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Check me on my MVB and temps

Discussion in 'North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus)' started by MoreCowbellAz, Oct 4, 2019.

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  1. MoreCowbellAz

    MoreCowbellAz New Member

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    Some of you may remember me, I have a baby DT in good health. He's a small guy, shell is 1.6 x 1.9 inches. Anyway, things are going well, I just wanted to check what I'm doing with lighting and temps. Indoor open top enclosure, and I have a 100w MVB on 12 hrs a day that I adjust the height so his basking spot peaks at around 100 in the hottest part of the day, mid '90's earlier in the day. That puts the MVB at 17" from shell to bulb, which at least according to the MVB manual is ok for UVB, it says it's good 12" to 21" I believe. As it gets cooler I'll be lowering the MVB accordingly which will intensify the UVB, but I'm hoping I'm not making a bad assumption that he's getting some even at this 17" setting. AM I ok here? Btw he gets a couple hours of natural sunlight a couple times a week but I don't want to solely rely on that.

    As far as temps, the enclosure has a hot basking side and a cooler/ambient temp side with some shade. The daytime ambient temp peaks at 88 during the day, at night the low is mid 70's. The low will come down as we get into winter here, but wouldn't be less than upper 60's. I'll prob get a CHE just to be safe.

    Anyway, at these MVB and overall temps he seems to be healthy and happy, but I wanted to check with the experts in case I'm missing something.
  2. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I have recently learned that the MVB is desiccating, so I've switched them all out for the tube type fluorescent UVB bulbs with a CHE.
  3. MoreCowbellAz

    MoreCowbellAz New Member

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    I may do that eventually as well, I just need to fabricate a way to hang it and make sure I get the temps right. Up until now been focusing on making sure all is well with food, water, hydration, and temps. Now I feel like I'm moving into the finer points so he can thrive. Seems healthy and active so far, which is a relief.
  4. MoreCowbellAz

    MoreCowbellAz New Member

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    BTW what's the recommended tube type UVB? I get confused with all the different specs.
  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    It sounds like you've got everything perfect. Its unfortunate that MVBs aren't the great bulbs that some of us (including me...) once thought they were. Your level of understanding what needs to be done and ability to do it sounds excellent.

    Here are my thoughts on lighting. You might only need one of these, or you might need all four.
    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 DT. Night lows above 60 require no night heat for DT species.
    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.
  6. MoreCowbellAz

    MoreCowbellAz New Member

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    Yes now that I’ve gotten the basics covered I’m getting that unsettled feeling about my MVB. I can get a 24” UVB 10.0 tube type at the pet store, maybe the HO type, and I’m guessing all you need is a standard fluorescent shop light fixture from the hardware store? Question: in a 48” enclosure, would it work to have a 24” UVB on one end and a basking flood lamp on the other? Basically that makes the enclosure dual purpose, one end for some UVB and the other end for basking, and both sides providing light so he doesn’t hibernate. He spends time all over the enclosure. Outdoor sunlight will provide extra UVB here and there during the week.

    And with those fluorescent tube fixtures, do I need a single tube fixture or is a dual tube fixture ok with leaving one tube out?

    Sorry for the detailed questions, gets complicated quick.
  7. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    How high are you planning on mounting your florescent UV tube? This will determine what type to buy.

    You do not need a double fixture.

    HO tubes require a special HO fixture. I think they sell them at Home Depot. The bulbs are actually a couple inches shorter than non HO bulbs, so they won't fit in the wrong fixture anyway.

    A 24" tube over a 48" enclosure with a basking amp at the other end sounds like a good plan.
  8. MoreCowbellAz

    MoreCowbellAz New Member

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    I was going to mount the UV tube fairly low, not from the ceiling or anything. I have a couple of small stands I can use to hang from at each end so figure 12”-18” or thereabouts. They’re height adjustable so whatever works. In theory it should be easy install those tube lights, I just need to find the correct light fixtures. Sometimes I have the hardest time finding what you’d think would be easy to find parts locally. Home Depot, Lowes, and Ace Hardware are in my area at least. Any specs or direction you can give is appreciated.
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