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Agree, you don't need much for a 40 gallon tank. If the tank is covered then you won't lose any water to evaporation but if it is uncovered then you lose a lot of water.

I had a 14 gallon bin for my 100 gallon tank and the pump would be sucking air in 6 days no matter how full the sump was after a water change. So scaling down you might need 7 gallons for a 50 gallon tank if you really want to change water religiously once a week and then that 3 extra gallons gives you a couple more days.
 

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20 long, the extra lenght allows more flexibility in what can be placed in it.
agreed. go as big as you can. you can keep your heater in it. also, you can have a few sponge filters if you add baffles. you will always have the same water level in the tank! which is really good
on another note... if you decide to run co2, do not use bio balls. you will lose co2 in the gas exchange
 
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