Standard Tank Setups

While the Simple Setups page describes the kind of basic minimalistic setup that is often used by breeders, the standard tank setup for pet geckos allows more visibility. The animals may be observed and more fully enjoyed, but is less complex (and cheaper) to set up and maintain than a naturalistic enclosure.

For more housing topics, see our main Crested Gecko Setup section.

Crested Gecko Enclosures

  • Glass or acrylic terrariums. These tanks are a more expensive option, but they also nicer looking. Crested Geckos prefer vertical climbing space, so the tall front opening style of enclosure, such as those available from ZooMed and ExoTerra, is the best choice. More traditional short and wide terrariums and aquariums will also work though, provided they have secure screen covers to keep your geckos inside and allow some airflow. For tall models, 12″x12″x18″ is a good size for juvenile geckos, and is probably acceptable for a single adult, but 18″x18″x24″ or larger is preferable for adult breeding pairs and groups.

    For terrariums measured in gallons, a 5.5 gallon will work for sub-adult geckos, especially turned on its side to increase its height, and for babies even a 2 gallon tank is plenty of space, but tanks that small are somewhat rare. For a single adult, a 10 or 20 gallon tank is fine. 10 gallons is the absolute minimum, and we recommend 20 gallons. For breeding pairs and groups a 20-30 gallon or larger enclosure would be best. As a general rule, start with a 20 gallon for one gecko and add 10 gallons of tank space for each adult. Crested Geckos can be very active at night, and they will explore whatever space you give them, even if you’re not awake to see it.

  • There are also new tanks available that are great for housing individual geckos. They are made from PVC plastic with acrylic doors. This allows for visibility at the front of the tank but the sides are solid colored material that allows geckos a sense of security. You can set these up side by side and stacked on shelves, giving a breeder or keepers with large collections affordable ways of displaying many animals in a smaller space. These enclosures typically run around $70 and are less expensive to ship than all-glass terrariums.

  • Screen cages. These come in similar sizes to glass and acrylic varieties, and they can be used to house Crested Geckos. However, use of a screen cage makes having a water bowl and misting frequently even more important, especially in locations with low humidity or significant airflow, such as from an air conditioning unit.
  • Custom enclosures. It is possible, and sometimes even desirable, to build a custom setup for your geckos. If you feel that this is necessary, please ensure that all building materials which may come in contact with the geckos or their food or water are non-toxic, that there is adequate ventilation, and that there are no sharp edges or holes large enough for a gecko to escape through.
  • If you are on a budget or have a large collection of crested geckos and want like a DIY option, you might want to consider plastic tubs as enclosures. These are stackable options that work well for breeding and raising juveniles. Check out our simple tub setup guide for details.


    The choice of what substrate to put in the bottom of one of these enclosures is both more open, and more important than in a plastic tub, both for visual and health reasons.

    The Substrate section has a more in-depth discussion of substrate options, but the simplest options are listed here.

    • Nothing. Although it is not the easiest option for cleanup, and your geckos may not enjoy it as much, some people choose to leave the bottom of the enclosure bare, and it works.
    • Paper towels. Paper towels are easy to clean up, they retain moisture from misting and help increase humidity, and are a cheap, safe and easy substrate for geckos of any age.Paper towels are good for babies and newly acquired geckos in particular, because there is not a risk of it hurting them, and you can easily see their waste on it, which lets you know that they are eating and healthy.
    • Newspaper. Even cheaper than paper towels is newspaper. You can finally have a use for junk mail! It doesn’t hold moisture quite as well as paper towels, and looks a bit worse, but if you’re lining a tub you can hardly see into, it doesn’t make a lot of difference.

8 thoughts on “Standard Tank Setups

  1. Hi, I have just converted a lantern/glass cage item into a vivarium. However it has a metal bottom. If I covered the metal with some sort of material on the floor and used a heat mat on low would this be safe?


  2. Hi,
    Firstly thank you for all the information you provide on your site, so far it has been very helpful. We just adopted a crestie this week, we think he’s about 5 years old, he’s quite large, eating his powdered food (mixed with water) nicely every night. He has been eating but not finishing what we give him. Does he need to eat every night or should we give him a day off?
    The tank is quite tall and on a bookshelf so the baby brother does not destroy, damage or scare the poor creature, only problem is my oldest son can’t reach all the way into the tank where it is. Is it feasible to attach a suction cup soap dish half way down for the food so he can feed his own pet? There are branches and suction plants all the way up each side of the tank.
    Also, any tips on handleing? He seems pretty flighty and we don’t want to loose him. We will clean the tank for the first time next week and think will do it late afternoon so as not to disturb his sleep but hopefully he won’t be too awake, does that sound sensible?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Thanks for the compliments on the site! :) They don’t need to eat every night, around 2-3 times a week for an adult will suffice. Instead of suction cups, you can get a magnetic feeding ledge at Pangea. Use a small single dish for food, or a double one for both food and water. They are very handy and sturdy and will not fall off, which can happen with suction cups.

      Sounds like you’ve got some good ideas on how to approach handling. You can check out our Handling page for more tips. Good luck!

  3. I have a crested gecko and I don’t know if I should house him in a ten gallon tank on the long tank?or if I should put the tank on its side so it is vertical? He is only 3 months old I have two plants two hides a food cap and a water bowl with some moss? Please respond ASAP! Thanks

    • You can keep him horizontal until he is bigger, or you can turn it on its end now. You may need to adjust the furnishings and get some branches if you make it a vertical enclosure. Good luck!

  4. Thanks for providing us with all this wonderful information! I want to adopt a crestie and am wondering which to get. One person wants to rehome a 2 1/2 year old female, which comes in a 18 x 18 x 24 tank. My other choice , is a juvenile which comes with a 12 x 12 x 18 tank. I don’t care much for the age of the crestie, but I am wondering If I should go for the bigger tank immediately, or wait. I don’t want to regret it down the line.

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