When you’re looking to get a pet gecko, buying the right Leopard Gecko tank is the first important decision you have to make. A lot of online advice suggests tanks that are simply too small for Leopard Geckos.
A 20-gallon tank should be considered the minimum size, but a 40-gallon tank is even better.
Make sure to get a flat/horizontal tank, as the surface size matters most to ground-dwelling Leopard Geckos. Keep reading to find the perfect habitat for your gecko!
If you just want to get the right tank size for your leopard gecko quickly, we recommend a tank that’s at least 40 gallons large, with lots of ground surface, front-facing doors, and a mesh top. Also make sure it has inlet holes for things like a thermostat. With all this in mind, we found this Repti Zoo Terrarium to be the best choice available online – unless you want to spend $600+ on a custom habitat.
Types of Leopard Gecko Tanks
There are two main properties you’ll have to decide on: The tank’s material (glass/wood/plastic) and the access (top only or frontal sliding door).
Most reptile tanks are made of glass, and for good reasons. Glass is easy to clean and stays clean. Glass also makes it easy to watch your gecko, as well as provides a lot of surface area you can stick stuff on – like thermometers or fake plants. That’s why glass is the best choice in most situations.
Wood is another option, but it is more porous and when it gets wet, it’s a great breeding ground for bacteria and mold. You can also not stick things to wooden walls and have no view of your gecko. A wooden back wall (in a glass tank) can make the enclosure look much nicer and more natural, but an all-wood tank is not recommended.
Plastic is the cheapest option, but it should only be a temporal solution if necessary. While cleaner than wood, it’s not only not pretty, but lacks all the advantages of glass without any of its own advantages. Avoid plastic tanks for reptiles (or anything else).
One important distinction between reptile tanks is the type of access. There are two main variations: Top access and frontal access. Both are okay, but frontal access is the better choice for your leopard gecko.
Another important factor is that the tank needs a mesh top, not an air-tight lid. Without good circulation, moisture will build up in the gecko tank. As you know from our guide on Humidity for Leopard Geckos, high moisture will make them ill!
In the past, when reptiles were not established as pets yet, aquariums were commonly sold and used for keeping geckos.
However, aquariums are a bad choice because they are not built with air circulation in mind, which is critical for keeping the air quality in your gecko’s tank high. Additionally, especially for larger tanks, being able to open the front makes everything from decorating to feeding and handling your Leopard Gecko easier.
Almost all reptile tanks and aquariums have a removable top. For aquariums, this is usually a plastic lid that completely closes the tank – these are not suitable for keeping reptiles as they prevent air circulation. Instead, you need a mesh cover for that and humidity control.
The main problem is this: accessing the gecko’s habitat from the top can make them feel threatened. Remember that every predator in their natural habitat comes from the top – from foxes to birds, for these small geckos, everything that comes from above is a deadly threat in the wild!
Many reptile habitats have frontal sliding or hinged doors. These are a good choice for a Leopard Gecko, as you can clean the tank or reach into it for various reasons from the front.
Your gecko can watch you do it, too, which can put them at ease. They can see what’s going on, and if they’ve been living with you for a while, should have some established trust already.
However, a frontal door should only be opened when needed. If left open unattended, your gecko might escape, so make sure to always properly close (and if possible, lock) the doors. For circulating air, only use the top mesh.
The Optimal Leopard Gecko Tank Size
Common advice is a 10-gallon tank for baby/juvenile leopard geckos, and a 20-gallon tank for adult geckos. However, since they only stay small for about a year, a 10-gallon tank is a bad investment – go straight for a full-size tank. A tank that is too small will not provide enough space for all the behaviors that leopard geckos need to feel safe and self-regulate – which can lead to stress and stress-related diseases. (Read our full guide here on how to prevent these)
For your leopard gecko, get a tank larger than 20 gallons – a 30 to 40-gallon tank offers much more space for your Leopard Gecko, which it will appreciate.
Tank size doesn’t matter much as long as it is enough. When deciding between a 30, 35, or 40-gallon tank, pick the one that is the most practical for you. You can even get larger tanks if you like – your gecko won’t feel overwhelmed.
Ultimately, the best tank for a Leopard Gecko is one that’s well-equipped and has the ideal temperatures and substrate.
The most important reason for a large leopard gecko tank is the space: In a 20-gallon tank, you can barely fit in enough utility and decoration to keep your Leo happy!
More ground surface means more space for water dishes, hiding spots, caves, and decorations. Keep in mind that floor space is what matters most in a tank’s size, as Leopard Geckos don’t climb much, as opposed to other reptiles.
If space is a problem, make sure to still get at least a 20-gallon tank. A habitat smaller than that will not be a healthy environment for an adult Leopard Gecko.
In the first few months, before your gecko reaches 6 inches (15cm), a 10-gallon tank is acceptable. Once your Leo reaches 6 inches, though, a larger tank is needed.
What to look for in a reptile tank
The first thing you should look for in your reptile tank is quality. You may swap out lamps, heat mats, and decor, but the tank should last as long as your Leopard Gecko. Over the years, investing in a quality leopard gecko habitat is going to save you both hassle and additional expenses. It will also help prevent dangerous diseases in your pet. Read more here to keep your Leo safe and healthy.
Going with a reputable brand that produces reptile tanks (also called vivariums) is the best choice.
Aquariums are not Reptile Tanks
Regular aquariums are not viable for leopard geckos for multiple reasons. First, most of the space is vertical, not horizontal, which is mostly unused by these reptiles.
More importantly, your tank needs to have an open top – covered by a mesh to prevent your gecko from escaping. Aquariums usually come with full-cover plastic tops, which prevent airflow and hold humidity in the tank, raising it too high.
A proper leopard gecko habitat should be a reptile tank for multiple reasons: It has the right dimensions, it has the safety features necessary for a reptile, it comes with inlet holes for thermostats and wires, and it has the proper access options that are best for a leopard gecko. Let’s go into more details!
What a Leopard Gecko Tank Needs
Any good leopard gecko tank should have at least the following features:
A mesh top. For airflow to keep humidity low. Some form of top cover is necessary to prevent an escape, which is why a mesh top is ideal.
Lots of ground surface. Height doesn’t add much to a Leopard Gecko’s habitat – they aren’t climbers like chameleons. They should have around 12 inches in height, but more is wasted.
Frontal doors. Top access is fine, but ideally, you can open your tank from the front for easy access. More on that later.
Inlet holes. You will likely need a few cables going into the tank – inlet holes for these can be quite helpful.
Best Leopard Gecko Tanks by Size
If you don’t want to visit your local reptile store, but instead order a quality leopard gecko tank online, here are some great options in various sizes and budgets:
10-15 Gallon Leopard Gecko Tanks
These tanks are not recommended as longer-term living spaces, but only to keep baby Leopard Geckos in for a while, or as temporary enclosures for only a few days.
Beginner Set by Zilla
This 10-gallon tank is a great starter kit, as it comes with heat fixtures, lamps, a thermometer, and even a basic substrate solution.
If you just want to provide a simple first home for your baby Leopard Gecko, this set is almost a done-for-you solution. This complete habitat can be set up and be ready for use on the day it’s delivered, but it will be a very suboptimal habitat for your Leo.
- Quick-start setup
- Heat and Light are already included
- ONLY for Baby Leopard Geckos
- Very little floor space
Repti Zoo shallow tank
If you prefer to set things up yourself, this shallower 10-gallon tank provides more floor space and creative freedom. Keep in mind that you won’t be using the 10-gallon tank for long, so don’t spend too much on decor and equipment. It’s a great option though as a temporary terrarium for when you are cleaning the main tank, or for bringing your gecko to the vet.
20 Gallon Leopard Gecko Tanks
While 20 gallons are often recommended as the “right size” for a Leopard Gecko habitat, they should instead be considered the bare minimum. You will not be able to fit in many elements here – and while a lack of decoration might be a small downside, a lack of hiding spaces, basking spots, humid hides, or insufficient water access can reduce the quality of life of your Leopard Gecko significantly.
REPTI ZOO Front Opening Reptile Tank
A wide, high-quality front-opening reptile tank with hinged doors. Easy to install and comes with 6 inlet holes for lighting, heating, or other cables you might need. Perfect for a hassle-free setup.
- Mesh top for circulation
- Lots of floor space
- 20 gallons is still quite small
Exo Terra Outback Terrarium
A similar high-quality tank, but with a little more depth. Also comes with lockable doors and top mesh, as well as closable inlet holes.
- Mesh top for circulation
- Lots of floor space
- 20 gallons is still quite small
30+ Gallon Leopard Gecko Tanks
These tanks will not only last your Leopard Gecko’s lifetime, they are also spacious enough to allow for plenty of essential elements and decoration. While they are more expensive as an up-front investment, it’s one that’s well worth it.
Watch out for the measurements when shopping for bigger tanks – more height than 18″ has minimal benefits to ground-dwelling leopard geckos!
REPTI ZOO 50 Gallon Tempered Glass Tank
If you want to provide a nice enclosure for your gecko, it will love this one! With 50 gallons, you can make sure that your gecko has everything they need for a long, healthy life.
A large tank like that also provides enough space to explore and play, which is important to keep your gecko happy.
In short, if you want to do what’s best for your pet, get a tank like this one.
Custom Reptile Habitats
If you want to invest in a large tank that will last you for many many years, getting a custom-built tank like the one from Custom Reptile Habitats is another option. At about $500, these tanks are some of the most expensive you’ll find, but if that isn’t a problem for you, these tanks are worth checking out here.
The Optimal Leopard Gecko Tank Setup
Once you have your tank, you’ll need to fill it! To set up your Leopard Gecko tank, you will mainly need to go through 5 steps – which all may seem very daunting at first, but really aren’t that difficult. Let’s go through them briefly, and then in more detail.
Setting up the optimal environment is a crucial step to keeping your leopard gecko safe from deadly diseases!
Choosing a substrate. First, you’ll need to choose the substrate, also called bedding, for the tank. Sand is often seen as “for Leopard Geckos”, but is NOT a suitable choice. Bioactive substrate (like real earth including tiny insects), blended soil, and rocky tile or mats are common, safe choices. Depending on your choice, this can take as little as half an hour to set up.
Setting up temperature regulation. Next, you’ll need to set up the devices to control your gecko tank’s temperature. This usually includes an under-tank-heater (heat pad), a heat lamp, a daylight lamp, as well as a timer, thermostat, and two thermometer-hygrometer combos.
Setting up healthy humidity. This needs to be done once the temperature is stable for at least a day. Watch the humidity throughout the day and night, and make adjustments in the tank as necessary. Ideally, you’ll actually fill the tank with elements first – that’s the next step.
Adding elements. Finally, you’ll need to add important elements to your gecko’s habitat. This is mainly the water dish (for drinking), and the humid hide (for shedding), as well as additional hiding spots. Both the water dish and moist hide affect humidity, so set these up before managing humidity levels.
Adding decorations. The easiest part for many – add some decorative rocks (no sharp edges!), wood pieces (from a reptile store), or fake/real plants to make the vivarium more life-like and pretty to look at. There are no strict rules here as long as you introduce some natural cover and hiding spots as well as an environment that’s natural to a Leopard Gecko (think arid, desert-like terrain).
Choosing a Substrate
When it comes to choosing a substrate for a leopard gecko tank, there are a few different things you need to take into account. One of the most important factors is whether or not the substrate is bioactive. Bioactive bedding is a great choice because it helps to create a naturalistic environment for your leopard gecko.
It also contains live bacteria that help to break down waste products and keep the tank clean. Another important factor to consider is whether or not the substrate is digestible. Some substrates, such as sand, can be harmful if ingested by your leopard gecko. Be sure to choose a substrate that is safe for your leopard gecko to consume if they happen to eat it.
The advantage of bioactive substrates is that they essentially clean themselves. They have to be replaced once a year or so, but don’t have to be cleaned much.
This leads to the next factor: The time commitment of a substrate. A reptile carpet or natural tiles tend to be quite easy to install, clean, and replace, but might not be as pretty, and don’t allow for digging, which most Leopard Geckos love to do. Blended soil is more work to maintain, but also more natural for reptiles and offers more stimulation.
Last but not least, you’ll want to consider the aesthetics of the substrate. Some substrates can be quite attractive, while others, such as bark chips, may not be as visually appealing. Ultimately, the choice of substrate is up to you and what you think will look best in your leopard gecko’s tank.
For a detailed guide on choosing the right substrate, check out our article here: Best Bedding & Substrate for Leopard Geckos
Most leopard geckos do best with a basking spot temperature around 88-92°F (31-33°C) and a cool side temperature in the mid to upper 70s (~23-25°C). Nighttime temperatures can be a few degrees cooler than daytime temperatures. If your home is already pretty warm, you may not need many additional heat sources other than a basking light. If your home is on the cooler side, you’ll want to use a heat mat, heat lamp, or ceramic heat emitter to help maintain the proper temperatures.
A digital thermometer is the best way to monitor the temperature. Put two of these on each side of the tank (warm and cool/left and right) so you can always check the temperature at a glance. You will also need a thermometer gun to spot-check various places to make sure it’s not too hot in any spot in the tank.
If using a heat mat, place it on the outside of the tank, beneath the floor, and on the far side. This will help prevent your leopard gecko from getting too hot and creates a natural temperature gradient from one side to the other. This is necessary to allow your Leopard Gecko to self-regulate temperature, as they are cold-blooded.
Incandescent (hot) daylight lamps can also be used to add temperature, but must be controlled by a timer to only be active during daylight hours – but must also not be turned off during this time. That makes them unsuitable to regulate temperature with a thermostat – use a heat pad or ceramic heat lamp (not light-emitting) for that.
Using a thermostat to regulate the temperature is especially important if using a heat mat or heat lamp as Leopard Geckos can overheat very easily. A good thermostat will maintain a consistent temperature and turn the heat source on and off as needed. Modern thermostats are quite reliable if set up properly and as instructed by the manual. They often come with separate day/night temperatures, which is perfect for such a setup.
With a little patience and effort, you can create the perfect environment for your leopard gecko. By providing the right temperatures, you’ll help your leopard gecko stay healthy and happy for years to come.
To create a full shopping list and setup for your Learopd Gecko’s tank, read our article here: Leopard Gecko Temperature Management
Compared to managing temperature, humidity management for Leopard Geckos is usually quite easy. They need 30-40%, all day and night, all year. They also need a humid hide, essentially a moist cave to retreat into while shedding, which should be at around 80% humidity.
To measure humidity, you should choose thermometers with an integrated hygrometer (humidity measuring), which most reptile thermometers already have.
If you see that the humidity is low, a bigger water dish can help – moving it towards the hot side of the tank may help, too.
Adding a bit of moss toward the hot side can help, too – mist it with clean water (tap water is usually fine) once a week or so to have a “moisture tank” in your gecko’s habitat. If that still is not enough, there are special reptile misters that automatically spray some fine mist into your gecko’s tank once very few hours or days. Usually, once set up, you won’t have to worry much about humidity.
Only when seasons change should you keep an eye on humidity levels, as overall room humidity often drops in winter with heating on, which can affect your Leopard Gecko’s climate as well.
More on this here: Humidity Guide for Leopard Geckos
Adding elements and decoration
Leopard Geckos don’t need much in their tank: A water dish for drinking and a humid hide are the only two essential elements. Additionally, at least one other “dry” hiding place is necessary, but ideally, you provide multiple hiding spots – from caves to logs to hide under, as well as plants or shrubs to take cover beneath.
A feeding dish is also recommended. Here, you can place any feeder insects to prevent them from escaping easily. This is especially important for worms, as they could potentially burrow into the substrate if they escape.
Beyond that, you should add a few elements to make the habitat more like a natural environment – rocks, pieces of wood, plants, and some climbing elements. While Leopard Geckos don’t climb like some other gecko species, they still enjoy getting up onto rocks or decorations to look around and explore.
While this is often neglected, a Leopard Gecko that receives mental stimulation from a rich environment experiences health benefits as well as improvements to many cognitive functions (link to study). You can also add or change elements from time to time – but every few months or years is enough. Too much change can stress out your gecko, which can be harmful to their health.
I also have a full article on this topic: Leopard Gecko Tank Decor Guide
What size tank does a Leopard Gecko need?
While 20 gallons can be considered the minimum size, a larger tank is recommended for an adult Leopard Gecko. 30 gallons are a good start, but you can easily go up to 40, 60, or even 80+ gallons with your tank.
A 20-gallon tank does not provide a lot of ground surface and doesn’t allow for many elements in the tank, which can restrict the options you have in offering your Leopard Gecko the environment it needs to feel safe and happy.
Is a 40-gallon tank too big for a Leopard Gecko?
No, Leopard Geckos prefer a 40-gallon tank to a smaller tank as long as it is set up properly. More space in the tank offers more space for elements and decoration, as well as hiding spots and space to explore. There is the myth that Leopard Geckos get “overwhelmed” by a large tank, but compared to the arid deserts they live in, no tank could possibly be “too big”.
Can 2 Leopard Geckos live in a 20-gallon tank?
Absolutely not. Two Leopard Geckos should only be housed together in a large tank, 40 gallons or more, and only by an experienced keeper. Male Leopard Geckos are very territorial and will fight each other, while female geckos may live peacefully, but can also get into fights from time to time. Males and females should only ever be housed together if you want them to breed.
So unless you know what you’re doing, it’s best to have separate enclosures for multiple Leopard Geckos, and offer them at least 20 gallons each of tank size.
Why do Leopard Geckos need at least a 20-gallon tank?
In their natural habitat, Leopard Geckos have a lot of space to roam and explore. A small tank is too restrictive and won’t provide enough stimulation. A small tank will also not give enough options for self-regulation: Geckos are cold-blooded and will move towards heat sources in the tank if cold, and towards the cool side of the tank when warm. They also need a water dish, a feeding dish, hiding spots, and a humid hide for shedding.
All of this will not fit into a 10-gallon tank. In fact, even a 20-gallon tank is just barely big enough!