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Beginner with lighting questions

Discussion in 'Tortoise Enclosure Lighting' started by MIReptilian, Jul 21, 2019.

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  1. MIReptilian

    MIReptilian Member

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    I'm getting 3 hatchling eastern hermanns in 5 weeks and trying to get everything together that I need. I'll admit, I'm kinda puzzled by the whole lighting thing. Brands, sizes, timers, when they should go off, and when they should turn on.

    I plan on building or buying two closed chambers that will eventually be modular. One 4ftx32inx30in to used while they're young and then a 8ftx32x30. They will eventually be joined when the torts are big enough and need the 12ftx32x30 space for the winter.

    I need suggestions on lighting/heat for each unit starting with the smaller one.

    Let's put it this way... how would you outfit a 4x32x30 closed chamber for 3 hatchlings? I'm looking for brands, sizes, specs, numbers of lights, CHE or radiant panels etc. Ambient room temp is 65-70.

    I've head good things about Acadia but can't find a website that sells them.

    Also.. what if I wanted to have live plants in the chambers eventually.

    Thank you
    Jeff
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
  2. Lyn W

    Lyn W Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi and welcome.

    Amazon sell Arcadia products - or they used to. As for plants, spider plants are popular for security cover for torts but if you buy any plant from a store you will need to wash the roots and repot in chemical free soil and allow at least a year for any pesticides fertilizers etc to grow out. www.thetortoisetable.org.uk is a good guide to tort safe plants. if you know anyone with chemical free plants maybe take cuttings from them.
    You can buy mixes of seeds of tortoise food plants which you could grow in trays and sink those in the substrate, they are easy to remove and replace when eaten or trampled.
    They may be OK together as hatchlings but ideally each tort would then have his own enclosure because they are territorial and don't like to share, so there could be some aggression and bullying so your torts will be happier in their own space. The bigger the better.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
  3. MIReptilian

    MIReptilian Member

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    Thanks Lyn. This definitely helps. I'll check out the link you posted and will definitely report and grow out any nursery stock that I buy. I may just grow from seed to be safe and/or dig and transplant some wild edibles from my property.

    @Tom or @Markw84 could either of you possibly shed some light... on the lights? Lol. Also heaters for my sized enclosure?
    I would appreciate it.

    Thanks
    Jeff
  4. MIReptilian

    MIReptilian Member

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    Anyone? I need to start ordering my lights, CHEs and all my other goodies.

    Trying to read as much as I can but still a bit confused on lighting for hatchlings and if it's different for juveniles and adults.

    Also good brands vs not so good brands. Read that there's a vast difference between certain UVB lamps.

    Thanks
  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Read these two threads. Set up and care is the same for Russians and hermanni:
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
    https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/

    There are four elements to heating and lighting:
    1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt floods from the hardware store. I run them on a timer for 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. You can mount a fixture on the ceiling, or hang a dome lamp from the ceiling. Go lower or higher wattage if this makes the enclosure too hot or not warm enough. Do not use "spot" bulbs, mercury vapor bulbs or halogen bulbs.
    2. Ambient heat maintenance. Unless your house gets unusually cold at night, you can skip this step for a Russian or hermanni. Night lows above 60 require no night heat for Testudo species. If you need ambient heat, use a radiant heat panel from Reptile Basics controlled by a Zilla 1000 watt thermostat from LLL Reptiles.
    3. Light. I use florescent tubes for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most tubes at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. I've been using LEDs lately and they are great, and run cooler than a florescent. This can be set on the same timer as the basking bulb. If your tortoises room is already adequately lit, you don't need this one either.
    4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside in a safe secure enclosure for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. If you want it anyway, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. It helps to have a UV meter to test and see what your bulb is actually putting out at your mounting height. Plexi-glass or screen tops will filter out some or all of the UV produced by your bulb.
    Allykish and wccmog10 like this.
  6. MIReptilian

    MIReptilian Member

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    Thanks Tom. You're a wealth of knowledge. I really appreciate the suggestions. I'll start researching the items you mentioned.
    Tom likes this.
  7. wccmog10

    wccmog10 Active Member

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    I second what Tom said. I get all of my stuff for heat/light at the hardware store. You just need a bulb to produce heat (adjust height and wattage to get the correct temperature) and a bulb to produce light. For UV I just use the sun a few times per week. UV bulbs are expensive and don’t produce as much good UV as the sun. And the sun is free :) going on 5 billion years.
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  8. Markw84

    Markw84 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    A few thoughts for you as I have become extremely pleased with the way my light layout is working and the versatility it provides. I will outline everything I do and use for setting up an enclosure that is 3x4 foot.

    I like to provide a good photo period that matches the species. With species that would naturally hibernate, I believe that is particularly important. For testudo I would go with a 15 period for summer or whenever I am keeping them up and active. I also like to simulate a day cycle and the types of bulbs we use can accommodate that.

    I use 3 timers for my lights. I really like the smart timers and this is a great unit that has 4 built in timers with each outlet on its own timer. It is set up through a free app on your smart phone and very easy to set up and then to control or change the timers. You also can see on your phone anywhere what is on or off in your enclosure.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0779R4879/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
    I also use these in some enclosures that are seperate smart timers. I buy the 4-pack and they are about $8 ea.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07J2LR5KN/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    For basking, I use the 65 watt incadescent flood bulb. That is set on its own timer to go on at 6AM and off at 9PM. I do also have this on a thermostat plugged into the timer as a safety to prevent overheating in a closed chamber. I have the bulb in a brooder lamp and hung on a wire from a cup screw so I can adjust the height:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001BM5YZW/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00X6S1RAA/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    For ambient lighting I use LED bulbs. They come in good color now (I like 5000k) and generate very little heat. They also grow a houseplant quite well in the enclosure. I have these on a timer that goes on at 7AM and off at 8PM. I use the screw in type fixtures and bulbs.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002KL5VRO/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XH8R3DJ/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    For UVB in a 4x3 foot enclosure, I use a 2 foot T5 HO with 12% arcadia bulb. I don't skimp on the fixture as it is very important with UVB fenerating bulbs to get a good quality fixture and ballast. So I buy the whole unit that is made to go together from lightyourreptiles.com. I hang this on wire from cup hooks in the center of my enclosure. At about 20" high it gives me a 4 UVI at tortoise level. I have this on its own timer and it goes on at 11AM and off at 4PM. This gives and ample midday spike in UV as in nature and also your tube will last 3 years or more!
    http://www.lightyourreptiles.com/22-t-5-ho-fixture-high-output-with-arcadia-d3-12-ho-bulb/

    For heat I use a 100 watt CHE in a brooder dome the same as the basking light above. I do stay away from the knock-off brands. They last forever, so get a decent one. Hung as high as I can in the enclosure, this rarely needs to come on to keep the enclosure at minimum temps. I like it as high as possible to dissipate heat at tortoise level. They are not directional and they generate mid to far IR, so are my choice in a closed chamber enclosure. I have this on a thermostat set to the minimum temperature I want in the enclosure. I put the probe in the coolest corner of the enclosure.
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002DHO6S/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    Here's the wiring and setup diagram for the closed chamber I build. I do build in the thermostats, outlets and wiring, but this can easily apply for you. This does also show a provision for a mister/humidifier, but we don't need that with a closed chamber for tortoises. Some of the guys buying my enclosure want it for frog/lizzards, etc.

    Hope this helps!

    Lighting for instructions 2.jpg
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  9. MIReptilian

    MIReptilian Member

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    Wow Mark. Thanks for such a detailed explanation. This is gold for a new tortoise guy like me. Time to go shopping! Lol.
  10. Erik Elvis

    Erik Elvis Active Member

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    Hey mark. I really like the idea of the smart power strip. I may have to swap my set up out for them.
  11. MIReptilian

    MIReptilian Member

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    I wish I could do that. We live in a very rural area and wifi isnt available at our house. We use unlimited Mobil phone data and Mobil phone hotspots. It sucks.
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