Cold-climate UVB lighting and T5-HO fixture HELP!

Nicole M

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Hello all! I currently have a Russian tortoise (recently-adopted rescue!) and live in an apartment in upstate New York. While I currently take her out on warm days for about an hour and allow her to sun herself in the little yard we share with another tenant, I am unable to do this most months out of the year, as it gets far too cold here. Thus, I'll need to be sure that she can get enough UVB indoors during those times. Her current indoor UVB situation is awful--we adopted her and were given one of the compact coil bulbs as well as a Zoo Med repti-spot heating lamp, which seems to work well.

Ive determined that a T5-HO 10.0 reptisun bulb is my best bet, but would it be overkill to use an MVB for heating as well, just so she gets as much UVB as possible, while maintaining a temp gradient in the enclosure?

Also, what fixtures for the T5-HO bulbs are usable? I currently have her in a Rubbermaid tub while I work on prepping a larger enclosure, and I highly doubt that the pricey zoo med hoods are compatible with her current enclosure (or the tort table I'll build), since they're made for terrariums...

I've been browsing the forums (and the web at large) for days worrying about this! Help is GREATLY appreciated!
 

wellington

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Hello and Welcome. I wouldn't use the coil bulb, they can cause eye damage. I would get a mercury vapor bulb for day time. It gives heat, light and UVB. Then I would get a ceramic heat emitter for night time heat
 

Nicole M

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Hello and Welcome. I wouldn't use the coil bulb, they can cause eye damage. I would get a mercury vapor bulb for day time. It gives heat, light and UVB. Then I would get a ceramic heat emitter for night time heat
Thanks for your response! :) And oh, I'm not planning to use the coil bulb! I know they're dangerous. It was given to us by the rescue as part of her enclosure.

I'm wondering if it would be okay to use a MVB *and* a tube UVB light? I'm just worried about having both heat and UVB in only one half of the enclosure. In the even that she ends up spending more time in the other half of the enclosure, she won't get any of the UVB, and I worry about that since I often can't bring her outside.
 

Tom

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Use either a MVB and a "regular" tube for some light, or use the HO UV bulb and a "regular" flood bulb for heat.

You don't need a MVB and a HO tube. Personally, I would go with the latter.

You really need a UV meter. This is the only way to set your bulb heights correctly with either a MVB or the HO tube. Like this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html
And no, there is not a cheaper option that I am aware of.

Heating and lighting is well broken down here:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
 

Nicole M

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Use either a MVB and a "regular" tube for some light, or use the HO UV bulb and a "regular" flood bulb for heat.

You don't need a MVB and a HO tube. Personally, I would go with the latter.

You really need a UV meter. This is the only way to set your bulb heights correctly with either a MVB or the HO tube. Like this: https://www.solarmeter.com/model65.html
And no, there is not a cheaper option that I am aware of.

Heating and lighting is well broken down here:
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
Thank you! Yikes... That UV meter is pricey. I'm going to check and see if any places around me might have one.

The MVB is certainly easier to set up, considering it will fit into the fixture I already have. One concern for me with using the MVB's alone is the heat--I generally keep my tort's basking bulb pretty high (otherwise things get too hot). If the MVB is up too high, though, my tort won't be getting the proper UVB!

As far as the T5-HO bulb, I'm not sure what fixture would work. My tortoise is currently in a Rubbermaid tub, and I have no idea what kind of fixture would work! The zoo med fixtures are all maid for terrariums, which wouldn't be compatible with my current setup, not with the tortoise table I plan to build. Any thoughts about fixtures? I've been super overwhelmed when it comes to this.
 

jaizei

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Thank you! Yikes... That UV meter is pricey. I'm going to check and see if any places around me might have one.

The MVB is certainly easier to set up, considering it will fit into the fixture I already have. One concern for me with using the MVB's alone is the heat--I generally keep my tort's basking bulb pretty high (otherwise things get too hot). If the MVB is up too high, though, my tort won't be getting the proper UVB!

As far as the T5-HO bulb, I'm not sure what fixture would work. My tortoise is currently in a Rubbermaid tub, and I have no idea what kind of fixture would work! The zoo med fixtures are all maid for terrariums, which wouldn't be compatible with my current setup, not with the tortoise table I plan to build. Any thoughts about fixtures? I've been super overwhelmed when it comes to this.

Buy any T5HO fixture and make a stand for it from wood or pvc. What type of MVB would you be getting?
 

wellington

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A uv meter is a good tool to have, however, they are pricey and there is only a handful of members that have them. Probably most breeders don't even have one. I personally, get my torts outside as much as I can and in the winter, I use the MVB and this coming winter I will be using the MVB only half the time
 

Nicole M

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A uv meter is a good tool to have, however, they are pricey and there is only a handful of members that have them. Probably most breeders don't even have one. I personally, get my torts outside as much as I can and in the winter, I use the MVB and this coming winter I will be using the MVB only half the time
It seems like a great tool, and I'd love to have one! Perhaps in the future when it becomes more feasible, or if I see a cheaper option at any point. Looking forward to being able to live in a place where I can keep torts outdoors...
 

jaizei

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Powersuns are too unreliable for me to use without a meter. Megaray and Arcadia are more reliable in my experience and last longer than Powersun.
 

Nicole M

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Powersuns are too unreliable for me to use without a meter. Megaray and Arcadia are more reliable in my experience and last longer than Powersun.
Really? Do you have a preference between the two?
 

Tom

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A uv meter is a good tool to have, however, they are pricey and there is only a handful of members that have them. Probably most breeders don't even have one. I personally, get my torts outside as much as I can and in the winter, I use the MVB and this coming winter I will be using the MVB only half the time

Everyone who relies on indoor UV for months of every year should have one.

There is no other way to know if you are producing enough UV or too much. When mounting an HO bulb, which are the best current option in my opinion, a UV meter is a necessary tool for correct mounting height. No different than using a thermometer to set the height of a basking bulb.

Current Powersuns are only producing UV for 3 months. They changed them. I don't think they are the best way to go anymore in most cases.
 

Tom

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Thank you! Yikes... That UV meter is pricey. I'm going to check and see if any places around me might have one.

The MVB is certainly easier to set up, considering it will fit into the fixture I already have. One concern for me with using the MVB's alone is the heat--I generally keep my tort's basking bulb pretty high (otherwise things get too hot). If the MVB is up too high, though, my tort won't be getting the proper UVB!

As far as the T5-HO bulb, I'm not sure what fixture would work. My tortoise is currently in a Rubbermaid tub, and I have no idea what kind of fixture would work! The zoo med fixtures are all maid for terrariums, which wouldn't be compatible with my current setup, not with the tortoise table I plan to build. Any thoughts about fixtures? I've been super overwhelmed when it comes to this.

You need to buy the fixture and the bulb. I get mine from lightyourreptiles.com. I use the Arcadia 12%HO tubes with a reflector. This allows me to mount them farther away and still get high UV levels out of them. You will need to make some sort of way to hang any bulb from over head. A simple 2x4 frame works well.

Do not mount a HO tube, or a MVB for that matter, too close. It can burn their eyes if used improperly. If mounted too far, or if using MVBs, you might not be making enough UV. UV is necessary for tortoises housed indoors most of the year, but it must be used correctly. This is why the meter is essential and not optional, in my opinion.
 

wellington

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Everyone who relies on indoor UV for months of every year should have one.

There is no other way to know if you are producing enough UV or too much. When mounting an HO bulb, which are the best current option in my opinion, a UV meter is a necessary tool for correct mounting height. No different than using a thermometer to set the height of a basking bulb.

Current Powersuns are only producing UV for 3 months. They changed them. I don't think they are the best way to go anymore in most cases.
I agree it would be nice to have. I just don't think they are practical for most people and most won't buy them anyway. If a UVB is used and directions followed for height distance and outside time is provided when possible, I believe that is more easily achieved by anyone and should be plenty for a tort. Most of you years experienced people have done it very well for years without one and with much less quality bulbs then what is available now.
Great to have, not practical for most.
 

Nicole M

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You need to buy the fixture and the bulb. I get mine from lightyourreptiles.com. I use the Arcadia 12%HO tubes with a reflector. This allows me to mount them farther away and still get high UV levels out of them. You will need to make some sort of way to hang any bulb from over head. A simple 2x4 frame works well.

Do not mount a HO tube, or a MVB for that matter, too close. It can burn their eyes if used improperly. If mounted too far, or if using MVBs, you might not be making enough UV. UV is necessary for tortoises housed indoors most of the year, but it must be used correctly. This is why the meter is essential and not optional, in my opinion.
This is very helpful. Thank you! I will check around to see if anyone near me has a UV meter for any reason. While I would love to be able to buy the UV meter now along with bulbs and fixtures and such, I simply don't have the money to do it at this time. I feel like it's best to prioritize getting the bulb, so the tortoise at least has something, rather than waiting to purchase everything together.
 

Tom

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I agree it would be nice to have. I just don't think they are practical for most people and most won't buy them anyway. If a UVB is used and directions followed for height distance and outside time is provided when possible, I believe that is more easily achieved by anyone and should be plenty for a tort. Most of you years experienced people have done it very well for years without one and with much less quality bulbs then what is available now.
Great to have, not practical for most.

They did not have the products that we now have years ago. Some of them are MUCH stronger than previously available products. We have also learned from our mistakes, of which there were many. HO bulbs are relatively new to the hobby, and the ones I bought did not come with any instructions.

Your dismissal of these meters as "impractical", whatever your reason, is a mistake and its not going to help people. What you are doing is no different than telling to people to guess their temperatures or humidity. "Thermometers are impractical and most people won't buy them anyway. Just follow the directions and that should be plenty of heat for a tort." What would you say to a poster offering that advice?

Last I checked you were not an authority on how much UV various tortoise species need, and not ever having used a meter, how would you know which products do what at what distances and over what time frames? Even Frances Baines, who is arguably the world's foremost authority on this subject, does't have all the answers. You've stepped outside your realm of expertise here, and the advice you offer is not helpful to tortoises. In fact, it could be harmful. Why don't you let individuals decide if the cost of a meter is practical for them? In the space of a few years the meter can pay for itself by not replacing bulbs that don't need to be replaced, while ensuring correct UV levels at the same time. I've got UV bulbs that have been running daily since June of 2013 and are still making decent UV. Other bulbs were running for two years before UV levels started dropping. Simply lowering the bulbs a few inches brought UV levels up to where they were when the bulb was new. I had a MVB that was giving high levels of UVB after 4 years of use. How much would I have spent replacing all those bulbs every six months, as the manufacturer recommends? That would have cost a lot more than the price of the meter. Buying the meter is actually very practical, and having it allows a person that lives in a climate or environment where a tortoise will not get outside for months at a time to give their tortoise what it needs, instead of guessing.

Can we work together and try to convince people that actually knowing UV levels is better than guessing? For the benefit and well being of tortoises worldwide, can we explain to people how the cost of a UV meter actually is practical vs. spending loads of money on new bulbs all the time that are not needed? Please. I'll loan you my meter if you pay for shipping and promise to return it. :)
 

Tom

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This is very helpful. Thank you! I will check around to see if anyone near me has a UV meter for any reason. While I would love to be able to buy the UV meter now along with bulbs and fixtures and such, I simply don't have the money to do it at this time. I feel like it's best to prioritize getting the bulb, so the tortoise at least has something, rather than waiting to purchase everything together.

I understand. Tell us exactly which type of bulb and fixture you get and someone here who has a meter and first hand experience with that bulb can help to make an educated guess about mounting height. Not as good as actually having the meter in your hand, but better than guessing.

Please don't be put off by the discussion here. Barb and I are friends and this is just tortoise conversation. Each side explaining their POV. Nobody is mad (hopefully…) and hopefully this discussion will help people decide which way to go with their own lighting needs.
 

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How big is your Rubbermaid tub? If you do build a tortoise table I would consider ways to cover it to keep heat and humidity in. And making the sides tall, like 20 inches for example, will also help keep the heat and humidity in. My indoor enclosures are 150 gallon stock tanks. And I use a "regular" light for heat and a high output 5.0 10 UV bulb and fixture for UVB. Both bulbs are about 15 to 20 inches above my tortoise.
I do have a Solar meter 6.5 UV index meter. It is very expensive but if you figure tortoises can live for decades and I live in a colder climate then I think it is worth it. If you are able to get your tortoise outside for most of the year then you probably don't need it.
 

Tom

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If you are able to get your tortoise outside for most of the year then you probably don't need it.

In this case I would agree that the meter and the UV bulbs are not needed.
 

wellington

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I understand. Tell us exactly which type of bulb and fixture you get and someone here who has a meter and first hand experience with that bulb can help to make an educated guess about mounting height. Not as good as actually having the meter in your hand, but better than guessing.

Please don't be put off by the discussion here. Barb and I are friends and this is just tortoise conversation. Each side explaining their POV. Nobody is mad (hopefully…) and hopefully this discussion will help people decide which way to go with their own lighting needs.
No, not mad here either.
The post you answered here is why I said not practical for most. The start up cost is the biggest expense all at once. Then saying "you really need" a meter to that, I think is a hard pill to swallow. I agree the meter is a good buy. I agree it would be nice for everyone to have and should work towards getting. I think it's impractical to think most will get one. So, I think it's more practical to help them out to get things as close to correct as possible without one, which for me is trying to get the tortoise to be able to get outside as much as possible and suggesting the best bulbs and fixture to buy, as any new owner will (hopefully) have the understanding they need a light for their tort.
My opinion is not in disagreement about the meter or how practical and possibly cost efficient it would be to have. My opinion is it's not practical ($$) for most, they just won't spend that kind of money for one or two torts, specially if they are new to having a tortoise. So suggesting which lights and bulbs are the best to buy, the suggested height that has worked over the past, or to follow the bulb directions, that getting the tortoise outside as much as possible is the best UVB there is, specially this time of year, when most are having summer and could go without a UVB bulb for now and possibly use that money for a meter is just more practical to me and more achievable. Then the mention of the meter being a "good" item to add would be beneficial and more practical for them to achieve, then saying "You really need a UV meter. This is the only way to set your bulb heights correctly with either a MVB or the HO tube". Its a little off putting. It kinda makes one to possibly feel that all the effort one has done, money spent or saved to buy the best lights, is all for nothing cause they can't use them right without this expensive meter that they can't afford to buy at this point.

I have a hard time always explaining myself in writing. I hope you are picking up what I'm trying to put down here. ;)

I agree though about a UVB meter. Everyone should try to achieve ownership of one.:)
 
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