Compact Fluorescent Bulbs: THE Discussion!

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StudentoftheReptile

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It seems there continues to be confusion regarding the alleged issues of using Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFBs) with tortoises. Some are spiral-shaped, while others are not. Some brands specifically suggest mounting these bulbs in a horizontal fixture, while others claim they can mounted both ways. Hopefully this thread will help shed a little light on the subject (forgive the pun).

Exo-Terra Repti-Glo CFBs
Available in 2.0, 5.0, and 10.0
Shape: coil/spiral

ET_compact_bulbs.jpg

ET_compact_top_use.jpg


(towards the bottom of this page: http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/compact_fluorescent_bulbs.php )
To fit our range of fluorescent bulbs, both linear and compact, Exo Terra developed a complete line of terrarium tops and linear fluorescent bulb controllers.~~~The Exo Terra Compact Tops are perfectly suited for the Exo Terra Compact Bulbs.

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ZooMed ReptiSun
Available in 5.0 (http://www.zoomed.com/db/products/E...7czoxOiIwIjtzOjg6IlNlYXJjaF95IjtzOjE6IjAiO30=) and 10.0 (http://www.zoomed.com/db/products/E...7czoxOiIwIjtzOjg6IlNlYXJjaF95IjtzOjE6IjAiO30=)
Shape: U-shaped

FS-C5-ReptiSun-5.jpg


Lamp can be oriented either vertically or horizontally in your reptile hood or clamp lamp fixture.
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Fluker Farms Sun Glow Coil Lantern
Available in 5.0 and 10.0
Shape: coil/spiral

http://www.flukerfarms.com/sunglowcoilbulb50uvb-20watt.aspx

SunGlowCoilLantern.jpg


Does not specify ideal mounting conditions. In my honest opinion, because they are coil-shaped like the Exo-Terra Repti-Glo, they should be mounted horizontally.
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Zilla CFBs
Available in Tropical 25 (http://www.zilla-rules.com/products/tropical-series-uvb-flourescent-bulbs.htm) and Desert 50 (http://www.zilla-rules.com/products/uvb-flourescent-bulbs.htm)
Shape: coil/spiral (*also offers a 9-watt U-shaped bulb for the Desert 50)

Desert50FluorescentBulbs.jpg


Does not specify ideal mounting conditions. In my honest opinion, because they are coil-shaped like the Exo-Terra Repti-Glo, they should be mounted horizontally.
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Also, if anyone has had any issues using CFBs with their tortoises (or any reptiles), please detail your accounts here. Be as specific as possible:
- what brand
- what output rating (Ex: 5.0, 10.0)
- how was the bulb mounted
- what shape (coil or U-shaped)
- what species (EXACT species, not just "tortoise")
- issues (Ex: blindness, lethargy, always hiding, etc.)
-------------------

I'm sure many want to get to the bottom of this thing. Is this a problem with ALL compact fluorescents? Or just people who mount them wrong? Is it just the coil/spiral-shaped ones? Inquiring minds want to know!
 

Edna

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When I bought my first Hermanns as a hatchling (Jan., 2010) I purchased all the equipment for his initial set up at Petco, per their recommendations. That included a Zoo Med heat/light combo pack with a CFL 5.0 and a heat bulb. I mounted both bulbs in mini-dome fixtures and clamped them to the sides of his enclosure. That was his arrangement for 6-8 months, when I broke the CFL.
He was fine, eating and active and no hint of a problem. He is just waking up downstairs as I type and is still happy and healthy.
I am currently using some household CFLs for general lighting. The problems reported in 2008 with reptile CFLs were due to UV exposure, particularly UVC. CFLs for household use are designed to minimize UV light. My tortoises have an MVB for their UV needs.
I found the radiographs on the following page useful and relevant.

http://ledmuseum.candlepower.us/led/spectra7.htm
 

wellington

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I also,think, it has been said so many times , that they cause eye problems, so why take the chance. Yet, people keep asking, trying to get the answer they want, which is that they are safe. I for one don't want to experiment with it, or risk my torts sight to see if they are. He is worth more to me then a few bucks I would be saving by using them. If you want to believe they (company) has fixed the problem, then use them. I however, don't trust them, as there are so many items on the market that should never be out there. Couple examples, heat rock, lots of reptiles have been burned by them, yet they still sell them. Substrate, the pellets are still sold and they aren't good for any reptile I know of. So you decide. Do you want to trust the people, that makes a cheap product, yet is out to make money, or do you want to trust the people that won't make a dime, but cares more about the animals then the companies ever will?
 

StudentoftheReptile

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JoesMum said:
I think it's been debated to death on here... a different thread title may have attracted comment.

Well, my intent was along the lines of a end-all discussion thread where people could give detailed accounts of their issues with these bulbs. Similar to Tom's "End of Pyramiding" threads. Like many, I want to figure EXACTLY where the problem lies instead of rehashing the same second- or third-hand opinion over and over everytime someone asks about CFBs.
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For a few years prior to 2010, I did keep hearing reports of some study about the effect CFBs had on bearded dragons, that it caused them blindness. Now, I do not recall ever finding or reading the results of this "study" or even verifying its existence at all. Similar to the topic at hand, I do not remember if it was regarding all CFBs (even household, non-reptile specific brands), or just the reptile-brand types, or certain shapes, etc.

In 2010, I was preparing for a presentation on reptile lighting and heating, and was doing some research on all the different types of bulbs out there. At this time, I was still not a tortoise keeper and was not aware of any negative effects CFBs had on chelonians. In my research, I came across this website ( www.uvguide.co.uk ), which was quite extensive. I printed out nearly the entire website and read as much as I could. Sadly, much of the site is now currently under construction (including the section on Compact Fluorescent Bulbs) and not useful as a reference, so I can only dictate what my memory allows.

What I DO recall was according to the test results, UV emissions were maximised when these bulbs were mounted horizontally, not vertically. I believe the brands tested were Exo-Terra and/or Zilla (and possibly some European company that we don't see here in the US). I seem to remember some brief mentioning of the alleged study on bearded dragons, but my memory fails on the details.

That is what I based most of my opinion on regarding this matter, at least in terms of the mounting position of CFBs. It wasn't until later when I started keeping tortoises, and joined this site that I found that people were having the blindness issue with tortoises as well.
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On a similar note, this is also the website where I read about the correct (or most ideal) mounting position of Mercury Vapor Bulbs (MVBs); specifically, that they should be positioned directly straight down into the enclosure (90' angle), not at any other angle, which would compromise both the structural integrity (therefore, the longevity) and effective UV output of the bulb. Unfortunately, like with CFBs, this section of that website is also under construction.

wellington said:
I also,think, it has been said so many times , that they cause eye problems, so why take the chance. Yet, people keep asking, trying to get the answer they want, which is that they are safe. I for one don't want to experiment with it, or risk my torts sight to see if they are. He is worth more to me then a few bucks I would be saving by using them. If you want to believe they (company) has fixed the problem, then use them. I however, don't trust them, as there are so many items on the market that should never be out there. Couple examples, heat rock, lots of reptiles have been burned by them, yet they still sell them. Substrate, the pellets are still sold and they aren't good for any reptile I know of. So you decide. Do you want to trust the people, that makes a cheap product, yet is out to make money, or do you want to trust the people that won't make a dime, but cares more about the animals then the companies ever will?

Barb, like you, I am of the mentality of why take the chance until we (the collective herp community) can figure this out. We obviously cannot depend on the manufacturers themselves to do what is right (good heavens, we'd all be poor!).

I am also tired of the confusion as well. Obviously, there is more to this issue than just a blanket statement "All compact fluorescents are BAD! Don't ever use them! Ever!" Well...is that really true? Is it more user-error than the product itself? Is it a certain brand or just the coil-type ones?

It is the objective of this thread to find out!
 

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Firsthand: I have personally seen several species of reptiles have eye problems under cfl UV bulbs. I have also seen many instances of it here on this forum. By contrast, I have never seen any individual of any species ever have a problem under a MVB, tube type florescent or regular incandescent bulb, and I have seen tubes, MVBs, and regular bulbs used a lot more than the coil type cfls. Does every single reptile ever put under a cfl go blind immediately? No. No they do not. Do some of them have problems some of the time? Yes. Yes they do. The same cannot be said about MVBs or any other lighting source. By the same token: Can I play "russian roulette" and not shoot my self in the head? Yes. Yes I can. Doesn't mean I ought to. Seems a safer policy to me to NOT recommend anyone play "russian roulette" with their reptile's eyesight. If you choose to use these bulbs, you might be one of the lucky ones that has no problems, OR you might end up with a blind tortoise... Why on earth would anyone want to risk it?

Barbs point sums it up the best. What do we hobbyists gain from telling people not to use these? I make no money. No one associated with me makes any money. I don't make any money for anything I participate in on this forum. By contrast, what do the manufacturers and advertisers make by recommending cfl UV bulbs? They make millions in annual sales world wide. Why do they continue to manufacture and sell a potentially dangerous product? Because people keep buying them...
 

StudentoftheReptile

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Tom, just to put a point on it....can you specify which brands of CFL bulbs you have used and experienced issues with?
 
M

Maggie Cummings

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I was keeping 2 yearling Sulcata under either the ZooMed ReptiSun or Fluker Farms Sun Glow Coil Lantern. I was using both bulbs in a couple of different tanks. To make a long story short I ended up with one blind tortoise and one with partial damage that got better over time. The blinded one ended up with one blind eye and the other was damaged. I was using both types of bulbs and really didn't pay attention to which bulb was where. What I know is that damage was the most awful painful thing I ever saw on a baby. His eyes hurt so bad he drooled and foamed. The only time he didn't was when I put the Terramycin eye ointment in his eyes and I'd rub them for him, then soaked him in an antibiotic powder. I can 't narrow down which bulb was the actual culprit because I was using both types and I didn't know at the time that it was going to be important to know.
Do a search in our archives and you can probably find all the different discussions we've had about them...
 

Neal

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maggie3fan said:
I was keeping 2 yearling Sulcata under either the ZooMed ReptiSun or Fluker Farms Sun Glow Coil Lantern. I was using both bulbs in a couple of different tanks. To make a long story short I ended up with one blind tortoise and one with partial damage that got better over time. The blinded one ended up with one blind eye and the other was damaged. I was using both types of bulbs and really didn't pay attention to which bulb was where. What I know is that damage was the most awful painful thing I ever saw on a baby. His eyes hurt so bad he drooled and foamed. The only time he didn't was when I put the Terramycin eye ointment in his eyes and I'd rub them for him, then soaked him in an antibiotic powder. I can 't narrow down which bulb was the actual culprit because I was using both types and I didn't know at the time that it was going to be important to know.
Do a search in our archives and you can probably find all the different discussions we've had about them...

Maggie, how long ago did this occur?
 

StudentoftheReptile

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Maggie, do you know approximately when this was? I'll search through your posts but it may be easier if I have a time frame. :)

LOL...Neal beat me to it!
 

Neal

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Also Maggie, how did you have the bulbs mounted?
 

StudentoftheReptile

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In the meantime, I have used the Exo-Terra brand 2.0 and 5.0 CFL bulbs in the past with other reptiles (mainly crested geckos) without any issues. These were mounted vertically in dome fixtures (before I did any aforementioned research on these bulbs and realized that horizontal mounting was ideal). Of course, I rarely saw the geckos out in the day, but the animals never had any blindness issues.

Also, in the LPS where I used to work, we had a huge wall display where we kept smaller herps in the Exo-Terra terrariums of various sizes. Likewise, we used the Exo-Terra brand CFLs and the fixtures. This was back 3 years ago and still in use today for many species, including geckos, small snakes, amphibians, baby dragons, chameleons, and other small lizards, etc...although no chelonians were ever kept in these displays. So far I was not, and still am not aware of any issues.

To confirm, these were Exo-Terra 2.0, 5.0 and 10.0 CFLs all mounted horizontally.
 

Neal

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StudentoftheReptile said:
In the meantime, I have used the Exo-Terra brand 2.0 and 5.0 CFL bulbs in the past with other reptiles (mainly crested geckos) without any issues. These were mounted vertically in dome fixtures (before I did any aforementioned research on these bulbs and realized that horizontal mounting was ideal). Of course, I rarely saw the geckos out in the day, but the animals never had any blindness issues.

Also, in the LPS where I used to work, we had a huge wall display where we kept smaller herps in the Exo-Terra terrariums of various sizes. Likewise, we used the Exo-Terra brand CFLs and the fixtures. This was back 3 years ago and still in use today for many species, including geckos, small snakes, amphibians, baby dragons, chameleons, and other small lizards, etc...although no chelonians were ever kept in these displays. So far I was not, and still am not aware of any issues.

To confirm, these were Exo-Terra 2.0, 5.0 and 10.0 CFLs all mounted horizontally.



Reading through the case study here: http://www.uvguide.co.uk/phototherapyphosphor.htm it seems like the only CFL's with reported problems were the Reptisun brand. So, it's interesting to point out in your case (using Exo Terra) that you did not have any issues, and in Maggies case (using the Reptisun brand) she did have issues.
 

StudentoftheReptile

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Neal said:
Reading through the case study here: http://www.uvguide.co.uk/phototherapyphosphor.htm it seems like the only CFL's with reported problems were the Reptisun brand.

Interesting since those are the only ones NOT spiral/coil-shaped.

So, it's interesting to point out in your case (using Exo Terra) that you did not have any issues, and in Maggies case (using the Reptisun brand) she did have issues.

Indeed.

I would still like to hear others' experiences, and like to know how Maggie had her bulbs mounted.
 

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Neal said:
StudentoftheReptile said:
In the meantime, I have used the Exo-Terra brand 2.0 and 5.0 CFL bulbs in the past with other reptiles (mainly crested geckos) without any issues. These were mounted vertically in dome fixtures (before I did any aforementioned research on these bulbs and realized that horizontal mounting was ideal). Of course, I rarely saw the geckos out in the day, but the animals never had any blindness issues.

Also, in the LPS where I used to work, we had a huge wall display where we kept smaller herps in the Exo-Terra terrariums of various sizes. Likewise, we used the Exo-Terra brand CFLs and the fixtures. This was back 3 years ago and still in use today for many species, including geckos, small snakes, amphibians, baby dragons, chameleons, and other small lizards, etc...although no chelonians were ever kept in these displays. So far I was not, and still am not aware of any issues.

To confirm, these were Exo-Terra 2.0, 5.0 and 10.0 CFLs all mounted horizontally.



Reading through the case study here: http://www.uvguide.co.uk/phototherapyphosphor.htm it seems like the only CFL's with reported problems were the Reptisun brand. So, it's interesting to point out in your case (using Exo Terra) that you did not have any issues, and in Maggies case (using the Reptisun brand) she did have issues.



It's also important to note that Reptisun reformulated their CFL back in 2009. See the following link:

http://www.uvguide.co.uk/phototherapyphosphor-summary.htm#update23sept09

Keep in mind that those studies are now a few years old. Things have changed.
 

wellington

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If you can trust them to have changed it, hmmm. One other point. Isn't at least half of the UVB pointing up, into the fixture, onmsome of them? Kinda a waist. I will stick to the ones we know are safe. After all, we all know the pellets are bad for tortoises, but they still keep selling them, with a tortoise on the bag:(
 

Edna

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Edna said:
When I bought my first Hermanns as a hatchling (Jan., 2010) I purchased all the equipment for his initial set up at Petco, per their recommendations. That included a Zoo Med heat/light combo pack with a CFL 5.0 and a heat bulb. I mounted both bulbs in mini-dome fixtures and clamped them to the sides of his enclosure. That was his arrangement for 6-8 months, when I broke the CFL.
He was fine, eating and active and no hint of a problem. He is just waking up downstairs as I type and is still happy and healthy.
I am currently using some household CFLs for general lighting. The problems reported in 2008 with reptile CFLs were due to UV exposure, particularly UVC. CFLs for household use are designed to minimize UV light. My tortoises have an MVB for their UV needs.
I found the radiographs on the following page useful and relevant.

http://ledmuseum.candlepower.us/led/spectra7.htm

I'm replying to myself because no one else seems to have noticed this post.
Is this going to be a discussion in which all sides and experiences are welcome, or is it a thread where only the problems with the bulbs are important?
 

StudentoftheReptile

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Edna said:
I'm replying to myself because no one else seems to have noticed this post.
Is this going to be a discussion in which all sides and experiences are welcome, or is it a thread where only the problems with the bulbs are important?

I'm sorry, Edna, I for one was not intentionally ignoring your post. I did find the link you posted quite helpful, and hope others will, too!

Just to clarify from your post, you were using a ZooMed ReptiSun 5.0 CFL and had no issues until the bulb itself simply broke. Then you switched to using normal household CFLs and also use a MVB for UV lighting. Your only issue was a bulb breaking, not problems with the animals, correct?
---------------------
To answer your question, I personally am interested on anyone who has used Compact Fluorescent Bulbs in any capacity, regardless of species, brand, mounting position, etc. Indeed, anyone who experienced heath issues with their animals using these bulbs are a little more paramount, but I think it is also important to hear of any positive experiences as well. This way, any future readers to this thread can get a more well-rounded perspective if exactly which bulbs are working well for which species under which circumstances...and those that are not.

I hope more people will join in and share their experiences. Surely there have been more than 3-4 people on this forum that have used CFLs!
 

Neal

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Edna said:
I'm replying to myself because no one else seems to have noticed this post.

Lol, believe me, I understand posts being ignored...sorry I should have included your experience as well in post #14.

In the study I linked, the 5.0 rating saw less reported problems than the 10.0. Even then, since the manufacturer has claimed that the issues have been corrected and you purchased yours in 2010, I think your experience is evidence that the bulbs are OK. Thanks for sharing!
 
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