How to Make an Incubator for Chicken Eggs Using an Aquarium

Written by brenton shields
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How to Make an Incubator for Chicken Eggs Using an Aquarium
Hatching healthy chicks requires an incubator. (chick image by João Freitas from

Incubators are necessary instruments for anyone interested in hatching chicken, duck or reptile eggs. Commercial incubators can sell for upwards of thousands of dollars, most likely far out of the budget of any budding breeder. Luckily, you can construct a relatively reliable incubator using just a few materials that you can find with a quick trip to your local pet or hardware store.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 10-gallon glass aquarium with screen lid
  • 2 cardboard egg cartons
  • Heat lamp and bulb
  • Newspaper
  • Thermometer

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  1. 1

    Layer the bottom of the glass aquarium with a few sheets of newspaper. This will prevent the glass on the bottom from getting too hot and overheating your eggs.

  2. 2

    Rip the tops off of the two cardboard egg cartons and place both trays, face up, side-by-side lengthwise inside the aquarium. These will hold your eggs as they incubate.

  3. 3

    Place the thermometer in the middle of the aquarium's back wall. Most aquarium thermometers stick to the wall with either adhesive or suction cups. A digital thermometer is highly recommended for accurate readings.

  4. 4

    Cover the aquarium with the screen lid and place the heat lamp, with the bulb screwed in, atop the lid's centre.

  5. 5

    Plug the heat lamp into a power outlet and turn it on. The bulb should begin heating the inside of the aquarium. Calibrate how much heat you want in the incubator by using bulbs of varying wattage, making sure to take notes of the temperature reading on the thermometer.

Tips and warnings

  • You can add other accessories to your homemade incubator, if you wish, like humidity gauges, extra heat lamps and bulbs if you need more warmth, or even two thermometers placed on both sides of the aquarium to get the most accurate reading available.
  • Basking heat bulbs for reptiles are coated with silver on the inside to condense the heat and will produce a warmer temperature than a standard bulb.

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