Bulb question

Thundersnow

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Good morning,
Why is an incandescent bulb that heats(if they are even available any more very hard to find)
Better than bulbs that are made for warmth by reptile product manufacturers? And what is the correct wattage for either for an Indian Star tort
Thanks 😊 🐢 ❤️
 

Tom

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Good morning,
Why is an incandescent bulb that heats(if they are even available any more very hard to find)
Better than bulbs that are made for warmth by reptile product manufacturers? And what is the correct wattage for either for an Indian Star tort
Thanks 😊 🐢 ❤️
Depends on what kind of reptile bulb you are talking about. You mean a CHE, or do you mean an incandescent bulb in reptile packaging at 4 times the regular price? Or are you talking about MVBs?

The biggest problem with incandescent bulbs marketed for reptiles is that all of them are spot bulbs. These are no good for tortoises. They cause pyramiding.

No one can tell you what wattage bulb you need. One your thermometer can tell you that. There are many factors that will determine this answer. Room temp, size of enclosure, type of enclosure, etc...
 

Thundersnow

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Location (City and/or State)
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Depends on what kind of reptile bulb you are talking about. You mean a CHE, or do you mean an incandescent bulb in reptile packaging at 4 times the regular price? Or are you talking about MVBs?

The biggest problem with incandescent bulbs marketed for reptiles is that all of them are spot bulbs. These are no good for tortoises. They cause pyramiding.

No one can tell you what wattage bulb you need. One your thermometer can tell you that. There are many factors that will determine this answer. Room temp, size of enclosure, type of enclosure, etc...
I have a CHE I use that at night and the basking bulb during the day.The basking bulb died and I need to replace it I keep seeing so many different opinions on daytime light/heat bulbs. I do have a rep sun 10.0 uv/ub long tube light too for him
 

TisMary

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Good morning,
Why is an incandescent bulb that heats(if they are even available any more very hard to find)
Better than bulbs that are made for warmth by reptile product manufacturers? And what is the correct wattage for either for an Indian Star tort
Thanks 😊 🐢 ❤️
Hi @Thundersnow - light bulb tech can get really confusing really fast. But it doesn't have to be if you just focus on a few things and plug in (!) to some good source material to educate yourself. Keep it simple. FWIW, here's how I made sense of some of the basics.

First - "flood" vs. "spot" lights. You generally don't want spot lights for your reptile; they concentrate the light into a narrow beam that can get too hot. Flood lights, on the other hand, have a wider beam, cover more area, and are not so concentrated.
So, choose Flood over Spot

Second - incandescent vs. halogen. Incandescent bulbs (the old fashioned "filament" bulbs many of us grew up with) give off heat, which is why they're often used as basking lights for reptiles. But they got phased out because they are not energy efficient. You can still find them, but it's getting more and more difficult. Halogens are just another kind of incandescent (they also give off heat) but they are more energy efficient because their tech is different.
So, choose Halogen over Incandescent

Third - the purpose for your different kinds of bulbs. For basking, you need a bulb that provides heat (incandescent or halogen). If you have live plants, then you need a plant light (lots of threads in the forum on plant lights). Now you're looking at LED technology - lots of light, very little heat. Then, there's UVB light which is what tortoise need to process calcium and make their shells healthy.
So, choose bulbs that produce heat -> basking, bulbs that emit full spectrum light -> plants; bulbs specifically designed to emit UVB -> shells

You asked if they were "Better than bulbs that are made for warmth by reptile product manufacturers". I learned that, with the general exception of UVB lights, once you know what your requirements are, you can get what you need in a good hardware department. I've found many instances where vendors of reptile paraphernalia put the picture of a reptile on their product, jack up the price, and sell it as something "more" than what you could get for cheaper elsewhere if you knew what you were looking for. Capitalism – just sayin’. Be careful and know what you're buying.

Once you get the "what"s nailed down, then you'll start learning about "how much of what"s (for example, how much heat?). For that, you do need to tap into reputable sources (like this forum and some of the better vendor sites who want you to be educated), and probably want to invest in an appropriate meter or 2 (such as a UV meter and possibly a light meter). This is so you know exactly what you're getting down at tortoise level and can raise or lower your lights as needed.

I found these sites helpful to start getting an education. Good luck!

Bulbs.com Learning Center
Consumer Reports Lightbulb Guide
Which Ferguson Zone is my Reptile In?
 

Thundersnow

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Thank you so very much for that great info and explanation. I greatly appreciate it
 

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Tom

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So, choose Halogen over Incandescent
The rest of your post was good, but the above quoted sentence is not good advice. Halogens emit high levels of IR-A which increases the tendency toward pyramiding. Standard incandescent round or flood bulbs are the way to go for basking.
 

Tom

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I have a CHE I use that at night and the basking bulb during the day.The basking bulb died and I need to replace it I keep seeing so many different opinions on daytime light/heat bulbs. I do have a rep sun 10.0 uv/ub long tube light too for him
There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In the UK, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12%. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html
Problems with MVBs:
1. They run too hot for a closed chamber, which is what you should be using.
2. They cause too much carapace desiccation which causes pyramiding.
3. They are fragile and break easily.
4. They are temperamental sometimes and shut themselves off for 20 minutes at a time.
5. They are expensive.
6. Their UV output runs from one extreme to the other. Some produce way too much UV, and other produce none at all after two or three months.
 

Thundersnow

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Joined
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Messages
102
Location (City and/or State)
Kentucky
There are four elements to heating and lighting:
  1. Basking bulb. I use 65 watt incandescent floods from the hardware store. Some people will need bigger, or smaller wattage bulbs. Let your thermometer be your guide. I run them on a timer for about 12 hours and adjust the height to get the correct basking temp under them. I also like to use a flat rock of some sort directly under the bulb. You need to check the temp with a thermometer directly under the bulb and get it to around 95-100F (36-37C).
  2. Ambient heat maintenance. I use ceramic heating elements or radiant heat panels set on thermostats to maintain ambient above 80 degrees day and night for tropical species. You'd only need day heat for a temperate species like Testudo or DT, as long as your house stays above 60F (15-16C) at night.
  3. Light. I use LEDs for this purpose. Something in the 5000-6500K color range will look the best. Most bulbs at the store are in the 2500K range and they look yellowish. Strip or screw-in bulb types are both fine.
  4. UV. If you can get your tortoise outside for an hour 2 or 3 times a week, you won't need indoor UV. In the UK, get one of the newer HO type fluorescent tubes. Which type will depend on mounting height. 5.0 bulbs make almost no UV. I like the 12%. You need a meter to check this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html
Problems with MVBs:
1. They run too hot for a closed chamber, which is what you should be using.
2. They cause too much carapace desiccation which causes pyramiding.
3. They are fragile and break easily.
4. They are temperamental sometimes and shut themselves off for 20 minutes at a time.
5. They are expensive.
6. Their UV output runs from one extreme to the other. Some produce way too much UV, and other produce none at all after two or three months.
I have my tank covered in foil with openings for the daytime warming light and switch over to CHE at night. I do have a fogger which really keeps the humidity up there and I spray coconut fiber substrate daily if needed
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
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I have my tank covered in foil with openings for the daytime warming light and switch over to CHE at night. I do have a fogger which really keeps the humidity up there and I spray coconut fiber substrate daily if needed
Foggers shouldn't be used with tortoises. Not good for them to be breathing those little water droplets. Maintain humidity with a closed chamber with the lights inside. Damp substrate, a large shallow water bowl and a humid hide complete the package.
 

Thundersnow

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Foggers shouldn't be used with tortoises. Not good for them to be breathing those little water droplets. Maintain humidity with a closed chamber with the lights inside. Damp substrate, a large shallow water bowl and a humid hide complete the package.
Got it all except the fogger thang thank you
 

TisMary

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The rest of your post was good, but the above quoted sentence is not good advice. Halogens emit high levels of IR-A which increases the tendency toward pyramiding. Standard incandescent round or flood bulbs are the way to go for basking.
Since incandescent bulbs are phasing out around the globe, it's getting harder 'n hens' teeth to find them. I looked into halogen bulbs and, as it specifically relates to tortoises, I found two analyses: One by Dr. Frances Baines (of UV Guide fame) posted here on TFO in 2013: Infrared - sunlight vs. basking lamps; and the second in 2015 from the Tortoise Trust called The Effect of Basking Lamps on the Health of Captive Tortoises and other Reptiles. Both excellent reads, BTW.🤓 If there's something newer out there, I'd be interested in reading that too.

My takeaways from both of these are that since we can't recreate the evaporation of water as happens with sunlight on its way down from, well - the sun, to the earth, we have to do our best to recreate a healthy basking environment for our torts - one that won't evaporate water from their bodies, causing them to dehydrate, resulting in shell pyramiding.

Both studies agree that heat-producing lamps, large enough to provide sufficient basking temperatures, but far enough away from the tortoise to cover an area at least as large as the animal itself, is the best we can do in an artificial environment. Moreover, the Tortoise Trust study doesn't differentiate at all between incandescent and halogen bulbs for this purpose. Both studies further agree that we "keepers" (do we use that term any more?) have to ensure proper hydration by other means (regular soaks, a constant supply of water to drink and bath in, and proper humidity levels).
 

Markw84

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Since incandescent bulbs are phasing out around the globe, it's getting harder 'n hens' teeth to find them. I looked into halogen bulbs and, as it specifically relates to tortoises, I found two analyses: One by Dr. Frances Baines (of UV Guide fame) posted here on TFO in 2013: Infrared - sunlight vs. basking lamps; and the second in 2015 from the Tortoise Trust called The Effect of Basking Lamps on the Health of Captive Tortoises and other Reptiles. Both excellent reads, BTW.🤓 If there's something newer out there, I'd be interested in reading that too.

My takeaways from both of these are that since we can't recreate the evaporation of water as happens with sunlight on its way down from, well - the sun, to the earth, we have to do our best to recreate a healthy basking environment for our torts - one that won't evaporate water from their bodies, causing them to dehydrate, resulting in shell pyramiding.

Both studies agree that heat-producing lamps, large enough to provide sufficient basking temperatures, but far enough away from the tortoise to cover an area at least as large as the animal itself, is the best we can do in an artificial environment. Moreover, the Tortoise Trust study doesn't differentiate at all between incandescent and halogen bulbs for this purpose. Both studies further agree that we "keepers" (do we use that term any more?) have to ensure proper hydration by other means (regular soaks, a constant supply of water to drink and bath in, and proper humidity levels).
The articles you link have good information, but practical application to tortoises is lacking. Dr Baines is my go-to source on the technical aspects of much about lighting. However, her knowledge of tortoise care is substantially lacking. Just this week she posted that "open top tables with MVB or halide lamps is the best way to raise a leopard tortoise and that we just don't know what causes pyramiding since many factors are involved - growth rate, diet, humidity, calcium availability..." So knowing your sources primary strengths is important in gleaning information.

The issue I have (and Tom) with halogen is that they burn at roughly twice the temperature as a comparable incandescent. They are also a very small bulb - so the focus of that heat is from a vastly smaller source. They are indeed a type of incandescent that used halogen gas inside the bulb while an incandescent these days uses argon gas. This allows the filament to burn hotter and also creates and environment where some of the filament burned away, reattaches to the filament instead of the inside of the bulb as with an incandescent. So advantageous for the life of the bulb, but because of the heat, and extremely small source, not as good a choice for tortoise basking areas.

"specialty" incandescents are allowed as exceptions under these new laws. So you do see reptile basking bulbs. Our real hope is that some in the reptile industry will jump on this and start filling this gap with reasonably priced alternative. Though some of my sources, I have heard Arcadia is working exactly on this now. Others will follow.
 

TisMary

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The issue I have (and Tom) with halogen is that they ... are also a very small bulb - so the focus of that heat is from a vastly smaller source. ... So you do see reptile basking bulbs. Our real hope is that some in the reptile industry will jump on this and start filling this gap with reasonably priced alternative. Though some of my sources, I have heard Arcadia is working exactly on this now. Others will follow.
Not sure why you say halogens are a "very small bulb". This is the one I have. Philips 424985 83-watt PAR38 Halogen Flood It's a flood light. T'ain't small at all and it's reasonably priced.

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