Centerpiece Fish For 40 Gallon: The Best Options For All Setups!

A centerpiece fish is an attractive, eye-catching addition to any 40-gallon aquarium tank that helps bring the entire setup to life. These fish are not only visually appealing but can also serve as the main focus of your aquarium, complementing other tank inhabitants.

When considering a centerpiece fish for your 40-gallon tank, it’s essential to take into account their size, temperament, compatibility with other fish, and the tank’s overall theme and design.

There is a wide variety of centrepiece fish that can be suitable for a 40-gallon aquarium, each with its unique characteristics and requirements. Some popular options include betta fish, known for their vibrant colors and flowing fins, dwarf gouramis for their peaceful nature, and honey gouramis with their distinctive warm yellow color.

Other potential centrepiece fish include dwarf cichlids, tetras, Bolivian rams, blue acaras, discus, angelfish, and pearl gouramis. When making your selection, it’s essential to consider factors such as the fish’s size, their compatibility with other tank inhabitants, and any special care requirements they have to ensure a healthy and thriving community aquarium.

Key Takeaways

  • Centerpiece fish add visual appeal and focus to a 40-gallon aquarium.
  • Popular options include betta fish, dwarf gouramis, and honey gouramis.
  • Consider factors like size, compatibility, and care requirements when selecting a centerpiece fish.

Choosing The Right Centerpiece Fish For A 40-Gallon Tank

A dwarf Gourami
Dwarf Gourami

When selecting a centerpiece fish for a 40-gallon aquarium, several factors need to be considered to ensure a thriving and harmonious environment. A centerpiece fish is typically the main visual attraction in an aquarium, so appearance, size, and temperament play vital roles in the decision-making process.

Size and Compatibility: Compatibility is crucial as the centerpiece fish should be able to coexist with other tank inhabitants. It is essential to choose a species that will not outgrow the 40-gallon tank or require a larger setup in the future. Research each fish species’ maximum size and ensure it will remain a suitable option for the tank’s capacity.

Temperament: A peaceful and sociable fish is preferable, as it will interact effortlessly with other aquarium inhabitants. Avoid aggressive fish species that may cause stress or harm to other tank occupants. Additionally, it is helpful to choose a fish that is comfortable with sharing its swimming space with other fish.

Appearance: A centerpiece fish should be visually striking and unique to catch the eye and draw attention. Look for fish with distinctive shapes, vibrant colorations, or unusual patterns that will stand out against the backdrop and amid other fish in your tank.

Adaptability: A good centerpiece fish should be able to adapt to various water parameters, diet, and tank conditions. A hardy fish species that can thrive in a range of conditions will make aquarium care easier in the long run. Consult care sheets or speak with seasoned aquarists to gather information about each species’ adaptability.

Two Pearl Gourami in a 40 gallon tank
Two Pearl Gourami

Here are a few of the more common centerpiece fish ideals for a 40-gallon tank:

  • Pearl Gourami: These large, beautiful, and peaceful fish are known for their unique appearance and mellow temperament. They tend to inhabit the upper layers of the water column, making them a great choice to coexist with bottom-dwelling fish.
  • Discus: Endemic to the Amazon river basin, discus fish are noted for their distinct shape, vivid colors, and appealing personalities. They get along well with similarly peaceful tankmates and add a splash of intrigue to any aquarium.
  • Honey Gourami: This striking and visually appealing fish can be a fascinating addition to a 40-gallon tank. Be aware of their compatibility requirements and environmental needs before adding them to your setup.

Remember to always pay attention to the specific needs and compatibility of the chosen centerpiece fish to ensure a harmonious and thriving aquatic environment in your 40-gallon tank.

Betta Fish

Betta Fish
Betta Fish

Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are a popular choice for a 40-gallon aquarium. Their vibrant colors and unique fin shapes make them an attractive centerpiece fish. However, it’s important to consider the social nature of Betta fish when choosing them for a 40-gallon tank.

Female Betta fish are better for community tanks as they tend to be less aggressive than their male counterparts. Moreover, turning a 40-gallon tank into a Betta sorority tank with multiple female Bettas can result in a lively and visually appealing setup. Keep in mind that proper hiding spots, water parameters, and food are essential factors in maintaining harmony in a Betta sorority tank.

It’s crucial to provide plenty of hiding spots, such as caves, plants, and ornaments, to help reduce stress and territorial disputes among the female Bettas. Maintaining proper water parameters is also essential in promoting a healthy environment for the fish. Typically, Bettas prefer a temperature range between 78°F and 80°F, with a pH level of 6.8 to 7.5.

A betta fish in a planted 40 gallon tank
Betta Fish

Feeding a balanced and high-quality diet is another important aspect in a successful Betta sorority tank. Offer a mix of pellets, flakes, and frozen or live foods like brine shrimp and daphnia to ensure proper nutrition and overall health of the fish.

In summary, female Betta fish make for a beautiful and lively centerpiece in a 40-gallon aquarium, especially when creating a sorority tank. However, careful consideration of their social dynamics, proper tank setup, and appropriate care will ensure a harmonious and visually appealing environment in your aquarium.

An infographic going over a BETTA FISH CARE sheet

Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gourami
Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gourami can be a great centerpiece fish for a 40-gallon aquarium tank. These colorful, freshwater fish belong to the Gourami family and are scientifically known as Trichogaster Ialius. They are known for their shy and easygoing nature, which makes them suitable for coexistence with other aquarium inhabitants.

As schooling fish, they prefer to stay together and won’t cause trouble with other tank mates.

When considering tank mates for Dwarf Gourami, it is possible to keep them with a betta in a 40-gallon tank. Both bettas and gouramis belong to the same family of fish, Osphronemidae, and share several similarities in appearance and behavior.

Some other popular tank mates that can work with a dwarf gourami centerpiece include:

  1. Tetras: Cardinal Tetras, Neon Tetras, Rummy Nose Tetras
  2. Livebearers: Guppies, Platies, Mollies, Swordtails
  3. Corydoras Catfish: Peaceful bottom-dwellers that will help clean up leftover food
  4. Rasboras: Harlequin Rasboras, Espei Rasboras
  5. Danios: Zebra Danios, Pearl Danios
  6. Loaches: Kuhli Loaches, Zebra Loaches (in larger tanks)
  7. Plecos: Bristlenose Plecos, Rubber Lip Plecos (be cautious of size in smaller tanks)
  8. Other Gouramis: Honey Gouramis or other Dwarf Gouramis, but ensure you provide enough space to prevent territorial issues

In conclusion, Dwarf Gouramis can make an excellent choice for a centerpiece fish in a 40-gallon aquarium. With their stunning colors and peaceful disposition, they can coexist with a wide range of fish when provided the right tank setup and environment.

Honey Gourami

centerpiece fish for 40 gallon
Honey Gourami

Honey Gouramis (Trichogaster chuna) are popular and peaceful centerpiece fish that come from India and Bangladesh. They are naturally found in slow-moving ponds with dense vegetation, making them hardy and suitable for beginners.

Honey Gouramis can be a fantastic addition to a 40-gallon aquarium due to their beauty and adaptability.

These fish are visually stunning, with a golden-yellow hue that makes them stand out in an aquarium setting. They are relatively easy to care for, as they can be managed by aquarists of all experience levels. Honey Gouramis prefer a water temperature ranging from 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, a pH level of 6 to 8, and hardness between 4 and 10 KH.

A honey gourami thriving in a 40 gallon tank
Honey Gourami

It is essential to choose appropriate tank mates for Honey Gouramis, as they are peaceful fish that can be easily stressed by aggressive or overly energetic species. In our opinion, its better to keep multiple honey gourami in a 40 gallon tank rather than add a range of different species of fish.

For a thriving environment, provide your Honey Gourami with ample hiding spots using live plants, driftwood, and rock formations.

This will help them feel secure and display their natural behaviors. Additionally, a gentle filtration system that mimics their slow-moving natural habitat is recommended for the tank.

In conclusion, Honey Gouramis make an excellent choice as centerpiece fish for a 40-gallon aquarium. With their vibrant colors, peaceful demeanor, and manageable care requirements, these fish are sure to impress and captivate both beginner and experienced aquarists.

Dwarf Cichlids

Dwarf Cichlid
Dwarf Cichlid

Some dwarf cichlids can be an excellent option for a 40-gallon community aquarium, as they usually do well with small, peaceful tank mates. They can add color, interest, and a touch of personality to any tank.

There are a number of different types of dwarf cichlids that can work in a 40 gallon tank but we would recommend the following:

Apistogramma Agassizii
Apistogramma Agassizii


  • Water Parameters: pH 6.0 – 7.5, Temperature 74 – 82°F (23 – 28°C), Soft to moderately hard water.
  • Notes: Apistogramma are known for their bright colors and intricate behaviors. Provide hiding spots and caves for breeding. Some species may require more specific conditions.

Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher):

  • Water Parameters: pH 6.0 – 8.0, Temperature 75 – 77°F (24 – 25°C), Soft to moderately hard water.
  • Notes: Kribensis are colorful and relatively easy to care for. They may become territorial during breeding, so provide plenty of hiding spots.

Nannacara (e.g., Nannacara anomala):

  • Water Parameters: pH 6.5 – 7.5, Temperature 72 – 78°F (22 – 26°C), Soft to moderately hard water.
  • Notes: Golden Dwarf Cichlids are peaceful and show attractive colors. They enjoy a tank with a mix of open swimming space and cover.
Laetacara curviceps

Laetacara (e.g., Laetacara curviceps):

  • Water Parameters: pH 6.0 – 7.5, Temperature 74 – 80°F (23 – 27°C), Soft to moderately hard water.
  • Notes: Often called Flag Acaras, they are generally peaceful and showcase beautiful color patterns. They thrive in well-planted tanks with driftwood and rocks.
Dwarf Flag Cichlid
Dwarf Flag Cichlid

Dwarf Flag Cichlid (Laetacara araguaiae):

  • Water Parameters: pH 6.5 – 7.5, Temperature 75 – 81°F (24 – 27°C), Soft to moderately hard water.
  • Notes: These cichlids are attractive and peaceful. They enjoy well-planted tanks and can be kept with other community fish.

All five can thrive in a 40 gallon tank and are generally peaceful fish provided their tank is setup correctly with plenty of hiding posts.

Beginners should stick to keeping an easier type of fish in their 40 gallon tank as even peaceful cichlids can be challanging to keep, especially in a community tank setup.

In addition to the above species, there are many more dwarf cichlids out there that can serve as a centerpiece fish in a 40-gallon tank, just ensure they are compatible with the other inhabitants and the water parameters. Keep in mind that dwarf cichlids may defend their territory and breeding sites, so it’s essential to provide hiding spots and barriers like rocks and plants for other fish.



Tetras are a popular choice for centerpiece fish in a 40-gallon aquarium due to their vibrant colors, peaceful temperament, and ease of care. They can be found in a variety of species, each with unique characteristics and appearances.

Rather than keep a single type of tetra in a 40 gallon tank, people have started to keep a number of different types of tetra that will happily school together as their centerpiece fish. This maximises the color in the tank and can create a beautiful looking setup when done correctly.

There are a wide range of different tetras that can work well with this type of setup but here are some of our favourites.

A neon tetra
Neon Tetras

Neon Tetras are known for their striking blue and red colors, making them an eye-catching addition to any aquarium. They thrive in schools of six or more, and their small size allows them to coexist with other fish species without issue. Neon Tetras prefer a water temperature range of 72-78°F and a pH of 6-7.5.

Cardinal Tetras
Cardinal Tetras

Cardinal Tetras share many similarities with Neon Tetras, including their vibrant colors and schooling nature. However, their red and blue stripes are more intense and span the full length of their bodies. Like Neon Tetras, they thrive in groups of six or more and appreciate a water temperature range of 73-81°F and a pH of 5.5-7.

Ember Tetras
Ember Tetras

Ember Tetras are a fantastic choice for those looking for a splash of color in their tank, as their fiery orange-red hue is truly eye-catching. These small fish, which only grow up to 0.8 inches long, prefer to be in groups and are well-suited for community tanks. They require a water temperature range of 74-83°F and a pH of 5.5-7.

Rummy-Nose Tetras
Rummy-Nose Tetras

Rummy-nose Tetras have a distinct red face that fades to a silver body, followed by a bold black and white striped tail. As schooling fish, they should be kept in groups and are relatively peaceful, making them compatible with other fish species. Rummy-nose Tetras prefer a water temperature range of 75-81°F and a pH of 6.5-7.5.

The aforementioned tetra species can coexist peacefully in your 40-gallon tank, providing a visually-stunning scene. To ensure their health and well-being, maintain proper water conditions, and provide a suitable environment including plants and hiding spots for them to feel comfortable and secure.

Neon Tetras In Their Tank

Bolivian Ram

Bolivian Ram
Bolivian Ram

The Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus) is a small and peaceful cichlid native to the Amazon River Basin, specifically in the freshwater systems of Brazil and Bolivia. They are known for their beautiful colors and unique appearance, making them an ideal centerpiece fish for a 40-gallon aquarium tank.

When setting up a tank for a Bolivian Ram, it is important to maintain optimal water parameters to ensure the health and longevity of these fish. The water temperature should be between 77°F to 82°F and the pH should range from 6.5 to 7.5. The hardness of the water should be at 5 to 15 dGH. Bolivian Rams have a lifespan of 4 to 7 years, depending on the quality of care provided.

In terms of tank setup, it is essential to create a comfortable environment for Bolivian Rams, as they will thrive in a habitat that closely mimics their natural surroundings. This includes having plenty of hiding spots, such as caves, driftwood, and rocks, as well as live plants for them to explore. These fish also require a substrate that closely resembles their native habitat, such as fine sand or smooth gravel.

A pair of Bolivian Rams in a 40 gallon display tank
A Pair Of Bolivian Rams

When selecting tank mates for Bolivian Rams, keep in mind that they are a peaceful species, and it is crucial to choose fish with similar temperaments to ensure a stress-free environment. Some great tank mate options include:

  • Cherry barbs
  • Platyfish
  • Molly fish
  • Corydoras
  • Dwarf Gouramis
  • Silver Dollar Fish
  • Rummy Nose Tetras
  • Emperor Tetra
  • Guppies
  • Swordtail Fish

In summary, Bolivian Rams make an excellent centerpiece fish for a 40-gallon aquarium tank. Providing them with suitable tank setup, companions, and maintaining optimal water parameters will help them live a healthy and peaceful life in your aquarium.

Blue Acara

Blue Acara
Blue Acara

The Blue Acara (Andinoacara pulcher) is a beautiful and relatively peaceful cichlid that can make a great centerpiece fish for a 40-gallon aquarium. This fish reaches an average adult size of 6 to 7 inches, making it suitable for a larger tank where it has sufficient room to grow and explore.

In order to keep a Blue Acara healthy and happy, maintain a water temperature between 72 to 82°F, and a pH level between 6.5 to 8. A strong water movement will also ensure that the aquarium environment remains optimal for this species.

We usually recommend that you house two Blue Acaras in your 40 gallon tank with no other tank mates but there are ways you can make a community tank work with them.

When designing your aquarium around a Blue Acara centerpiece, keep in mind that this species appreciates plenty of hiding spots and territories. Provide a mix of plants, rocks, and caves to allow the fish to establish its own space and reduce potential stress.

Finally, feeding the Blue Acara a varied diet is crucial for its overall well-being. Provide a balanced diet consisting of high-quality fish flakes, pellets, and occasional live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp or bloodworms.

In conclusion, a Blue Acara can be a stunning addition to a 40-gallon aquarium. By providing an appropriate environment, compatible tank mates, and a proper diet, you can enjoy the beauty and personality of this striking centerpiece fish.



Discus fish are a popular choice for centerpiece fish in 40-gallon aquarium tanks. These fish are colorful, attractive, and known for their unique shape and striking patterns. They originate from the Amazon River basin and require specific water conditions to thrive, which may add a layer of complexity to their care.

While wild-caught discus fish grow up to 6 inches in length, some tank-bred discus can reach a remarkable 9 inches. This restricts the number of Discus you can keep in your 40 gallon tank but if you are only looking to keep one or two Discus they can work well.

Their bold coloration and complementary patterns running from their heads to their tails make them stand out in a tank. Available in a variety of colors, such as blue, red, and turquoise, they can make any aquarium look vibrant and lively.

Discus fish

Although discus fish are stunning additions to an aquarium, they can be challenging to care for, especially for beginners. They require stable water conditions, with a temperature between 82°F to 86°F and a pH between 6.0 to 7.0.

A well-maintained tank with a good filtration system and frequent water changes is essential for their well-being.

In conclusion, discus fish are an excellent choice for a centerpiece fish in a 40-gallon aquarium tank due to their vibrant colors, unique shapes, and social nature. However, their care requires a dedicated hobbyist who is willing to invest time and effort in maintaining the right environment, ensuring the health and well-being of these magnificent fish.

A Discus In It’s Tank

Pearl Gourami

Pearl Gourami
Pearl Gourami

Pearl Gouramis are a fantastic centerpiece fish for a 40-gallon tank. They are not only visually stunning, but they are also quite easy to care for. Pearl Gouramis are hardy fish that can adapt well to various water conditions, which makes them suitable for beginner and experienced aquarists alike.

These beautiful fish can reach a size of up to 4-5 inches, so they still can be comfortably kept in a 40-gallon tank. The recommended water temperature for Pearl Gouramis is between 77 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pH value ranging from 5.5 to 7.5.

One important factor to keep in mind when housing Pearl Gouramis is their preference for a well-planted tank, which provides them with hiding spaces and dim lighting conditions. They also appreciate having floating plants, as these fish are known to create bubble nests at the surface of the water.

Since Pearl Gouramis are peaceful fish, it is essential to choose proper tank mates. Some great options include:

  • Panda Corydoras: Docile armored catfish that share similar water parameter preferences.
  • Tetras: Small, peaceful schooling fish that ideally complement Pearl Gouramis.
  • Rasboras: Another schooling fish that is compatible with the peaceful nature of Pearl Gouramis.

In a community tank, having a mix of these compatible tank mates creates a balanced environment where all species can thrive.

A Pearl Gouramis in a 40 gallon tank

When it comes to their diet, Pearl Gouramis are omnivorous and require a mix of plant-based and protein-rich food. A variety of high-quality flakes, pellets, and live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms helps ensure they receive proper nutrition.

Breeding Pearl Gouramis can be an exciting endeavor for aquarium hobbyists. Providing the right conditions – such as slightly warmer water and a well-planted tank – can stimulate breeding behavior. The male Pearl Gourami will create a bubble nest in which the female will lay her eggs, and the male will then fertilize the eggs.

In conclusion, Pearl Gouramis make an excellent choice for a centerpiece fish in a 40-gallon aquarium. Their striking appearance, peaceful temperament, and relatively simple care requirements make them a favorite among aquarists of all skill levels.

Common Issues And Solutions For 40 Gallon Setups

a betta centerpiece fish for a 40 gallon tank

When setting up a 40-gallon aquarium with centerpiece fish, you might encounter some common issues such as aggression and health problems. In this section, we will address these concerns and provide solutions to ensure a harmonious and healthy environment for your aquatic pets.

Aggression: Many centerpiece fish can coexist peacefully with other tank inhabitants; however, some species may display aggression towards their tankmates. To mitigate this problem:

  • Research the behavior and compatibility of the chosen centerpiece fish with other species you plan to have in the aquarium.
  • Provide ample hiding spots and resting areas for all fish by strategically placing decorations, rocks, or plants.
  • Ensure that you neither overstock nor overcrowd the tank, as this can exacerbate territorial disputes and stress among fish.

Health problems: Various health issues can affect your centerpiece fish and other aquatic pets in a 40-gallon tank. To prevent and address these concerns:

  • Maintain proper water quality through regular water changes and filtering. This helps to avoid problems like diseases caused by deteriorating water conditions.
  • Quarantine new fish before adding them to the main tank, to ensure they don’t introduce illnesses or parasites to your existing fish population.
  • Feed your fish a balanced diet and avoid overfeeding, as this can contribute to obesity and other health issues.

In conclusion, being proactive about understanding the compatibility, behavior, and health needs of your centerpiece fish, as well as the other tank inhabitants, will help you create a successful 40-gallon aquarium setup. With the right knowledge and care, you can avoid common issues and maintain a thriving aquatic environment for all your fish.

Fish Care And Maintenance

Some centerpiece fish for a 40 gallon tank

Caring for centerpiece fish in a 40-gallon aquarium requires attention to feeding, tank cleaning, and maintaining water parameters. A well-maintained tank is essential for the health and happiness of the fish.

Feeding centerpiece fish depends on the specific species in the tank. Most fish thrive on a varied diet that includes quality flakes, pellets, and occasional live or frozen foods. Research the dietary requirements of the chosen fish and offer a variety of options to fulfill their nutritional needs. Feed them once or twice daily, providing only as much food as they can consume within a few minutes to avoid overfeeding.

Tank cleaning is an important aspect of fish care. It is crucial to perform regular water changes, removing 10-20% of the tank’s water and replacing it with fresh, dechlorinated water. This process helps dilute the buildup of harmful substances and refreshes the water’s quality. Additionally, remove any visible waste or uneaten food from the tank, and clean algae on decorations and tank walls with a specialized brush or scraper.

Maintaining water parameters is vital for a healthy fish environment. Regularly monitoring temperature, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels helps ensure a stable and suitable living space for the fish. Ideal parameters may vary depending on the species, so research their specific requirements. Use a reliable aquarium heater to maintain the desired temperature and a good filtration system to eliminate waste and impurities from the water.

In summary, providing proper care and maintenance for centerpiece fish in a 40-gallon aquarium involves adhering to their dietary needs, ensuring a clean and well-maintained tank, and maintaining stable and species-appropriate water parameters. By paying attention to these aspects, one can create a thriving environment for their beautiful centerpiece fish.

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