay gecko tank.

2 comments


  • I have a corn snake and i was planing on getting another pet and ive been looking i want to get either a snake or lizard but i cant buy another tank and i have a 2 and a half gallon tank so what can i put in there and it has to live in 70-79 degrees temperature.

    hailey on

  • I found a baby American Bullfrog a year ago. Didn’t know what type of frog she was, but bought a 10 gallon tank to house her. She is larger now, but not eating well. She has had a water bowl, bedding and food bowl, and has eaten live meal worms and crickets. Isn’t eating well, and is losing muscle. I recently placed her in a full water environment, and am happy to see her moving around better. I’m thinking she needs a larger environment with a deep water area for swimming, but a dry area for basking under her heat lamp. Would you please give me a recommendation of an aquarium or habitat that would best serve her? Also, what would be the best food for her? I decided “Frankie” is a female, because she doesn’t croak, and her tempanic membranes are the same size as her eyes. Would you please explain the changes in her color? She is sometimes almost black, sometimes shows brown spots, and sometimes is green and brown. Often, her head is green, but her body doesn’t show much green. Does her water need to be treated? I have been using Tetrafauna AquaSafe, 1 ml per gallon of water. Thank you for your help! I want Frankie to be healthy and happy!

    Laura Garber on

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